INDIE FLICKS: Weiner
"Why have you let me film this?" a voice behind the camera asks disgraced politician Anthony Weiner, who for a change can't spin an answer. It's a question the jaw-dropping documentary Weiner (R) raises repeatedly.
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg initially planned to cover Weiner's comeback from a sexting scandal that forced the seven-term congressman to resign. Then Weiner's 2013 run for mayor of New York was derailed when other women came forward with sexting details. His marriage to Huma Abedin, longtime right-hand woman to Hillary Clinton, was shaken. The cameras kept rolling.
A fascinating profile emerges of a firebrand liberal politician and a deeply flawed human being. For Weiner, the passions to serve and sext don't appear vastly different, or controllable. He's both admirable and deplorable, yet sympathetic when genuine issues get lost in salacious media coverage. He'll brashly lash out when public taunting goes too far.
The movie finds its ache in later scenes between the candidate and Abedin, her comfort zone clearly being invaded, humiliation etched in her face. His dependence upon her for support and optics is increasingly problematic, as Clinton's presidential campaign kicks into gear.
Weiner looks seriously at a scandal mostly joked about at the time, examining collateral personal damage and institutions shaped by moral bloodlust. It's essential viewing in this particularly weird election year. A (Opens Friday at Tampa Theatre)
INDIE FLICKS: Genius
Jude Law's Southern ham portrayal of Look Homeward, Angel author Thomas Wolfe is the essence of Genius (PG-13). Colin Firth co-stars as the mercurial writer's calmly relentless editor Max Perkins, wrestling Wolfe's "great, rolling mountains of prose" to submission. John Logan's screenplay could occasionally use Max's skill.
Stodgy in structure, Genius is nonetheless entertaining, with the intellectual sparrings of Tom and Max welcome reliefs in an immature movie season. Law overacts magnificently; if Wolfe wasn't this degree of live wire derelict he should've been. Max's temperament keeps Firth buttoned down for contrast.
The women of Genius are nearly drawn as richly. Nicole Kidman's dark tart performance as Tom's patron-lover is flashier but no less effective than Laura Linney as the wife holding Max's family together. Toss in detours to F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic Cooper) and Genius is the movie of the week for the audiobook of the month club. B- (Opens Friday at Veterans 24)
OPENING Thursday: Finding Dory
Everyone's favorite forgetful fish returns in Finding Dory (PG), with Ellen DeGeneres again handling vocal chores. This time, Dory searches for her long-lost parents (Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy) with the help of Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (some new kid since it's 13 years later).
Finding Dory opens in select theaters tonight, flooding multiplexes Friday. Thursday at 9 p.m., Park Place Stadium 16 in Pinellas Park and Regency 20 in Brandon are among only 90 theaters nationwide presenting "Dory After Dark," showing Finding Nemo followed by Finding Dory. Who'll take the bait?
In theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 Weiner: A political train wreck who's more than a punch line.
2 The Lobster: A wonderfully absurd sort-of romance starring Colin Farrell.
3 Sing Street: Dublin lads form an '80s pop band, from the creator of Once.
4 Maggie's Plan: Greta Gerwig is a 21st century Carole Lombard.
5 Central Intelligence: Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make a great comedy team.
(Dates subject to change)
June 24: Independence Day: Resurgence; The Shallows; Free State of Jones
July 1: The BFG; The Legend of Tarzan; Swiss Army Man
July 8: The Secret Life of Pets; Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
July 13: The Infiltrator
July 15: Ghostbusters
July 22: Star Trek Beyond; Ice Age: Collision Course; Lights Out; Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
July 29: Jason Bourne; Bad Moms