READER MAILBAG: EVERYONE'S A CRITIC
Typing Hillary Clinton's name in a review of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, I knew what to expect. Same feeling while writing about this year's Oscars lacking diversity.
Nothing waves a red flag in some readers' faces like bringing politics and race into a movie discussion. Especially those wishing movie critics would adore 13 Hours and ignore the academy's issue.
"No black Oscars, no white Heisman Trophy winners, what's this world coming too (sic)?" asked one reader via email, obviously unfamiliar with quarterback Johnny Manziel.
An anonymous voicemail profanely sentenced me to prison for "crimes against humanity" because I didn't care much for 13 Hours. I always thought that grade-A review for Piranha 3D would be the one sending me away.
Several emails suggested political bias behind the 13 Hours review. One favorite:
"I'd imagine that the hypocritical liberal press (even friggin' movie critics!?) would much rather legitimately acknowledge a movie titled Watergate, 40 Years Later or Hurricane Katrina: What a Reprehensible Racist That George W. Bush Was, and Is. And I'm guessing that if Michael Bay directed either of those, then you'd have a more positive review of his work."
That isn't likely even if Bay remakes Spring Breakers with Sean Penn and the Dixie Chicks.
But keep in touch.
ALSO OPENING: The Finest Hours
Besides Kung Fu Panda 3, this week's new releases offer truth and a spoof.
Truth comes in The Finest Hours (PG-13), set off Cape Cod during the blizzard of '52, when an oil tanker was ripped apart by wind and waves. Four Coast Guard members braved the storm to rescue 30 sailors before the tanker sank. Chris Pine and Casey Affleck lead the rescue effort.
Fifty Shades of Black
The spoof is Fifty Shades of Black (R), continuing a Wayans family tradition of movie knockoff comedy stretching back to Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. This time it's Marlon Wayans' turn, putting an even sillier spin on Fifty Shades of Grey. No, spanks.
C'EST BON CINEMA: Tournees Film Festival
The University of Tampa concludes its salute to French cinema with the final three offerings of the Tournees Film Festival, including Alain Renais' 1959 masterpiece Hiroshima Mon Amour, a high-water mark of the French New Wave movement.
Hiroshima Mon Amour screens at 3 p.m. Sunday in the university's David Falk Theater. Admission is free to all Tournees screenings.
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, the Falk presents Girlhood, a coming of age drama in which a teenager joins a female street gang. The festival concludes at 7:30 p.m. Monday with Clouds of Sils Maria, featuring Kristen Stewart's Cannes prize-winning performance.
Tournees is made possible by a grant presented by the French-American Cultural Exchange Foundation, in conjunction with the French Embassy.
OSCAR SHORTS AT TAMPA THEATRE
Starting Saturday, get your Oscar pools tight by seeing the nominees few usually know. Details and a review at tampabay.com/movies.
SHATNER'S WORLD: We Just Live in It
After memorably telling Star Trek fans to "get a life" in an SNL sketch, William Shatner is ready to share his.
Shatner brings his one-man show, Shatner's World: We Just Live in It, to St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater on Feb. 3. He'll discuss his remarkable career and characters, from Capt. James T. Kirk to T.J. Hooker to Denny Crane.
Times pop culture savant Jay Cridlin interviewed Shatner, 84, in advance of his visit. Here's a sample, with the actor discussing his persona shifting over the years.
"You might say I devolved, rather than playing the character that people expected me to be," Shatner told Cridlin. "I gradually, and certainly with this show, became more myself, and less the fictional character of Capt. Kirk, or whatever character that I was playing at the time. Less the fictional character, and more the essential me."
Show time is 7:30 p.m. $59.50-$79.50. themahaffey.com.
Meet the essential William Shatner — Bill to his friends — by clicking here.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 The Revenant: Twelve Academy Award nominations, including best picture, actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and supporting actor (Tom Hardy).
2 Anomalisa: Stop-motion animated ennui from the creator of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In other words, a strange and beautiful film.
3 Kung Fu Panda 3: The anti-Anomalisa. Not as strange but funnier and differently beautiful
4 Room: Nominated for four Oscars, including best picture, actress (Brie Larson), director and adapted screenplay.
5 Academy Awards short films: Tampa Theatre presents animated and live-action Oscar nominees in separate showcases.
(dates subject to change)
Feb. 5: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Hail, Caesar!; The Choice
Feb. 12: Deadpool; How to be Single; Zoolander 2; Where to Invade Next
Feb. 19: Risen; Race; Viral