INDIE FLICKS: MAGGIE'S PLAN
Greta Gerwig excels at playing irresistibly selfish women, the flame moths can't stop circling until burned. Characters like hers in Maggie's Plan (R) don't intend to hurt but invariably do, with a bittersweet charm that helps. Maggie's Plan is Gerwig at the top of her neo-screwball game.
Maggie's original plan is to be artificially inseminated by a dim, sweet donor (Travis Fimmel) and raise her child alone. That changes when Maggie meets John (Ethan Hawke), an erudite professor and author married to the icy intellectual Georgette (Julianne Moore, with a Baba Wawa speech impediment). Now Maggie's plan is to steal away John, and have a child with him.
That's enough for most indie romances to cover but writer-director Rebecca Miller is just getting started. Maggie develops other plans that won't be spoiled but each one results from some leap for self-gratification or to rationalize her regret. She could be despised except Gerwig is continually in touch with the faults Maggie won't admit, turning her troubles into a whip-smart performance.
Gerwig is orbited by a solid cast, particularly Hawke, bumping up his charm game several degrees. Bill Hader and Maya Rudolph offer sideline observations on what's happening, which in Miller's overactive plot is plenty. As Maggie's Plan unfolds, the opportunities pile up for everything to be immediately settled, not muddled more. Like her characters, Gerwig eventually makes everything better.
Maggie's Plan opens Friday at select theaters. B+
NOW YOU SEE ME 2
Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, and I'll enjoy Now You See Me 2 (PG-13) as much as the 2013 original; "a movie with everything up its sleeve and presto chango at its core," I wrote at the time.
Everyone who matters is back, led by magician con artists the Four Horsemen (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco) and their accomplices (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine). The team is pressured into a heist by a tech mogul (Daniel Radcliffe), while Morgan Freeman scowls in prison.
A review will be published at tampabay.com/movies.
The Four Horsemen already pulled off one trick I like. A screening of Now You See Me 2 was scheduled for the same time as Warcraft (PG-13), making any obligation to sit through this video game flick disappear.
Warcraft is based on the franchise's first game, in which the peaceful human inhabitants of Azeroth are invaded by Orc warriors. Gamepad not included.
On a promising note, Warcraft is directed by Duncan Jones, whose Moon and Source Code are two of the past decade's finer sci-fi dramas. On a sour note, Warcraft has a "rotten" status (24 percent favorable) on Rotten Tomatoes and a lousy Metacritic score.
Now you see me? No, you won't.
THE CONJURING 2
Finally, there's The Conjuring 2 (R) starring St. Petersburg fave Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as paranormal investigators called to London on spooky business. Click here for a review.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 The Lobster: A wonderfully absurd sort-of romance starring Colin Farrell.
2 Sing Street: Dublin lads form an '80s pop band, from the creator of Once.
3 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping: The rare SNL movie spinoff that works.
4 The Nice Guys: Russell Crowe is the brawn, Ryan Gosling the birdbrain.
5 A Bigger Splash: Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton play erotic head games.
(Dates subject to change)
June 17: Finding Dory; Central Intelligence
June 24: Independence Day: Resurgence; Free State of Jones
June 29: The Shallows
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