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Movie Planner: Mel Brooks at the Straz, '99 Homes' opening


Grab your Raisinets and get to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday night. Mel Brooks is ridin' into town, a whompin' and a whumpin' every livin' thing that laughs within an inch of its life.

The comedy treasure is bringing friends with him: Sheriff Bart, the Waco Kid and Mongo among them. Brooks' Back in the Saddle Again! tour includes a screening of his 1974 classic Blazing Saddles, followed by a moderated Q&A session with audience participation.

Tickets are $79-$99, available at and the box office.

In a telephone interview, Brooks gave the Tampa Bay Times a taste of what fans can expect, his rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of laughter, to paraphrase Hedley Lamarr.

Brooks discussed recruiting co-writers of the proudly politically incorrect Western satire, telling them: "We'll get Richard Pryor so we can use the n-word ... and blame it on him."

Brooks gave his five-man writing team a single, liberating directive:

"I said just dig down deep and say the dirtiest, craziest things you ever thought of, because this movie is not going to be made," Brooks said. "Once they see this script, Warner Bros. will throw it in the wastebasket."

To read more with Mel, click here, and give him a harrumph if you go to the show.


Ramin Bahrani was anointed by the late Roger Ebert as "the new great American director." Bahrani's recession thriller 99 Homes (R) is reason to agree.

Set in 2010 Florida during the home foreclosure crisis, 99 Homes is both a tutorial in fraud and a subtle noir in broad daylight. Bahrani researched his subject statewide in 2013, including a stop at the Times for background information.

Michael Shannon stars as Rick Carver, a foreclosure demon in this very American horror story. Rick is merciless, kicking out families with rude efficiency, picking over the carcass of their homes for extra cash. The law is mostly on his side as the housing bubble bursts, anything else can be forged or stolen.

One of Rick's evictees is Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield), a single father living with his mother (Laura Dern). Dennis is desperate for money, Rick sees something in him, and a deal with a devil is struck.

Click here to read the full grade-A review of 99 Homes and > click here for an interview with the filmmaker.


Recent movies recommended by Times critics.

1 Sicario: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro battle a Mexican drug cartel in a gripping drama. One of the year's best. (Read a full review.)

2 The Martian: A brainy blockbuster, with Matt Damon surviving outer space through science and a helping hand from Jessica Chastain. (Read a full review.)

3 99 Homes: Florida's foreclosure crisis makes a single dad (Andrew Garfield) deal with a real estate devil (Michael Shannon) in a timely thriller.

4 The Walk: Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as high-wire artist Philippe Petit, who walked between the World Trade Center's towers. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. (Read a full review.)

5 He Named Me Malala: Bio-doc of teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, whom even a Taliban bullet can't silence. (Read a full review.)


Oct. 16: Goosebumps; Crimson Peak; Bridge of Spies; Freeheld

Oct. 23: Steve Jobs; Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension; Burnt; The Last Witch Hunter; Jem and the Holograms; Rock the Kasbah

Oct. 30: Our Brand is Crisis; Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Nov. 6: Spectre; The Peanuts Movie; Room; Trumbo

Nov. 13: The 33; By the Sea; Rings; Love the Coopers

Movie Planner: Mel Brooks at the Straz, '99 Homes' opening 10/07/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 3:07pm]
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