INDIE FLICKS: SWISS ARMY MAN
Swiss Army Man (R) is a movie constantly leaning on the rails but somehow never going off them. Correctly pegged as the "Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse movie" at Sundance, this bracingly dark comedy winds up even cruder yet warmer than that description.
Hank, excellently played by Paul Dano, is literally at the end of his rope when Swiss Army Man begins, ready to hang himself after being marooned on a beach. Suicide is interrupted by the sight of a body (Radcliffe) washed ashore. Crazed with starvation, Hank names the corpse Manny, adopting him as a friend and survival tool.
You see, Manny passes gas propulsively, allowing Hank to ride him like a jet ski to another, bountiful island. Manny also dispenses drinking water, and other handy devices. Soon, he'll speak. It sounds too weird to be true, and it is. Maybe.
Billed as the Daniels, co-writers/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert weave a Kaufmanesque tale of isolation and longing, wrapped in bizarre circumstances. Manny essentially becomes Hank's ventriloquism dummy, a self-critical sounding board of lifelong dysfunction. Anything Manny does or says tells something about Hank, adding melancholy resonance to the unavoidable Weekend at Bernie's humor. Opens Friday at select Tampa Bay theaters. B+
ALSO OPENING: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN
Let's call The Legend of Tarzan (PG-13) what it is: The Jungle Book with Alexander Skarsgard in the centerfold.
Several loincloths more modest than True Blood, Skarsgård swings into the role that made semi-stars of Johnny Weissmuller, Christopher Lambert and Buster Crabbe. Didn't do much for Herman Brix or P. Dempsey Tabler but with 49 Tarzan movies produced over 98 years, you're bound to find a few stiffs.
Skarsgård is Tarzan, Margot Robbie is Jane, who married the guy and settled into aristocratic bliss in London. There's a rumble in the Congo, with a corrupt government official (Christoph Waltz) threatening the hero's ape clan. Time to warm up those vocal chords for a big Tarzan yell.
Read a grade C- review of The Legend of Tarzan at tampabay.com/movies.
THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR
Three years ago, a movie pitching a 24-hour period of committing crimes with immunity from prosecution was a brutally novel idea.
In today's uncivil political climate, The Purge: Election Year (R) could be a campaign promise.
A former cop (Frank Grillo) who survived the Purge in part 2 is now head of security for a U.S. senator (Elizabeth Mitchell) opposing the practice. She's running for president, vowing to end the Purge. Naturally there are politi-corporate forces who'll do anything to stop her.
The Purge: Election Year wasn't screened in time for Weekend. I can wait until November.
THE INFILTRATOR: CRANSTON'S RED CARPET
Get a glimpse of Emmy and Tony winner Bryan Cranston on Wednesday at Tampa Theatre, when The Infiltrator returns to the scene of its crimes and production.
Cranston will be joined by co-star Benjamin Bratt and director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer), at a VIP-only screening of The Infiltrator, filmed around Tampa Bay last year.
Red carpet arrivals begin at 5 p.m., continuing until ceremonies inside begin at 7:30. Franklin Street Mall may be packed, so arrive early for a good spot.
If you can't make it Wednesday, keep in touch with tampabay.com and @StevePersall on Twitter for updates. The Infiltrator opens in theaters nationwide on July 13.
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 Swiss Army Man: The heartwarming tale of a man (Paul Dano) and his corpse (Daniel Radcliffe).
4 Finding Dory: Good sequel to a great movie, and that's okay.
5 Central Intelligence: Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make a great comedy team.
(Dates subject to change)
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
Aug. 5: The Founder; Suicide Squad; Nine Lives
Aug. 12: Sausage Party; Pete's Dragon
Aug. 19: Ben-Hur; War Dogs; Collide; The Space Between Us