Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Things To Do

Movie Planner: 'Wiener-Dog,' 'Gleason,' 'Pete's Dragon'

INDIE FLICKS: WIENER-DOG

Todd Solondz returns to spiky form with Wiener-Dog (R), a quartet of character studies linked by a dachshund and mordant dramedy. It's the filmmaker's most divisive work since Happiness two decades ago, after its finale ignited jeers at the Sundance premiere. No spoilers, but if a romantic camera pan along a trail of doggie diarrhea didn't set them off earlier, you can imagine what occurs.

This furry Candide is a rescue, adopted as a gift for young Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke) by his ramrod father (Tracy Letts) and a mother (Julie Delpy) who can't resist spinning disturbing tales of dog ownership. Traumatized by such stories, Remi's curiosity slashes to the heart of adult hypocrisy; Solondz at his caustic best.

Circumstances lead Wiener-Dog to a vet's office where Dawn Wiener works, grown up and prettier since Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995), yet still socially awkward. Greta Gerwig takes over the role from Heather Matarazzo and is delightful, as usual. This episode is a sharp turn in tone, bittersweet and hopeful, completing a girl's clumsy journey to womanhood.

After a bizarre intermission spoof, Solondz inexplicably connects the dachshund to a screenwriting professor (Danny DeVito) on the brink of dismissal. Much of this segment feels like Solondz working out an insider's indie grudge against Hollywood types that DeVito delivers with understated grace.

The dog takes another leap into the lap of an aged, angry woman (Ellen Burstyn, superb), visited by a long-gone granddaughter (Zosia Mamet) with lots of baggage. Solondz doesn't do sentimental well, and that's where this episode clumsily treads, until that unfortunate finale that, honestly, I'd also jeer.

It's good to know Solondz hasn't lost his ability to shock, or his indifference to anyone thinking he goes too far. Wiener-Dog is gentler material than usual for him, sweet, even goofy at times, yet no comfier than a sandpaper hug. B+

GLEASON

Former NFL player Steve Gleason refused to stop living when fate handed down his death sentence. His inspirational story is straightforwardly told in Gleason (R), a documentary by Clay Tweel that would benefit from another run through the editing room.

Gleason was diagnosed in 2011 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease. He's still alive, near the end of the best chance scenario for survival. The former New Orleans Saints sparkplug, a hang-loose dude with a newly pregnant wife, Michel, didn't know if he'd meet his son. He started recording messages, lessons from a father, to leave his best behind.

These recordings and similarly intimate home movies are heartwarming, and Gleason's later turn to advocacy for ALS patients — including taking them on bucket list trips — is remarkable. The man's goodness and his support team's devotion are quickly obvious; Gleason is nearly two hours long. Tweel could get to every uplifting turn his movie makes a bit sooner. B

ALSO OPENING: PETE'S DRAGON

Disney scrapes the bottom of its barrel in remaking Pete's Dragon (PG), part of the studio's long animation slump that The Little Mermaid ended. Nowhere to go but up.

The new version has a feral orphan named Pete (Oakes Fegley) but we'll call him Mowgli for short. He trains his dragon by the forest book, until he's saved by Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard, demoted from dinosaurs). Her father (Robert Redford) has been telling folks about that dragon for years, consarn it. Maybe they'll believe him now.

INDIGNATION

For much more mature audiences comes Indignation (R), based on Philip Roth's novel about a Jewish student (Logan Lerman) growing up awkwardly at a Midwest college. A grade B+ review will be published at tampabay.com/movies and on Etc, Page 2B.

ANTHROPOID

Anthropoid (R) isn't the horror flick is sounds like, but the true story of an assassin (Cillian Murphy) trying to kill Adolf Hitler's No. 3 man. Wake me when the movie about chasing No. 2 comes out.

in theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Captain Fantastic: An unorthodox father (Viggo Mortensen) raises his children in the wild.

2 Absolutely Fabulous: The fashion world satire Zoolander wishes it could be.

3 Life, Animated: Parents connect with an autistic son through Disney 'toons.

4 The Secret Life of Pets: Toy Story with animals, and nearly as much magic.

5 The Infiltrator: Bryan Cranston and Tampa Bay co-star in a true crime drama.

UPCOMING RELEASES

(Dates subject to change)

Aug. 19: Ben-Hur; War Dogs; Collide; Kubo and the Two Strings; Hell and High Water

Aug. 26: Mechanic: Resurrection; Don't Breathe

Sept. 2: The Light Between Oceans; Morgan; Solace

Sept. 9: Sully; Before I Wake; When the Bough Breaks; The Wild Life

Sept. 16: Bridget Jones's Baby

     
 
Comments
My husband has been on the ketogenic diet for three months. Here’s how he does it.

My husband has been on the ketogenic diet for three months. Here’s how he does it.

This week I wrote about something with which I have become very familiar: the ketogenic diet. If you’re like, "Huh?" you are where I was three months ago, before my husband, Phil, embarked on the weight-loss regimen. The keto diet is a high-fat, low-...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hillsborough Rep. Jack Raburn won’t seek re-election in House District 57

Hillsborough Rep. Jack Raburn won’t seek re-election in House District 57

LITHIA — State Rep. Jake Raburn hasn't had a challenger since the Republican first won the District 57 seat in 2012.Now he has an opponent: Valrico's Debbie Katt is a software development engineer and political newcomer who has qualif...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease class...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

Review: On ‘Everything Is Love,’ Beyonce and Jay-Z emerge from chaos defiant, triumphant

In 2016 Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, a culture-quaking song cycle about her troubled marriage to Jay-Z, and more broadly about the black female experience in America. It was her best and most meaningful work, and it was nominated for Album of the Year a...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

TAMPA — The virtues of Dancing at Lughnasa, with which Jobsite Theater closes its season, are many. This drama by the celebrated Brian Friel opened in 1990 to much acclaim. It captures a family’s joys and sadnesses, and the quickness with which one s...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What’s changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What’s changed for 2018

Pride weekend kicks off in St. Petersburg today with a free concert hosted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, a parade along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and an expanded expo of vendors and art on Sunday in the Grand Central District that gave birt...
Updated: 12 hours ago
XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

XXXTentacion, controversial Florida rapper and singer, shot dead at 20

The last words posted to XXXTentacion's Instagram Stories on Monday afternoon: "planning a charity event for this weekend Florida!"Whatever it was, it would have been huge. The 20-year-old singer-rapper was among the biggest — and most controve...
Published: 06/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 19

James After 5: The museum is open from 5 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday, featuring $5 admission. Tonight, former Tampa Bay Times movie critic Steve Persall will introduce a screening of Stagecoach (1939). 5 p.m., James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, 15...
Published: 06/18/18

Sports on TV/radio for Tuesday, June 19

TODAYBaseballOrioles at Nationals7 p.m.MLBRays at Astros8 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Giants10 p.m.FSFDiamondbacks at Angels10 p.m.ESPNCollege baseball, World SeriesFlorida vs. Texas2 p.m.ESPNTexas Tech vs. Arkansas7 p.m.ESPNGolfPGA Professionals c...
Published: 06/18/18
SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

— Singer-songwriter Mat Kearney is returning to the Ritz Ybor on Sept. 27, with Atlas Genius opening. Tickets start at $26.50. Click here for details.— Also coming to the Ritz Ybor in September: South Florida rapper (and a new member of X...
Published: 06/18/18