1. Movies

What's in theaters for Thanksgiving: 'Coco,' 'Last Flag Flying,' 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

Saoirse Ronan in "Lady Bird." MUST CREDIT: Merie Wallace, A24
Published Nov. 25, 2017

Disney-Pixar's animated dramedy Coco (PG) is inspired by Mexico's annual Dia de los Muertos, the "day of the dead" when departed ancestors are celebrated. Good for diversity, although the movie isn't as good as its intentions.

Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) defies his family and runs away to be a musician after one abandoned his great-great-grandmother. The boy's quest leads to the afterlife, where his late singing idol (Benjamin Bratt) and a skeletal peasant (Gael García Bernal) pull the plot strings.

Click here to read a review (Grade C).

Richard Linklater does another "spiritual sequel," this time to Hal Ashby's 1973 classic The Last Detail based on Darryl Ponicsan's novel. Ponicsan's followup Last Flag Flying (R) inspires a movie trying too hard to dodge its past.

Bryan Cranston, right, does a mean Jack Nicholson impression as a man who's reunited with his Navy buddies (Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne). One's son was killed in Iraq and needs company on a road trip to Arlington and beyond.

Click here to read a review (Grade B-).

Don't miss Christopher Plummer's turn as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas (PG), now or every year on home video. This fanciful notion of how Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol is bound to become a holiday perennial.

Dan Stevens, above, makes a charming Dickens, struggling with debt and writer's block when the idea of a Christmas novel comes to him. In 1843, the holiday wasn't a big deal. His book made it so.

Click here to read a review (Grade B).

Denzel Washington, below left, stars as Roman J. Israel, Esq., (R) an old-school civil rights lawyer facing an ethical crisis. Colin Farrell co-stars in a courtrooom character study written and directed by Dan Gilroy, whose 2014 debut Nightcrawler was a nasty piece of business.

Click here to read a review (Grade C).

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is where Mildred Hayes vents grief over her daughter's rape and murder, and anger toward a police chief who hasn't solved the case. Ten words on stark canvases setting off a powder keg of poetic cruelty and unexpected redemption.

The setting and Martin McDonagh's movie are no country for weak women. No problem. As played ferociously by Frances McDormand, Mildred is no one to underestimate, not for her callousness or ease of violence when necessary, which is for her alone to decide.

Click here to read a review (Grade A).

Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird (R) is a different sort of delightful, like its first-time director in her day job as an indie cinema darling. Initially considered an acting and writing muse, Gerwig finds her own in Saoirse Ronan playing a version of the filmmaker's Sacramento youth.

Ronan's portrayal of Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson has the makings of a Gen-Z hero, a rebel whose weapon of choice is stubborn irony. She gave herself the nickname, part of growing up spunky with parents who aren't. Lady Bird is bright, not book smart, a better person than those she won't hang around.

Lady Bird is determined to leave the family nest for a New York college without the grades or the blessing of her alpha mother (Laurie Metcalf). Her father (Tracy Letts) has been downsized at work and home. The McPherson family dynamics elicit the best of Gerwig's writing, bitter and sweet. The trio's bond is acrid yet unquestioned.

As assured as Lady Bird seems, she's still immature enough to allow a crush (Timothée Chalamet) to pull her away from a true friend (Beanie Feldstein) and impose a poseur (Odeya Rush). The right guy for her (Manchester by the Sea's Lucas Hedges) will get trampled in Lady Bird's rush to discover who she is and if that's enough.

Gerwig's movie doesn't say much new about growing up cool with parents who aren't. But it says plenty about Gerwig's talent, another channel for a distinctive voice of her generation. B+

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: One of 2017's best films. Review, Page 16

2 The Florida Project: Homeless children make their own magic in Disney World's shadow.

3 Lady Bird: Saoirse Ronan shines in Greta Gerwig's directing debut.

4 The Man Who Invented Christmas: Christopher Plummer isn't humbug as Ebenezer Scrooge.

5 Last Flag Flying: Richard Linklater's sequel of sorts to The Last Detail.


(Dates subject to change)

Dec. 1: He's Out There

Dec. 8: The Shape of Water; The Disaster Artist

Dec. 15: Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Ferdinand

Dec. 22: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; Pitch Perfect 3; Downsizing

Dec. 29: The Greatest Showman; Molly's Game


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    ‘21 Bridges’ and 'The Irishman’ also open locally, plus a film in the park and the anniversary screening of ‘Galaxy Quest.’
  2. Director Dan Myrick, left, and Kristian Krempel are pictured on Seventh Avenue in Tampa's Ybor City.
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  3. Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott in "Charlie's Angels." MERIE WEISMILLER WALLACE  |  Columbia Pictures
    Screenings of ‘Turning Point’ and ‘Lionel Richie at Glastonbury’ are also in store for the week.
  4. FILE - In this April 3, 2019, file photo characters from Disney and Fox movies are displayed behind Cathleen Taff, president of distribution, franchise management, business and audience insight for Walt Disney Studios during the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2019, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, Disney Plus launches its streaming service. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File) CHRIS PIZZELLO  |  Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
    The Walt Disney Company’s foray into streaming services is off with a few hitches
  5. The Blair Witch Project director Dan Myrick, left, and his production company partner Kristian Krempel on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City.
    The production company estimates it will spend over $1 million locally
  6. Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator: Dark Fate." KERRY BROWN  |  Paramount Pictures
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  7. Former WWE wrestler turned actor John Hennigan performs stunts in the movie "Speed of Time" being made in Clearwater. Christian Cashmir
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  8. Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater and the Coast Guard Cutter "Tornado" rescue Nick Schuyler from an overturned vessel in 2009. Coast Guard photo/Fireman Adam Campbell (2009)
    “Not Without Hope” is based on the true story of the boat accident that took the lives of three football players and left a fourth stranded at sea.
  9. Mike Sandlin, owner of Grindhouse Video in Tampa, poses for a photo at his store. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Grindhouse Video, a temple of horror flicks, B movies and cult films, proves the video store isn’t dead yet.
  10. "The Current War" stars Benedict Cumberbatch. DEAN ROGERS  |  101 Studios
    ‘Countdown,’ ‘One Piece: Stampede,’ ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ and ‘The Great Alaskan Race’ also open, plus three horror screenings.