The Zola Twitter saga went viral. The ‘Zola’ movie is being filmed in Tampa Bay.

The Zola Twitter saga went viral. The ‘Zola’ movie is being filmed in Tampa Bay.

Okay listen up. This story is long.

It was the first of nearly 150 tweets over a 48-hour period in October 2015, leading to a Twitter saga read by millions. A 19-year-old woman named Aziah “Zola” Wells told the story of her March 2015 weekend trip to Tampa. It involved stripping, forced prostitution, gun play and an attempted suicide.

Now the Twitter saga is becoming a movie called Zola. The production has been filming in the Tampa Bay area since Oct. 29, film commissioners from both sides of the bridge confirmed.

“We’ve wanted to keep it quiet out of respect for the production company,” St.Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner Tony Armer. “They will be here through early December.”

Neither Armer nor Hillsborough County film commissioner Tyler Martinolich would say where the production is filming. So far, only private property has been used.

“All over the Tampa Bay area,” Armer said. “They are spreading the love.”

A24, which was behind the Academy Award-winning movie Moonlight, is producing the movie, according to IMDB.com. Janicza Bravo, whose breakout hit was the indie darling Lemon, directs. Taylour Paige stars as Zola.

Costar Riley Keough posted an Instagram story called “Trampa” that showed the movie’s stars dancing inside a ballroom. Costar Coleman Domingo shared a photo of himself lounging at a hotel at a place he labeled Clearwater Beach. Derica Cole and Nicole Suerez, listed on IMDB as costume designer and assistant costume designer, posted shots from Tampa’s Oxford Exchange.

The story told by Wells was based on real people and a real trip. The most salacious parts were made up.

It began in the Michigan Hooters where Wells worked when customer Jessica Swiatkowski invited her on a road trip to Tampa for a weekend of dancing in the city’s famous strip clubs. Going with them would be Swiatkowski’s boyfriend Jarrett Scott and friend Akporode “Rudy” Uwedjojevwe.

That much appears to be true.

Through the tweets, Wells then wrote that Swiatkowski was forced into prostitution by Uwedjojevwe, who also shot a rival pimp in the face, and that Jarrett attempted suicide by jumping from a hotel balcony.

Wells has admitted that the shooting and suicide attempt were made up. Swiatkowski has since denied she prostituted. Uwedjojevwe was later arrested for sexual assault and trafficking in an unrelated incident in Reno.

The tale took off on the internet as #TheStory. Ava DuVernay, Missy Elliot, Keke Palmer, Solange Knowles and other stars shared it. Movie studios vied for the rights to the story.

Zola presents a great opportunity to start a dialogue about the dangers of sex work,” Martinolich said, “while at the same time proving once again Florida is not lacking in unique and often colorful stories ripe for filmmakers to explore.”

This marks the second time A24 has filmed in the Tampa Bay area. The company also produced Spring Breakers, filmed in St. Petersburg in 2012.

Locals are part of the Zola cast and crew, the film commissioners said, but unless the production company applies for their county’s film incentives and turns in books, they cannot estimate numbers. Both counties give 10 percent back on what productions spend in-county and both have a $500,000 annual cap on what can be dolled out.

Unlike neighboring Georgia, Florida does not offer a state tax incentive to productions. That has caused movies like Live By Night, which takes place in Ybor City, and Gifted, set in St. Petersburg, to recreate those locales in Georgia.

But A24 made Moonlight in Miami without a state incentive and is doing the same with Zola here.

“A24 is a filmmaker-friendly company,” Armer said. “They will always do what is best for the film and the filmmaker.”

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] or follow @PGuzzoTimes.

https://www.tampabay.com/features/movies/the-zola-twitter-saga-went-viral-the-zola-movie-is-being-filmed-in-tampa-bay-20181116/


Review: Gut-punch ‘Boy Erased’ reveals cruelty of conversion therapy

Less than a century ago, it was common to force children who were born left-handed to learn to use their right hand instead of doing what came naturally.

Once sanity replaced cruelty on this issue, the People Who Think Everyone Should Be Like Us, or PWTESBLU, had to seek new targets to bludgeon into conformity. They couldn’t quite change anyone’s skin color, and their aggressive efforts to convert folks to their religions turned more people against organized religion instead.

But there was still sexual orientation.

The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973, but that didn’t stop the PWTESBLU. Citing biblical quotations, as they had in defending slavery, segregation and women’s subservience to men, they preached that same-sex attraction is a sin but these sinners could change.

In 1973, we also saw the formation of Love in Action, one of the more prominent organizations offering “conversion therapy” to “pray away the gay.” Its name changed to Restoration Path in 2012.

While other films on the subject (1999’s But I’m a Cheerleader, 2018’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post) used fictional names for their conversion programs, Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, out Friday, calls Love in Action by its name because that’s where Garrard Conley was sent as a teenager. Though he’s called Jared Eamons here, the movie is based on Conley’s 2016 memoir and the events are basically shown as he described them.

Jared, played by Lucas Hedges, is the son of an Arkansas Baptist preacher, Marshall Eamons (Russell Crowe), and his wife, Nancy (Nicole Kidman). The film begins with Jared’s arrival at Love in Action’s day treatment center, where his reception is like that of a convict being admitted to prison. His cellphone and other personal belongings are taken away to be searched for clues to his misdeeds. The official policy, “No one is to discuss the therapy outside these walls,” sounds suspiciously like Fight Club.

The events from Jared’s past that brought him here are shown in flashbacks that are inserted somewhat confusingly until you get used to the pattern. They involve encounters with two young men, one of whom outs Jared to his parents for reasons that make little sense.

Marshall consults two older, wiser ministers, who recommend conversion therapy for the boy. It’s 2004, yes, but it’s also Arkansas; and even in 2018, 36 states — including Florida — still allow minors to be subjected to conversion therapy.

Most of the story alternates between Jared’s time in therapy and time spent with his parents. Marshall believes he’s doing the right thing, while Nancy is more open-minded but close-mouthed.

Besides being a pastor, Marshall operates a Ford dealership. Ironically, the director of the Love in Action facility, Victor Sykes (Edgerton, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Conley), spends a lot of time preaching but privately acts like a slimy salesman. Is he sincere in his beliefs, or is he just in it for the money?

His young victims meet in what looks like a congregation-therapy group, where they’re forced to participate in exercises that range from humiliating to torturous. It’s obvious how suicides have resulted from this kind of therapy in real life.

There aren’t as many rebels as in the earlier films cited above, but Gary (Troye Sivan) obviously speaks for more than himself when he advises Jared to “Play the part.” Pop star Sivan, one of the openly gay performers (including Cherry Jones and Xavier Dolan) in the film, also contributes a song, Revelation, that’s heard twice.

Boy Erased is a fair and balanced condemnation of conversion therapy. Its emotional impact comes from what’s below the low-key surface. Hedges exhibits very little personality, understandable for a young man trying not to show the world who he is. Kidman’s role is largely reactive, until she comes into her own near the end. Crowe is less fire-and-brimstone than you’d expect of a Southern Baptist preacher, probably so we believe he’s misguided, not evil.

That this solid drama is more in-your-brain than in-your-face may work against it when it comes to award recognition, but anyone who has had experience with conversion therapy or knows someone who has will find instead that it’s in-your-gut. I wouldn’t change it.

Steve Warren is a tbt* correspondent. Contact him at [email protected]

‘Boy Erased’

Director: Joel Edgerton

Cast: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Troye Sivan, Xavier Dolan, Cherry Jones

Screenplay: Garrard Conley, Joel Edgerton

Rating: R; for sexual content including an assault, some language and brief drug use

Running time: 114 minutes

Showtimes at Tampa Theatre: 7 and 9:45 p.m. Friday, 3:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Monday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Check online listings for other area theaters.

https://www.tampabay.com/features/movies/review-gut-punch-boy-erased-reveals-cruelty-of-conversion-therapy-20181115/


Heartbreaking plot revealed in trailer for Disney’s Dumbo ‘live-action’ remake

Disney's Dumbo

A new trailer, poster, and images for Disney’s live-action take on the Walt Disney classic Dumbo are causing fans everywhere to reach for the tissues as the heartbreaking plot of the story is revealed. Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, “Dumbo” expand on the beloved story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished, and dreams take flight.

Walt Disney’s classic animated tale “Dumbo,” which opened Oct. 23, 1941, won an Oscar for best scoring of a musical picture and was nominated for best original song for “Baby Mine.” We hear that song re-imagined in the new trailer for “Dumbo” here:

It certainly looks like a Tim Burton film. His hyper-real take on the world, with a little tragic twist, is well suited for the story of Dumbo. The live-action re-imagining of “Dumbo” also utilizes state-of-the-art visual effects to portray Dumbo and many of his four-legged counterparts with photo-realistic accuracy, and fantasy, when necessary.

(Click images to embiggen)

The cast is a lineup of winners too. Colin Farrell, who seems to love Disney movies now, Michael Keaton, who makes a great villain, Danny DeVito, in a role he was born to play, and Eva Green, who won us over as Vesper Lynd in James Bond’s Casino Royale.

About the film:

Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.

Disney’s “Dumbo” is directed by Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland”) from a screenplay by Ehren Kruger (“Ophelia,” “Dream House”), and produced by Justin Springer (“TRON: Legacy”), Kruger, Katterli Frauenfelder (“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”) and Derek Frey (“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” “Frankenweenie”).

“Dumbo” flies into theaters March 29, 2019.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheDisneyBlog/~3/rabO3ybLgmI/


Tampa Bay comic book artists and fans react to Stan Lee’s death

Tampa Bay, along with the world, mourns the death of Stan Lee.

As publisher of Marvel Comics, Lee has been credited with creating the comic book as we know it today, drawing renewed attention to exciting and complex characters including Spider-Man, the Hulk and X-Men. Under his watch, Marvel became a global cinematic sensation, with screen hits like Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Tampa Bay is home to a confluence of comic book industry professionals and fans — even a superhero — who were impacted by Lee, who died Monday at 95. Here are their reactions to his death.

JIMMY PALMIOTTI

The comic writer and illustrator, 57, worked on Marvel titles such as Punisher, Ghost Rider and Daredevil.

I met Stan when I started freelancing at Marvel comics back in 1991, and throughout the years, every time I would see him or host a panel with him, he was the nicest and most generous man I ever knew.

It was surreal and exciting to be asked to host panels at conventions with him for the simple fact that I would get to see the love and joy he brought to all the fans all over the world firsthand.

He was always asked the same few questions, like why was the Hulk green, or where did the Silver Surfer come from and so on, and each and every time he answered, he would always add that extra detail that would make listening to him such a treat.

A sweet and funny thing he would also do was ask me if I needed any work, and if I did he would talk to some people. I always laughed and thanked him, and then reminded him that he was already working me to the bone, which became a big laugh between us over the years.

At the end of the day, Stan loved telling stories, he loves superheroes, and most of all, he loved the fans, which each and every one of us have been since we were kids. He will be missed for sure, but it’s also exciting to know he will live on in generations to come with his amazing work.

RELATED: Ex-New Yorkers bring ‘DC Universe’ to Florida

BOB LAYTON

The comic writer, editor, illustrator and publisher, 65, has Marvel credits including the iteration of Iron Man depicted in the current movies.

I owe my career to the profound effect that several writers had on me as an adolescent.

They were scribes of science fantasy and wonder whose names are the stuff of legends — Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard and Frank Herbert, to name a few.

But before I discovered the joy of those literary giants of the printed word, there was another.

A writer of comic books, of all things. This man’s stories were so profoundly compelling to me that I devoted my entire adult life to following in his footsteps as a creator of fantastic characters and marvelous worlds.

There will never be another like Stan Lee. And now, he takes his place alongside those other legends.

RELATED: Iron Man writer discusses new Ant-Man and what the future may hold for Tony Stark

PAT BRODERICK

The comics writer and illustrator, 64, worked on Marvel titles such as Micronauts, Spider-Man and Captain Marvel.

I was a fan of Stan’s writing since I was 8. Eleven years later was the first time I was sent to Marvel’s office. I ran up and showed Stan my work and he hired me.

It’s the sad passing of an icon. There will not be another man like Stan in this industry for quite some time. He was instrumental in the creation of so many of the stories that are used in comics and multimedia. He will be missed. The old guard is nearly gone. It’s down to less than a handful of guys who produced the work in the ’50s and ’60s that still inspires us today.

RELATED: Tampa comic illustrator’s ‘Micronauts’ to get blockbuster treatment

DALE POPLE

Clearwater’s real-life retired superhero, 50, for decades performed good deeds wearing superhero attire.

Stan Lee enriched the sense of possibility for every little boy who wanted to find his unique potential. Through his characters he showed us that anything is possible. He showed us we could take his escapist fiction and turn it into enhanced fact to better our lives and the lives of those around us.

RELATED: At 50, Clearwater’s real-life superhero is hanging up his super suit

ZAC HURST

Hurst, 44, runs the nonprofit MUCH Foundation, which brings the world of comics to life for sick children through nearly 400 costumed visitors.

As adults we have seen his characters and stories take over the movies and populate theme parks all over the world. His doodles and ideas became a multibillion-dollar industry. His energy and drive through his 70s, 80s and even his 90s were inspirational to millions of people.

So, how do we measure the value of a life as amazing as his? Is it the billions of dollars, the movies, theme parks, or his fame? Stan Lee’s legacy is far more powerful than those things. His legacy, in my eyes, comes down to this: Children will always find a place of comfort and adventure during the hardest moments of their lives by simply turning the pages of one of his — as he called them — “silly little books filled with doodles.”

RELATED: Meet Batman’s 8-year-old sidekick, whose super power is vanquishing a brain tumor

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] or follow @PGuzzoTimes.

https://www.tampabay.com/celebrity/tampa-bay-comic-book-artists-and-fans-react-to-stan-lees-death-20181114/


In theaters this week: ‘Fantastic Beasts 2,’ ‘Widows,’ ‘Boy Erased,’ ‘Instant Family’

OPENING FRIDAY:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Dumbledore (Jude Law) tasks Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, above left) with thwarting Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) and his bid to rule over all us Muggles. (134 minutes, PG-13)

Widows

Viola Davis, right, leads an ensemble cast of women in a heist after their husbands (hers is played by Liam Neeson, left) are killed during a job. Directed by Steve McQueen, who co-wrote it with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. (129 minutes, R)

BOY ERASED

A small-town Baptist pastor’s teen son (Lucas Hedges) chooses between gay conversion therapy or being shunned when he is outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe). (114 minutes, R)

Instant Family

In this comedy with a dash of family feel-good, newbie foster parents (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) face a steep learning curve after they take in three kids. Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro are there to help. (119 minutes, PG-13)

A Private War

Dramatic thriller about real-life war correspondent Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike, above), her life on the frontlines, and the toll taken on her personal life. With Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci and Tom Hollander. (106 minutes, R)

ON NETFLIX: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Coen brothers go to Netflix with this six-part Western anthology. The New York Times called it among their darkest work, but also their silliest, swerving “from goofy to ghastly so deftly and so often that you can’t always tell which is which.” Among others, the movie stars Tim Blake Nelson, left, as cheerful killer Buster Scruggs, Henry Melling and Liam Neeson as a limbless traveling orator and his impresario, James Franco as a dumb bank robber and Zoe Kazan as a young woman on the Oregon Trail. Streams Friday on Netflix.

Grazie: Italian Film Festival

This weekend, you can catch an Italian treat that has nothing to do with tiramisu or gelato. From the University of South Florida and Consulate General of Italy in Florida, the Italian Film Festival features six contemporary Italian films screening for free over two days in the Straz Center’s TECO Theater. On Saturday, films include the comedy Pazze di me (Women Drive Me Crazy, 4 p.m.), the coming-of-age tale Corpo celeste (Celestial Body, 6 p.m.) and the biopic Puccini e la fanciulla (Puccini and the Girl, 8 p.m.). On Sunday, selections are the family drama La kryptonite nella borsa (Kryptonite in the Bag, 2 p.m.), the thriller Occhi chiusi (Closed Eyes, 4 p.m.) and Il giovane favoloso (6 p.m.), about the short life of the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. Reserve seats at strazcenter.org.

COMING NEXT WEEK: THANKSGIVING SIDES

Next week, a half-dozen movies open on Tuesday and Wednesday to tease Thanksgiving theater-going appetites. If you’re antsy, read more about Creed II, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Robin Hood, The Front Runner and Green Book at bit.ly/tbtholidaymovies. Or watch this space next week.

CriticS’ picks

Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Melissa McCarthy stars as a celebrity biographer who hatches a plot to stay relevant.

Bohemian Rhapsody: See it for Rami Malek’s widely praised performance as Freddie Mercury, and to hear Queen’s foot-stomping anthems in a theater.

Halloween: Four decades after the original terrified and grossed out moviegoers, the franchise springs back to life with Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode, the only survivor of Michael Myers’ first killing rampage.

UPCOMING RELEASES

All dates subject to change.

Tuesday and Wednesday: Creed II; Ralph Breaks the Internet; Robin Hood; Green Book; The Front Runner

Dec. 7: Mary Queen of Scots; Anna and the Apocalypse

Dec. 14: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; Mortal Engines; The Mule, The Favourite

Dec. 19: Mary Poppins Returns

Dec. 21: Aquaman; Bumblebee; Welcome to Marwen; Second Act; Ben Is Back

Dec. 25: Holmes & Watson; Vice

https://www.tampabay.com/features/movies/in-theaters-this-week-fantastic-beasts-2-widows-boy-erased-instant-family-20181114/


Mary Poppins Returns promise magical new music from dynamic cast and crew

Mary Poppins Returns -- Emily Blunt

A new featurette from behind-the-scenes of Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns talks with the stars and creative team behind the film on how the music of the film helps bring the magical nanny back to the big screen. The original score from the Sherman Brothers was so iconic, there’s a lot to live up to for the creative team.

Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote a new score for the film–one that star Lin-Manuel Miranda says is filled with “incredible, enchanting original music.”

“This is a film with great hope and spectacle,” said Emily Blunt, who plays Mary Poppins in the sequel. “And it’s moving, so I think it’s a very important film to be making right now.”

Watch the full trailer for Mary Poppins Returns:

You may also be interested in the seven new images from Mary Poppins Returns featured over at Entertainment Weekly. The film does not shy away from replicating the dazzling mix of animation and live-action we found in the original.

We have a few here:

About the film:

In Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” an all new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.

“Mary Poppins Returns” is directed by Rob Marshall. The screenplay is by David Magee and the screen story is by Magee & Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers. The producers are John DeLuca, p.g.a., Rob Marshall, p.g.a. and Marc Platt, p.g.a. with Callum McDougall serving as executive producer. The music score is by Marc Shaiman and the film features all new original songs with music by Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman.

The film also stars Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks; Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks; Julie Walters as the Banks’ housekeeper Ellen; Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and introducing Joel Dawson as the Banks’ children, with Colin Firth as Fidelity Fiduciary Bank’s William Weatherall Wilkins; and Meryl Streep as Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy. Angela Lansbury appears as the Balloon Lady, a treasured character from the PL Travers books and Dick Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes, Jr., the retired chairman of the bank now run by Firth’s character.

Mary Poppins Returns will bring its magic to theatres December 19!

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From ‘The Grinch’ to ‘Mary Poppins,’ 32 movies to see by year’s end

The holidays are upon us. Not only because Halloween is past, but also because holiday movies have arrived at a multiplex near you.

The Grinch is here to gripe in Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice about Whoville’s holiday spirit, joining a new version of The Nutcracker that danced its way in last week.

Movie season will come and go without a Star Wars release for the first time since The Force Awakens revived the saga in 2015; you’ll have to wait until December 2019 for Episode IX. But don’t worry. The season is stocked with plenty more familiar faces, including the Potterverse (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Nov. 16), a superhero (Aquaman, Dec. 21) and even Mary Poppins, y’all (Mary Poppins Returns, Dec. 19).

Interspersed are the season’s more serious awards season hopefuls, including Netflix’s biggest Oscar contenders yet. The streaming service will release Roma, from Gravity’s Alfonso Cuarón, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, an anthology from the Coen brothers, after both won awards on the film festival circuit. In a telling sign of its Oscar dreams, Netflix will give both movies wider theatrical releases before streaming debuts than it ever has before.

Here’s a guide to everything coming your way from now till the new year. Release dates are subject to change.

Nov. 9

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Can you picture a bigger transformation for Claire Foy than Queen Elizabeth into hacktivist Lisbeth Salander? She’s on the hunt for nuclear codes in this adaptation of the 2015 sequel penned by David Lagercrantz, not part of Stieg Larsson’s original trilogy.

The Grinch

Benedict Cumberbatch is the Grinch. Pharrell Williams is the narrator. Angela Lansbury is the mayor of Whoville. And there’s Rashida Jones and Kenan Thompson, too? Our hearts grew three sizes just writing this.

Beautiful Boy

Last year’s Oscar darling Timothée Chalamet plays a teen battling a meth addiction, helped through recovery by his father (Steve Carell).

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy turns serious in this biopic about celebrity biographer Lee Israel, who tries to revive her failing career by forging letters from dead writers.

Overlord

Nazis and zombies in one movie? Cue the horror. American paratroopers caught behind enemy lines before D-Day encounter the violent products of Nazi experiments in this J.J. Abrams-produced flick.

Prospect

A teenage girl and her father (Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass) travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich on a contract harvesting rare gems.

Nov. 16

^ Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Dumbledore (Jude Law) tasks Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) with thwarting Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) and his bid to rule over all us Muggles.

Widows

Viola Davis leads an ensemble cast of women in a heist after their husbands (hers is played by Liam Neeson) are killed during a job. Directed by Steve McQueen, who co-wrote it with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.

Boy Erased

A small-town Baptist pastor’s teen son (Lucas Hedges) chooses between gay conversion therapy or being shunned when he is outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe).

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

On Netflix, this six-part Western anthology film from Joel and Ethan Coen stars Tim Blake Nelson as Buster Scruggs, Liam Neeson, James Franco and more in six vignettes.

At Eternity’s Gate

Willem Dafoe plays Vincent van Gogh in his tumultuous final days.

Instant Family

In this comedy with a seasonally appropriate dash of family feel-good, newbie foster parents (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) face a steep learning curve after they take in three kids.

Nov. 21 (Thanksgiving week)

^ Creed II

Michael B. Jordan returns as Adonis Creed, now training with Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to defeat the son of his father’s killer, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren, returning from Rocky IV).

Ralph Breaks the Internet

In the Wreck-It Ralph sequel, Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) head out into the world wide web after finding a router in their arcade.

Robin Hood

It seems like someone comes up with a “new” take on Robin Hood every five to 10 years regardless of whether anyone wants to watch it. This time it’s a “hip,” “modern” (read: automatic weapons) take with Taron Egerton as Robin Hood, Jamie Foxx as Little John and Ben Mendelsohn as the sheriff of Nottingham.

The Front Runner

Watch a presidential campaign implode as Hugh Jackman plays Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, the front-runner for the 1988 Democratic nomination until a sex scandal led him to drop out.

Green Book

A black classical pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his white driver (Viggo Mortensen) take a tour through the segregated Deep South in the 1960s.

Dec. 7

^ Mary Queen of Scots

Saoirse Ronan plays the titular queen while Margot Robbie is her cousin and rival Queen Elizabeth I.

Anna and the Apocalypse

You know what the holiday season really needs? A Christmas zombie musical. Anna (Ella Hunt) and friends fight, slash and sing their way to survival when zombies attack their small town on Christmas.

Dec. 14

^ Roma

The black-and-white, Spanish-language movie from Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) is semiautobiographical, chronicling the struggles of a middle class Mexican family in the 1970s. Considered an Oscar best picture contender and likely foreign-language winner, it streams Dec. 14 on Netflix after a limited theatrical release.

The Mule

Clint Eastwood directs and stars in the based-on-truth tale of an elderly drug mule, pursued by Bradley Cooper as a DEA agent.

The Favourite

Two cousins (Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz) are rivals for the favor of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) in the drama from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster).

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

There are multiple Spider-Mans (Spider-Men?) in this animated tale of alternate universes colliding, but the main one is high schooler Miles Morales (voice of Shameik Moore), mentee to our old friend Peter Parker.

Mortal Engines

The latest YA dystopia to leap from page to screen is set in a war-ravaged, steampunk world where cities move around on wheels.

Dec. 19

Mary Poppins Returns

It’s a jolly holiday with Emily Blunt as Mary, checking in on sad grownups Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer). Joining her: a street lamplighter (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and an eccentric cousin (Meryl Streep).

Dec. 21

^ Aquaman

Jason Momoa plays the titular half-human half-merman in the season’s obligatory superhero outing. DC’s film track record has been notoriously atrocious, but here’s hoping Aquaman is as much dumb fun as the trailers look.

Second Act

Can we all just take a minute to appreciate that Jennifer Lopez is finally starring in another rom-com? In the vein of Working Girl, she plays a woman working at a big box store until a case of mistaken identity lands her in a major business deal.

Welcome to Marwen

An assault victim (Steve Carell) constructs a miniature World War II village of his friends (among them Janelle Monáe, Gwendoline Christie, Merritt Wever and Eiza González) to help in his recovery.

Bumblebee

Michael Bay gives up the Transformers director’s chair to Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) for the Autobot’s Earth-origin tale in ’80s California, back in the good old days when he was a Volkswagen Beetle.

Ben Is Back

Teenager Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns home to his mother (Julia Roberts) on Christmas Eve.

Dec. 25

Vice

Christian Bale transforms into Dick Cheney, running the show for Sam Rockwell as W with Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld.

Holmes & Watson

Will Ferrell goofs off as Sherlock Holmes with Stepbrothers sidekick John C. Reilly as Watson.

https://www.tampabay.com/features/movies/holiday-movie-guide-from-the-grinch-to-mary-poppins-32-movies-to-see-by-years-end-20181106/


Avatar picks unique names for four planned sequels

Avatar is a 20th Century Fox property, which means that it will soon be a Disney property. Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox already were collaborating with Disney as part of building a very real version of the movies as a totally immersive land at Walt Disney World.

There are at least four new Avatar films in the works. Lightstorm entertainment is filming multiple titles simultaneously to save costs. Now we’re learning the rumored titles for the next four Avatar movies. They’re pretty unique:

Avatar: The Way of Water
Avatar: The Seed Bearer
Avatar: The Tulkun Rider
Avatar: The Quest for Eywa

I think you can tell James Cameron is interested in telling some pretty unique stories from his world of Pandora. He’s spent years building up a mythology worthy of the box office numbers his initial Avatar film generated. Now he wants to tell the most interesting stories he can from that galaxy.

Cameron has, with the help of Disney’s Imagineers, already built some of that mythology into Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Hint Cameron has said the first sequel takes place largely in and around the ocean on Pandora.

Before Pandora – The World of Avatar opened, I think it was an open question if there were fans of Avatar like there were for Star Wars or Star Trek. Turns out there are plenty of them. They dress like Na’vi, learn to speak the language, collect memorabilia, and talk about what might be next for the franchise. In that way they’re very similar to Disney fans and will fit right in to the family.

We recently learned that a new logo for the Avatar movies will finally ditch the hated Papyrus font. Thanks for listening to your fans James!

Of the four new Avatar movies, The Way of Water is up first and will swim into theaters December 18, 2020.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheDisneyBlog/~3/xhWZHEKOaZA/


Rupert Everett’s moving ‘Happy Prince’ stages Oscar Wilde’s tragic final act

Directed, written by and starring Rupert Everett, The Happy Prince is a genuine passion project, a creative act existing completely in its own space and on its own terms. Both in his disciplined filmmaking, with each scene choreographed as carefully as a dance, and his portrayal of playwright and author Oscar Wilde in decay far past his prime, Everett delivers an almost unbearably bittersweet feast for the senses.

Handsomely shot across period-appropriate European locations, the film is faithful to the facts. The heart of the tale is the twilight of Wilde’s legend, the final three years of his life.

Wilde, the 20th century’s first true pop celebrity, had just completed two years’ hard labor in prison for his crime of being gay and out in Victorian England. That was all it took to end his glorious days basking in the applause of audiences for The Importance of Being Earnest. In 1897, with a ruined reputation and failing health, he became an outcast in France, imprisoned by bankruptcy and exile.

The script doesn’t make Wilde a conventional, overtly sympathetic hero. It introduces him at rock bottom, living in cheap Paris hotels under the alias of Sebastian Melmoth because France also considers him scandalous. Once a literary lion, he now prowls the city’s alleys, asking for handouts when recognized by visiting English socialites who remember him from his days of acclaim. He uses whatever loose change his pockets hold to buy glasses of absinthe or male prostitutes.

But the elegantly dressed London dandy of better days still lives in his memories. As the movie comes and goes through different periods of his life, it becomes a meditation on mortality, sexuality, beauty, suffering and the longing for youth.

Wilde has too many regrets to count, and high among them is his parting from his wife, Constance (Emily Watson), and their two young boys. In recurring flashbacks, the children give the film its framing device as he tells them the bedtime story of the happy prince, a pleasure-seeking young noble who discovers his scruples in dying.

As Constance, who keeps Wilde afloat with a tiny allowance, Watson balances her feelings of shame and dishonor with a recognition that he deeply loves their children and, in his outlandish way, her as well. Given the ambiguous ways that Wilde applies the term “love,” we can understand her ill feeling.

A pair of loyal, sensible supporters support him with counsel and finances throughout: Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas), the caring trustee of Wilde’s estate, and Reggie Turner (Colin Firth), a longtime friend hoping to revive his career in London theater. But Wilde seems to see pleasure and suffering as synonyms, a good insight for a great artist but a poor strategy for living.

Everett’s deeply sad performance digs into the man’s melancholy, unquenchable wit and invincible ego masterfully. Wilde attempts a small return to the stage by singing to a delighted music hall crowd while standing atop his table. Unable to avoid obvious dangers, he slips and falls to the floor for a concussive climax. And, as is his nature, he continues to pursue contact with the depraved Alfred “Bosie” Douglas (Colin Morgan), the young rake whose tumultuous affair with Wilde ruined him.

If you call this a film about addiction, you won’t be far from the truth. Wilde is always desperate for more, even when he’s clearly already sick. In Everett’s film, he becomes a figure like Lear, his madness becoming his tragedy as he remains determined to let it finally consume him.

The Happy Prince

Director: Rupert Everett

Cast: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Edwin Thomas, Emily Watson

Screenplay: Rupert Everett

Rating: R; sexual content, graphic nudity, language and brief drug use

Running time: 105 minutes

Opens at AMC Woodland Square 20 in Oldsmar and AMC Veterans 24 in Tampa.

https://www.tampabay.com/features/movies/rupert-everetts-moving-happy-prince-stages-oscar-wildes-tragic-final-act-20181031/


The Queen movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ survives impossible task of re-creating Freddie Mercury

If you think you’ve waited a long time for a Queen biopic, imagine how it feels for Nuno Bettencourt.

The renowned guitarist is an enormous, lifelong Queen fan who has since become friends with the band. He met Freddie Mercury’s mother after the singer’s death. He was invited to the New York premiere of Bohemian Rhapsody, which opens this weekend.

Yet the prospect of watching the film makes him nervous.

“There’s something great about it, and there’s something dirty about it that feels a little strange,” Bettencourt said. “When somebody like Freddie passes away, once you start dipping into their behind-the-scenes stuff, it’s kind of like going through their underwear drawer. You’re just not supposed to. It was never supposed to be that way.”

Rock ’n’ roll is a mythmaking industry, never more so than when the icon in question is no longer with us. Figuring out how to portray a singular figure like Mercury, much less who should portray him, is a prickly issue. It must balance sentiments of reverence and authenticity, concerns of fans, friends, family and the culture at large.

Do it right, and it can mean cinematic immortality — think Jamie Foxx in Ray, Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story or Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got to Do With It. Do it wrong and, well, when’s the last time you watched Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea? No wonder we’re still waiting on those long-gestating biopics of Janis Joplin and Richard Pryor.

That’s why it has taken the better part of a decade for Bohemian Rhapsody to reach theaters. It’s basically The Freddie Mercury Story, with Queen’s other three members mostly along for the ride. The film does not short-change their contributions to Queen, but makes clear that Mercury’s talent and charisma are beyond imitation.

RELATED: Five Queen documentaries to stream before ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Sacha Baron Cohen was at one point set to star, then Ben Whishaw. Ultimately — and rightfully — the role fell to Mr. Robot star Rami Malek. Mercury was born to Indian parents in Zanzibar, an archipelago off Africa’s eastern coast; Malek is Egyptian-American.

It’s an intensely physical performance, one that transcends transformative makeup (like Mercury’s famous buck-toothed overbite) to replicate his twitchy, coquettish personality and bravura showmanship, his flamboyant deahs and dahlings. Mercury arrives in the film more or less fully formed, with little explanation of how he got that way; he only arcs upward toward the realm of the diva and enfant terrible.

The film doesn’t dig as deep into Mercury’s lonely life off stage — which, granted, might be how he’d want it. His closeted life is presented as, well, closeted — the film devotes far more time and care to longtime girlfriend Mary Austin than any male relationship or sexual encounter. Even his AIDS diagnosis is dealt with rather stiffly, sans sentiment. It isn’t a total straightwashing, and Mercury never wanted to be a cultural cause celebre in the first place, but if you’re looking for an area where Bohemian Rhapsody glosses over its subject’s human essence, this is it.

While Malek upholds and in some cases enhances the ideal image of Mercury we all have in our memories, he can only do so much. The voice you hear in Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t his, it’s Mercury’s, because how could it be any other way? No one sang like Mercury. Combining his vocals with Malek’s committed showmanship is the closest we can get to approximating the experience of seeing Mercury live.

Still, compare that to another recent biopic, A Star Is Born.(YES, I KNOW IT’S FICTIONAL, BUT YOU CAN’T TELL ME JACK AND ALLY’S LOVE ISN’T REAL.) There, the lens adheres to Lady Gaga like superglue as the audience watches her perform every word live. In Bohemian Rhapsody the camera jumps and cuts too much during concert scenes, interspersing way too many crowd shots, to let you focus on Malek’s performance.

This is a great shame, as the film is never more thrilling than when the songs simply play out live. It’s chilling watching We Will Rock You evolve from inception to Madison Square Garden in less than two minutes. The band’s triumphant 1985 performance at Live Aid plays out almost in real time, offering an appropriately cinematic new POV on that rousing moment in rock history.

Could anyone else have portrayed Mercury like Malek? Put it this way: Queen might have had to wait years for someone better. They already did, before Malek came along. And who wins in that scenario? Certainly not the band, who are now all around 70, and running out of time to get this thing done. Nor the crowds who have long turned out in droves for stage musicals and reunion tours. This is a populist biopic made for mass appeal; it’s funny and pleasant and safe for Mom and Dad. Like Queen’s music, it puts the fans first.

And that is why Nuno Bettencourt would rather see Bohemian Rhapsody in a normal theater, far from the glitz of a red carpet. At the end of the day, he’s just another one of those fans, hoping a film years in the making managed to do right by his idols.

“They’re all living up to what Freddie would have wanted, and that’s probably hard for them to know, but at least they’re going to get it as close as they can,” he said. “I just want to go see the Queen movie on my own, just sitting there, and be that kid in the bedroom that was learning all of Queen II and go, ‘Here it is.’ ”

Against long odds, Bohemian Rhapsody actually exists. Freddie Mercury will take a bow once more. Crazy little thing, isn’t it?

Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

https://www.tampabay.com/things-to-do/music/the-queen-movie-bohemian-rhapsody-survives-impossible-task-of-re-creating-freddie-mercury-20181031/


Five Queen documentaries to stream before ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

The hardest part of filming the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody had to have been casting iconic singer Freddie Mercury. Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw were both attached to the part before it went to Rami Malek, who so far has been earning great reviews.

But does he live up to the real Freddie Mercury? Can anyone?

Mercury was such an incandescent talent and personality that you might wonder if you’re better off just watching a Queen documentary instead. Thankfully, there are a handful of decent ones out there. Here are five you can stream before or after Bohemian Rhapsody.

Becoming Queen (2004): Amazon Prime features a host of free Queen documentaries offering broad looks at the band, a la any generic, hourlong TV special. This one is notable for spending a significant amount of time on Queen’s early days and the contributions of the other three members. There’s no music, but the interviews and footage do expound a bit on the overall Queen story.

Queen: Days of Our Lives (2011): Hailed by Queen fans as one of the best and most comprehensive of the bunch, this two-hour film features in-depth interviews with the band and a ton of concert and behind-the-scenes footage, culminating in an all-star 1992 tribute to Mercury at Wembley Stadium, including appearances by David Bowie, George Michael and Elton John. It’s available via Stingray Quello (which offers free seven-day trials through Amazon Prime, Apple TV and other services).

Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender (2012): A sequel of sorts to Days of Our Lives, this Emmy-winning doc spotlights Mercury’s attempts to forge a solo career in the mid-’80s, adding plenty of depth and dimension to the Queen legend. Included here is rare audio of a collaboration with Michael Jackson, and details about his operatic collaboration with Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe. It, too, is available via Stingray Quello.

Inside the Rhapsody (2015): The song Bohemian Rhapsody is practically a movie in and of itself, so why shouldn’t it get its own documentary? Any fan of the podcast Song Exploder would probably love this 45-minute dissection of how the song was made, including Brian May breaking down its isolated vocal and instrumental tracks. It’s free to stream on Queen’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/queenofficial.

Queen: Rock the World (2017): Forty years after their landmark album News of the World, this documentary pulls together long-lost footage from their 1977 tour of America and studio time recording tracks like We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. It’s available via PBS Passport, a donation-based streaming service offered by many public stations, including WEDU at wedu.org/passport. For other stations, see pbs.org.

Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

https://www.tampabay.com/things-to-do/music/five-queen-documentaries-to-stream-before-bohemian-rhapsody-20181031/


‘Mid90s’ is a time capsule of mixtapes, skating and more

No matter how old you were, where you lived or how many T-shirts and mixtapes you owned, it’s unlikely that you remember the mid-1990s as well — as obsessively, as nostalgically, as literally — as Mid90s does. Written and directed by Jonah Hill, this film wants to be less a period piece than a time capsule, an immersion in the sights and sound of a pop-cultural moment.

And even, almost, the smells. After Stevie (Sunny Suljic) smokes his first mentholated cigarette, he darts into a gas station men’s room on his way home, chugs some liquid soap straight from the bottle and fumigates his clothes with a cloud of air freshener. Stevie, whose coming-of-age story this is, lives with his brooding, violent-tempered older brother, Ian (Lucas Hedges), and their beleaguered single mom, Dabney (Katherine Waterston), in a modest house in Los Angeles. He’s a small guy, on the cusp of puberty, with wide blue eyes and a smile that undercuts his determined efforts to seem tough.

At first, Stevie worships Ian, whose interests are hip-hop, street fashion and orange juice. Ian returns his younger brother’s admiration with sullen silence or brutality — the first shot of the film is of a beating that leaves a nasty bruise on Stevie’s chest. Soon enough, he finds new idols among a group of bigger kids who hang out at a skateboard shop, and he makes it his project to fit in with them.

Mid90s winds its loose, episodic way through their rituals and routines as they skate, smoke, chase girls and talk nonsense. Stevie acquires a nickname — Sunburn, in honor of a half-clever joke he manages to blurt out during his informal initiation — and racks up rites of passage. First cigarette, first kiss, first “time in a car without someone’s parents.” It’s sweet, but also raw. There’s an undercurrent of danger and desperation in his new crowd, and you might find yourself worrying about Stevie even as you revel, vicariously, in his newfound pleasures.

Like its hero, Mid90s struggles to figure out what it wants to be, and the struggle makes it interesting as well as occasionally frustrating. Hill, working with cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt, production designer Jahmin Assa, and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, aims for maximum authenticity of look, sound and language. The frame is boxy, the visual texture filmy and rough (it was shot on super 16 millimeter), the musical cues impeccably curated and the dialogue full of casual racism, misogyny and homophobia.

Viewers who were around back then might remember Larry Clark’s “Kids” and other prurient, ostensibly cautionary tales of adolescent misbehavior. Hill’s sensibility is not so harsh, though — he’s a late 2010s guy at heart — and he filters some potentially ugly stuff through Stevie’s trusting, innocent eyes.

The movie’s truest insights have to do with the hierarchies and rivalries within his new friendship group. Stevie is brought in by Ruben (Gio Galicia), who seems eager to have someone under him in the pecking order. He dispenses dubious wisdom along with smokes, and sells Stevie his old skateboard. But as the newbie starts to come out from under his mentor’s wing, Ruben gets jealous.

There is also friction at the top. Ray (Na-kel Smith), the most talented skater and the leader of the pack, has ambitions beyond hanging out and getting high. This puts him in conflict with his sidekick (Olan Prenatt), a laid-back dude from a relatively privileged background whose nickname can’t be repeated here. Best friends since early childhood, the two are increasingly at odds in ways that threaten the harmonious vibes that hold the crew together. (The fifth member, known as Fourth Grade and played by Ryder McLaughlin, is the designated verbal punching bag and videographer.)

For his part, Stevie might turn into a jerk or hold on to his openhearted, decent qualities. Beneath its posturing and profanity, Mid90s has some after-school special in its DNA, which I don’t mean as a knock. It’s a movie about making choices in tough circumstances, and for the most part Hill makes pretty good ones.

https://www.tampabay.com/features/movies/mid90s-is-a-time-capsule-of-mixtapes-skating-and-more-20181024/


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    November 17 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0

Upcoming Events

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. NOVEMBERFEST 2018

    November 14 @ 4:00 pm - November 18 @ 8:00 pm UTC+0
  3. Florida Tiny House Music Festival (3rd Annual)

    November 16 @ 12:00 pm - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  4. Orlando Balloon Glow

    November 16 @ 5:00 pm - November 18 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Run The Race 5K -Christian Fun Run & Walk

    November 17 @ 8:00 am - 11:00 am UTC+0
  6. Day of Thanks – Community Food Give Away

    November 17 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm UTC+0
  7. Xtreme Sports Festival

    November 17 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  8. SWFLORIDA CON

    November 17 @ 10:00 am - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  9. DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts 2018

    November 17 @ 10:00 am - November 18 @ 5:00 pm UTC+0
  10. 4th ANNUAL ALPACA FESTIVAL – SWEET BLOSSOM ALPACAS

    November 17 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0

Join our Fun Network

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. NOVEMBERFEST 2018

    November 14 @ 4:00 pm - November 18 @ 8:00 pm UTC+0
  3. Florida Tiny House Music Festival (3rd Annual)

    November 16 @ 12:00 pm - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  4. Orlando Balloon Glow

    November 16 @ 5:00 pm - November 18 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Run The Race 5K -Christian Fun Run & Walk

    November 17 @ 8:00 am - 11:00 am UTC+0
  6. Day of Thanks – Community Food Give Away

    November 17 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm UTC+0
  7. Xtreme Sports Festival

    November 17 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  8. SWFLORIDA CON

    November 17 @ 10:00 am - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  9. DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts 2018

    November 17 @ 10:00 am - November 18 @ 5:00 pm UTC+0
  10. 4th ANNUAL ALPACA FESTIVAL – SWEET BLOSSOM ALPACAS

    November 17 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0