Hollywood is backloading December, waiting for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to bring moviegoers back to multiplexes. After no major releases last week, only James Franco's The Disaster Artist is making any new impression at box offices this weekend. (Click here to read a review.)
Maybe it's a good time to cast your eyes elsewhere.
Tampa Bay is dotted with offbeat movie experiences, from recurrences like Eckerd College's International Cinema Series to pop-ups like a punk documentary at a record store. Here are four movies nowhere near multiplexes in product or price, plus a stay-at-home suggestion.
STAY HOME IN THE ROOM
Before seeing The Disaster Artist, watching the terrible movie it celebrates couldn't hurt. Well, actually it does. Tommy Wiseau's The Room is truly one of the best worst movies ever made, as impossible to describe as it is to sit through. Regrettably, it isn't currently available on streaming services. You could buy a DVD on Amazon.com, but that's $11 spent better elsewhere. If a friend offers to loan a copy, he is not a friend. You can find everything to know about The Room on YouTube, through compilations of favorite idiotic moments posted by fans. Bring your own spoon.
DON'T BREAK DOWN
Microgroove Records presents two screenings of the documentary Don't Break Down, reuniting the influential American punk band Jawbreaker, whose fans include Billie Joe Armstrong. The Green Day frontman is among the talking heads extolling Jawbreaker's virtues 11 years after the band dissolved. 7:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Microgroove Records, 4906 N Florida Ave., Tampa. $10.
ART IN THE CITY
Cranstan Cumberbatch has screened his drama Art in the City at various venues over the past year, spreading its message of homeless advocacy and homegrown filmmaking. Cumberbatch shares writing, directing and producing credits while starring as Art, a homeless veteran suffering from PTSD on St. Petersburg's streets. The city's sights and culture are backdrops for his resurrection. 3 p.m. Saturday at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg. $15 at the door.
SUNSET CINEMA AT PIER 60
Bring blankets or low lawn chairs to Clearwater Beach's Pier 60 for free movies at 6 p.m. on a jumbo-sized screen. Friday's selection is 2006's Oscar winner Happy Feet (PG), the animated tale of a tap dancing penguin (voiced by Elijah Wood). Saturday brings Beauty and the Beast (PG), this year's live-action version, not the Oscar-winning animated one. Now we need flesh-and-beak penguins to remake Happy Feet and the circle is complete.
ARTISTS AND MODELS ABROAD
The Dalí Museum regularly screens idiosyncratic movies free of charge in its lobby theater. The latest is Artists and Models Abroad, a 1938 musical comedy starring Jack Benny and Joan Bennett, left, at 1 p.m. Saturday. What would Salvador Dalí appreciate about this piece of Depression-era fluff? Probably the 20-minute fashion show sequence featuring avant garde designs by Schiaparelli, Lanvin, Patou, Paquin and for what it's worth, the House of Worth.
ALSO OPENING: JUST GETTING STARTED
Actually, there is another movie besides The Disaster Artist opening this weekend. Just Getting Started (PG-13) just isn't making a big deal about it.
Strange that a movie starring Academy Award winners Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman, both left, plus Rene Russo and the late Glenne Headly in her final film role can arrive so unceremoniously. Just Getting Started is written and directed by Ron Shelton of Bull Durham and White Men Can't Jump fame, making its timid marketing more puzzling.
The movie sounds like a pleasant diversion for the AARP crowd, an action comedy set in a golf course community about a retired FBI agent (Jones) and a federally protected witness (Freeman) eluding a mob hit. Midnight Run with hip replacements. Please, play through.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: One of 2017's best films.
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 Disaster Artist: James Franco celebrates the worst movie ever.
5 Last Flag Flying: Richard Linklater's sequel of sorts to The Last Detail.
(Dates subject to change)
Dec. 15: Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Wonder Wheel; Ferdinand
Dec. 20: The Greatest Showman; Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Dec. 22: The Shape of Water; Darkest Hour; Pitch Perfect 3; Downsizing; Father Figures
Dec. 25: Molly's Game; All the Money in the World
Jan. 5: Insidious: The Last Key
Jan. 12: The Post; Phantom Thread; The Commuter; Proud Mary; Paddington 2
Jan. 19: Call Me By Your Name; Hostiles; 12 Strong
Jan. 26: White Boy Rick; Maze Runner: The Death Cure