Screened Out – Live by Night

By : Stephen Miller
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Ben Affleck, Chris Messina, Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Brendan Gleeson

It’s difficult to imagine anyone would want to watch Live by Night twice. In the middle, I found I didn’t want to watch it even once. I checked my watch four times.

Oh, sure, the sepia tones were pretty for a little while. Then all the tans started to remind me of tepid, badly cooked oatmeal – lumpy and dull, like this flick.

By dull, I mean this is a stereotypical 1930s crime film, abetted by being ponderous and meandering. The characters are also boringly beige; the lead character is completely indecipherable. The only good news is that it’s easy to nitpick minor flaws while you’re waiting for something interesting to happen.

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Screened Out – The Accountant

By : Stephen Miller
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Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Jean Smart

A number of people may love the espionage thriller The Accountant; that number doesn’t include me.

In fact, it’d be zero stars, if not for the acting and actions sequences. How does Hollywood turn out something this stupid and offensive?

Thrillers like this are all about the plot. Great acting – and this flawed Accountant has it – can add a lot. However, a hideously damaged premise and some fairly noticeable plot holes are major subtractions.

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Screened Out – Suicide Squad

By : Stephen Miller
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Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Cara Delvigne, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ben Affleck, Jay Hernandez, Karen Fukuhara

Comic book fans are aching for their favorite DC villains to make a great film. Sure, by standards set by comic nostalgia, Suicide Squad may be good – witnessing these characters together on screen. However, as a stand-alone movie, Suicide Squad doesn’t cut it.

I am not a comic book fan, though I do admire the art and the medium. I am a fan of plot, character, and theme, and how they play out in good film. Despite how good the comic books are, movies should be able to stand on their own.

Suicide Squad – a flick full of less-than-good people – is a less-than-good film.

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Screened Out – Batman V Superman

By : Stephen Miller
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Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburn, Holly Hunter, Scoot McNairy

Where’s the fun, Batman? Where’s the joy, Superman?

The “V” in the title could refer to the number five, because there are exactly five good things about this completely humorless, dingy, superhero flick. I’ll try to be generous and mention all of them. The “V” could also be a down arrow, because the movie slowly sinks in its nearly two and half hours of pessimistic, over-bloated violence and absurdity.

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Overheard in Tampa Bay: Janet Jackson, a Ybor City impostor and Santa’s little helpers

By : Anonymous
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Janet-Concert-T-shirt-Tampa
Janet Jackson came to Tampa and all she got was this T-shirt, and she could not have been more excited about it. While performing on stage at the Amalie Arena during her “Unbreakable World Tour,” a fan threw a T-shirt on stage. Now gifts being thrown on stage by adoring fans are nothing new to Ms. Jackson, but this one left her visibly giddy as she opened up the shirt, and it read Penny-Charlene-Cleo-Justice, those being the first names of her iconic characters from Good Times, Diff’rent Strokes, Fame and Poetic Justice. The T-shirt was designed by St. Petersburg artist Chad Mize, who was unable to attend the concert, and was tossed on stage by his friend Ryan Prado. The T-shirt design, which lists four similar people, places or things, is becoming quite iconic itself with the World Tour shirt (Paris-London-Tokyo-St. Pete) being all the rage last year. The design even made appearances at this year’s TIGLFF events with the Sundance-Cannes-Toronto-TIGLFF t-shirts. HIGH FASHION!

Can the real Ybor City please stand up?
Hollywood is coming to Ybor… well, sort of. The rights to Tampa Bay writer Dennis Lehane’s novel, Live by Night, were bought by Oscar-winning writer/director/actor/producer/Batman Ben Affleck who will turn it into his next project. The story is set in Ybor City during the 1920s and ‘30s and is about a Boston thief’s rise to power as a Gulf Coast rum runner. Don’t dust off those acting chops just yet though my local performers. While the story takes place in the bay area, the lack of state tax incentives for movie productions has caused Mr. Affleck to head north some 270 miles to Brunswick, Georgia where he is building a fake Ybor City for the film. If you build it, they will come and come he will. The set designers have been busy building since early September preparing for Batman Ben’s arrival to begin shooting the first week of November. Sorry real Ybor and thanks Obama… oops, we mean thanks Rick Scott!

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Screened Out – Focus

By : Stephen Miller
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Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Gerald McRaney

You can feel Focus trying to be as debonair and romantic as the Oceans films and as character-driven as American Hustle. Despites its sites, it never reaches those heights.

It’s not that Smith isn’t an expert at playing slick – he’s less appealing at the romantic banter required here. It’s also not that Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) isn’t sexy. In fact, her glamour and comic timing are the best things about this flick. The complications are entertaining. Although this is pure escapism, it’s just slight on memorable moments and sexual chemistry.

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