Tampa Theatre has long been the Bay area’s go-to destination for indie and art house fare, but for the next few weeks the downtown Tampa landmark will be switching up its usual screening schedule to try something new. Instead of the usual one flick playing for seven days, the theater will screen a half-dozen movies you’ve probably never heard of, all of them worth a look and all playing for only a day or two. Reviews of four of the films are below, and check cltampa.com/movies for our take on the rest of this week’s coming attractions.
Pliable imaginations and inflexible thinking combine to turn a man’s life into waking nightmare in The Hunt, a patient, gripping drama about a kindergarten teacher accused of sexual abuse. Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, TV’s Hannibal) won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of Lucas, a teacher beloved by his students. He gives a performance that’s as carefully controlled and affecting as Thomas Vinterberg’s direction. The uncritical acceptance of the accusation against Lucas becomes a pronouncement of guilt. Even when the accuser recants, the adults play amateur psychologist, and the very nature of their questions — with their risk/reward implications — encourage multiple children to suggest they are also victims. Word spreads quickly through the small village, and Lucas is ostracized to the point that he can’t shop at the local supermarket. There’s something Kafkaesque about his transformation into pariah, and because Lucas is so naturally reticent, he isn’t equipped to forcefully defend himself the way we’d like.
The Hunt becomes a study in how a series of leading questions can inform the answers. It also looks at the horrifying results of a moral impulse ruled by irrationality. But the lasting impression comes from the film’s long, uncomfortable look at the fragility of reputation. —Anthony Salveggi
Suit up with two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll and big wave pioneer Ross Clarke-Jones, who track and chase giant storms across the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere, an experience rife with enormous waves, freezing conditions and near-death experiences — endured in the name of riding that gigantic wave no one has before. The sweeping doc Storm Surfers follows deep-ocean surfing adventures during the 2011 storm season and is perfect for the 3D format. Directors Justin McMillan and Chris Nelius delve into the contrasting personalities of the surfers — Carroll, a family man with three daughters, and Jones, a thrill-junkie ladies’ man, who claims that “surfing big waves is not about how ripped you are or how much you can bench press — it’s about your nerve.” Sometimes the action feels a little monotonous to the non-surfer, but the film’s dynamic cinematography and visceral soundtrack are effective overall. Toni Collette’s foreboding narration keeps things interesting, hinting that something really scary is about to happen — and it does. —Julie Garisto
Still Mine tells the heartwarming tale of Craig Ferguson (Richard Cromwell) and his wife, Irene (Geneviève Bujold). Craig is a stubborn old goat in the town of St. Martins, New Brunswick, Canada. His beloved wife’s health is in decline and, in order to make their living situation more manageable, the octogenarian decides to build her a new house on their property with his own two hands. Craig labors to complete the home but must endure the bullshit of the local building-code stooge, including numerous stop-work orders and the threat of jail time. In modern times, it’s not enough to know how to build a house; Craig learns it’s more about knowing how to jump through hoops and pay permitting fees because bureaucrats need reasons to have jobs. A man has to stand up for something; if not his wife’s home, what else?
Cromwell shines in the lead of this easy-going charmer of a drama. While Still Mine’s measured, deliberate pace may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s worth a watch for those who don’t need flashing lights and loud noises to enjoy a good film. —Kevin Tall
Slow, contemplative and often engrossing, Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours follows a Canadian woman (Mary Margaret O’Hara) who travels to Vienna to tend to a dying relative and spends most of her free time wandering the streets and hanging out in the Bruegel room of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. It’s there she meets a wise security guard (Bobby Sommer) who becomes her Austrian guide, and the pair chew on big questions (life, death, art, love) while director Cohen intercuts the conversations with montage after montage of great artwork and interesting street scenes. Museum Hours isn’t concerned with a traditional story arc (though there’s one floating around the edges) or with producing a standard romance, and it will no doubt play as boring to some. It also suffers at times from overly arty or just poorly conceived camera setups. That said, the art photography is often beautiful and you can get lost in many of the film’s compelling master shots. —Joe Bardi