John Lennon and Allen Ginsberg are among the real-life icons being portrayed on the big screen in November — but moviegoers could be forgiven for not knowing so.
With only eight weeks remaining in the year, there is still a dearth of independent cinema in the Tampa Bay area.
The Oracle illuminates five under-the-radar films you might have missed this month.
Now in theaters
Playing at: AMC Veterans, Regal Citrus Park
“Nowhere Boy” initially seems to follow the familiar musician biopic template, but it stands out by focusing exclusively on Beatles singer John Lennon as a 15-year-old.
“Kick-Ass” star Aaron Johnson portrays the Liverpool legend as he moves between his estranged mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) and his stern aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas.)
From there, Lennon meets Paul McCartney and later George Harrison, and along with his classmates forms the Quarrymen — a pre-Beatles band whose surviving members still tour today.
For students whose knowledge of Lennon begins with “Introducing … the Beatles,” this indie film offers an ideal introduction into the frontman’s formative years.
“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”
Now in theaters
Playing at: Tampa Theatre
Though the Millenium Trilogy offers mostly the same lurid scenarios that can be found in any crime-thriller, the series has turned into an art house sensation — particularly with “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” hitting theaters this year.
The film follows Goth super-hacker Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) and magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyquist) as they uncover unsavory government conspiracies, rapes and murders.
The Swedish suspense story sports subtitles, which usually hurt box-office success, yet the film’s twist-filled narrative amassed an impressive $5, 726 per screen in its opening week.
Director David Fincher is poised to remake all three films with Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in the leads. However, intrigued students may want to check out the original films before the first remake’s December 2011 release.
Playing at: Muvico Baywalk, Regal Citrus Park, AMC Woodland Square
Documentaries remain a hard sell in theaters, yet “Inside Job” may fare better because it details a topic still gracing newspaper headlines — the 2008 financial crisis.
Using charts and graphics, narration from Matt Damon and interviews that include Sen. Barney Frank and former Bear Sterns CEO Jeffrey Lane, the film seeks the culprits behind the meltdown’s $20 trillion cost.
“Inside Job” also travels to Iceland to document the collapse of the country’s three largest banks and examines past presidential economic decisions — while defining terms like “credit default swaps” for the uninitiated.
If nothing else, the alarming documentary could be considered an unorthodox horror film. The Boston Globe even called it “scarier than anything Wes Craven or John Carpenter have ever made.”
Playing at: Muvico Baywalk
“Tamara Drewe” provides a different kind of comic book movie — one that’s more concerned with romantic entanglements than armored superheroes.
Based on the British graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, the movie follows rich writers and loafers in the Dorset countryside who are entranced by gorgeous journalist Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton).
The farcical story sounds hackneyed, yet director Stephen Frears scored strong reviews for his last romantic comedy — 2000’s “High Fidelity.”
For students seeking sunny, escapist entertainment not completely devoid of wit, “Tamara Drewe” might be worth catching when it hits Muvico Baywalk.
Playing at: Tampa Theatre
After playing hiker Aron Ralston in “127 Hours,” James Franco takes on another real-life figure in this chronicling of beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s 1957 obscenity trial.
When Ginsberg publishes his masterwork “Howl” in ’50s San Francisco, it is met with calls to be banned. Prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (David Strathairn) claims “Howl and Other Poems” is obscene because of swearing and sexual content, while Jack Ehrlich (Jon Hamm) says it falls under freedom of expression.
The film’s material lies in capable hands with Robert Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman — who have previously tackled history, homosexuality and censorship in documentaries like “The Celluloid Closet.”
Moviegoers should enjoy how “Howl” uses biographical scenes, staged interviews and animated sequences to further enliven the courtroom proceedings.