Short Redhead Reel Reviews for the week of Jan. 11

by Wendy Schadewald
Special to Sun Thisweek

Rating system:  (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)

For past Short Redhead Reel Reviews, click here.

“The Central Park Five” (NR) (3) — An in-depth, eye-opening, thought-provoking, ire-producing, 2-hour documentary that uses archival film clips, still photographs, and interviews with lawyers Michael Warren and Michael Joseph, former NYC Mayors Edward I. Koch and David Dinkins, social psychologist Saul Sassin, Kevin Raymond’s sister Angela Black and father Kevin Raymond Sr., former Governor Mario Cuomo, minister Rev. Calvin Butts, historian Craig Steven Wilder, and journalists Natalie Byfield, Lynnell Hancock, and Jim Dwyer to chronicle the shoddy, irresponsible investigation by New York City detectives Linda Farstein, John Hartigan, Elizabeth Lederer, Carlos Gonsalez, Humberto Arroyo, and Aaron Rosenthal of the brutal rape and near-death beating of 28-year-old Wall Street investment banker Trisha Meili on April 19, 1989, while she was jogging in Central Park and the subsequent erroneous arrests, lengthy interrogations and coerced confessions, and trials of teenagers Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise and the eventual overturning of their convictions after 18-year-old Matias Reyes was arrested on Aug. 5, 1989, for the horrendous crime.

“End of the Spear” (PG-13) (2) [Intense sequences of violence.] [Partially subtitled] [DVD only] — A preachy religious film that recounts the childhood of a young boy (Chase Ellison) growing up along the Amazon River with his family and spreading Christianity to the primitive natives after a Waodani leader (Louie Leonardo) and his tribesmen mistakenly kill his father (Chad Allen) and four other American missionaries (Sean McGowan, Matt Lutz, Stephen Caudill, and Patrick Zeller) in Ecuador in 1956.

“Gangster Squad” (R) (3) [Strong violence and language.] — Bullets fly in this entertaining, action-packed, violent, factually inspired, gangster thriller in which a Los Angeles police chief (Nick Nolte) in 1949 instructs a brazen, reckless police sergeant (Josh Brolin), who has a pregnant wife (Mireille Enos), to form a covert task force (Ryan Gosling, Robert Patrick, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, and Michael Peña) to take down ruthless, cutthroat, ambitious crime lord Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), whose foolish girlfriend (Emma Stone) is cheating on him with a cop, and his henchmen (Wade Williams, Troy Garity, Holt McCallany, Jack Conley, Jeff Wolfe, James Carpinello, James Hébert, Evan Jones, Mac Brandt, et al.) who have a slew of prominent bigwigs (Jack McGee, John Alyward, et al.) in their back pocket.

“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — An eye-opening, educational, controversial, 90-minute, 2011 documentary that concentrates on radical ecologic activist Daniel McGowan who was arrested in December 2005 for arson in Oregon and his involvement in the environmental Earth Liberation Front (ELF) whose enthusiastic environmental terrorists actively protest the rampant cutting down of trees by setting significant buildings (such as the Timber Company headquarters, Bureau of Land Management office, and a ski lodge in Vail, Co.) ablaze and consists of archival news footage and interview snippets with former “Earth First” journal editor Tim Flynn, assistant U.S. attorney Stephen Plifer, Native Forest Council member Bill Barton, former ELF spokesman Leslie James Pickering, detectives Greg Harvey and Chuck Tilby, Superior Lumber President Steve Swanson and former Superior Lumber Vice President Chuck Wert, Jefferson Poplar Farms President Don Rice, and environmental activists such as Tim Lewis, Jake Ferguson, Jenny Synan, and Suzanne Savoie.

“Match Point” (R) (3) [Some sexuality.] [DVD only] — Love becomes a balancing act and very complicated in this unlikely, intriguing, and suspenseful Woody Allen thriller for a shrewd Irish tennis pro (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) in London when he begins dating the go-get-him daughter (Emily Mortimer) of uppercrust British parents (Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton) introduced to him by her opera-loving brother (Matthew Goode) and then becomes hopelessly infatuated with a striking American actress (Scarlett Johansson).

“Nanny McPhee” (PG) (3) [Mild thematic elements, some rude humor, and brief language.] [DVD only] — A bewitching, wart-faced English nanny (Emma Thompson) brings order to an unruly household and comes to the aid of a flustered widowed funeral director (Colin Firth) and his two servants (Kelly Macdonald and Imelda Staunton) in this colorful family film after his seven ill-behaved children (Thomas Sangster, et al.) manage to chase away seventeen nannies and his shrewish benefactor (Angela Lansbury) threatens to end his much-needed financial support if he does not wed within one month.
“Underworld Evolution” (R) (1) [Pervasive strong violence and gore, and some sexuality/nudity.] [DVD only] — In this silly, brooding, blood-soaked sequel to the 2003 horror film “Underworld,” a revenge-fueled vampire (Kate Beckinsale) teams up with a vampire-werewolf hybrid (Scott Speedman) to prevent a powerful bloodsucker (Tony Curran) from releasing his twin werewolf brother (Brian Steele) who has been cocooned and imprisoned for centuries.

“Zero Dark Thirty” (R) (4) [Strong violence, including brutal disturbing images, and language.] — A riveting, intense, Oscar-nominated, well-acted, star-dotted (James Gandolfini, Mark Strong, and Stephen Dillane), 157-minute film that chronicles the tenacity of a steely-eyed, frustrated CIA veteran (Jessica Chastain) as she works with her skeptical boss (Kyle Chandler) and colleagues (Jason Clarke, Harold Perrineau, Jennifer Ehle, et al.) to interrogate prisoners (Reda Kateb, et al.) and to gather and decipher intel to track the whereabouts of illusive Osama bin Laden and the eventual take down of the al-Qaeda terrorist leader at his fortified Pakistan compound by Navy SEAL Team 6 (Joel Edgerton, Mark Duplass, Chris Pratt, Frank Grillo, Nash Edgerton, et al.) in May 2011.

Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.