Short Redhead Reel Reviews for the week of Jan. 18

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.

“Amour” (PG-13) (3.5) [Mature thematic material, including a disturbing act, and brief language.] [Subtitled] — Slow pacing mars this poignant, Oscar-nominated, heartbreaking, well-acted, unflinchingly down-to-earth, overly long, 127-minute “Love” film in which a stubborn, loving French music teacher (Jean-Louis Trintignant) in his 80s cares for his longtime wife (Emmanuelle Riva) in their Paris apartment after she suffers a debilitating stroke to the concern of their musician, living-abroad daughter (Isabelle Huppert).

“Annapolis” (PG-13) (2.5) [Some violence, sexual content, and language.] [DVD only] — A pugilist-loving welder (James Franco) at a Maryland shipyard fights to prove to his widowed father (Brian Goodman) and brother (Jim Parrack), to his character-building Naval officers (Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Donnie Wahlberg, McCaleb Burnett, et al.), to his fellow plebian roommates (Vicellous Reon Shannon, Roger Fan, and Wilmer Calderon), and to himself that he is worthy officer material and deserves to be at the rigorous, world-renown Naval academy.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” (PG-13) (3.5) [Thematic material, including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language, and brief sensuality.] —Mysterious prehistoric aurochs beasts and stunning performances highlight this Oscar-nominated, beautifully photographed, unusual, creative, heartbreaking, critically acclaimed film, which is adapted from Lucy Alibar’s play “Juicy and Delicious,” about a spunky, impoverished, wise 6-year-old girl (Quvenzhané Wallis) who faces incredible hardships in Louisiana while surviving her water logged, ever-changing environment in the “Bathtub” region of the southern Mississippi Delta as her stern, boozing father (Dwight Henry) becomes very sick and she desperately searches for her clueless, absentee mother.

“Broken City” (R) (2.5) [Pervasive language, some sexual content, and violence.] ­ When a former, jealous New York City detective turned private investigator (Mark Wahlberg), who is dating an actress (Nathalie Martinez), is hired by the ambitious, power-hungry, crooked mayor (Russell Crowe) to follow his unhappy wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) to determine whether she is having an affair in this engaging, twisting, uneven political crime thriller, which is marred by dropped plot lines and a muffled soundtrack, he unknowingly gets involved in a messy, scandalous cover-up after he takes incriminating pictures of the mayor’s wife with the campaign manager (Kyle Chandler) of the councilman (Barry Pepper) who is the mayor’s opponent in the upcoming election.

“Crooked Arrows” (PG-13) (2) [Some suggestive references.] [DVD only] — When a proud tribal leader (Gil Birmingham) coerces his ambitious casino manager/real estate developer son (Brandon Routh), who was a lacrosse star in high school, to take on coaching duties for a down-on-their-luck lacrosse team (Chelsea Ricketts, Tyler Hill, Cree Cathers, Jack Vandervelde, et al.) in New York before granting him and his boss (Tom Kemp) a lucrative development contract in this family-oriented, predictable, 100-minute film, he gains pride in his Indian heritage.

“Ganges: River to Heaven” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — A somber, sobering, and enlightening documentary that follows four Hindi families at a Kashi hospice in Varanasi, India, in an attempt to detail the highly ingrained religious practices and long-held cultural and ceremonial traditions surrounding the preparation for and eventual death of a family member; shows the funeral rituals that occur more than 100 times per day to obtain salvation for loved ones, including the typically 3-hour cremation or if the deceased was under age 5 or died due to chicken pox, leprosy, or a snake bite, submersion of the rock-weighted corpse in the sacred Ganges River; and describes the increasingly toxic pollution of the river due to rotting corpses, human ashes, and fetid sewage and the efforts to control the pollution and to purify the water for the more than 70,000 people who bathe in the river daily.

“The Impossible” (PG-13) (4) [Intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity.] — Spectacular special effects highlight this enthralling, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, factually based film that follows the survival story of a British doctor (Naomi Watts) and her 12-year-old son (Tom Holland) when they get separated from her husband (Ewan McGregor) and two youngest sons (Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast) during a luxury vacation in Thailand after a catastrophic tsunami that killed more than 250,000 people hits Southeast Asia on Dec. 26, 2004.

“The Last Stand” (R) (3.5) [Strong bloody violence throughout, and language.] ­ When a ruthless, notorious Mexican cartel leader (Eduardo Noriega) escapes the custody of an FBI agent in charge (Forest Whitaker) in Las Vegas and heads toward the border in a souped-up, stolen sports car travelling at 200 mph with an FBI agent (Genesis Rodriguez) as a hostage in this entertaining, witty, bullet-filled, action-packed, fast-paced film, a ragged small town sheriff (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in Arizona, his three deputies (Luis Guzmán, Jamie Alexander, and Zach Gilford), and a couple of deputized town eccentrics (Johnny Knoxville and Rodrigo Santoro) try to stop the crime lord and his henchmen (Peter Stormare, et al.) from crossing into Mexico.

“Mama” (PG-13) (3) [Violence and terror, some disturbing images, and thematic elements.] ­ When two severely traumatized sisters (Megan Carpenter and Isabelle Nélisse) are shockingly found in a rundown, isolated cabin in the woods in Virginia after their father killed their mother five years earlier in this suspenseful, creepy, well-acted, but loophole-dotted horror film, their uncle (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his reluctant rock singer girlfriend (Jessica Chastain) agree to raise the siblings to the chagrin of their aunt (Jane Moffat) and then find themselves the target of a menacing, deadly spirit (Javier Botet).

“Roving Mars” (NR) (4) [DVD only] — Steve Squyres narrates this mind-blowing IMAX documentary from Walt Disney Pictures that follows the phenomenal creation and intricate assembly of the six-wheeled, solar-powered rovers Spirit and Opportunity by more than 4,000 people; their extraordinary 300-million-mile, 7-month journey to the mysterious red planet and harrowing, goosebump-inducing landing on the surface; and the amazing, awe-inspiring digital photographs that are helping scientists to determine whether it ever had the water needed to support life on Mars.

Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.