by Wendy Schadewald
Special to Sun Thisweek and the Dakota County Tribune
Rating system: (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Begin Again” (R) (3) [Language.] — After a frustrated singer/songwriter (Keira Knightley) breaks up with her adulterous famous singing boyfriend (Adam Levine) in this low-key, engaging, star-dotted (Rob Morrow, Ceelo Green, and Mos Def), 104-minute film, she meets a divorced, alcoholic, down-on-his-luck music producer (Mark Ruffalo), who has a precocious 14-year-old teenager daughter (Hailee Steingeld) living with his ex-wife (Catherine Keener), who wants to produce her album on the streets of Manhattan.
“Earth to Echo” (PG) (2.5) [Some action and peril, and mild language.] — When their cell phones start emitting strange signals and act crazy in this family-friendly, entertaining, 90-minute film, three best friends (Teo Halm, Astro, and Reese Hartwig) find an adorable, wide-eyed alien in the Nevada desert and help it return home with the help of a classmate (Ella Wahlestedt) while being chased by tenacious government officials.
“Infamous” (R) (4) [Language, violence, and some sexuality.] [DVD only] — A tightly-woven, immensely powerful, Oscar-caliber, cameo-studded (Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Daniels, Sigourney Weaver, Hope Davis, Isabella Rossellini, Peter Bogdonovich, Juliet Stevenson, et al.) film in which Toby Jones gives a deliciously entertaining performance as the intense, flamboyant, very out-of-the-closet “New Yorker” magazine writer Truman Capote as he researched material for his phenomenal bestseller “In Cold Blood” by charming and name dropping his way into the homes of Holcomb, Kansas, residents and into the jail cell, heart, and intellectual mind of Perry Smith (Daniel Craig) who murdered the well-to-do Clutter family, along with his callous partner Dick Hickock (Lee Pace), in 1959.
“Keeping Mum” (R) (3.5) [Language and some sexual content/nudity.] [DVD only] — Life takes surprising turns in this hilarious, delightful, tongue-in-cheek comedy when a stuffy English vicar (Rowan Atkinson) and his unhappy wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), who is contemplating consummating her affair with an American golf pro (Patrick Swayze), unknowingly hire a killing-prone housekeeper (Maggie Smith) who dismembered her cheating husband and his mistress 46 years earlier.
“The Queen” (PG-13) (3.5) [Brief strong language.] [DVD only] — This somber, intriguing, hard-hitting film focuses on the aftermath of Princess Diana’s unexpected death in Paris in August 1997 and speculates on the behind-the-walls reaction of stern and stoic Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren), Prince Phillip (James Cromwell), Prince Charles (Alex Jennings), and the queen mother (Sylvia Syms) as they sequestered themselves at Balmoral Castle in Scotland to the chagrin of the British people, while newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) tries to advise the sovereign to address her people and the world during this time of mourning for people’s princess.
“Sweet Land” (PG) (3.5) [Brief partial nudity and mild language.] [DVD only] — When a headstrong, comely German immigrant (Elizabeth Reaser) comes to Minnesota in 1920 to marry a shy Norwegian farmer (Tim Guine) in this charming, heartbreaking, and poignant love story, her fiancé’s neighbors (Alan Cumming and Alex Kingston) initially welcome her to their closeknit, rural community, but just as abruptly she is shunned and ostracized by the prejudicial minister (John Heard), the greedy banker (Ned Beatty), and suspicious and skeptical townsfolk out of their own fear and ignorance after they discover she is of German not Scandinavian descent.
“Tammy” (R) (3.5) [Language, including sexual references.] — After a down-on-her-luck Illinois fast-food employee (Melissa McCarthy) is fired from her job by her uncompassionate boss (Ben Falcone) and then she unexpectedly learns that her husband (Nat Faxon) is having an affair with a friend (Toni Collette) in this funny, touching, well-paced, entertaining, stat-dotted (Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, Dan Aykroyd, and Sandra Oh), 96-minute comedy, she ends up on an adventurous road trip with her horny, alcoholic grandmother (Susan Sarandon) where she meets the handsome son (Mark Duplass) of a hard-drinking farmer (Gary Cole) and gets into trouble with the law trying to raise bail money.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.