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)
“American Hardcore” (R) (2) [Pervasive language, including sex and drug references.] [DVD only] — This interesting music documentary explores the hardcore punk rock scene between 1980 and 1986 through interview snippets with a diverse group of aggressive and rebellious band members and grainy film clips from groups such as Bad Brains, D.O.A., Black Flag, Germs, Fears, Weirdos, Circle Jerks, Poison Idea, Void, Millions of Dead Cops (MDC), Bad Religion, Vatican Commandos, Zero Boys, CH3, Minor Threat, The Untouchables, Minor Threat, The Misfits, Adolescents, Wasted Youth, Agnostic Front, Flipper, Gwar, Minutemen, The Replacements, 7 Seconds, Suicidal Tendencies, TSOL, and Youth Brigade.
“Boyhood” (R) (2.5) [Language, including sexual references, and teen drug and alcohol use.] — Richard Linklater’s slow-paced, unusual, realistic, well-acted, 166-minute, slice-of-life film, which was shot over a 12-year-period with the same cast, follows a divorced mother (Patricia Arquette) in Texas as she raises her two children (Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater) with minimal help from her ex-husband (Ethan Hawke), goes to college to become a psychology professor, and twice marries unworthy men (Marco Perella and Brad Hawkins) with drinking issues.
“Catch a Fire” (PG-13) (3) [Thematic material involving torture and abuse, violence, and brief language.] [DVD only] — After an innocent foreman, Patrick Chamusso (Derek Luke), at an oil refinery in South Africa is arrested and tortured by an anti-terrorist colonel (Tim Robbins) in the 1980s in this poignant, factually based political thriller, the man leaves his wife (Bonnie Henna) and two daughters to join African National Congress (ANC) freedom fighters to rally against Apartheid.
“The East” (PG-13) (2.5) [Thematic elements, violence, some disturbing images, sexual content, and partial nudity.] [DVD only] — When a former FBI operative (Brit Marling) is assigned by her Washington, D.C. boss (Patricia Clarkson) at a private intelligence company to infiltrate an ecoterrorist organization in this slow-paced, strange, somber, thought-provoking, star-dotted (Julia Ormond and Jason Ritter), 2-hour, 2013 espionage thriller, she becomes emotionally involved with the charismatic leader (Alexander Skarsgård) and passionate members (Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Danielle McDonald, Aldis Hodge, et al.).
“Life Itself” (R) (4) [Brief sexual images/nudity and language.] — A touching, heartfelt, informative, intelligent, insightful, 2-hour documentary based on the autobiography of Pulitzer Prize-winning, acclaimed, legendary film critic Roger Ebert that chronicles his legendary career and life through film clips, archival photographs, and interviews with columnist Roger Simon, friends (William Nack, Bruce Elliot, and John McHugh), executive producers Thea Flaum and Donna LaPietra, film critics (A. O. Scott, Richard Corliss, and Howie Movschovitz), film director Martin Scorsese, “Chicago Times” colleagues Laura Emerick and Tom McNanee, Gene Siskel’s wife Marlene Iglitzen, film scholar Jonathan Rosenbaum, filmmakers (Werner Herzog, Gregory Nava, Errol Morris, Ramin Bahrani, and Ava DuVernay), television producer Nancy de Las Santos-Reza, step granddaughter Raven Evans, and website designer Josh Golden.
“Sex Tape” (R) (.5) [Strong sexual content, nudity, language, and some drug use.] — Moronic characters and inane dialogue dominate this unfunny, raunchy, groan-inducing, poorly written, 90-minute comedy in which a successful California blogger (Cameron Diaz) and her frustrated husband (Jason Segel), who have two children, decide to spice up their sex life by making a video of themselves making love in various positions from “The Joy of Sex,” and when the video is accidentally synced to iPods® of family (Nancy Lenehan, et al.) and friends (Rob Cordrry, Ellie Kemper, et al.), it threatens a possible lucrative job with a cocaine-snorting CEO (Rob Lowe).
“Third Person” (R) (2) [Language and some sexuality/nudity.] — A disappointing, lackluster, slow-paced, bleak, 137-minute film that consists of three disconnected stories, including a self-absorbed novelist (Liam Neeson) who is separated from his wife (Kim Basinger) and courts his beautiful mistress (Olivia Wilde) while writing and meeting his editor (David Harwood) in Paris, a slick salesman (Adrien Brody) who sells knock-off clothing is drawn to a mysterious woman (Moran Atias) in a Roman bar, and an emotionally-fragile hotel housekeeper (Mila Kunis) in New York City who works with a no-nonsense lawyer (Maria Bello) struggles to get visitation rights to her son (Oliver Crouch) who lives with her wealthy, artistic ex-husband (James Franco).
“Venus in Fur” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] — When a tawdry, duplicitous, outspoken actress (Emmanuelle Seigner) is late for an audition for an S & M play in Paris set in 1870 in this well-acted, erotic, dark, unusual, 96-mimnute, 2013, Roman Polanski film based on David Ives’ Tony Award-winning play adapted from on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch;s sexually provocative novella “Venus in Fur,” the author turned director (Mathieu Amalric) reluctantly agrees to a reading of the script and is surprised to discover she is ideal for the part.
“Wish I Was Here” (R) (2.5) [Language and some sexual content.] — A down-to-earth, touching, wacky, well-acted, star-dotted (Jim Parsons, Michael Weston, Donald Faison, and James Avery), 2-hour comedy about a 35-year-old, unemployed Jewish actor (Zac Braff) struggling to care for his wife (Kate Hudson) and two children (Pierce Gagnon and Joey King) in Los Angeles while coping with his immature, Lego-obsessed brother (Josh Gad) and the imminent death of his cancer-stricken father (Mandy Patinkin).
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.