by Wendy Schadewald
Rating system: (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“20th Century Women” (R) (3) [Sexual material, language, some nudity, and brief drug use.] — A languid-paced, well-acted, slice-of-life, star-dotted (Laura Wiggins, Alia Shawkat, and John Billingsley), 118-minute, Mike Mills film about the dynamics in the household of a single, 50-something, Bohemian, chain-smoking draftswoman (Annette Bening) in 1979 Santa Barbara, Calif., trying to raise her precocious, 15-year-old son (Lucas Jade Zumann) with the help of his sexually experienced first crush (Elle Fanning), an aspiring photographer tenant (Greta Celeste Gerwig) who survived ovarian cancer, and a handyman mechanic (Billy Crudup).
“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (R) (3) [A scene of strong graphic sexuality, nudity, violence, drug use, and language.] [DVD only] — A jewelry heist goes terribly wrong when a drug-addicted businessman (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is skimming money from a real estate company in New York City coerces his divorced brother (Ethan Hawke) who is drowning in debt and having an affair with his wife (Marisa Tomei) to rob the Westchester jewelry store owned by their parents (Albert Finney and Rosemary Harris) in this gritty, realistic, Sidney Lumet film.
“Broken Sky” (PG-13) (2) [Sex, nudity, and adult themes.] [Subtitled] [DVD only] — Poetry readings underscore this repetitious, sexually explicit film about a gay Mexican college student (Miguel Angel Hoppe) who seeks solace and comfort in the arms of another man (Alejandro Rojo) when his lover (Fernando Arroyo) becomes infatuated with another student he meets at a nightclub.
“The Founder” (PG-13) (3) [Brief strong language.] — A fascinating, disturbing, factually based, ire-inducing, star-dotted (Laura Dern, Patrick Wilson, Linda Cardellini, and Charles Green), 115-miute film in which tenacious, silver-tongued, unscrupulous, Missouri malt machine salesman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) discovers a revolutionary, one-of-a-kind hamburger joint in San Bernardino, Calif., started by the two meticulous, trustworthy McDonald brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) in 1954 and then builds a multimillion dollar fast-food empire by outwitting and taking advantage of them.
“I’m Not There” (R) (2.5) [Language, some sexuality, and nudity.] [DVD only] — Nostalgic folk music, including “The Times They Are A-Changin,” highlights this surreal, disconnected, unconventional, creative, star-studded (Julianne Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, et al.) biographical film in which Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw literally play the many faces of the legendary singer and songwriter Bob Dylan during different stages of his life; primarily for Bob Dylan aficionados.
“Lions for Lambs” (R) (3) [Some war violence and language.] [DVD only] — While a savvy, skeptical television journalist (Meryl Streep) interviews a powerful and ambitious Republican senator (Tom Cruise) in Washington, D.C. about new military strategic operations to win the war in Iraq and a California political science professor (Robert Redford) confronts a smart, sharp-witted, but disillusioned student (Andrew Garfield) in this thought-provoking, compelling film directed by Robert Redford, two idealist students (Derek Luke and Michael Pena) who enlisted in the army are fighting for their lives on a snow-blown, enemy-infested mountain in Afghanistan.
“Paterson” (R) (3) [Some language.] — Creative Ron Padgett poems are interspersed throughout this quirky, poignant, low-key, down-to-earth, twin-dotted, 118-minute Jim Jarmusch film that follows one week in the mundane, middle-class, “Groundhog Day” life with its ups and downs of a wannabe-poet bus driver (Adam Driver), who lives with his artistic, cupcake-baking, aspiring-singer girlfriend (Golshifteh Farahani) and an English bulldog in New Jersey, ae he drives passengers around the city and goes nightly to the neighborhood watering hole to chitchat with the bartender (Barry Shabaka Henley) and other patrons (Troy T. Parham, Trevor Parham, Chasten Harmon, William Jackson Harper, et al.).
“P2” (R) (.5) [Strong violence/gore, terror, and language.] [DVD only] — Atrocious and laughable dialogue, a preposterous and predictable plot, and stilted acting make up this stupid, contrived thriller about a New York City business woman (Rachel Nichols) who is trapped in a parking garage with a lonely, deranged, psychopathic security guard (Wes Bentley) on Christmas Eve.
“Sleepless” (R) (2) [Strong violence and language throughout.] — While two Internal Affairs detectives (Michelle Lynn Monaghan and David Harbour) investigate dirty cops in Las Vegas in this one-dimensional, action-packed, fast-paced, violent, predictable, 95-minute remake of the French crime thriller “Nuit Blanche” (aka “Sleepless Nights”) based on the novel by Frédéric Jardin, Nicolas Saada, and Olivier Douyère, a divorced, undercover homicide detective (Jamie Foxx) desperately searches for his teenage son (Octavius J. Johnson) who was kidnapped in broad daylight after leaving his nurse mother (Gabrielle Union) at the hospital by a ruthless casino kingpin (Dermot Mulroney) who needs his cocaine returned that he owes an even more dangerous drug dealer (Scoot McNairy).
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.