by Wendy Schadewald
Special to Sun Thisweek-Dakota County Tribune
Rating system: (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
For more reviews, click here.
“This Christmas” (PG-13) (3) [DVD only] — Tumultuous family dynamics ensue in this down-to-earth, entertaining film when family, including a gambler (Idris Elba) on the run from bookies, an actress (Sharon Leal), a wannabe singer (Chris Brown), a housewife (Regina King) seeking a divorce from her husband (Laz Alonso), a pre-law student (Lauren London) and her boyfriend (Keith Robertson), and a solider (Columbus Short) who is AWOL from the army after marrying his girlfriend (Jessica Stroup), return home to their mother (Loretta Devine) and her steadfast boyfriend (Delroy Lindo) in Los Angeles for the holidays.
“A Cure for Wellness” (R) (2.5) [Disturbing violent content and images, sexual content, including an assault, graphic nudity, and language.] — When a successful, ambitious sales executive (Dane DeHaan) at a major Wall Street financial firm in New York is sent to a mysterious, idyllic, remote, wellness-center sanatorium in Swiss Alps to bring back its illustrious CEO (Harry Groener) in this odd, eerie, dark, loophole-filled, 146-minute, Gore Verbinski psychological thriller highlighted by stunning cinematography, he finds that the duplicitous, eel-obsessed director (Jason Isaacs) is performing experiments on oddly cooperating patients (Mia Goth, Celia Imrie, et al.) who are constantly drinking water and then finds himself a patient against his will.
“Get Out” (R) (3) [Violence, bloody images, and language, including sexual references.] — When an African-American photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) leaves his dog in the care of his TSA agent best friend (LilRel Howery) and goes with his beautiful girlfriend (Allison Williams) to her parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) secluded home for the weekend in this creepy, quirky, engaging, violent, unpredictable, 103-minute thriller, he meets her wacky brother (Caleb Landry Jones), an exceedingly odd African-American housekeeper (Betty Gabriel), an eccentric African-American groundskeeper (Marcus Henderson), and even stranger guests (Stephen Root, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, et al.) at a party that goes from bad to worse.
“The Great Wall” (PG-13) (3) [Sequences of fantasy action violence.] — Amazing special effects, choreography, cinematography, and stunts dominate this intense, colorful, action-packed, fast-paced, entertaining, 3D, 103-minute film in which a European mercenary (Matt Damon), who is a skilled archer and poses as a trader with his traveling companion (Pedro Pascal) as they search for mysterious black powder in feudal China during the Song dynasty (960–1279) after losing the rest of their mercenary troop to bandits, ends up joining the commanding Chinese general (Tian Jing) of the secret military Nameless Order and her devoted army (Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu, Lu Han, Eddie Peng, Lin Gengxin, Chen Xuedong, Huang Xuan, et al.) to protect the fortress on the Great Wall and the ancient capital city of Beijing that are being attacked and overrun by thousands of flesh-eating, dragon-like, alien monsters called Taotie that rise from their slumber every 60 years.
“Kurt Cobain: About a Son” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — Exquisite photography and music highlight this insightful and interesting documentary by music journalist Michael Azerrad that consists of intimate interviews for his book “Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana” with punk rock musician Kurt Cobain that were audiotaped between Dec. 1992 and Mar. 1993 in which he candidly talks about his childhood growing up in Washington, his marriage to Courtney Love, and his illustrious career prior to his tragic suicide in Apr. 1994.
“Redacted” (R) (2.5) [Strong disturbing violent content including a rape, pervasive language, and some sexual references/images.] [DVD only] — A raw, controversial, unsettling Brian De Palma film that exposes the ugliness, brutality, and realities of war through the eyes of a wannabe filmmaker (Izzy Diaz) who is documenting his experiences and those of his unit (Ty Jones, Mike Figueroa, et al.) while stationed in Iraq and a traumatized American solider (Rob Devaney) trying to come to terms with witnessing two of his buddies (Daniel Stewart Sherman and Patrick Carroll) rape and murder a 15-year-old Iraqi girl and then kill her family to cover it up.
“Rock Dog” (PG) (3) [Action and language.] — When a guitar-playing Tibetan Mastiff (voiceover by Luke Wilson) gets support from the wise village yak (voiceover by Sam Elliott) to follow his dreams and to leave his protective guard dog father (voiceover by J. K. Simmons) that protects the idyllic mountainous village full of sheep in this family-friendly, entertaining, pratfall, 3D, 80-minute animated musical, he heads to the big city to find the legendary, reclusive British feline rock musician (voiceover by Eddie Izzard) to give him guitar lessons and to join a fox (voiceover by Mae Whitman), a goat (voiceover by Jorge Garcia), and a snow leopard (voiceover by Matt Dillon) in a rock band while being pursued by a dimwitted, hungry, wolf pack (voiceovers by Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, et al.).
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.