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.
Atonement (R) (3.5) [Disturbing war images, language, and some sexuality.] [DVD only] — A guilt-ridden British writer (Vanessa Redgrave) reminisces about her childhood growing up in a privileged, aristocratic household with her free-spirited, older sister (Keira Knightley) in England and serving as a nurse (Romola Garai) during WWII in this beautifully photographed, well-acted film based on the Ian McEwan novel, and throughout her life she tries to atone for a devastating lie she told as a jealous teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan) when she falsely accused the lovestruck son (James McAvoy) of a household servant (Brenda Blethyn) of raping her redheaded cousin (Juno Temple) in 1935, which ultimately seals the fate of the lives involved when the war begins.
“Awake” (R) (1.5) [Language, an intense disturbing situation, and brief drug use.] [DVD only] — When a young billionaire (Hayden Christensen) with cardiomyopathy goes under the knife for a heart transplant hours after marrying his girlfriend (Jessica Alba) of one year and ignoring the well-intentioned wishes of his controlling, widowed mother (Lena Olin) in this lackluster psychological thriller, he quickly realizes that the surgical team (Terrence Howard, Fisher Stevens, and Georgina Chapman) has plans to kill him when the booze-sipping anesthesiologist (Christopher Macdonald) botches his sleep-inducing drugs.
“Before I Fall” (PG-13) (2) [Mature thematic content involving drinking, sexuality, bullying, some violent images, and language—all involving teens.] — When a popular senior high school student (Zoey Deutch), who lives with her parents (Jennifer Beals and Nicholas Lea) and younger sister (Erica Tremblay) in the Pacific Northwest, begins to relive Feb. 12 over and over again in a time loop hell reminiscent of “Groundhog Day” and ends up in a car crash with her three bitchy best friends (Halston Sage, Medalion Rahimi, and Cynthy Wu) in this cliché-driven, dark, uninspired, unoriginal, teenager-geared, predictable, 2010, 99-minute thriller based on the bestselling novel, the teenager becomes more and more frustrated as she tries to understand the significance while helping a bullied, depressed student (Elena Kampouris) and exploring the attraction of a smitten classmate (Logan Miller).
“Collide” (PG-13) (2.5) [Violence, frenetic action, some sexuality, language, and drug material.] — When his bartender girlfriend (Felicity Jones) in Cologne, Germany, suddenly requires a $200-thousand kidney transplant in this action-packed, fast-paced, bullet-riddled, violent, 99-minute thriller highlighted with car chases and crashes, an American junkyard worker (Nicholas Hoult) reluctantly agrees to hijack a semi-truck with a friend (Marwan Kenzari) filled with cocaine for a slighted drug dealer (Ben Kingsley) who is stealing the cargo from his ruthless, arrogant boss (Anthony Hopkins).
“How to Cook Your Life” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — Stunning photography and a melodic pacing underscore this fascinating and colorful documentary by German filmmaker Doris Dörrie that focuses on the life of renowned Zen practitioner and cook Edward Espe Brown as he teaches the art of cooking to students in California and Austria and the use of foods as a way to reconnect with your life, your body, and to life.
“King Corn” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — A fascinating, in-depth, informative, and ultimately disturbing documentary in which filmmakers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis rent 1 acre of land from farmer Chuck Pyatt in Greene, Ia., to plant 31,000 seeds of yellow dent no. 2 corn with the intent of following their government-subsidized harvest to market and during the process have candid and insightful interviews with farmers and scientists about the influences of the corn crop in America from cattle that are infected with acidosis due to a diet based on corn rather than grass and the far-reaching consequences on American consumers whose diet has changed dramatically over the last 30 years due to the ingestion of corn byproducts, such as high fructose corn syrup.
“Land of Mine” (R) (4) [Violence, some grisly images, and language.] [Subtitled] — A terrific script and acting highlight this Oscar-nominated, gut-wrenching, heart-pounding, suspenseful, heartbreaking, factually inspired, 90-minute 2015 film in which a hard-nosed Danish sergeant (Roland Møller) finds himself in charge of a group of mostly teenage, untrained German prisoners of war (Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Tim Bülow, Alexander Rasch, Leon Seidel, August Carter, Oskar Bökelmann, Karl Alexander Seider, Maximilian Beck, Emil and Oskar Belton, and Julius Kochinke) who are forced to undertake the extremely dangerous, delicate task of defusing and clearing millions of landmines buried on a Western Danish beach in 1945 following WW11.
“The Salesman” (PG-13) (4) [Mature thematic elements, and a brief bloody image.] [Subtitled] — After an Iranian housewife (Taraneh Alidoosti) and her English teacher husband (Shanab Hosseini), who are acting in Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman” move to a new apartment building with the help of a friend (Babak Karimi) and she is assaulted by an unknown intruder in Asghar Farhadi’s captivating, Oscar-nominated, multilayered, well-acted, realistic, 125-minute film, their relationship becomes increasingly strained when he is obsessed with finding the attacker in Teheran.
“What Would Jesus Buy?” (PG) (3) [Thematic material and brief mild language.] [DVD only] — An irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, hard-hitting documentary about the charismatic and flamboyant Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir who go on a month-long cross-country tour across the United States during the holiday season to preach against consumerism, to convince consumers to change their spending habits, and to encourage people to celebrate the real meaning of the Christmas.
“The White Helmets” (NR) (4) [Subtitled] — A gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, Oscar-winning, inspirational, 41-minute, 2016 documentary that shows the volunteer heroes of the Syria Civil Defense, including Raed Saleh (leader), Abu Omar (former blacksmith), Mohammed Farah (former tailor), and Khalid Farah (former builder), that was formed in 2013 and consists of 2,900 members at a 120 centers who have saved more than 56,000 lives after Syrian cities such as Aleppo have been bombed by ISIS and the Russians.
The following films run Mar. 3—May 4 as part of the Omnifest 2017 at the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Omni Theater; for more information log on to smm.org or call 651/221-9444:
“A Beautiful Planet” (G) (3.5) — Jennifer Lawrence narrates this stunningly photographed, educational, 45-minute IMAX documentary, which was filmed by the astronauts themselves, that discusses the consequences of global warming on our precious Earth and shows life aboard the International Space Station and fascinating daylight and nighttime pictures of the globe from Asia, Europe, and Central, North, and South America.
“Everest” (NR) (4) — Liam Neeson narrates this cinematographically-awesome, 40-minute, 2008 IMAX documentary that covers an international team’s May 1996 climb to the top of the world’s highest mountain, while death and disaster strike another mountaineering party in close proximity.
“Mystery of the Nile” (NR) (3.5) — A fascinating, beautifully photography, 20-minute, 2005 MacGillivray Freeman IMAX documentary that details a 4-month, 4,132-mile expedition in which explorers Pasquale Scaturro and Gordon Brown explore the Nile “River of Life,” the longest river in the world, from its source in the highlands of Ethiopia, to the Sudan plains in Khartoum, to Lake Nasser, and finally to the Mediterranean Sea.
“Search for the Great Sharks” (NR) (1.5) — Mediocre footage dominates this embarrassing, contrived, 38-minute, 1995 IMAX documentary narrated by Joseph Campanella about great white and whale sharks.
“To the Arctic” (G) (3) — Meryl Streep narrates this captivating, gorgeously photographed, educational, 3D, 40-minute, 2012 IMAX documentary, which is filled with music by Steve Wood and songs by Paul McCartney, that follows a polar bear as it struggles to care for and protect her two 7-month-old cubs from male polar bear predators in the ever-changing, frigid Arctic and a newly married couple as they follow on foot the annual migration of Alaskan caribou to their birthing grounds.
Wendy Shadewald is a Burnsville resident.