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)
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“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.
“I Am Legend” (PG-13) (3.5) [Intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.] [DVD only] — A taut, attention-grabbing, fast-paced, action-packed futuristic thriller in which a lonely military scientist (Will Smith) desperately searches for a cure for a deadly virus in 2012 after he is stranded in New York City with his loyal German shepherd and survivors of the plague who are out for blood and his life.
“Juno” (PG-13) (3.5) [Mature thematic material, sexual content, and language.] [DVD only] — When a smart-aleck, caustic-tongued, free-spirited high school student (Ellen Page) in Minnesota learns that she is pregnant to the surprise of her boyfriend (Michael Cera), her best friend (Olivia Thirlby), and her understanding and supportive parents (Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons) in this witty, smartly written comedy, she decides to let a St. Cloud commercial composer (Jason Bateman) and his wife (Jennifer Garner) adopt her child.
“Personal Shopper”(R) (3) [Some language, sexuality, nudity, and a bloody violent image.] [Partially subtitled] — Olivier Assayas’s quirky, engaging, original, suspenseful, dark, critically acclaimed, 105-minute supernatural film in which a grieving American medium (Kristen Stewart) hangs around Paris waiting for a sign from her deceased twin brother who died unexpectedly of a heart attack, misses her computer tech boyfriend (Anders Danielsen Lie) who is working in Dubai, helps her sister-in-law (Sigrid Bouaziz) to sell her house by determining whether the house is haunted, and makes money as a personal shopper for a wealthy, media celebrity (Nora von Waldstätten) who is having an affair with a jealous suitor (Lars Eidriner).
“The Sense of an Ending” (PG-13) (2) [Thematic elements, a violent image, sexuality, and brief strong language.] — After a divorced, semi-retired, British vintage camera shop owner (Jim Broadbent) learns that the mother (Emily Mortimer) of his first girlfriend (Freya Mavor/ Charlotte Rampling) has oddly left him the diary of his best friend (Joe Alwyn) in college who committed suicide in this confusing, unevenly paced, well-acted, 108-minnte film told in flashbacks and based on Julian Barnes bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning, 2011 novel, he reminisces about his past relationships while dealing with his pregnant lesbian daughter (Michelle Dockery) and keeping a cordial relationship with ex-wife (Harriet Walter).
“Starting Out in the Evening” (PG-13) (3.5) [Sexual content, language, and brief nudity] [DVD only] — While an aging, workaholic, widowed novelist (Frank Langella) who relishes his privacy and has been on the back burner of the literary world for years cautiously and somewhat reluctantly agrees to let a cheeky, tenacious, ambitious graduate student (Lauren Ambrose) interview him at his New York City apartment and get into his head and eventually his bed for a comparative critical analysis of his work that she is writing for her master’s thesis in this compelling, well-acted film with well-rounded characters and a smoldering undercurrent, his 40-year-old daughter (Lili Taylor) is at a romantic crossroads trying to come to terms with her relationship with a smitten lawyer and an old flame (Adrian Lester).
“The Treatment” (NR) (2.5) [DVD only] — After breaking up with his girlfriend (Stephanie March) and countless hours of examining his life with an imaginary therapist (Ian Holm) in this satisfying romantic comedy, an English teacher (Chris Eigeman) and basketball coach at a private school begins dating a wealthy widow (Famke Janssen) with a young son (Eli Katz) who hopes to adopt a baby girl with the support of her mother (Elizabeth Hubbard) and a social worker (Blair Brown).
“Wilson” (R) (2.5) [Language throughout and some sexuality.] — After an eccentric, outspoken, annoying, lonely misanthrope (Woody Harrelson) in Minnesota learns that his father has died of lung cancer and that his waitressing, estranged ex-wife (Laura Dern) did not have an abortion and gave up their baby for adoption 17 years earlier in this quirky, down-to-earth, bittersweet, star-dotted (Judy Greer, Cheryl Hines, Margo Martindale, David Warshofsky, and Brett Gelman), 94-minute comedic satire shot in the Twin Cities and adapted from the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, he desperately wants a family and connects with his bullied, overweight, teenage daughter (Isabella Amara), which initially backfires due to his smothering and bad choices, but he ultimately finds happiness.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.