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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“The Bridesmaid” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — The life of an industrious, smooth-talking French salesman (Benoît Magimel) is forever altered in this compelling psychological thriller when he meets a charismatic, possessive, and mentally disturbed bridesmaid (Laura Smet) at the wedding reception of his younger sister (Solène Bouton) in Paris.
“Charlie Wilson’s War” (R) (3.5) [Strong language, nudity/sexual content, and some drug use.] [DVD only] — Smartly written, biting dialogue peppers this compelling, eye-opening, factually based political film in which high-rolling, partying, whiskey-slugging Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) teams up with a fearless CIA agent (Philip Seymour Hoffman) with an acerbic wit and a beautiful, Bible-thumping millionaire (Julia Roberts) to get congressional approval to fund a convert war that armed and trained Afghan rebels to defeat Russian military forces in the late 1980s, which proved to be the catalyst for the downfall of the Soviet Union.
“Even Money” (R) (2.5) [Violence, language, and brief sexuality.] [DVD only] — While a self-serving Atlantic City detective (Kelsey Grammer) goes after a ruthless sleaze bag (Tim Roth) in this gritty drama, a plumber (Forest Whitaker) tries to get out from under the clutches of two bookies (Jay Mohr and Grant Sullivan) for the sake of his basketball-playing son (Nick Cannon), a two-bit magician (Danny DeVito) tries to catch a break, a gambling novelist (Kim Basinger) tries to hide her addiction from her husband (Ray Liotta), and lonely therapist (Carla Gugino) looks for love.
“Ghost in the Shell” (PG-13) (2.5) [Intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content, and some disturbing images.] — Phenomenal special effects dominate this dark, action-packed, fast-paced, star-studded (Michael Pitt, Michael Wincott, and Takeshi Kitano), 2-hour remake of the 1995 animated Japanese sci-fi thriller in which in which a cyborg hybrid (Scarlett Johansson) with a human brain and soul (aka ghost) goes rogue from the ruthless CEO (Peter Ferdinando) of a robotics company and tries to uncover her past life while scientists (Juliette Binoche, Anamaria Marinca, et al.) become the target of a mysterious assassin.
“P.S. I Love You” (PG-13) (2.5) [Sexual references and brief nudity.] [DVD only] — After an artistic real estate agent (Hilary Swank) in New York City loses her free-spirited, singing, Irish husband (Gerard Butler) to a brain tumor in this sad, but uplifting, down-to-earth romantic chick flick, her concerned mother (Kathy Bates), two friends (Lisa Kudrow and Gina Gershon), and a smitten bartender (Harry Connick, Jr.) try to lift her spirits and to offer support when she begins receiving letters from her husband to help her move on with her life.
“The Red Balloon” (NR) (4) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — The charming, award-winning 1956 film about a young French boy (Pascal Lamorisse) who steals a red balloon, which takes on a life of its own as it follows and teases him throughout the streets of Paris.
“The Savages” (R) (3.5) [Some sexuality and language.] [DVD only] — A down-to-earth, realistic, and superbly acted dark comedy in which struggling New York City playwright (Laura Linney) and a commitment-phobic Buffalo philosophy professor (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) must accept responsibility and put aside their differences when they head to Arizona to find new living arrangements for their estranged, dementia-stricken father (Philip Bosco) after his girlfriend of 20 years suddenly dies during a manicure.
“Smurfs: The Lost Village” (PG) (2.5) [Some mild action and rude humor.] — Mandy Pantinkin narrates this colorful, energetic, family-friendly, star-studded (voiceovers by Megan Trainor, Gordon Ramsey, Jake Johnson, Tituss Burgess, Kelly Asbury, and Jeff Dunham), 3D, 89-minute animated comedy about four blue Smurfs (voiceovers by Demi Lavato, Joe Manganiello, Danny Pudi, and Jack McBrayer) who disregard the advice of Papa Smurf (voiceover by Mandy Pantinkin) when they leave their safe village to venture into the forbidden forest to warn a village of female Smurfs (voiceovers by Julia Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, et al.) that an evil wizard (voiceover by Rainn Wilson) along with his companion bird and feline are on their way to kidnap the Smurfs and to use them in a caldron concoction to increase his power.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.