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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“After the Storm” (R) (3) [Brief nudity.] [Subtitled] — Strong characters highlight Hirokazu Koreeda’s low-key, well-acted, down-to-earth, 117-minute, 2016 film in which a divorced, broke, Japanese gambling addict (Hiroshi Abe), who was once a prize-winning novelist, steals from his lonely, widowed mother (Kirin Kiki) as he works at a detective agency with his partner (Sosuke Ikematsu) to earn money for child support while dreaming of his next novel and tries to keep connected with his young son (Taiyô Yoshizawa) despite the reluctance of his ex-wife (Yôko Maki) who is now dating a well-to-do boyfriend.
“Alien vs. Predator: Requiem” (R) (2) [Violence, gore, and language.] [DVD only] — Mankind is caught in the middle and unprepared citizens (Kristen Hager, David Paetkau, Kurt Max Runte, Liam James, et al.) begin dropping like flies in this violent, predictable, guts-splattered, action-packed horror flick when two battling aliens (Tom Woodruff Jr. and Ian Whyte) land in Colorado and begin trying to kill each other while the sheriff (John Ortiz) tries to form a defense plan and others (Steven Paquale, Johnny Lewis, et al.) try to escape.
“Beyond the Gates” (R) (3) [Strong violence, disturbing images, and language.] [DVD only] — When Tutsis begin systematically butchering Hutus in Rwanda in 1994 in a mass genocide and a French army captain (Dominique Horwitz) is ordered to evacuate U.N. peacekeeping troops in this gut-wrenching, violent, factually based film reminiscent of “Hotel Rwanda,” a Catholic priest (John Hurt) and an idealistic British teacher (Hugh Dancy) are faced with impossible choices.
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (PG-13) (3.5) [Nudity, sexual content, and some language.] [Subtitled] [DVD only] — Unique camera angles, fuzzy frames, choppy dialogue, and painstakingly slow pacing reinforce this touching, heart-wrenching, factually based, quip-filled, and ultimately inspirational story about courageous and stubborn French Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) who suffered a horrendous and terrifying cerebrovascular accident at 43 years old that affected his brainstem and made him a prisoner in his own body where he could literally move only his left eye, but he went on to write his memoir on which this film is based.
“Gifted” (PG-13) (3.5) [Thematic elements, language, and some suggestive material.] — When his controlling, wealthy mother (Lindsay Duncan) shows up more than six years after the suicide of her math prodigy daughter in an attempt to move her precocious, genius, challenging, 7-year-old, math savant granddaughter (McKenna Grace) to Boston after being alerted by a grade school principal (Elizabeth Marvel) that the girl needs to be at an academy for gifted students in this engaging, superbly acted, well-written, down-to-earth, 101-minute film, her loving and concerned uncle (Chris Evans), who repairs boats in a small seaside town in Florida, hires a lawyer (Glenn Plummer) and desperately fights to retain custody of his special niece in order to raise her in as normal a life as possible with the help of his warmhearted neighbor/landlord (Octavia Spencer) and her first grade schoolteacher (Jenny Slate).
“Going in Style” (PG-13) (3.5) [Drug content, language, and some suggestive material.] — When a frustrated, retired New Yorker (Michael Caine) can no longer afford his mortgage payments and the bank threatens to foreclose on his home in this delightful, funny, entertaining, star-studded (Ann-Margret, John Oritz, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, Joey King, and Kenan Thompson), 96-minute remake of the 1979 comedy, he convinces his two longtime friends (Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin), who are also losing their pensions after their factory that they worked at for more than 30 years was sold to South Korea and the pensions are being used to pay off the company debt, to rob a bank so that they can have their pie and eat it too.
“Jimmy Carter Man from Plains” (PG) (3.5) [Some thematic elements and brief disturbing images.] [DVD only] — A fascinating, informative, and insightful Johnathan Demme documentary that follows former President Jimmy Carter, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, as he travels to book signings and interviews in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and Phoenix to promote his controversial new book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” between Nov. 2006 and Jan. 2007.
“National Treasure: Book of Secrets” (PG) (3) [Some violence and action.] [DVD only] — When a disgruntled man (Ed Harris) defames his family’s good name by implicating his ancestors in the assassination of President Lincoln in this action-packed, family-friendly, witty, entertaining, adventure film, a world-famous, globetrotting treasure hunter (Nicolas Cage) seeks the help of the president (Bruce Greenwood) and an FBI agent (Harvey Keitel) when he teams up with his scholarly divorced parents (Jon Voight and Helen Mirren), his former girlfriend (Diane Kruger), and his techno-savvy sidekick (Justin Bartha) to prove the existence of an ancient city of gold that will ultimately restore honor to his family.
“The Orphanage” (R) (2.5) [Some disturbing content.] [Subtitled] [DVD only] — A Spanish doctor (Fernando Cayo) and his wife (Belén Rueda) turn the seemingly idyllic seaside orphanage where she grew up as an orphaned child into their home in this eerie, ghostly Spanish thriller and soon end up searching with the help of a police psychologist (Mabel Ribera) and a medium (Geraldine Chaplin) for their adopted, HIV-positive, 7-year-old son (Roger Príncep), who has befriended a group of mischievous ghosts, when he suddenly disappears after the appearance of a mysterious elderly social worker (Montserrat Carulla).
“Ronia Robber¹s Daughter” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — Mystical creatures and witty music and dialogue highlight this whimsical and highly entertaining 1984 Swedish “Romeo and Juliet-esque” film about the willful daughter (Hanna Zetterberg) of kindhearted parents (Börje Ahlstedt and Lena Nyman) who falls for the son (Dan Håfström) of rival robbers (Per Oscarsson and Med Reventberg).
“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” (R) (3.5) [Sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use, and language.] [DVD only] — A hilarious, delightfully campy, satirical, cameo-dotted (Jack Black, Jewel Kilcher, Lyle Lovett, Jack White, Eddie Vedder, David Krumholtz, Frankie Muniz, et al.) parody of “Walk the Line” in which an Alabama teenager (John C. Reilly) leaves his parents (Raymond J. Barry and Margo Martindale) after accidentally cutting his brother (Connor Rayburn/Chip Hormess) in half and heads out with his girlfriend (Kristen Wiig) to seek fame and fortune as a smell-challenged, sink-trashing rock ‘n roll singer with the help of an amorous singing partner (Jenna Fischer).
“Youth Without Youth” (R) (2) [Some sexuality, nudity, and a brief disturbing image.] [DVD only] — Francis Ford Coppola blends mysticism, metaphysics, telekinesis, and telepathy in this visually interesting, but convoluted and nonsensical film about an elderly Romanian linguist professor (Tim Roth) who becomes younger and gains superhuman abilities to the surprise of his doctor (Bruno Ganz) and garners the attention of the Nazis (Alexandra Pirici, André Hennicke, et al.) after he is struck by lightning in 1938 and years later falls in love with a Sanskrit-speaking woman (Alexandra Maria Lara) who turns into an Indian mystic after she was hit with a lightning bolt.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.