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 Alps” (NR) (4) [DVD only] — Jaw-dropping scenery highlights this awesome IMAX documentary narrated by Michael Gambon about “American Alpine Journal” editor and mountaineer John Harlin III who returns home to Switzerland to tackle the Eiger Mountain that claimed his father’s life in March 1966.
“27 Dresses” (PG-13) (2) [Language, some innuendo, and sexuality.] [DVD only] — When a cynical New York City commitment columnist (James Marsden) writes an article about an executive assistant (Katherine Heigl) who has been a dutiful, smiling bridesmaid twenty-seven times and never the bride in this lackluster, predictable, chick-flick comedy, it adds icing on the cake and fuel to the fire after her uppity sister (Malin Akerman) becomes engaged to a hunky, outdoorsy sportswear catalog executive (Edwards Burns), her boss and the man with whom she is also in love.
“First Sunday” (PG-13) (2) [Language, some sexual humor, and brief drug references.] [DVD only] — A hasty scheme to rob a Baltimore church goes horribly amiss in this amusing, lightweight comedy when two inept ex-cons (Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan) hold a pastor (Chi McBride), a deacon (Michael Beach), a church secretary (Loretta Devine), a choir director (Katt Williams), and other parishioners (Malinda Williams, Olivia Cole, et al.) hostage and the cops (Clifton Powell and Nick Turturro) drop by unexpectedly.
“Free Fire” (R) (3) [Strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references, and drug use.] — A free for all and pandemonium ensue as bullets fly and bodies drop in this wacky, funny, over-the-top, violent, 90-minute, 2016 satire when an IRA terrorist (Cillian Murphy) shows up with other gun-toting criminals (Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley, Enzo Cilent, Noah Taylor, Patrick Bergin, Jack Reynor, Babou Ceesay, and Mark Monero) to an abandoned Boston warehouse in 1978 to buy M16s from an arms dealer (Sharlto Copley).
“In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” (PG-13) (1.5) [Intense battle sequences.] [DVD only] — When mutant beasts controlled by a devilish wizard (Ray Liotta) attack an idyllic, mediaeval village and kill his son (Colin Ford) and kidnap his wife (Claire Forlani) in this hokey film filled with stilted dialogue and inferior special effects, a farmer (Jason Statham), his brother in-law, and a close friend (Ron Perlman) join the loyal soldiers (Brian J. White, Aaron Pearl, et al.) of the king (Burt Reynolds) poisoned by his traitorous nephew (Matthew Lillard) and a benevolent magician (John Rhys-Davies) and his guilt-ridden daughter (Leelee Sobieski) to defeat the murdering hordes.
“Mad Money” (PG-13) (2.5) [Sexual material and language, and brief drug references.] [DVD only] — When a tenacious, upper middleclass suburban housewife (Diane Keaton) is forced to take a job cleaning toilets at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City after the extensive layoff of her depressed husband (Ted Danson) in this preposterous, yet amusing, enjoyable comedy, she hatches a seemingly foolproof scheme to steal money destined to be shredded by enlisting the help of a single mother (Queen Latifah), a ditzy Bohemian diabetic (Katie Holmes) married to a blue collar worker (Adam Rothenberg), and an earnest security guard (Roger R. Cross).
“The Ritchie Boys” (NR) (3.5) [DVD only] — Michael Hanrahan narrates this insightful, informative, and moving 2004 documentary that consists of still photographs, archival film footage, and poignant interviews with a sundry group of European-born American soldiers (Fred Howard, Guy Stern, Victor Brombert, Philip Glaessner, Si Lewen, Richard Schifter, Werner Angress, Rudy Michaels, et al.) who were mostly Jewish German refugees and became known as the Ritchie Boys after their elite training primarily as interrogators of prisoners of war at the Military Intelligence Training Center at Camp Ritchie, Md., during WWII.
“The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie” (G) (2.5) [DVD only] — A chuckle-inducing, kids-geared, musical animation about three modern-day, limbless, fired theme restaurant employees (voiceovers by Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki) who are magically transported to the 17th century to save a princess (voiceover by Cydney Trent) and her brother (voiceover by Yuri Lowenthal) from an exiled, treacherous pirate (voiceover by Cam Clarke) and his henchmen.
“Queen of the Desert” (PG-13) (3) [Brief nudity and some thematic elements.] [VOD] — Striking cinematography dominates this languid-paced, factually based, love-it-or-hate-it, 128-minute, 2015 Werner Herzog biographical film that documents the extraordinary life of independent, feisty, influential English writer, poet, photographer, archaeologist, cartographer, and political attaché Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman) as she leaves her wealthy parents (David Calder and Jenny Agutter) in England and travels throughout the dangerous, war-torn Middle East in the early 1900s with her trusted longtime friend and Arab guide Fattuh (Jay Abdo), her romance with British Colonel Henry Cadogan (James Franco) and her attraction to smitten and married Damascus General Consul Charles “Richard” Doughty-Wylie (Damian Lewis), the highly unusual and unexpected friendship and respect she garners with powerful sheikhs (Assaad Bouab, Mohamed Bousalem, et al.), and her eventual work and collaboration with Sir Winston Churchill (Christopher Fulford) and T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattison) in delineating the Bedouin, Persian, and Iraq borders.
“The Situation” (R) (2.5) [Violence, language, and a scene of sexuality.] [DVD only] — A factually inspired, suspenseful film about an American journalist (Connie Nielsen) covering a story about American soldiers who have thrown two teenage Iraqi boys off a bridge and finds herself in love with both a CIA agent (Damian Lewis) and an Iraqi photographer (Mido Hamada).
“Unforgettable” (R) (3) [Sexual content, violence, some language, and brief partial nudity.] — When a successful online editor (Rosario Dawson) moves to California to marry a divorced brewery owner (Geoff Stults), who has a young daughter (Isabella Kai Rice), in this gripping, intense, well-paced, 100-minute psychological thriller reminiscent of “Fatal Attraction,” she suddenly finds herself the target of her fiancée’s jealous, perfectionist, psychotic ex-wife (Katherine Heigl), who has an extremely controlling mother (Cheryl Ladd), when she concocts a dangerous scheme involving her abusive stalker (Simon Kassianides) to win back her husband.
“Vanaja” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — A colorful, poignant, heartbreaking coming-of-age story about the promising 15-year-old Indian daughter (Mamatha Bhukya) of an alcoholic, widowed fisherman who takes a menial job working for a powerful and affluent landlady (Urmila Dammannagari) in order to learn the art of Kuchipudi dance but ends up pregnant when the boss’s thoughtless, conceited son (Karan Singh) rapes her.
“Zoo” (NR) (2.5) [DVD only] — An exceedingly strange, controversial, and objective docudrama that delves into the perverse and bizarre circumstances that surrounded the death of Seattle engineer Kenneth Pinyan on Jul. 2, 2005, who bled to death due to a perforated sigmoid colon after engaging in anal sex with an Arabian stallion, by intertwining interviews with Washington state police and off-camera interviews with a few candid members of a taboo, highly-secretive zoophile community in the Pacific Northwest who engage in bestiality and by including intentionally blurred reenactments.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.