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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“4 Months, 3 Weeks, & 2 Days” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — A compassionate and savvy Romanian college student (Anamaria Marinca) thinks more seriously about her own life and her relationship with her boyfriend (Alex Potocean) in this dark, taut, realistic, award-winning film when she helps her reserved, 4-month-pregnant roommate (Laura Vasiliu) hire a creepy, manipulative, self-serving abortionist (Vlad Ivanov) to perform an illegal abortion during the late 1980s.
“The Case for Christ” (PG) (3) [Thematic elements, including medical descriptions of crucifixion, and incidental smoking.] — When his pregnant wife (Erika Jane Christensen) suddenly begins going to church after an African-American nurse (L. Scott Caldwell) saves her young daughter (Haley Rosenwasser) from choking to death in a restaurant in 1980 in this thought-provoking, factually based, engaging, spiritual, stat-studded (Robert Forster, Faye Dunaway, Frankie Faison, Kevin Sizemore, and Tom Nowicki), 112-minute film based on Lee Strobel’s international bestselling novel, an atheistic Chicago Tribune journalist (Mike Vogel) seeks advice from his likeminded coworker (Brett Rice) and then decides to use his investigative skills to search for definitive evidence to prove the existence of God.
“Cassandra’s Dream” (PG-13) (2) [Thematic elements, some sexual material, and brief violence.] [DVD only] — A surprise ending is the highlight of this poorly paced, dull, predictable Woody Allen film about a superficial, smooth-talking, ambitious entrepreneur (Ewan McGregor) who is desperate to get out from under the thumb of his working-class parents (John Benfield and Claire Higgens) at their family-owned restaurant at all cost and to impress a flashy, manipulative actress (Hayley Atwell) with whom he has fallen in love, but when his insalubrious, underhanded, and persuasive wealthy uncle (Tom Wilkinson) presents him with an unsavory solution to his money problems and he coerces his dubious, alcoholic, gambling-addicted auto mechanic brother (Colin Farrell) to help him murder an incriminating witness (Phil Davis), guilt and greed make for a tragic outcome.
“The Circle” (PG-13) (2) [Sexual situation, brief strong language, and some thematic elements, including drug use.] — When a new “guppy” intern (Emma Watson) starts at a new high-tech social media company in San Francisco run by a duplicitous CEO (Tom Hanks) and a COO (Patton Oswalt) in this lackluster, poorly acted, predicable, star-studded (Glenne Headley, Bill Paxton, and Ella Coltrane), 110-minute film reminiscent of “1984,” she finds her submerged in a smothering dystopian community of coworkers (Karen Gillan, Nat Corddry, John Boyega, et al.) and then agrees to wear a camera 24/7 that communicates with people all of the world.
“Cloverfield” (PG-13) (3) [Violence, terror, and disturbing images.] [DVD only] — A talkative video camera enthusiast (T. J. Miller) begins the evening capturing partygoers (Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, Odette Yutsman, Mike Vogel, et al.) at a going away celebration in Manhattan for his successful best friend (Michael Stahl-David) who is heading to Japan for a new job in this creative, but overhyped, love-it-or-hate-it monster thriller reminiscent of “The Blair Witch Project” in its use of a shaky hand-held camcorder and ends up documenting the rampage of a gargantuan alien monster as it quickly attacks New Yorkers and turns the city into rubble.
“Colossal” (R) (3) [Language.] — After an alcoholic New York City Internet writer (Anne Hathaway) breaks up with her boyfriend (Dan Stevens), moves back to her home town to work as a part-time waitress at the bar of her jealous childhood friend (Jason Sudeikis), and chums around with some bar patrons (Austin Stowell and Tim Blake Nelson) in this quirky, imaginative, unpredictable, 110-minute film, she is surprised to discover that when she enters a nearby park a gigantic, terrorizing monster appears in Seoul, South Korea, and attacks its people.
“Die, Mommie, Die!” (R) (3) [Strong sexual content, language, and a drug scene.] [DVD only] — A hilariously campy, satirical, tongue-in-cheek 2003 parody about a has-been pop singer (Charles Busch) who tries to poison her spiteful and mean-spirited film producer husband (Philip Baker Hall) to the shock of her two grown children (Natasha Lyonne and Stark Sands), her longtime Bible-thumping housekeeper (France Conroy), and her two-timing, well-endowed, duplicitous lover (Jason Priestly).
“The Dinner” (R) (2.5) [Disturbing violent content, and language throughout.] — An offbeat, dark, unpredictable, star-dotted (Chloë Sevigny and Michael Chernus), 2-hour film based on a Herman Koch’s bestselling 2009 novel and reminiscent of “The Carnage” in which a cynical, mentally unstable former high school history teacher (Steve Coogan) reluctantly goes to dinner with his wife (Laura Linney), his estranged U. S. Congressman brother (Richard Gere) who is running for governor, and his sister-in-law (Rebecca Hall) at a fancy restaurant to discuss a family crisis involving his angry teenage son (Charlie Plummer) and his two nephews (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick and Miles J. Harvey) who set fire to a homeless woman (Onika Day) sleeping in an ATM booth.
“Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — A candid, thought-provoking, insightful, and fascinating six-part documentary in which globetrotting, free-spirited, highly independent, Jewish New York City filmmaker and teacher Jennifer Fox documents her very personal journey using a “pass the camera” technique as she deals with two long-distance lovers in Switzerland and South Africa and as she travels around the world having frank and lively discussions with women in India, Pakistan, Germany, Russia, England, South Africa, and Cambodia on a wide-range of topics, including life, love, motherhood, and sexuality and what it means to be a modern-day woman, as depicted in chapter 1 “No Fear of Flying,” chapter 2 “Testing Piloting,” chapter 3 “Experiencing Turbulence,” chapter 4 “Crash and Burn,” chapter 5 “Walking Away from a Wreck,” and chapter 6 “Breaking the Sound Barrier.”
“Journey to the South Pacific” (G) (3) [Begins May 5 at the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Omni Theater; for more information log on to smm.org or call 651/221-9444.] — Cate Blanchett narrates this educational, entertaining, 40-minute, 2015, MacGillivray IMAX documentary filled with gorgeous cinematography the follows a young boy in the South Pacific as he attends a floating school to learn about his environment in the islands of West Papua where he can experience stunning reefs and more than 2,000 species of fish (such as seahorses, stonefish, octopus, manta rays, and eels), sea turtles (such as the hawksbill turtle), and other sea life, including whale sharks.
“Poison Friends” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — An award-winning French film about a charismatic, self-absorbed, duplicitous graduate student (Thibault Vinçon) studying literature at the Sorbonne who quickly charms other classmates, including a writer (Mailk Zidi) trying to live up to the success of his eccentric mother (Dominique Blanc) and to please his wife (Natacha Régnier), a wannabe actor (Alexandre Steiger), and shy student (Thomas Blanchard), and initially his professor (Jacques Bonnaffe).
“Seeing Other People” (R) (2) [Strong sexual content, language, and some drug material.] [DVD only] — A risqué comedy about a television writer (Jay Mohr) who becomes threatened and concerned when his sexually less experienced fiancee (Julianne Nicholson) tells him she wants to sleep with other people before taking their marriage vows.
“Summer Love” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — Piotr Uklański’s exceedingly odd but oddly fascinating, visually captivating, intentionally cliché-filled, violent, perplexing, satirical, allegorical Polish spaghetti western about a gunslinging stranger (Karl Roden) who wanders into a dusty, rundown town with a wanted dead man (Val Kilmer) to collect the bounty and then finds himself pursued by the masochistic, alcoholic sheriff (Boguslaw Linda) and his jealous cohort (Krzytof Zaleski) after he beds the buxom barmaid (Katarzyna Figura).
“Untraceable” (R) (3) [Grisly violence and torture, and some language.] [DVD only] — After television stations broadcast the suicide of a depressed college professor and his despondent, vindictive son (Joseph Cross) begins murdering kidnapped victims in a barbaric fashion live over the Internet, tensions mount in this taut, suspenseful, violent psychological thriller as cyber crime FBI agents (Diane Lane, Colin Hanks, et al.) and a Portland cop (Billy Burke) try to stop the sadistic, deranged killer.
Wendy Schadwald is a Burnsville resident.