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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“47 Meters Down” (PG-13) (2) [Sequences of intense peril, bloody images, and brief strong language.] — When two sisters (Mandy Moore and Clair Holt ) foolishly accept an invitation by two men (Yani Gellman and Santiago Segura) they only just met the night before to go scuba diving and to see great white sharks up close in their natural habitat during their vacation to Mexico in this disappointing, love-or-skip-it, unevenly paced, tepid, low-budget, 89-minute thriller with a lackluster soundtrack and reminiscent of the superior film “The Shallows,” the adventure quickly goes from bad to worse after they board a rust-bucket boat owned by a well-meaning captain (Matthew Modine) and then they get into a questionable, supposedly protective cage.
“Band Aid” (NR) (2.5) — A low-key, quirky, humorous, star-dotted (Colin Hanks, Jamie Chung, Jesse Wesley Williams, Brooklyn Decker, Chris D’Ella, Rettta, Susie Essman, Ravi Patel, Erinn Hayes, Hannah Simone, and Angelique Cabral), 91-minute comedy in which a frustrated, long-married California Uber driver (Zoe Lister-Jones) decides to compose songs with her lazy husband (Adam Pally) about their contentious relationship and their continual fighting, and they start a band called Dirty Dishes with their oddball, sex-addict, drum-playing next door neighbor (Fred Armisen).
“The Band’s Visit” (PG-13) (3) [Brief strong language.] [Subtitled] [DVD only] — A charming and touching film about an Israeli café manager (Ronit Elkabetz) and a friend (Rubi Moskovitz) who befriend an uptight Egyptian lieutenant colonel (Sasson Gabai) and members (Saleh Bakri, Khalifa Natour, Imad Jabvarin, et al.) of his Alexandria Police Ceremonial Orchestra, who were invited to Israel to perform at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab arts center, after they become stranded in their desolate town.
“Beatriz at Dinner” (R) (3) [Language and a scene of violence.] — When a troubled, animal-loving, psychic healing Mexican masseuse (Salma Hayek) unexpectedly gets invited to stay for dinner with other guests (Jay Duplass, Chloë Sevigny, and Amy Landecker) at an elegant party at the posh seaside mansion of her clients (Connie Britton and David Warshofsky) after her car breaks down in their driveway in this thought-provoking, well-acted, unusual, unpredictable, 83-minute film, the atmosphere becomes electric and intense as she finds herself becoming more and more agitated as she realizes that she knows one of the guests who is a brash, arrogant, unapologetic hotel mogul (John Lithgow) and ruthless real estate developer.
“The Book of Henry” (PG-13) (3.5) [Thematic elements and brief strong language.] — After a brilliant, precocious 12-year-old student (Jacob Tremblay), who lives with his single, waitress mother (Naomi Watts) and 8-year-old brother (Jaeden Lieberher) in New York, develops a deadly brain tumor in this captivating, disturbing, well-acted, star-studded (Lee Pace, Sarah Silverman, Bobby Moynihan, and Geraldine Hughes), 105-minute film based on Gregg Hurwitz’s novel, he leaves point-by-point instructions in a red journal and on a tape recorder for his mother so that she can help the depressed next door neighbor girl (Maddie Ziegle) who is being sexually abused by her untouchable, well-respected police commissioner stepfather (Dean Norris).
“Be Kind Rewind” (PG-13) (3.5) [Some sexual references.] [DVD only] — When an aging video store owner (Danny Glover) in New Jersey learns that the city intends to demolish his condemned building and a nearby junkyard employee (Jack Black) inadvertently erases all of the videotapes in his store when he leaves a dedicated clerk (Mos Def) in charge in his absence in this endearing, clever, satirical comedy, the two friends hatch a harebrained scheme to “swede” popular movies, including “Ghostbusters,” “The Lion King,” “Robocop,” “Rush Hour 2,” and “Driving Miss Daisy,” by recreating their own wacky, 20-minute, amateurish version of the film starring local talent (Melonie Diaz, et al.), which ends up being a surprising hit with people (Mia Farrow, et al.) in the neighborhood.
“Charlie Bartlett” (R) (3) [Language, drug content, and brief nudity.] [DVD only] — After a bright, entrepreneurial, charming, wealthy teenager (Anton Yelchin) gets expelled from a Connecticut prep school to the surprise of his clueless mother (Hope Davis) and is enrolled in a public school in this well-paced, entertaining, coming-of-age comedy, he immediately tries to change his popularity and to fit in by playing psychiatrist and illegally dispensing drugs and by making friends with the well-liked daughter (Kat Dennings) of the straitlaced principal (Robert Downey, Jr.), the school bully (Tyler Hilton), and a depressed, geeky student (Mark Rendall).
“Great World of Sound” (R) (3) [Language.] [DVD only] — After a wannabe, milquetoast record producer (Pat Healy) in Charlotte is hired by two smarmy, unscrupulous operators (Robert Longstreet and John Baker) of a fly-by-night record company and is sent out on the road with a tenacious, street-savvy partner (Kane Holliday) in this highly acclaimed, entertaining satire, he becomes increasingly disillusioned and causes a discord with his girlfriend (Rebecca Mader) when he must pressure aspiring, starry-eyed artists, with and without talent, to hand over upfront money allegedly to ensure their commitment.
“Messy Situation” (NR) (2.5) [DVD only] — A 3-minute, dialogue-free, relatable film by young filmmaker Margaret Kittok about a mischievous young boy (Clayton Bonnickson) with a twinkle in his eye who dips his fingers into the mixing bowl when his mom (Margaret Kittok) isn’t looking.
“Second in Command” (R) (2) [Violence and some language.] [DVD only] — The Navy Seal-trained military attaché (Jean-Claude Van Damme) to the U.S. ambassador (Colin Stinton) and a group of gung-ho Marines (Alan Mckenna, Tazaaq Adoti, Raffaello Degruttola, Razvan Oprea, Ian Virgo, et al.) try to protect the Moldavian president (Serban Celea), journalists (Julie Cox, et al.), and various innocent citizens in the fast-paced, predictable, violent 2006 film when insurgents (Velibor Topic, et al.) storm the American embassy during a coup d’etat.
“Step Up 2 the Streets” (PG-13) (2.5) [Language, some suggestive material, and brief violence.] [DVD only] — A troubled, rebellious, and talented street dancer (Briana Evigan) reluctantly auditions to join the Maryland School of the Arts when her worried guardian (Sonja Sohn) threatens to ship her off to Texas in this upbeat, well-choreographed, hip-hop “Step Up” sequel and then forms a new dance crew (Robert Hoffman, Adam G. Sevani, Luis Rosado, Danielle Polanco, Maria Koda, Janelle Cambridge, et al.) to the vexation of the school’s director (Will Kemp) to battle on the streets of Baltimore after her former motley 410 crew (Black Thomas, Telisha Shaw, Jeff Ogle, James Colter, Kejamel Howell, Rynan Paquio, Donnie Counts, Shorty Welch, and Alison Faulk) kick her off the team.
“The Sugar Curtain” (NR) (2.5) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — Filmmaker Camila Guzmán Urzúa, daughter of infamous Latin filmmaker Patricio Guzmán, returns to her homeland in Cuba in this poignant, 82-minute, autobiographical documentary in which she uses a handheld camera to document her reminiscences about her happy childhood growing up in Havana during the 1970s and 1980s and her visits to old haunts, to reconcile her idyllic memories with the present, and to interview her aging mother and disillusioned classmates about how their lives and dreams have changed since those more revolutionary, utopian times.
“Vantage Point” (PG-13) (3) [Sequences of intense violence and action, some disturbing images, and brief strong language.] [DVD only] — After the American president (William Hurt) is shot at a world summit in Spain in this creative, action-packed, tension-filled, cameo-dotted (Sigourney Weaver, Richard T. Jones, et al.) thriller, the loophole-punctuated plot focuses on the eyewitness events surrounding the assassination attempt from the perspective of a heroic and traumatized Secret Service agent (Dennis Quaid) and his seemingly supportive partner (Matthew Fox), a love-struck Spanish cop (Eduardo Noriega), a curious and selfless American tourist (Forest Whitaker), the steadfast and unsuspecting president, and highly determined and methodical terrorists (Ayelet Zurer, et al.) who planned the multiphased attack.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.