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 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.
“Bonneville” (PG) (3) [Some mild language and innuendo.] [DVD only] — After the insensitive, catty, snobbish, blackmailing daughter (Christine Baranski) of her deceased husband insists on burying his ashes in the family plot in this touching, sentimental, occasionally humorous chick flick, the grieving Idaho widow (Jessica Lange) hits the open road in a red 1966 Bonneville convertible with her two supportive best friends (Kathy Bates and Joan Allen) where they meet a delightful Mexican teenager (Victor Rasuk) searching for his father and a widowed, charming truck driver (Tom Skerritt) while visiting her old haunts as she reminiscences about the past and struggles with fulfilling her husband’s last wishes.
“The Exception” (R) (3.5) [Sexuality, graphic nudity, language, and brief violence.] — After an injured German Nazi officer (Jai Courtney) is assigned in May 1940 to protect German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer) and his wife Princess Hermine (Janet McTeer) while they are in exile in Holland during WWII and to investigate whether there is a British spy planted in household in this engaging, well-acted, factually inspired, star-studded (Anton Lesser, Ben Daniels, Aubeline Barbieux, and Kris Cuppens), 107-minute, romantic thriller highlighted by gorgeous photography and based on Alan Judd’s novel “The Kaiser’s Last Kiss,” he falls in love with a widowed, Dutch Jewish maid (Lily James) who is determined to assassinate the head of the SS Heinrich Himmler (Eddie Marsan) when he comes to dinner with his entourage.
“The Hero” (R) (3) [Drug use, language, and some sexual content.] — A touching, realistic, down-to-earth, dark, star-studded (Nick Offerman, Katherine Juliet Ross, Frank Collison, Todd Giebenhain, Jackie Joyner, and Christopher May), 93-minute film in which a handsome, divorced, weed-smoking actor (Sam Elliott) learns that he has cancer and keeps the grim news to himself as he begins to date a much-younger standup comedian (Laura Prepon), agrees to accept a lifetime achievement award and gives a surprising speech at the ceremony that goes viral, and tries to reconnect with his estranged 34-year-old daughter (Krysten Ritter) while he tries to come to terms with his own mortality.
“Once upon a Time in Venice” (NR) (2) — A silly, wacky, occasionally funny, star-studded (John Goodman, Famke Janssen, Kal Penn, Thomas Middleditch, Elisabeth Röhm, Christopher McDonald, Adrian Martinez, and David Arquette), action-packed, 94-minute comedy in which a reckless Los Angeles private investigator (Bruce Willis) tries to find the graffiti artist (Tyga) responsible for painting lewd artwork on the side of an apartment building owned by a friend (Adam Goldberg) who is trying to sell it while also searching for the Russell terrier that belongs to his niece (Emily Robinson) that was stolen by a disgruntled cartel drug dealer (Joseph Momoa).
“Paris Can Wait” (PG) (3) [Thematic elements, smoking, and some language.] — When her distracted, highly successful movie producer husband (Alec Baldwin) of twenty years flies to Budapest in this engaging, languid-paced, entertaining, 92-minute Eleanor Coppola film dominated by gorgeous food, stunning scenery, and beautiful cinematography, his wife (Diane Lane), who is suffering from an ear infection, accepts the offer of her husband/s charismatic French business partner (Arnaud Viard) to drive her from Cannes to Paris but their road trip gets sidetracked with a drive through Provence and delicious meals.
“Rough Night” (R) (2) [Crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use, and brief bloody images.] — When a sexy Washington, D.C. woman (Scarlett Johansson), who is engaged to her sweet fiancé (Paul W. Downs) and is running for state senator, heads to Miami for a wild bachelorette partying weekend with her four best friends, including a horny schoolteacher (Jillian Bell), an Australian wannabe singer/songwriter (Kate McKinnon), an environmental activist (Ilana Glazer) with a police record, and a single mother (Zoë Kravitz) fighting with her ex-husband (Mark Tallman) for custody of their three-year-old son, in this unoriginal, raunchy, intermittently funny, over-the-top, star-dotted (Ty Burrell, Dean Winters, Demi Moore, Colton Haynes, Bo Burnham, and Patrick Carlyle), 101-minute comedy reminiscent of “Weekend at Bernie’s,” they end up spending most of the time trying to decide what to do with a corpse after they accidentally kill a hunky man (Ryan Cooper) they mistook for a stripper.
“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).
“Wakefield” (R) (3) [Some sexual material and language.] — When a depressed, hotshot Manhattan lawyer (Bryan Cranston) returns to his suburban home during a power outage and then suddenly decides to spy on his assistant curator museum wife (Jennifer Garner) and his twin girls (Victoria Bruno) from his garage attic in this captivating, well-acted, star-studded (Jason O’Mara, Beverly D’Angelo, and Ian Anthony Dale), unpredictable, 109-minute film, he comes to a crossroads as he reflects about his life and marriage over many months.
“Whole New Thing” (NR) (2.5) [DVD only] — When a free-spirited, hippie couple (Rebecca Jenkins and Robert Joy) decides to enroll their bright, gifted son (Aaron Webber) into the local junior high school after educating him at home for years in this enjoyable and laid-back 2005 coming-of-age film, the precocious and socially awkward teenager finds himself immediately attracted to his gay English teacher (Daniel MacIvor).
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.