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 Beguiled” (R) (3) [Some sexuality.] — Tensions and libidos rise in this engaging, intriguing, unpredictable, 93-minute Sofia Coppola remake of the 1971 film highlighted by gorgeous cinematography when an injured, handsome Union corporal (Colin Farrell) arrives at a Virginia school for girls in 1864 run by a beautiful head mistress (Nicole Kidman) and a teacher (Kristen Dunst) who care for five students (Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, and Emma Howard) during the Civil War.
“Faces of a Fig Tree” (NR) (1.5) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — Vibrant colors and a barren fig tree highlight this quirky, slow-moving 2006 Kaori Momoi film in which a Japanese housewife (Kaori Momoi) in Tokyo suspects that her workaholic pipefitter husband (Saburo Ishikura) is cheating on her, but when he suddenly dies, she quickly moves in with her adopted daughter (Hanako Yamada) who finds herself pregnant and then as quickly ends up marrying a restaurant owner (Katsumi Takahashi).
“It Happened Just Before” (NR) (1.5) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — An initially confusing, painfully slow, disappointing, unusual documentary-style 2007 Margaret Kottok Austrian film that focuses on modern-day slavery of women by using the ordinary lives and voices of a border customs officer (Rainer Halbauer), a middle-aged saleswoman (Anna Sparer), a brothel bartender (Otto Pikal), a diplomatic counsel (Mag. Gertrud Tauchhammer), and a taxi driver (Leopold Sobotka) to convey their extraordinary, horrific, tragic, moving stories of human trafficking.
“The House” (R) (2) [Language throughout, sexual references, drug use, some violence, and brief nudity.] — After a duplicitous councilman (Nick Krill) decides to build a community pool instead of giving a scholarship to their daughter (Ryan Simpkins) in this wacky, silly, raunchy, over-the-top, intermittently funny, star-studded (Jeremy Renner, Randall Park, and Rob Huebel), 88-minute comedy, her desperate, embarrassed, broke parents (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) decide to open an illegal casino in the home of a gambling-addicted friend (Jason Mantzoukas), who is estranged from his wife (Michaela Watkins), to make $250,000 in one month to pay for their her college education.
“The Journey” (PG-13) (3) [Thematic elements, including violent images, and language.] — After peace talks stall in October 2006 in St. Andrews, Scotland, in this captivating, factually inspired, well-acted, star-dotted (John Hurt, Toby Stephens, Catherine McCormack Ian McElhinney, and Ian Beattie), 94-minute 2016 film, an MI-5 director (John Hurt) quickly hatches a devious plan to have an undercover cop (Freddie Highmore) chauffeur firebrand Democratic Unionist party leader Rev. Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and his equally stubborn arch nemesis former IRA chief of staff and Sinn Féin deputy leader Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney) to the Edinburgh airport with the hope that during the drive that they will broker a St. Andrews Agreement peace pact to end forty years of bloody civil war; ironically, Rev. Ian Paisley became the first prime minister of Northern Ireland on May 8, 2007, with Martin McGuinness deputy first minister and together they became known as the chuckle brothers.
“The Little Hours” (R) (3) [Graphic nudity, sexual content, and language.] — After a crude, suspicious, bearded Italian nobleman (Nick Offerman) catches a handsome, horny servant (Dave Franco) red-handed kissing his horny wife (Lauren Weedman) in broad daylight in the courtyard in 1347 in this hilarious, wacky, risqué, raunchy, dark, satirical, star-studded (Fred Armisen, Paul Reiser, Adam Pally, Jon Abrus, and Paul Weitz), 90-minute comedy based on Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron,” the sexy seducer manages to escape and runs into and helps a drunken priest (John C. Reilly) who hires him as a laborer and offers him lodging at the convent he oversees where the hormones of the horny, sheltered, wine-guzzling, foul-mouthed, medieval nuns (Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Kate Micucci) and the mother superior (Molly Shannon) run rampant.
“Penelope” (PG) (3) [Thematic elements, some innuendo, and language.] [DVD only] — While a doggedly determined tabloid reporter (Peter Dinklage) in London tries to prove the existence of a sheltered, hidden pig-faced girl (Christina Ricci) in this enjoyable, family-friendly, message-oriented romantic film, her smothering, aristocratic English parents (Catherine O’Hara and Richard E. Grant) feverishly interview potential suitors (James McAvoy, Simon Woods, et al.) because they believe that the family curse will be broken when a fellow blueblood falls in love with their daughter.
“The Signal” (R) (3) [Strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, and brief nudity.] [DVD only] — Bloody mayhem ensues in this gory, graphically violent, gruesomely imaginative, occasionally tongue-in-cheek horror film when subliminal signals from televisions, cell phones, and radios trigger extreme paranoia and indiscriminate killings among Terminus citizens, including a jealous husband (A.J. Bowen) searching for his adulterous wife (Anessa Ramsey) with her smitten lover (Justin Welborn) also desperate to find her and a traumatized New Year’s Eve host (Cheri Christian) trying to entertain unusual guests (Scott Poythress, Jim Parsons, and A.J. Bowen) at a surreal party after killing her husband (Christopher Thomas) in self-defense.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.