by Wendy Schadewald
Sun Thisweek-Dakota County Tribune
Rating system: (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Atomic Blonde” (R) (3.5) [Sequences of strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity.] — After an MI6 agent (Sam Hargrave) is killed by a Russian KGB agent (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) who steals a valuable list of agents in Berlin in 1989 in this entertaining, fast-paced, twist-filled, unpredictable, violent, star-studded (John Goodman, Toby Jones, Bill Skarsgård, Til Schweiger, and Sofia Boutella), 115-minute thriller based on Oni Press’s graphic novel series “The Coldest City” and Antony Johnston’s novel “Atomic Blonde” and highlighted by nonstop action, terrific choreography, and a surprise ending, an MI6 agent (Charlize Theron) heads to Berlin where she is joined by another MI6 agent (James McAvoy) to retrieve the dead body, to find the missing list, and to escort a man (Eddie Marsan) out of West Berlin to safety who has risked his life and memorized the list.
“Buddha Collapses Out of Shame” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — When a tenacious, 6-year-old Afghan girl (Nikbakht Noruz) desperately tries to sell eggs so that she can buy school supplies and learn the alphabet in school like the taunting son (Abbas Aliyome) of her neighbor amidst the backdrop of war-ravaged, Buddha-empty cliffs in this moving, heartbreaking 2007 Hana Makhmalbaf film, she finds herself a victim of strict, archaic religious rules and hurtful boys playing dangerous war games.
“Funny Games” (R) (1) [Terror, violence, and some language.] [DVD only] — An initially promising, edgy, dark remake of the 1997 psychological thriller that soon becomes preposterous, gimmicky, and incredibly disappointing as a summer vacation goes horribly awry for an uppercrust couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) and their 10-year-old son (Devon Gearhart) when two creepy, preppie, glove-wearing sociopaths (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbert) come to borrow eggs at their Long Island home.
“Girls Trip” (R) (2.5) [Crude and sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity, and drug material.] — When a popular, successful novelist (Regina Hall) invites her three best friends, including a broke gossip blogger (Queen Latifah), a smothering mother (Jade Pinkett Smith), and a foul-mouthed unemployed woman (Tiffany Haddish), from college known as the “Flossy Posse” to the Essence Festival in New Orleans for a three-day weekend in this raunchy, risqué, funny, bawdy, wacky, star-studded (Kate Walsh, Larenz Tate, Mike Epps, Morris Chestnut, Carla Hall, Mariah Carey, Common, Sean Combs, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Iyanla Vanzant, Ne-Yo, MC Lyte, Ma$e, et al.), 122-minute comedy, all hell breaks loose after they drink too much and it comes to light that the her husband (Mike Colter) is cheating on her with a gorgeous Instagram model (Deborah Ayorinde).
“Operation Filmmaker” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — A fascinating, award-winning, and compelling 2007 documentary in which filmmaker Nina Davenport chronicles the rollercoaster ride of seemingly ungrateful, arrogant, and ultimately lazy and mooching 25-year-old Iraqi film student Muthana Mohmed, who simultaneously charms, alienates, and frustrates those who initially sought to help him, after charitable director Liev Schreiber graciously invites him to the Czech Republic to work as a production assistant on his film “Everything Is Illuminated” in 2004.
“Steep” (PG) (3.5) [Extreme sports action and brief language.] [DVD only] — Peter Krause narrates this jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring documentary filled with breathtaking mountain scenery and incredibly insane risks when pioneering, adrenaline-addicted extreme skiers, including Doug Coombs, Stefano De Benedetti, Eric Pehota, Glen Plake, Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Chris Davenport, Ingrid Backstrom, and Andrew McLean, defy death while skiing down treacherous, virgin slopes in Wyoming, France, British Columbia, Alaska, and Iceland.
“Princess and the Warrior” (R) (3) [Disturbing images, language, and some sexual content.] [Subtitled.] [DVD only] — After an isolated, unorthodox German nurse (Franka Potente) at a mental hospital is hit by a truck while on an excursion with a blind patient (Lars Rudolph) and is impulsively saved by an aloof, widowed petty thief (Benno Fürmann) in this unusual, unpredictable 2000 film, a mysterious bond develops between them as she returns the favor just as impulsively when she tries to help him and his brother (Joachim Król) in the middle of a botched bank robbery.
“The Tin Drum” (R) (2.5) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — An off-the-wall, exceedingly quirky, Oscar-winning, 1979 allegorical German film in which a strange, obnoxious, and annoying brat (David Bennett) with a malevolent bent deliberately stunts his growth in an effort to protect himself from the harsh world and the eventual horrors of WWII that envelop him like the skirts of his grandmother (Berta Drews) and uses his piercing, shrill scream that will shatter glass and his compulsive, incessant pounding on a tin drum to control his spineless father (Mario Adorf), his adulterous mother (Angela Winkler) who is having an affair with his smitten uncle (Daniel Olbrychski), and all those who come in contact with him.
“The Witnesses” (NR) (3) [Nudity, sexuality, and mature themes.] [Subtitled] [DVD only] — A captivating, gut-wrenching, retrospective film that focuses on a passionate gay French campground chef (Johan Libéreau) who becomes mysteriously sick in the summer of 1984 at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and intertwines the lives of people, including an older love-struck physician (Michel Blanc), a bisexual Muslim vice squad detective (Sami Bouajila) who practices an open marriage with his novelist wife (Emmanuelle Béart), and his talented sister (Julie Depardieu) who is finding success as an opera singer, who witness his mental anguish and physical decline.
“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.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.