60-SECOND FILM REVIEWS

New movies showing in Minneapolis

By Wendy Schadewald (Rating system: 4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)

“The Dead Don’t Die” (R) (3.5) [Zombie violence/gore and language.] — When the Earth goes off its axis and the reanimated undead rise from their graves in the woods where a recluse (Tom Waits) lives in Jim Jarmusch’s entertaining, deadpan funny, tongue-in-cheek, satiric, love-it-or-hate-it, star-dotted (Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane, Austin Butler, Luka Sabbat, and Sara Driver), 105-minute horror spoof, the police chief (Bill Murray), his two cops (Adam Driver and Chloë Sevigny), and a samurai-wielding, Scottish funeral director (Tilda Swinton) try to protect citizens, including a farmer (Steve Buscemi), a delivery driver (RZA), a store manager (Caleb Landry Jones), a motel owner (Larry Fessenden), a cleaning woman (Rosal Colon), and a waitress (Eszter Balint), from the flesh-eating zombies roaming their small town.

“The Fall of the American Empire” (R) (3) [Some strong violence, sexual content/nudity, and language.] [Subtitled] — After a shy, intelligent Canadian courier driver (Alexandre Landry), who has a Ph.D. in philosophy, happens upon two thieves (Patrick Emmanuel Abellard and Kémy St-Éloy) who botch a robbery of a strip mall store in Montreal and then abruptly stashes two duffel bags full of cash in his van in this thrilling, hilarious, well-written, superbly acted, unpredictable, 127-minute, 2018 crime thriller, he tries to figure out how to safeguard his windfall with the help of an ex-con biker (Rémy Girard), a gorgeous prostitute (Maripier Morin), former bank teller girlfriend (Florence Longpré), and a financial business guru (Pierre Curzi) while gang members desperately try to locate the loot and two frustrated detectives (Maxim Roy and Louis Morissette) constantly have them under surveillance as they investigate the missing money.

“Halston” (NR) (3.5) — A fascinating, informative, insightful, 105-minute documentary that chronicles the fabulous life and career of legendary, Iowa-born fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick from 1984 until his death from AIDS in March 1990 through archival film clips of his stunning fashions and interview snippets with filmmaker Joel Schumacher, columnist R. Couri Hay, partner Victor Hugo, actresses Liza Minnelli and Marisa Berenson, models (such as Pat Cleveland, Nancy North, Chris Royer, Alva Chinn, and Karen Bjornson), Halston workroom supervisor Fred Rottman, tailor Gino Balsamo, fashion curator Fred Dennis, jewelry designer Elsa Peretti, Made-to-Order director Sassy Johnson, writer Bob Colacello, Bergdorf assistant Tom Fallon, secretaries Podie Lynch and Faye Robson, Norton Simon president David Mahoney, personal assistant Lisa Zay, artist Andy Warhol, Sales Vice President Don Friese, public relations director Paul Wilmot, Playtex CEO Joel Smilow, niece Lesley Frowick and brother Robert Frowick, workroom manager Tom David Ridge, and lawyers Malcolm Lewin and Michael Lichtenstein.

“Men in Black: International” (PG-13) (3) [Sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material.] — The plot takes a backseat in this otherwise action-packed, fast-paced, entertaining, violent, star-studded (Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, and Rafe Spall), 3D, 115-minute, sci-fi sequel with amazing special effects and witty dialogue in which a senior agent (Chris Hemsworth) and a newbie (Tessa Thompson), who has supportive parents (Inny Clemons and Marcy Harriell), work with a cheeky pawn (voiceover by Kumail Nanjiani) in an attempt to stop two ruthless aliens (Larry and Laurent Bourgeois) from possessing a powerful weapon of destruction, and then they try and determine who the mole is in the MIB agency.

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” (PG) (3) [Some action and rude humor.] — While adorable dogs (voiceover by Patton Oswalt and Eric Stonestreet) in New York City travel with their human family (voiceover by Henry Lynch, Ellie Kemper, and Pete Holmes) to the countryside to visit an uncle in this entertaining, funny, family-friendly, colorful, star-studded (voiceovers by Harrison Ford, Dana Carvey, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, and Hannibal Burgess), 86-minute animated sequel, a fearless shih tzu (voiceover by Tiffany Haddish) and an energetic bunny (voiceover by Kevin Hart) try to save an abused tiger from the cruel owner (voiceover by Nick Kroll) of a traveling circus and a fluffy Pomeranian (voiceover by Jenny Slate) pretends to be a feline as she and her guinea pig friend (voiceover by Chris Renaud) attempt to retrieve for her terrier friend his beloved busy bee toy from a cat lady’s (voiceover by Meredith Salenger) household of mischievous felines.

“Shaft” (R) (3.5) [Pervasive language, violence, sexual content, some drug material, and brief nudity.] — After his once-addicted, Army veteran best friend (Avan Jogia) allegedly dies from a heroin overdose in this highly entertaining, well-written, funny, violent, star-studded (Richard Roundtree, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Titus Welliver, Clifford ‘Method Man’ Smith, Matt Lauria, and Robbie Jones), 111-minute sequel highlighted by terrific chemistry and dialogue, a savvy, smart, FBI data analyst (Jessie T. Usher) seeks out his estranged, no-nonsense, colorful, pistol-packing father (Samuel L. Jackson), who owns his own investigation agency, to find out what really happened to his friend and whether a Jamaican drug dealer (Isaach De Bankole) was involved.

“Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché”  (NR) (3.5) – Jodi Foster narrates Pamela B. Green’s engaging, fascinating, informative, 103-minute documentary that focuses on the remarkable, obscure career of pioneering, Paris-born, first woman filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968) who wrote, directed, and/or produced more than 1,000 films many with unconventional subject matter through her film production company Solax and tells her story through candid interview snippets with the groundbreaking filmmaker in 1964, excerpts from her letters, and black-and-white film clips and photographs and includes insightful interviews with filmmakers (such as Ava DuVernay, Catherine Hardwicke, Diablo Cody, Patricia Riggen, Tacita Dean, Julie Taymor, John Chu, Ann Fletcher, Liz Goldwyn, Cari Beauchamp, Cecile Starr, Anne Fontaine, Mark Romanek, Peter Farrelly, Floria Sigismondi, Kevin Macdonald, Maxine Haleff, Patty Jenkins, Michel Hazanavicius, Marjane Satpari, and Gary Mairs), actors (such as Sir Ben Kingsley, Julie Delpy, Evan Rachel Wood, Geena Davis, Lake Bell, Andy Samberg, Janeane Garofolo, and Kathleen Turner), producers Marc Abraham and Stephanie Dillain, Co-President of Roadside Attractions Howard Cohen, screenwriter Gale Ann Hurd, film critic Peter Bogdanovich, historians (such as Mark Wanamaker, Anthony Slide, Kevin Brownlow, Glenn Myrent, Alison McMahon, Naum `Kleiman, and Alan Williams), Guy-Blaché memoirs co-editor Claire Clouzet, film preservationist Serge Bromberg, professors (such as Drake Stutesman, Jane Goenes, Henry Jenkins, Gigi Pritzker, Richard Koszaeski, and Vanessa Schwartz), journalist Jean-Michel Frodon, film editor Walter Murch, film archivist Dino Everett, facial recognition analyst Steve Wilkins, costume designer Deborah Nadvolman Landis, lecturer Roland-Francois Lick, cinematographers (such as Pierre-William Glenn, Claire Wickell, and John Bailey), film collector Murray Glass, visual effects supervisor Mark Stetson, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President John Bailey, and granddaughter Tatiana Page-Relo.

On DVD

“Chéri” (R) (1.5) [Some sexual content and brief drug use.] [DVD only] — Striking sets, costumes, and cinematography cannot make up for a peculiar plot and unsympathetic and shallow characters in this slow-paced, weird, dull, disappointing, romantic, 86-minute, 2009 film about an aging, but still beautiful, lonely courtesan (Michelle Phillips) who begins a relationship with the spoiled, jaded son (Rupert Friend) of a retired, colorful prostitute (Kathy Bates) who causes discord when she arranges his marriage 6 years later to a beautiful 18-year-old girl (Feliciity Jones) in 1920 Paris.

“Crossing Over” (R) (2.5) [Pervasive language, some strong violence, and sexuality/nudity.] [DVD only] — A gritty, thought-provoking, 113-minute, 2009 poor man’s “Crash” film that intertwines various stories about immigration issues in Los Angeles, including a compassionate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) police officer (Harrison Ford) trying to help an illegal Mexican factory worker (Alice Braga) with a young son while looking into the shooting death of his partner’s (Cliff Curtis) promiscuous sister (Melody Khazae) who shamed his Iranian family, a Jewish schoolteacher (Jim Sturgess) trying to get his green card, a hardnosed FBI agent (Jacqueline Obradors) arresting an outspoken 15-year-old Muslim student (Summer Bishil) from India after she gives a politically charged and inflammatory speech in class and an immigration defense lawyer (Ashley Judd) trying to help her dire situation, a slimy judicator (Ray Liotta) blackmailing a wannabe Australian actress (Alice Eve) who wants her work visa expedited, and an angry young Korean student (Justin Chon) mixed up with the wrong crowd who is waiting to become a U.S. citizen with his proud family.

“Food Inc.” (PG) (4) [Some thematic material and disturbing images.] [DVD only] — A revealing, educational, controversial, ire-raising, stomach-churning, 94-minute, 20008 documentary that combines interviews with a few brave farmers, including Carol Morison, Gary Hirschberg of Stonyfield Farms, and Joe Salatin of Polyface Farms, and disturbing, undercover film footage at corn and soybean farms and poultry, cattle, and pig farms and processing plants to expose the irresponsible actions of the USDA and FDA that allow consumer food safety and animal rights take a backseat to the almighty dollar and the alarming, rampant horrors in the food industry, which is surprisingly controlled by a few companies, such as McDonalds, Tyson Foods, Swift, Cargill, National Beef, and Monsanto, where “faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper” seems to be the motto of the day.

“The Stoning of Saraya M.” (R) (4) [Disturbing sequence of cruel and brutal violence, and brief strong language.] [Subtitled] [DVD only] — Exquisite cinematography and superb acting highlight this gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, unflinching, eye-opening, factually based, 114-minute, 2008 film in which a distraught, headstrong, and courageous Iranian woman (Shohreh Aghdashloo) conveys a horrifically sad story to French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam about how a malevolent, self-serving, abusive, cruel prison guard (Navid Negahban) concocted a devilish plot against his long-suffering wife (Mozhan Marnò) with the spineless mayor (David Diaan) and an Islamic clergyman (Ali Pourtash) in 1986 Iran by blackmailing an illiterate, widowed mechanic (Parviz Sayyad) to falsely claim that the woman had committed adultery so that he would be free to marry the beautiful daughter of a prisoner after his wife’s death.

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (PG-13) (3.5) [Intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material.] [DVD only] — Terrific witty one liners and amazing special effects dominate this action-packed, frenetic-paced, creative, entertaining, 150-minute, 2009 sequel occasionally marred by sensory overload and a large loophole in which a college student (Shia LaBeouf) with a seared coded map in his subconscious tries to locate an ancient key to save Earth along with his sexy girlfriend (Megan Fox) and a couple of friends (John Turturro and Ramon Rodriguez) while being protected by Autobots and secret military troops (Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, et al.) and pursued by tenacious, revenge-fueled Decepticons.

 Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — An insightful, fascinating, four-part, 98-minute, 2006 documentary that includes clips from his award-winning plays and films, as well as interviews with actors, directors, and playwrights: In Act I, “As a Citizen of the World,” Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner discusses his play “Homebody/Kabul,” with brief readings from actor Linda Edmond, reflects on Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, and Marcia Gay Harden and Anne Scurria read from “Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy”; in Act II, “Mama, I’m a Homosexual Mama,” Louisiana-born Tony visits his hometown of Lake Charles, reflects on his childhood and coming out to his parents, interviews playwrights Paul Rudnick and Larry Kramer regarding “Angels in America,” and shows snippets of his marriage to Mark Harris; in Act III, “Collective Action to Overcome Injustice,” Tony discusses his writing process at his home in the Hudson River Valley and writing “It’s an Undoing World” or “Why Should It Be Easy When It Can Be Hard” and “Caroline, or Change”; and in the epilogue, “Action Can Change the Course of Things,” Tony chats about the theater and Meryl Streep reads “A Prayer.”

“Year One” (PG-13) (1) [Crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language, and comic violence.] [DVD only] — After an inept hunter/gatherer (Jack Black) eats a forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, starts a hut on fire, and is thrown out of his village in this lame, groan-inducing, unfunny, 97-minuite, 2009 comedy punctuated with vulgar bathroom humor, he and his virginal best friend (Michael Cera) end up crossing paths with Caine (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd), snip-happy Abraham (Hank Azaria) and his son Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and a slave trader (Vinnie Jones) on their way to Sodom and Gomorrah where they get into more trouble with the locals (Oliver Platt, Olivia Wilde, Xander Berkeley, Gia Carides, David Pasquesi, et al.) when they try to rescue two slave women (Juno Temple and June Diane Raphael).

Film Critic Wendy Schadewald reviewed films in the Twin Cities since 1986, and has been a guest critic on KARE-11’s Showcase Minnesota, WCCO radio, and AMC-950 radio. She reviews more than 250 films annually and has been a film buff for as long as she can remember. To see more of her film reviews, log on to shortredheadreelreviews.com.

©1986 through 2019 by Wendy Schadewald.

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