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 Art of Self-Defense” (R) (3) [Violence, sexual content, graphic nudity, and language.] After a milquetoast, reserved, nerdy accountant (Jesse Eisenberg) survives a savage beating one night at the hands of helmet-wearing motorcycle riders while buying dog food for his dachshund in this dark, intense, unexpected, painful, well-cast, humor-punctuated, violent, 104-minute psychological satire, he joins other students (Imogen Poots, Steve Tarada, Phillip Andre Botello, et al.) and signs up for karate lessons at a dojo run by a charismatic, calculating, driven, masculinity-preaching sensei (Alessandro Nivola) with unintended consequences.

“The Farewell” (PG) (3) [Thematic material, brief language, and some smoking.] [Subtitled] A poignant, bittersweet, down-to-earth, well-acted, wit-dotted, heartwarming, well-written, melancholy, 98-minute film, allegedly based on a lie, in which a Chinese-American (Awkwafina) ignores the wishes of her distraught translator father (Tzi Ma) and mother (Diana Lin) by leaving New York City to follow them to Changchun, China, see her kindhearted, wise grandmother (Zhao Shuzhen) who is cared for by her younger sister (Lu Hong) while being kept in the dark about her impending death after a terminal lung cancer diagnosis and the worried, traditional Asian family uses the upcoming nuptials of her cousin (Han Hanwei) to his Japanese girlfriend (Aoi Mizuhara) as an excuse for the emotional, extended family visit.

“In the Aisles” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Plays at MSP Film Society at St. Anthony Main Theatre.] — A quirky, well-acted, slow-moving, unpredictable, 125-minute, 2018 film in which a quiet, bus-riding, tattooed German stock handler (Franz Rogowski) at a grocery warehouse is taken under the wing of a kindhearted coworker (Peter Kurth) to learn the ropes and to run a forklift and quickly becomes smitten with a flirtatious, blonde coworker (Sandra Hüller) who is married to an abusive husband.

“The Lion King” (PG) (4) [Sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements.] — Astounding realistic animals and wonderful, nostalgic music dominate this heartbreaking, heartwarming, highly entertaining, humorous, intense, family-oriented, 3D, star-dotted (voiceovers by Amy Sedaris, Keegan-Michael Key, John Oliver, John Kani, JD McCrary, and Shahadi Wright Joseph), 118-minute, live-action Disney remake of the 1994 classic animated musical in which a sad, guilt-ridden lion cub (voiceover by Donald Glover) runs away from his lioness mother (voiceover by Alfre Woodard) and the pride after the tragic death of his majestic father (voiceover by James Earl Jones) and eventually returns to the pride with two sidekicks, a warthog (voiceover by Seth Rogen) and a cheeky meerkat (voiceover by Billy Eichner), when his childhood best friend (voiceover by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) comes in search of help because the cruel, power-hungry king (voiceover by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the hyenas have decimated the pride lands after killing his brother.

“Three Peaks” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] A riveting, tension-filled, well-acted, superbly paced, 93-minute, 2017 thriller in which a handsome German architect (Alexander Fehling) desperately tries to garner the approval of the headstrong, manipulative, suspicious, 8-year-old son (Arian Montgomery) of his beautiful French girlfriend (Bérénice Bejo), but his plans to get closer to the boy and bond while hiking in the Dolomites in northern Italy to watch the sunrise definitely does not go as planned or hoped.

On DVD

“The Escapist” (NR) (2.5) [DVD only] — When an aging, lifer convict (Brian Cox) receives a letter stating that his estranged, drug-addicted daughter is in danger of losing her life in this gritty, twisting, flashback-filled, violent, 102-minute, 2008 film, he dreams of his escaping from his cell and from other prisoners (Damian Lewis, et al.) residing in a rundown maximum security prison in London and makes plans with four other inmates (Joseph Fiennes, Liam Cunningham, Dominic Cooper, and Seu Jorge).

“Grey Gardens” (G) (3) [DVD only] — A fascinating, insightful, 95-minute, 1975 documentary in which the Maysles brothers let their eccentric, paranoid, emotionally-fragile subjects, who were relatives of Jackie O., speak for themselves as cameras follow the perpetual scarf-wearing 56-year-old Edie Bouvier Beale and her wise-cracking 79-year-old mother Edith Bouvier Beale at their raccoon-infested, cat-laden, trashed Long Island mansion as they ramble about nothing and reminiscence about happier times.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (PG) (2.5) [Scary images, some violence, language, and mild sensuality.] [DVD only] — Terrific sets, scenery, and special effects highlight this unevenly paced, disappointing, dark, gap-filled, star-studded (Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, et al.), 153-minute, 2009 sixth installment in which the dangerous dark lord’s presence is increasingly felt as his Death Eater minions (Helen Bonham Carter, et al.) wreck havoc worldwide while headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) brings an eccentric and flighty professor (Jim Broadbent) back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who he believes has valuable information to aid in defeating Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), but he needs Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his two closest friends (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) to undercover the secret the professor is hiding; this sequel may be too hard to follow for those who have not read the book.

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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