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 Racing in the Rain” (PG) (3) [Thematic material.] — A touching, heartbreaking, heartwarming, family-oriented, thought-provoking, syrupy, predictable, humor-sprinkled, star-dotted (Kathy Baker, Gary Cole, Martin Donovan, and Al Sapienza), 109-minute film based on Garth Stein’s bestselling 2008 novel in which an adorable, smart, philosophical golden retriever (voiceover by Kevin Costner) narrates the film as it gains knowledge and dreams of being reincarnated as a human, builds a close-knit friendship with his successful Seattle racecar driver owner (Milo Ventimiglia) who works at a BMW car dealership, and initially reluctantly looks after his owner’s ESL teacher wife (Amanda Seyfried) and their daughter (Ryan Kiera Armstrong/Lily Dodsworth-Evans).

“Brian Banks” (PG-13) (4) [Thematic content and related images and language.] — Terrific acting dominates this riveting, factually based, entertaining, inspirational, gut-wrenching, 99-minute, 2018 film that chronicles the valiant, heartbreaking struggles of tenacious, 27-year-old African-American Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge), who was once a high school football star with dreams of an NFL career and living with his supportive mother (Sherri Shepherd) in Long Beach, Calif., as he tries to convince skeptical, overworked California Innocence Project lawyer Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear) and law students (Tiffany Dupont, et al.) to take his case to get it overturned after he was unjustly accused of raping a vindictive classmate (Xosha Roguemore) in 2002 when he was 16 years old resulting in traumatic prison time and having to register as a sex offender the rest of his life.

“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” (PG) (2.5) [Action and some impolite humor.] — After two Incan treasures explorers (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) send their energetic, optimistic, smart, tune-loving teenage daughter (Isabel Moner) to high school in California in this upbeat, family-friendly, entertaining, preteen-oriented, colorful, silly, star-studded (Benicio Del Toro, Danny Trejo, Temeura Morrison, and Q’Orianka Kilcher), 102-minute film based on the television series “Dora the Explorer,” the teenager, two classmates (Madeleine Madden and Nicholas Coombe), and a cousin (Jeff Wahlberg) are kidnapped by mercenaries and then are saved by a duplicitous ancient language professor (Eugenio Derbez) while searching through the jungle for her parents and the long-lost, gold-filled city in Peru.

“Honeyland” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Plays at MSP Film Society at St. Anthony on Main theater.] — A captivating, poignant, critically acclaimed, down-to-Earth, 87-minute docudrama highlighted by gorgeous cinematography and striking landscapes that showcases hardworking, knowledgeable, never-married, impoverished, shrewd Turkish beekeeper Hatidze Muratova, who cares for her 85-year-old, partly blind, sickly, bedridden mother Nazife in the meadowlands of Republic of North Macedonia, as she is forced to contend with new nomadic, beekeeping neighbors Hussein and Ljutvie Sam and their large brood who jeopardize her merger livelihood when they ignore her sage advice on caring for and cultivating honeybees.

“Them That Follow” (R) (3) [Some disturbing violence.] — When the daughter (Alice Englert) of a charismatic, widowed, fire-and-brimstone Pentecostal preacher (Walter Goggins), who uses poisonous snakes in his sermons, is impregnated by the longtime-smitten, non-believing son (Thomas Mann) of a fanatically-religious convenience store owner (Olivia Coleman) and her devout husband (Jim Gaffigan) in the Appalachian mountains despite being engaged to a parishioner (Lewis Pullman) with whom she is not in love and confides her secret to her best friend (Kaitlyn Dever) in this gritty, gripping, disturbing, coming-of-age, intense, 98-minute thriller, her lover decides to handle a poisonous rattlesnake to win over the woman he loves and to be saved by God and forgiven for any transgressions.

On DVD

“Aliens in the Attic” (G) (2.5) [Action violence, some suggestive humor, and language.] [DVD only] — When kids (Carter Jenkins, Ashley Tisdale, Austin Robert Butler, Ashley Boettcher, and Henri and Regan Young), their parents (Kevin Nealon, Gillian Vigman, and Andy Richter), grandma (Doris Roberts), and a conniving boyfriend (Robert Hoffman) head to the lakeside on vacation in Illinois in this cute, family-friendly, 86-minute, 2009 comedy, the kids unexpectedly end up fighting pint-size aliens (voiceovers by Thomas Haden Church, Josh Peck, and J.K. Simmons) bent on taking over Earth.

“An American Affair” (R) (3) [Sexual content and language.] [DVD only] — An engaging, unpredictable, well-acted, 93-minute, 2008 film about a bullied 13-year-old high school student (Cameron Bright) in Washington, D.C., who gets in trouble with his journalist parents (Noah Wyle and Perry Reeves) and in over his head in 1963 when he ogles a comely, artistic, divorced neighbor (Gretchen Mol) who he learns is having an affair with President John F. Kennedy and keeping dangerous secrets in her diary.

“Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer” (NR) (3.5) [DVD only] — Wisecracks and candid insights from the spitfire jazz/swing singer Anita O’Day, who debuted in the 1940s, about her life, amazing career, and 20-year struggle with heroin and alcohol addiction and song snippets, including “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Tea for Two,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Love for Sale,” “And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine,” “In a Little Spanish Town,” “Mad for a Pad,” and “The Lady in Red,” from her nightclub gigs and records dominate this informative and fascinating, 90-minute, 2007 documentary that chronicles the singer’s life through still photographs and interviews with writers (such as Amy Albany, Mary E. Sellers, and Freeman Gunter), vocalists Annie Ross and Margaret Whiting, former manager Maynard Sloat, trumpeters Denny Roche and Joe Wilder, record producers Ken Druker and Buddy Bregman, jazz impresario George Wein, composers (such as Russell Garcia, Bill Holman, Johnny Mandell, and Gerard Wilson), jazz critic Leonard Feather, radio personalities Mark Morris and Phil Schaap, photographer Charles Britton, number #1 fan John L. Pietranowecz, and journalists James Gavin and Will Friedwald.

“Dark Matter” (R) (3) [Scene of violence, brief sexual content, and language] [Partially subtitled] [DVD only] — A heartbreaking, unusual, unpredictable, 88-minute, 2007 film about a brilliant cosmology student (Liu Ye) from Beijing who arrives in America with the help of a wealthy patron (Meryl Streep) interested in Chinese culture, but his dreams of winning a Nobel Prize is shattered when the professor (Aidan Quinn) he much admires wants his study of dark matter to go in a different direction.

“In the Loop” (NR) (3.5) [DVD only] — When an ambitious British cabinet minister (Tom Hollander) blurts out on television that war is inevitable in this profanity-laden, smartly written, hard-hitting, absurdly spot on and funny, 106-minute, 2009 political satire, he ticks off his foul-mouthed and arrogant boss (Peter Capaldi), frustrates his greenhorn assistant (Chris Addison), and finds himself a pawn and a scapegoat of his own government as well as American political bigwigs (James Gandolfini, Mimi Kennedy, David Rasche, et al.) in Washington, D.C.

“Taking Chance” (NR) (4) [DVD only] — A heartbreaking, informative, touching, factually based, 87-minute, 2009 HBO film that chronicles the moving and emotional journey of married Marine Lt. Col. Michael Strobl (Kevin Bacon) as he volunteered to honorably escort the casket and body of 19-year-old PFC Chance R. Phelps, who grew up in Colorado and was killed on patrol in Iraq in 2004, from Maryland to his family in Dubois, WY.

“Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her” (PG-13) (3) [Mature thematic elements, sexual content, and language.][DVD only] — Looking for love and perceptions are the interconnecting themes in this well-acted, poignant, captivating, 109-minute, 2000 Rodrigo Garcia film told in five vignettes: In “This Is Dr. Kenner,” a forlorn gynecologist (Glenn Close) caring for her elderly mother (Irma St. Paule) meets with a tarot card reading fortune teller (Calista Flockhart) in the hopes changing her bleak romantic future; in “Fantasies About Rebecca,” a cigarette-smoking homeless woman (Penelope Allen) throws barbs at a 39-year-old bank manager (Holly Hunter) who finds herself suddenly pregnant and contemplating an abortion because of the unsupportive response by her African-American boyfriend (Gregory Hines) of three years; in “Someone for Rose,” a lonely, novel-writing schoolteacher (Kathy Baker) with a 15-year-old son (Noah Fleiss) flirts with a new neighbor (Danny Woodburn); in “Good Night Lilly, Good Night Christine,” a gay cancer patient (Valerie Golino) and her lover reminiscence about the past and how they met; and in “Love Waits for Kathy,” a detective (Amy Brenneman) investigating the suicide of a former acquaintance (Elpidia Carrillo) accepts a date with a medical examiner (Miguel Sandoval) while her free-spirited blind sister (Cameron Diaz) starts a relationship with a new beau (Matt Craven).

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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