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)

“American Assassin” (R) (3.5) {Strong violence throughout, some torture, language, and brief nudity.] — After the CIA deputy director (Sanaa Latham) in charge of counter terrorism recruits a skilled, hard-headed, revenge-fueled, 23-year-old Rhode Island loner(Dylan O’Brien) when he foolishly goes to Libya on his own to kill the terrorists who murdered his fiancée (Charlotte Vega) while they were on vacation in this intense, action-packed, well-paced, violent, superbly-written, stat-studded (David Suchet, Trevor White, Jeff Davis, and Joseph Long), 111-minute thriller adapted from Vince Flynn’s 2010 bestselling novel, he reluctantly trains with a no-nonsense former Navy SEAL (Michael Keaton) and dislikes following direct orders to become an assassin working with other CIA agents (Shiva Negar, Scott Adkins, and Bern Collaço) on black ops assignments and ends up trying to stop a  rogue agent (Taylor Kitsch) known as ghost from building a nuclear bomb when he successfully obtains 15 kilos of weapons-grade plutonium from an Iranian (Mohammad Bakri) and finds a qualified nuclear physicist (Sharif Dorani).

“Home Again” (PG) (3) [Some thematic and sexual material.] — After an interior designer (Reese Witherspoon) separates from her music producer husband (Michael Sheen) in New York City and moves to Los Angeles with her two daughters (Lola Flanery and Eden Grace Redfield) in this humorous, entertaining, family-friendly, star-dotted (Lake Bell, Reid Scott, and P.J. Byrne), 97-minute romantic comedy, she surprisingly finds herself attracted to a handsome, charming, budding filmmaker (Pico Alexander) and with the encouragement of her widowed mother (Candice Bergen) allows him, a screenwriter (Jon Rudnitsky), and an actor (Nat Wolff ) to move into her guesthouse where life definitely becomes more interesting.

“Mother!” (R) (2) [Strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity, and language.] — After a bizarre couple (Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer) quickly followed by their angry sons (Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson), who are feuding over a will, suddenly show up uninvited at an isolated, rundown, countryside Victorian mansion of a poet (Javier Bardem) with writer’s block and his anxious wife (Jennifer Lawrence) in this exceedingly odd, creepy, nonsensical, dark, controversial, pretentious, disappointing, allegorical, 121-minute Darren Aronofsky horror film vaguely reminiscent of “Rosemary’s Baby,” the strained relationship of writer and his wife continues to unravel when she becomes pregnant and a then horde of unruly, violent strangers (Kristen Wiig, et al.) invade the house, and life quickly goes downhill from there.

“Rebel in the Rye” (PG-13) (2.5) [Thematic elements, language, including sexual references, some violence, and smoking throughout.] — An engaging, factually inspired, star-studded (Zoey Deutche, Sarah Paulson, Victor Garber, Lucy Boynton, Hops Davis, James Urbaniak, Eric Bogosian, Celeste Arias, Brian d’Arcy James, Adam Busch, David Berman, and Jefferson Mays), 105-minute, Danny Strong film based on Kenneth’s Slawenski’s biography “J.D. Salinger: A Life Raised High” that chronicles the life and short career of legendary, reclusive writer J. D. Salinger (Nicholas Hoult) as a Columbia student in 1939 taking short story writing classes from an encouraging professor (Kevin Spacey), serving in the army during WWII in 1941 and suffering from PTSD on discharge, to writing his internationally acclaimed and only novel “The Catcher in the Rye.”

“Viceroy’s House” (NR) (3.5) — Striking, colorful costumes, sets, and photography highlight this captivating, factually based, well-acted, star-dotted (Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, David Hayman, and Om Puri), 106-minute historical film that chronicles the efforts of Lord Louis Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) who is sent to New Delhi in March 1947 with his wife Lady Edwina Mountbatten (Gillian Anderson) and 18-year-old daughter (Lily Travers) as the last viceroy to prepare India for its independence from Britain rule amidst political and religious unrest and to peacefully split Muslim Pakistan and secular India while his manservant (Manish Daval) tries to win the heart of a beautiful Muslim woman (Huma Qureshi) who is engaged to a British Army officer.

 


On DVD

 

“At the Death House Door” (NR) (4) [DVD only] — A powerful, candid, gut-wrenching, discussion-provoking, 98-minute, 2008 documentary that adds eye-opening information about the pitfalls of capital punishment as it focuses on retired Presbyterian minister Carroll Pickett whose life and death penalty views were forever and immeasurably changed after faithfully and selflessly serving 13 years as chaplain at a Huntsville prison where he began a successful music program and counseled more than 90 death row inmates before their executions, including Carlos DeLuna who was unjustly executed in 1989 after he was erroneously convicted of murder in a tragically and blatantly botched case.

“The Fireman’s Ball” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — A hilarious, wacky, 73-minute, 1967 Miloš Forman comedy about a house fire that interrupts festivities and the fiasco that ensues at a fireman’s ball when a group of inept, well-meaning Czech fireman (Jan Vostreil, Josef Sebanek, Frantisek Debelka, Josef Kutálek, Ladislav Adam, et al.) try to elect a beauty queen and honor their retired, 86-year-old, cancer-stricken chairman (Jan Stöckl) with a golden hatchet.

“The Forbidden Kingdom” (PG-13) (2.5) [Sequences of martial arts action and some violence.] [DVD only] — When a kung-fu-loving Boston teenager (Michael Angarano), who is obsessed with martial art films, is magically transported back to ancient China in this entertaining, action-packed, 104-minute, 2008 fantasy film filled with gorgeous scenery and high flying stunts, he is joined by an immortal wine-guzzling scholar (Jackie Chan), a silent monk (Jet Li), and a vengeful orphan (Yifei Liu) as he tries to return a powerful, magical staff to the fable warrior monkey king and to defeat a ruthless, tyrannical war lord (Collin Chou).

“The Grand” (R) (3) [Language and some drug content.] [DVD only] — An improvisational, tongue-in-cheek, satirical, star-studded (Ray Romano, Michael McKean, Estelle Harris, Werner Herzog, David Cross, Gabe Kaplan, et al.), 104-minute, 2007 comedy in which six eccentric, colorful, high-stakes poker players (Woody Harrelson, David Cross, Dennis Farina, Cheryl Hines, Richard Kind, and Chris Parnell) compete in The Grand Championship of Poker tournament at the Lucky Rabbit’s Foot Casino in Las Vegas.

“Nim’s Island” (PG) (3) [Mild adventure action and brief language.] [DVD only] — Blatant product hype infiltrates this wacky, predictable, family-oriented, 96-minute, 2008 adventure film in which a neurotic, Progresso-loving, germ-phobic, agoraphobic adventure novelist (Jodie Foster) gathers the gumption to leave her San Francisco apartment sanctuary to journey to a faraway South Sea island when the bright, studious, 11-year-old daughter (Abigail Breslin) of a widowed marine biologist (Gerard Butler) emails for help after her dad goes missing at sea.

“Son of Rambow” (PG-13) (2.5) [Some violence and reckless behavior.] [DVD only] — When the imaginative, sheltered, shy son (Bill Milner) of a deeply religious Plymouth Brethren widow (Jessica Stevenson) manages to hook up with a mischievous, rabble-rousing, budding filmmaker (Will Poulter) who lives with his bullying brother while their parents are gallivanting around Europe in this creative, poignant, coming-of-age, 96-minute, 2007 British film about growing up, trying to find your place in the world, fitting in, and making friends in 1980s England, they find unlikely fans in a bored, charismatic, edgy French exchange student (Jules Sitruk) and his awe-struck student entourage when they pay homage to Rambo’s “First Blood” by shooting their entertaining, amateurish film “Son of Rambow”.

“Street Kings” (R) (3.5) [Strong violence and pervasive language.] [DVD only] — After a hotheaded, vodka-swigging, vigilante detective (Keanu Reeves) single handedly rescues two kidnapped Korean girls without leaving any suspects alive and then a no-nonsense internal affairs police captain (Hugh Laurie) puts him and his LAPD vice squad unit (Jay Mohr, Forest Whitaker, Amaury Nolasco, et al.) under close scrutiny when a veteran African-American cop is gunned down by two killers in broad daylight in this tension-filled, twist-filled, bullet and corrupt cop riddle, 111-minute, 2008 film, the detective teams up with a straight-arrow cop (Chris Evans) to clear his name and to identify the bad guys.

“Young @ Heart” (PG) (4) [Some mild language and thematic elements.] [DVD only] — An inspiring, heartwarming, highly entertaining, behind-the-scene, 107-minute, 2007 documentary that follows a group of passionate, spirited, young at heart, elderly singers (average age 80) in Northhampton, Ma., as they spend 7 weeks rehearsing new songs, such as “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “Schizophrenia,” “I Feel Good,” “Yes I Can Can,” “Stay’n Alive,” “Life During War Time,” and “I Want to Be Sedated,” for an upcoming show.

 

©1986 through 2017 by Wendy Schadewald. The preceding films were reviewed by Wendy Schadewald, who has been a Twin Cities film critic since 1986. To see more of her film reviews, log on to 60-Second Film Reviews.

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