60-Second Film Reviews

NowShowing

New movies showing in Minneapolis

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

“The Commuter” (PG-13) (3.5) [Some intense action/violence, and language.]  — After an ex-cop turned insurance salesman (Liam Neeson) is fired from his job of ten years and heads home from New York City on a commuter train in this intense, suspenseful, action-packed, well-paced, entertaining, stat-studded (Vera Farmiga, Sam Neill, Elizabeth McGovern, Patrick Wilson, and Jonathan Banks), 104-minute thriller, he ends up protecting innocent passengers (Andy Nyman, Clara Lago, Florence Pugh, Shazad Latif, et al.) while an anonymous caller instructs him to search for and kill a mysterious commuter to save his threatened family.

“Happy End” (R) (2.5) [Some sexual material and language.] [Subtitled] — When a  precocious 13-year-old French girl (Fantine Harduin) moves in with her estranged surgeon father (Mathieu Kassovitz),  his new wife  (Laura Verlinden), and her suicidal, dementia-afflicted  grandfather (Jean-Louis Trintignant)  in Calais after her mother is hospitalized and then subsequently dies while her workaholic, divorced  grandmother (Isabelle Huppert) who owns a construction company deals with the neglect of her mentally unstable son (Franz Rogowski) at a building site in this quirky, unusual, well-acted, realistic, 107-minute film , tensions increase in this highly dysfunctional family as long-buried secrets are revealed.

“The Post” (PG-13) (3.5) [Language and brief war violence.] — After New York Times journalist Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) copies highly secretive, classified documents in 1971 that incriminated the upper echelons of government regarding cover ups in the Vietnam War from the Truman administration through President Nixon’s White House in this powerful, factually inspired, eye-opening, suspenseful, captivating, well-acted, star-dotted (Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Robert John Odenkirk, Alison Brie, David Cross, Michael Stuhlbarg, Pat Healy. David Cross, Carrie Coon, Jesse Piemons, and Ben Livingston), 115-minute, Steven Spielberg political satire based on Josh Singer’s and Liz Hannah’s  novel The Post, The Washington Post owner and publisher  Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and manager editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) debate whether to publish the “Pentagon Papers” that would challenged in the Supreme Court.

On DVD

“The Children of Huang Shi” (R) (3.5) [Some disturbing and violent content.] [DVD only] — When Japanese soldiers threaten the lives of children at a mountainous orphanage in war-torn China in this poignant, inspirational, factually based, 125-minute, 2008 film, compassionate British journalist George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), headstrong Australian nurse Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell), an American-educated Communist rebel leader (Chow Yun-Fat), and a beautiful Chinese black market businesswoman (Michelle Yeoh) try to protect and help more than 60 orphans in 1937.

“Darfur Now” (PG) (4) [Thematic material involving crimes against humanity.] [Partially subtitled] [DVD only] — An eye-opening, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, 98-minute, 2007 documentary that focuses on six selfless humanitarians, including politically active UCLA student Adam Sterling and cofounder of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, actor Don Cheadle who coauthored “Not on Our Watch,” chief international criminal courts prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo at the Hague in The Netherlands who is gathering evidence against Sudanese leaders (such as Ali Kushayb and Ahmad Harun), chief sheikh and refugee Ahmed Mohammed Abakar who heads the Hamadea Displaced Persons Camp, Ecuadorian Pablo Recaldo who heads the West Darfur World Food Program to feed starving victims, and Sudan Liberation Movement rebel Hejewa Adam, who are trying to raise the consciousness and to rally support of the American people and governments around the world to stop the horrific genocide by the Sudanese militia and the Janajaweed (aka “the devils on horseback) and the mass starvation in Darfur, Sudan.

“The Love Guru” (PG-13) (1) [Crude and sexual content throughout, language, some comic violence, and drug references.] [DVD only] — Crude humor and sight gags dominate this silly, cringe-inducing, unfunny, cameo-peppered (Ben Kingsley, Mariska Hargitay, Jessica Simpson, Verne Troyer, Kayne West, et al.), 87-minute, 2008 comedy in which the comely owner (Jessica Alba) of a Toronto hockey team hires a chastity-belt-wearing, Hargitay-crazed spiritual advisor (Mike Myers), who dreams of being on Oprah and replacing Deepak Chopra as number one, to help her star player (Romany Malco) get back together with his wife (Meagan Good) who has been dating a well-endowed, rival player (Justin Timberlake).

“Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan” (R) (3.5) [Sequences of bloody warfare.] [Subtitled] [DVD only] — Striking photography and landscapes dominate Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov’s historical, engrossing, action-packed, 125-minute, 2007 epic film that blends a romantic love story with chronicling the tumultuous life of fearless, fair, and legendary warlord Genghis Khan (Tadanobu Asano), born in 1162, from the choosing of his spirited bride (Bayertsetseg Erdenebat) as a 9-year-old boy (Odnyam Odsuren), surviving brutal enslavement and brutal treatment by a family traitor (Amadu Mamadakov) after the death of his father, joining forces with his blood brother (Honglei Sun) after an enemy tribe kidnap his wife (Khulen Chuluun) and eventually waging war against him, and finally fulfilling his goal of uniting all of the tribes of the Mongolian Steppes in 1206.

 

Film Critic Wendy Schadewald has been a guest critic on KARE-11’s Showcase Minnesota and WCCO radio, and she has written a film review for 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.

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