60-SECOND FILM REVIEWS

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New movies showing in Minneapolis

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

“Arizona” (NR) (2.5) — A wacky, silly, hilarious, violent, macabre, satirical, pratfall, love-it-or-hate-it, 85-minute comedy in which a disgruntled, angry, broke homeowner (Danny McBride) takes an Arizona real estate agent (Rosemarie DeWitt), who has a 14-year-old daughter (Lolli Sorenson), hostage after she witnessed him accidentally killing his realtor (Seth Rogen) during the subprime mortgage downturn in 2009 and then bodies begin to drop like flies when his ex-wife (Kaitlin Olson), the depressing subdivision’s only cop (David Alan Grier), and her ex-husband (Luke Wilson) and his girlfriend (Elizabeth Gillies) show up.

“The Happytime Murders” (R) (2) [Strong crude and sexual content and language throughout, and some drug material.] — When Happytime Gang puppets, who live in a crazy, surreal world with humans, are murdered one-by-one in this raunchy, risqué, irreverent, intermittently funny, star-studded (Elizabeth Banks, Jenny McCarthy, Joe McHale, and Leslie David Baker), 91-minute, comedy dominated by foul language and crude visual jokes, a puppet private investigator (voiceover by Ryan Tran), his love-struck secretary (Maya Rudolph), and his former sugar-snorting, syrup-guzzling police detective partner (Melissa McCarthy) team up to find the mysterious killer.

“The Little Stranger” (R) (3.5) [Some disturbing bloody images.] — When a stoic British doctor (Domhnall Gleeson) goes to the rundown Hundreds Hall mansion in the English countryside, which continues to infatuate and haunt his dreams him since visiting as a young boy (Oliver Zetterström) with his servant mother, to treat an overburdened, sickly household maid (Liv Hill) in 1948 in this slow-paced, moody, puzzling, well-acted, multilayered, 111-minute psychological gothic film based on Sarah Waters’ novel, he becomes embroiled in the dysfunctional family dynamics of an impoverish matriarch (Charlotte Rampling), her anxiety-prone daughter (Ruth Wilson), and her burned, PTSD-afflicted, crippled veteran son (William Poulter).

“Operation Finale” (PG-13) (3) [Disturbing thematic content and related violent images, and some language.] — Wonderful acting highlights this gut-wrenching, factually based, powerful, well-paced, 123-minute film based on Matthew Orton’s screenplay in which a secret group of Israeli Mossad agents (Oscar Isaac, Lior Raz, Mélanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, Ohad Knoller, et al.) head to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1960 to capture notorious Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), who was the infamous Nazi architect of the Holocaust, to stand for his WWII crimes in Tel Aviv with the help of a Jewish woman (Haley Lu Richardson) while his desperate son (Joe Alwyn) and devoted wife (Greta Scacchi) search for him.

“Searching” (PG-13) (3) [Thematic content, some drug and sexual references, and language.] — When his 16-year-old daughter (Michelle La) suddenly goes missing in San Jose, Calif., in this original, twist-filled, intense, creative, 102-minute thriller, a distraught, tenacious widower (John Cho), who lost his wife (Sara Sohn) to cancer years earlier, scrounges social media and works with a detective (Debra Messing) to find her.

“The Wife” (R) (3.5) [Language and some sexual content.] — Long-festering emotions erupt in this engaging, well-acted, well-written, 110-minute, 2017 film based on Meg Wolitzer’s novel when a talented, frustrated Connecticut wife (Glenn Close), an impressive writer in her own right, accompanies her adulterous, highly successful novelist husband (Jonathan Pryce) of forty years to Stockholm, Sweden, to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 with their adult, pot-smoking son (Max Irons) while a journalist (Christian Slater) pesters the family to reveal more dirt in order to write an unsolicited biography.

 

On DVD

 

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (PG-13) (3.5) [Some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust.] [DVD only] — When an innocent, blue-eyed, 8-year-old German boy (Asa Butterfield) moves with his naïve mother (Vera Farmiga) and older sister (Amber Beattie) from Berlin during World War II after his Nazi officer father (David Thewlis) is promoted to oversee a concentration camp in this gut-wrenching, riveting, powerful, 94-minute, 2008 film, unforeseen and horrific consequences develop as he befriends a checker-playing Jewish boy (Jack Scanlon) who is trapped behind the barb-wire fence.

Constantine’s Sword (NR) (3) [DVD only] — A powerful, intriguing, eye-opening, and informative, 93-minute, 2007 documentary that includes interviews with Biblical scholars, writers, curators, and ministers (such as Ted Haggard) and follows journalist and former Catholic priest James Carroll as he analyzes the role of Roman Emperor Constantine, the popes and the Catholic Church, Christian crusaders, and anti-Semitic Christians in the persecution of Jews throughout history.

“House” (R) (1) [Some violence and terror.] [DVD only] — A lame, nonsensical, 98-minute, 2008 thriller about a bickering writer (Reynaldo Rosales) and his guilt-ridden wife (Heidi Dippold) who are sidetracked by a small-town sheriff (Michael Madsen) and end up joining another couple (Julie Ann Emery and J.P. Davis) at an eerie, isolated bread-and-breakfast inn in Alabama run by sinister inhabitants (Leslie Easterbrook, Lew Temple, and Bill Moseley).

“Letting Go of God” (NR) (3.5) [DVD only] — An intelligent, irreverent, hilarious, satirical, 130-minute, 2008 film that showcases the thought-provoking one-woman monologue of wry, insightful, and engaging standup comedian Julia Sweeney in which she discusses growing up Catholic, Biblical stories, life, death, religion, and critical thinking on her journey to finding God and becoming an atheist.

“Repo! The Genetic Opera” (R) (2) [Strong bloody violence and gore, language, some drug, and sexual content.] [DVD only] — Blood and organs are generously spewed about in this strange, unique, violent, futuristic, Goth, star-studded (Sarah Brighton, Bill Moseley, Paris Hilton, et al.), 98-minute, 2008 operatic musical drenched in artsy cinematography and atmosphere in which the jealous, dying cofounder (Paul Sorvino) of a biotech organ transplant company seeks revenges against the doctor (Anthony Head) who stole his bride (Sarah Power) at the altar, while a repo man tries to save his daughter (Alex Vega) who is infected with a blood disease in 2056.

“Soul Men” (R) (2) [Pervasive language, and sexual content including nudity.] [DVD only] — When their onetime partner dies in this disappointing, uneven, star-studded (Isaac Hayes, Sharon Leal, Jennifer Coolidge, Mike Epps, et al.) 100-minute, 2008 comedy, two former backup soul singers (Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac) reunite after 30 years and hit the road in a cross-country trip playing gigs on their way to a tribute at the Apollo Theater in New York City.

“A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” (NR) (3) [Partially subtitled] [DVD only] — A poignant, touching, leisurely paced, 83-minute, 2007 drama about a retired, widowed, lonely Chinese rocket scientist (Henry O) from Beijing whose visit with his withdrawn, reticent, emotionally crippled, divorced daughter (Faye Yu) in Spokane ends up accentuating the generational, cultural, and social differences between them.

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 2018 by Wendy Schadewald.

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