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)

“22 July” (R) (3.5) [Disturbing violence, graphic images, and language.] — A powerful, gripping, gut-wrenching, ire-inducing, factually based, well-acted, violent, 143-minute political thriller based on Åsne Seierstad’s book “One of Us” that chronicles the aftermath of the senseless bombing in Oslo near the headquarters of Norwegian Prime Minister Jen Stoltenberg (Ola G. Furuseth) and the horrific murder of 77 people who “were children of the elite” and injuring more than 200 on July 22, 2011, at a summer youth camp by neo-Nazi terrorist Anders Behring Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) who wanted to get Islam out of Europe, and then it follows the struggle of PTSD-afflicted teenager Viljar (Jonas Strand Gravli) as he desperately tries to recover emotionally and physically from the attack and the subsequent court trial in which lawyer Geir Lippestad (Jon Øigarden), who has five children and was requested by the killer, defends him.

 

“All About Nina” (R) (3) [Strong sexual content and language throughout, some nudity, and brief drug use.] Terrific acting dominates this raw, gritty, risqué, dark, star-studded (Beau Bridges, Camryn Manheim, Jay Mohr, Lilly Tomlin, Clea DuVall, Kate del Castillo, Angelique Cabral, and Mindy Sterling), 97-minute comedy filled with vulgar humor in which an emotionally fragile, foul-mouthed, commitment-shy, vomit-prone, disillusioned, rising, 33-year-old, standup comedian (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leaves an abusive, married cop (Chace Crawford) in New York City for Los Angeles for a fresh start, bares her inner soul on stage, and finds herself finally connecting to a charming, handsome, straightforward, divorced, building contractor (Common) who doesn’t play games.

 

“Bad Times at the El Royale” (R) (3) [Strong violence, language, some drug content, and brief nudity.] Slow pacing hinders this original, unpredictable, dark, well-acted, violent, star-dotted (Nick Offerman, Katherine Isabelle, Manny Jacinto, and Jim O’Heir), Tarantino-esque 140-minute thriller in which a duplicitous priest (Jeff Bridges), a vacuum cleaner salesmen (Jon Hamm), an African-American soul singer (Cynthia Erivo), and two sisters (Dakota Johnson and Cailee Spaeny) arrive at a dilapidated Lake Tahoe hotel, run by an anxiety-prone manager (Lewis Pullman), in 1969 where secrets are revealed and all hell breaks loose when a hunky cult leader (Chris Hemsworth) shows up.

 

“Black ’47” (R) (3.5) [Violence, some disturbing images, and language.] [Partially subtitled] When a revenge-driven Irish Ranger (James Frecheville) deserts his post in the British Army in Afghanistan to return home to Connemare during the devastating potato famine in 1847 and learns that his mother starved to death and his brother was hanged, and then his brother’s widow (Sarah Greene), nephew, and niece die in this dark, well-acted, violent, 100-minute thriller with striking cinematography and landscapes and based on the short Irish film “An Ranger,” he dreams of going to America after hunting down a judge (Dermot Crowley), eviction oversee (Aidan McArdle), a landlord (Jim Broadbent), and a Catholic priest (Diarmuid de Faoite) he deems responsible for his family’s death while being doggedly pursued by a tenacious British captain (Freddie Fox), an Army vet turned bounty hunter (Hugo Weaving), an idealistic English private (Barry Keoghan), a violent sergeant (Moe Dunford), and a local translator (Stephen Rea).

 

“First Man” (PG-13) (3.5) [Some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language.] Slow pacing detracts from this otherwise riveting, well-acted, factually based, emotionally charged, realistic, suspenseful, star-studded (Ciarán Hinds, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Patrick Fugit, Lukas Haas, Shea Whigham, Christopher Abbott, Ethan Embry, John David Whalen, Brian d’Arcy James, and J. D. Evermore), 138-minute biopic thriller based on James R. Hansen’s novel “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong” that focuses on the astounding career and life of legendary, reserved, stoic, brilliant, calm-under-pressure astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), who was married to his supportive, anxious, chain-smoking wife (Claire Foy) and has two children after losing a daughter, between 1961 and 1969 as he trains and prepares to lead NASA’s high-stakes Apollo 11 mission and to work with astronauts Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) and Jim Lovell (Pablo Schreiber) to land the Eagle lunar module on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

 

“The Old Man & the Gun” (PG-13) (3) [Brief strong language.] A fascinating, factually inspired, entertaining, hilarious, star-studded (Keith Carradine, Elisabeth Moss, Tika Sumpter, Isiah Whitlock Jr., John David Washington, Leah Roberts, William Cross, and Kevin McClatchy), 93-minute crime comedy based on Dave Grann’s 2003 “New Yorker” article “The Old Man and the Gun” in which charismatic, lifelong, 74-year-old, gentlemanly bank robber Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), who robbed banks across the country with two aging cohorts (Danny Glover and Tom Waits) known as the “Over-the-Hill Gang” and escaped sixteen times from prison, including San Quentin, falls in love with a widowed Texas rancher (Sissy Spacek) he meets alongside of the road in 1981 while continuing his thieving ways and with tenacious detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) hot on his trail.

 

“The Predator” (R) (2.5) [Strong bloody violence, language throughout, and crude sexual references.] After a powerful rogue alien (Brian A. Prince) that hunts humans for sport escapes from a research facility geared toward space exploration and searches for his equipment that was taken from his spacecraft after it crashed in this action-packed, fast-paced, violent, bullet-riddled, gory, humor-dotted, star-studded (Sterling K. Brown, Jake Bussey, and Yvonne Strahovski), 107-minute remake of the 1987 sci-fi thriller, a decorated Army captain (Boyd Holbrook), an evolutionary biologist (Olivia Munn), and a eclectic group of former soldiers (Trevor Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen, and Augusto Aguilera) join forces to find the captain’s 12-year-old, brilliant, autistic son (Jacob Tremblay), who accidentally signals a menacing alien tracker to come to Earth, and to take down the aliens.

 

“Venom” (PG-13) (3) [Intense sequences of sc-fi violence and action, and language.] After a concerned scientist (Jenny Slate) rats out her unethical, greedy CEO boss (Riz Ahmed) who is killing homeless people by experimenting with merging aliens life forms with humans in this fast-paced, action-packed, witty, violent, unpredictable, 3D, star-dotted (Woody Harrelson, Michelle Lee, Emilio Rivera, Sam Medina, Wade Williams, Reid Scott, and Stan Lee), 112-minute, sci-fi thriller based on the Marvel Comics, a down-on-his-luck journalist (Tom Hardy), whose fiancée (Michelle Williams) broke up with him after he was responsible for her losing her job as a lawyer, begins investigating the doctor’s wild claim ends up becoming a symbiote when a powerful alien takes over his body and together they take down the bad guys and try to prevent another symbiote from leaving Earth.

 

 

On DVD

 

“Bedtime Stories” (PG) (1) [Some mild rude humor and mild language.] [DVD only] While competing with an arrogant, pompous employee (Guy Pearce) for the general manager job at a new posh hotel owned by a germaphobic millionaire (Richard Griffiths) in this silly, groan-inducing, star-dotted (Keri Russell, Jonathan Pryce, Lucy Lawless, Carmen Electra, and Teresa Palmer) Walt Disney comedy, an underappreciated hotel handyman (Adam Sandler) tries to change the course of his life when he realizes that the endings to the wacky bedtime stories that he is weaving for his nephew (Jonathan Morgan Heit) and niece (Laura Ann Kesling) while his sister (Courtney Cox) is out of town come true in real life.

 

“Billy the Kid” (NR) (3) [DVD only] Filmmaker Jennifer Venditti’s fascinating 2007 documentary that gives an intimate portrayal of the life of troubled, high-strung, girl-crazy, quirky teenager Billy Press who lives with his mother and stepfather in Maine and loves horror movies and professional wrestling.

 

“Christmas Story” (NR) (4) [Subtitled] [DVD only] Stunning photography highlights this delightful, heartwarming, family-oriented Finnish film in which an orphaned boy (Jonas Rinne/Otto Gustavsson) carves wooden toys for the children of the kind Lapland villagers (Mikko Leppilampi, Minna Haapkylä, et al.) who took turns caring for him, and his passion for carving and giving of toys continue as an adult (Hannu-Pekka Björkman) after he goes to live with a crotchety, lonely, widowed carpenter (Kari Väänänen).

 

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (PG-13) (3.5) [Brief war violence, sexual content, language, and smoking.] [DVD only] After a grieving, shocked button manufacturer (Jason Flemyng) in New Orleans abandons his strange newborn son, who is born in his 80s, on the steps of a compassionate black caregiver (Taraji P. Henson) in 1918 in this intriguing, well-acted, multilayered, star-studded (Elias Koteas, Julia Ormond, et al.), 165-minute film adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the child lives his life in reverse and as a young man (Brad Pitt) falls in love with a married woman (Tilda Swinton) in Russia while working on a tugboat and eventually returning to Louisiana but never forgetting the bond he made with a childhood friend who found her passion as a ballet dancer (Cate Blanchett) in New York City.

 

“The Spirit” (PG-13) (1.5) [Intense sequences of stylized violence and action, some sexual content, and brief nudity.] Artsy black-and-white photography punctuated with crimson, which is reminiscent of “Sin City,” hokey dialogue, and visual jokes highlight this nonsensical Frank Miller film based on the Will Eisner comic book series about an immortal, red-tie-wearing rookie cop (Gabriel Macht) in Central City who acts as a vigilante to help the police commissioner (Dan Lauria) take down the bad guys (Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Paz Vega, et al.) while pining for the woman (Eva Mendes) he once loved and flirting with every women (Sarah Paulson, Stana Katic, et al.) in a skirt.

 

“Timecrimes” (NR) (2) [Subtitled] [DVD only] When a middle-aged, voyeuristic Spanish businessman (Karra Elejalde) spies on an alluring, naked woman (Barbara Goenaga) in the woods unbeknownst to his longtime companion (Candela Fernandez) in this convoluted, strange, science-fiction, Nacho Vigalondo film, he ends up in a futuristic time machine operated by an unlikely scientist (Helmer Vigalondo) and finds himself running from multiple copies of himself.

 

“Valkyrie” (PG-13) (3.5) [Violence and brief strong language.] [DVD only] — An intense, powerful, gut-wrenching, enlightening, star-studded (Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Thomas Kretschmann, Tom Hollander, et al.) factually based film in which Nazi Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) joined other high-ranking German military officers (Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Eddie Izzard, David Schofield, Kevin McNally, et al.) to devise a risky, dangerous, multifaceted scheme to assassinate Adolf Hitler (David Bamber) and his equally mad right-hand man Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler (Matthias Freihof) and to assume control of Berlin on July 20, 1944.

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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