Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“America's Musical Journey” (NR) (3) [Available via YouTube and Amazon Prime video.] — Morgan Freeman narrates Greg MacGillivray’s entertaining, engaging, educational, colorful, insightful, 40-minute, 2018 documentary highlighted by striking cinematography, archival film clips, dance snippets, and musical numbers in which singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc travels to various cities such as Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, New York City, Nashville, Detroit, Memphis, Las Vegas, Seattle, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Miami to explore the history and diversity of American music from jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, country, gospel, blues, reggae, hip-hop, and rap and the contributions and lasting influence to music of iconic singers, including Louis Armstrong, Gloria Estefan, Elvis Presley, Prince, Willie Nelson, and Stevie Wonder; its downfall is trying to cover too much material in too short of time.
“Cyrus” (R) (3.5) [Language and some sexual material.] [VOD and VOD Only] — A heartwarming, well-acted, realistic film in which a divorced, lonely, freelance editor (John C. Reilly), who is close friends with his ex-wife (Catherine Keener), falls for a longtime, single mother (Marisa Tomei) and then finds himself at odds with her controlling, jealous, 21-year-old son (Jonah Hill).
“The Girl Who Played with Fire” (R) (3.5) [Brutal violence including a rape, some strong sexual content, nudity, and language.] [Subtitled] [VOD and VOD Only] — After Swedish police (Johan Kylén, et al.) implicate a headstrong, feisty, taciturn, tattooed, bisexual, computer-savvy researcher (Noomi Rapace) in the shooting death of a journalist (Hans Christian Thulin), a criminologist (Jennie Silfverhjelm), and a sadistic lawyer (Peter Andersson) in Stockholm prior to the publication of an expose on sex trafficking in this complicated, well-acted, critically acclaimed, intense, well-paced second installment of Stieg Larsson’s highly popular Millennium Trilogy, a magazine editor-in-chief (Michael Nyquist), her lover (Yasmine Garbi), and a fighter (Paolo Roberto) try to help her by finding a Russian spy (Georgi Staykov) and his henchmen (Micke Spreitz, et al.) who may be involved in the murders.
“Gatsby in Connecticut: The Untold Story” (NR) (3) [Available on various VOD platforms and played April 9 as part of AARP's Movies for Grownups.] — Keir Dulles narrates Robert Steven Williams and Richard Webb’s fascinating, educational, insightful, well-written, thought-provoking, 70-minute, 2020 documentary that explores the time when F. Scott Fitzgerald and his beloved, 19-year-old wife Zelda lived in Westport, Conn., during the summer of 1920 and how it may have influenced his writing of the classic novel “The Great Gatsby” and consists of archival film clips and photographs; movie snippets; excerpts from diaries, letters, books, and articles; and commentary by actor Sam Waterston, publisher Charles Scribner III, writer Barbara Probst Solomon, Great Neck Historical Society Director Alice Kasten, relative Margaret Lebdis, F. Scott and Zelda Museum Executive Director Willie Thompson, assistant professor Ashley Lawson, granddaughter Bobbie Lanahan, Westport resident Lou Nebel, lawyer Dennis Orr, and professors Maureen Corrigan, James West, Steven Goldleaf, Walter Raubicheck, Hurst Kruse, Ruth Prizogy, and Kirk Curnutt.
“Grace Fury” (NR) (3.5) [Available April 20 on various VOD platforms.] — Breathtaking choreography and cinematography dominate Laura Carruthers’s vibrant, captivating, moving, riveting, thought-provoking, 76-minute, 2018 biopic dance documentary interspersed with poetic narration and gorgeous scenic video clips in which free-spirited, engaging choreographer, ballerina, and Scottish dance champion Laura Carruthers choreographs upbeat numbers that seamlessly blend ballet, Celtic, classical, and contemporary dance, some of which are reminiscent of “River Dance,” for a group of talented and artistic dancers, including John T. Todd, Seth Belliston, Lauren Hamilton, Matthew Powell, Deanna Doyle, Carlos Hopuy, Richard Glover, Kelly Ann Sloan, Kim Mikesel, Monica Stephenson Lawrence Neuhauser, and Evan Swenson.
“Happy Tears” (R) (1.5) [Language, drug use, and some sexual content, including brief nudity.] [VOD and VOD Only] — A lackluster, boring, unhappy, 2009 film in which two sisters (Parker Posey and Demi Moore) return to Pittsburgh to care for their dementia-afflicted father (Rip Torn) who is involved with a younger woman (Ellen Barkin) who is using him for his money.
“The Kids Are All Right” (R) (3) [Strong sexual content, nudity, language, and some teen drug and alcohol use.] [VOD and VOD Only] — A long-married relationship of a wine-loving, gay obstetrician (Annette Bening) and her landscaper wife (Julianne Moore) is tested in this down-to-earth, well-acted, unpredictable film when their two inquisitive teenage children (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) meet the handsome owner (Mark Ruffalo) of an organic restaurant in California who donated his sperm to each mom years earlier.
“The Line” (R) (1.5) [Violence, sexual material, language and drug content.] [VOD and VOD Only] — A convoluted, boring, violent, factually inspired, star-dotted (Armand Assante, Bruce Davison, and Danny Trejo), 2007 film in which a traumatized, veteran, freelance bounty hunter (Ray Liotta) goes to Mexico to take out a heroin drug dealer (Esai Morales), who took over the lucrative Mexican drug cartel from his sickly boss (Andy Garcia) to the irritation of a jealous rival (Jordi Vilasuso), and ends up falling for a beautiful drug addict (Valerie Cruz) with a young son in Tijuana.
“[Rec] 2” (R) (1.5) [Strong bloody violence, disturbing images, and pervasive language.] [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — After three SWAT Spanish team members (Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca, and Pablo Rosso) and a priest (Jonathan Mellor) enter an apartment building in Barcelona that is infected with a deadly, contagious, unholy virus in this blood-splattered, gory, silly, 2009 Spanish thriller on which the American film “Quarantine” was based, they find themselves dealing with blood-thirsty tenants and three reckless kids (Andrea Ros, Àlex Batllori, and Pau Poch) who have sneaked in to the complex.
“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (R) (3.5) [Language throughout, some violence, bloody images, and drug use.] [Netflix Only] — Terrific acting dominates Aaron Sorkin’s sympathetic portrayal, factually inspired, Oscar-nominated, powerful, captivating, well-written, insightful, star-studded (Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Ben Shenkman, Max Adler, J. C. MacKenzie, Wayne Duvall, Kelvin Harrison Jr., John Doman, Caitlin Fitzgerald, and Damian Young), 2020, 129-minute film based on the infamous, 151-day trial conducted by Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella) in 1969 of seven defendants, including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) President Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Youth International party founding member Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE) organizer and national SDS organizer Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), Yippies founding member Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), MOBE leader David Dillinger (John Carroll Lynch), John Froines (Daniel Flaherty), and Lee Weiner, who were charged with conspiracy after participating in anti-Vietnam War protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968; Black Panther Party national chairman Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) was removed from the Chicago trial after one month.
“William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe” (NR) (3) [VOD and VOD Only] — Filmmakers Emily and Sarah Kunstler chronicle the infamous, controversial career of liberal, unpopular, New York City lawyer William M. Kunstler, who represented unsavory murderers, mobsters, rapists (e.g., the Central Park Jogger), and terrorists later in his career, but was also a prominent figure in the Chicago 8 trial, the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King, the massacre at Attica, and the standoff at Wounded Knee in their fascinating, informative, 85-minute, 2009 documentary by using photographs and archival film footage and interviews with his second wife Margaret Ratner Kuntsler, daughter Karin Kuntsler Goldman, attorneys (such as C. Vernon Mason, Ron Kuby, Michael Ratner, Alan Dershowitz, and Elizabeth Fink), journalist Jimmy Breslin, former Mayor Ed Koch, civil rights activists Julian Bond and M. Paul Redd, activists Daniel Berrigan and Gregory Johnson, and AIM leaders Dennis Banks, Clyde Bellecourt, and Madonna Thunderbird.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.