Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” (R) (3) [Some strong sexuality and nudity.] [VOD and DVD only] — Gorgeous period costumes highlight this well-acted, engaging, factually inspired, 2009 film about the destructive, self-serving relationship that develops when famous, head strong French designer Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) invites down-on-his-luck Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) whom she met in 1913 at his disastrous premier of “The Rite of Spring,” plain-Jane wife (Yelena Morozova), and four children (Sophie Hasson, Clara Guelblum, Maxime Daniélou, and Nikita Ponomarenko) to live at her country estate outside Paris in 1920.
“GasLand” (NR) (3.5) [VOD and DVD only] — After an oil company offers him serious money to lease his Pennsylvania land to drill for natural gas deposits using an hydraulic process called fracturing in this educational, disturbing, award-winning, ire-raising, discussion-provoking, 107-minute documentary, filmmaker Josh Fox examines the potential ecological, medical, social, and financial ramifications by traveling to states such as Colorado, Wyoming, and New York to document the shocking, first-hand accounts of people, including Mike Markham and Marsha Mendenhall in Colorado, who are directly affected by drilling on their property and EPA veteran and whistleblower Weston Wilson and discovering horrific, unimaginable ramifications of gas drilling (e.g., animals dying and/or losing their hair, people poisoned from toxins leeching into their groundwater, and the ability to set water coming out of home faucets on fire).
“The Great Green Wall” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Opens April 22 in Virtual Cinema sponsored by MSP Film Society; for more information, log on to mspfilm.org. It is also available on Amazon Prime video and played April 22 as part of AARP’s Movies for Grownups.] — Jared P. Scott’s poignant, eye-opening, educational, insightful, sometimes depressing, inspirational, 92-minute, 2019 documentary dotted with uplifting music in which Mali-born singer Inna Modja leads a continent-wide pilgrimage across the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert from Senegal to Ethiopia to showcase Africa’s ambitious efforts, which began in 2007, to erect an 8,000-km wall of trees as a life-affirming and Africa-affirming response to the political and religious violence that has occurred and to combat climate change and especially the devastating droughts and desertification, which have claimed an enormous human toll through death and mass emigration to Europe.
“In Search of Beethoven” (NR) (4) [DVD and VOD only] — Juliet Stevenson narrates this cinematographically gorgeous, educational, critically acclaimed, in-depth, 139-minute, 2009 biographical documentary that gives insights into the life, career, and music of legendary German composer Ludwig van Beethoven through photographs, musical snippets from more than 60 live performances, and interviews with violinists Vadim Repin and Janine Jansen, Beethoven scholar and editor Jonathan Del Mar, opera singer Albert Dohmen, pianists (such as Ronald Brautigam, Emanuel Ax, Paul Lewis, Leifove Andsnes, Hélène Grimaud, Kristian Bezudenhaut, Lars Vogt, and Jonathan Biss), composer Bayan Northcott, musicologists Giovanni Bietti and Hebe Jeffrey, historians (such as Ilona Schimul, Barry Cooper, Nicholas Marston, and Cliff Eisen), opera and film director Chris Kraus, cellists David Waterman and Alban Gehardt, Beethoven Haus guide Christini Kondgen, and conductors Luis Langree, Fabio Lulsi, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Roger Norrington, and Riccardo Chailly.
“Limbo” (R) (3) [Language.] [Partially subtitled] [Opens April 30 in theaters.] — Ben Sharrock’s poignant, melancholy, well-acted, down-to-Earth, occasionally humorous, 103-minute, 2020 dark comedy highlighted by wonderful cinematography in which a homesick, oud-playing Syrian refugee (Amir El-Masry), who is a talented musician, waits on a dreary, windswept island off of Scotland to get approval for political asylum with other migrant roommates, including a Freddie Mercury-loving Afghani (Vikash Bhai) and two Nigerian brothers (Kwabena Ansah and Ola Orebiyi), and passes the time attending an English language and cultural awareness class from two clueless teachers (Sidse Babett Knudsen and Kenneth Collard) with the hopes of eventually bringing his parents who are living in Turkey to Scotland.
“Mortal Kombat” (R) (2.5) [Strong bloody violence and language throughout, and some crude references.] [Opens April 23 in theaters and available on HBO MAX.] — Terrific choreography and nonstop action dominate Simon McQuoid’s entertaining, fast-paced, violent, gory, humor-dotted, 110-minute thriller based on the videogame in which a talented MMA fighter (Lewis Tan), who has a dragon birthmark and unknowingly is the descendent of a fearsome Japanese warrior (Hiroyuki Sanada) from 1617 and tries to protect his wife (Matilda Kimber) and daughter (Laura Brent), is chosen to compete in an intergalactic tournament to save Earthrealm from an evil sorcerer (Chin Han) and his menacing warriors (Joe Taslim, Josh Lawson, Daniel Nelson, Nathan Jones, Sisi Stringer, Elissa Cadwell, and Mel Jarson) and joins forces at the temple of Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) with the good guys, including a special forces major (Mehcad Brooks), a skilled fighter (Jessica McNamee), and martial art champions (Ludi Lin and Max Huang) with super powers.
“Mothers & Daughters” (G) (3) [VOD and DVD only] — Filmmaker Beth Brickell explores the often strained relationship between mothers and daughters in these two critically acclaimed films: In the touching, realistic, 30-minute, 1984 “Summer’s End” film, parental discord quickly ensues between a strict, well-meaning Arkansas mother (Radha Delamarter) and her more-relaxed husband (Bill Vint) when she forces her 10-year-old tomboy daughter (Jennifer Miller) to cut her ponytails so that she will fit in with the other children in 1948; when a bitter, famous Hollywood television star (Mariette Hartley) returns home to Texas for the funeral of her father (Eric Holland) in this down-to-earth, engaging, 30-minute, 1978 “A Rainy Day” film, bad memories are stirred up as she reminisces with her controlling, overbearing mother (Collin Wilcox Paxton) about her childhood as a young girl (Tracey Gold).
“Ramona and Beezus” (G) (2.5) [VOD and DVD only] — A charming, heartwarming, family-friendly, down-to-earth, star-studded (Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Duhamel, and Sandra Oh) film based on Beverly Cleary’s popular children's book series about a bright, mischievous, creative, free-spirited, 9-year-old schoolgirl (Joey King) growing up with her parents (John Corbett and Bridget Moynahan), teenage sister (Selena Gomez), baby sister, and an orange tabby cat in Portland.
“Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” (R) (3) [Violence.] [Available April 30 on Amazon Prime Video.] — After a skilled U.S. Navy SEAL (Michael B. Jordan) is shot trying to protect his pregnant wife (Lauren London) on American soil from Russian assassins seeking retaliation for a rescue mission of a CIA operative in Aleppo, Syria, three months earlier in Stefano Sollima’s gripping, intense, dark, action-packed, fast-paced, violent, 110-minute thriller based on Tom Clancy’s bestselling 1993 novel, he uncovers a deep-seated conspiracy when he becomes part of an elite team (Jodie Turner-Smith, Jamie Bell, Luke Mitchell, Cam Gigandet, Jack Kesy, Jacob Scipio, Todd Lasance, et al.), which was as approved by the Department of Defense Secretary (Guy Pearce), to track down the remaining assassin squad member (Brett Gelman), who escaped and is hiding in Russia, which increases the already strained relationship between the U.S. and Russia.
The following films play April 29 through May 9 in virtual cinema as part of the 2021 Hot Docs Festival in Canada; for information, log on to https://www.hotdocs.ca/p/hot-docs-festival:
“Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest” (NR) (2.5) [Subtitled] — Mads Hedegaard’s narrates his colorful, fascinating, informative, insightful, 97-minute documentary that gives a history of arcade machines such as Space Invaders , Donkey Kong , Gyruss , Tetris , and Puzzle Bobble  that became widely popular during the 1980s and follows the valiant, mentally and physically challenging attempt of talented, highly coordinated, well-known, 55-year-old, mullet-wearing, arcade-game-playing, Danish, Kim ‘Kanonarm’ Købke, who is a laboratory technician working on detailed analysis of aviation oil in Copenhagen and has four children, to beat the world record of spending 100 consecutive hours playing his favorite arcade game Gyruss without triggering “Game Over” with the help of his devoted friends from the Bip Bip Bar, including Carsten Tommy Lauridsen, Michael Dyst, Svavar Gunnar Gunnarson, Michael Trier, Emil Gotfredsen, Chrisstoffer Daniel Morten, Riis Svendsen, and Rasmus Roien Madsen.
“It Is Not Over Yet” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] — Louise Detlefsen’s engaging, touching, insightful, inspirational, 94-minute documentary that follows the daily life of eleven elderly Danish residents dealing with various forms of dementia in the Dagmarsminde nursing home in Denmark and the dedicated, compassionate, well-trained staff, including founding nurse May Bjerre Eiby, who employs more holistic and “up-close-and-personal” methods introduced by Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) and Danish philosopher Knud Ejler Løgstrup (1935-1981) to treat and care for their charges so that they live with dignity and happiness in a more joyful, restful healthcare environment rather than strictly custodial care.
“Lady Buds” (NR) (3) — Chris J. Russo’s engaging, educational, fascinating, insightful, candid, 96-minute documentary that follows the struggles of primarily of six trailblazing, risk-taking California businesswomen, including 72-year-old Black cannabis educator and dispensary owner Sue Taylor, cannabis entrepreneur Ciah Rodriques, gay Latinx cannabis activist and social entrepreneur Felicia Carbajal, cannabis entrepreneur and cultivator Karyn Wagner, and Bud Sisters Pearl Moon and Dr. Joyce Centofanti, and their valiant attempts to compete and survive among big cannabis growers after the passage of Proposition 215 in 2016 that legalized marijuana and educating the public on the medical benefits of cannabis while dealing with multilayered bureaucratic redtape and consists of commentary by radio host Cheryl “Mumzer” Goldman, Dragonfly Wellness Center owner Jude Thilman, Hemp Connection owners Marie and Teresa Mills, the Emerald Cup owner Tim Blake, Magnolia Wellness executive director Debbie Goldsberry, Sweetleaf Collective founder Sweetleaf Joe, Level CEO Chris Emerson, cannabis cultivator and breeder James Beatty, cannabis land use and policy consultant Dani Burkhart, Humboldt-Mendocino marijuana advocacy project Robert Sutherland, cannabis farmer Steveo, Bureau of California Cannabis Control chief Lori Ajax, former California Growers Association executive director Hezekiah Allen, Livingston Organics Farm owner Eileen Russell, Sunbright Garden Farm owner Monique Ramirez, cannabis nursery owner and cultivator Patricia Smyth, and Humboldt county sheriff William Honsal.
“We Are As Gods” (NR) (2.5) [Plays April 29 through May 9 in virtual cinema as part of the 2021 Hot Docs Festival in Canada; for information, log on to https://www.hotdocs.ca/p/hot-docs-festival.] — David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg’s engaging, intriguing, educational, thought-provoking, meandering, 94-minute documentary that focuses on 81-year-old, free-thinking, futurist, environmentalist, eccentric, Stanford-educated biologist Stewart Brand, who created “The Whole Earth Catalog” in 1968, and raises controversy with his goal of bringing back extinct plants, including the American chestnut tree, and species such as the woolly mammoth by injecting DNA into modern-day elephants in an effort to combat climate change and global warming, and it consists of archival photographs and film clips and interview snippets with biologist Paul Ehrlich, journalist Mark Hertsgaard, environmentalists Hunter Lovins and Winona LaDuke, geneticist George Church, entrepreneur Ryan Phelan, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, Lois Jennings, American Museum of Natural History paleomammalogist Ross MacPhee, “Wired” magazine founding editor Kevin Kelly, British musician and artist Brian Eno, computer scientist Danny Hillis, actor and activist Peter Coyote, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, “Mountain Girl Merry Prankster” Carolyn Garcia, and Pleistocene Park director Nikita Zimov.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.