Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Black Dynamite” (R) (2.5) [Sexuality/nudity, language, some violence, and drug content.] [DVD and VOD only] — A silly, over-the-top, satirical, action-packed, cameo-dotted (Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Arsenio Hall), 2008 spoof of blaxploitation films of the 1970s in which a womanizing, kung-fu-kicking CIA agent (Michael Jai White) goes after drug dealers, the Chinese Mafia, and tricky dick President Nixon (James McManus) to avenge the death of his brother (Baron Vaughn).
“Furry Vengeance” (PG) (.5) [Some rude humor, mild language, and brief smoking.] [DVD and VOD only] — When a housing developer (Brendan Fraser) moves his science teacher wife (Brooke Shields) and resentful teenage son (Matt Prokop) from Chicago to manage a project in Oregon for a self-serving, slimy boss (Ken Jeong) in this unfunny, stupid, poorly written, mistakes-filled, annoying comedy, a mastermind raccoon and his wildlife friends retaliate.
“Greyhound” (PG-13) (3) [War-related action/violence and brief strong language.] [Apple TV+ Only] — A gripping, intense, factually inspired, well-paced, realistic, visually stunning, 91-minute film based on C. S. Forester’s 1955 novel “The Good Shepherd” in which U.S. Naval Cmdr. Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks), who misses his girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue) stateside, and his crew (Stephen Graham, Tom Brittney, Rob Morgan, Karl Glusman, Michael Benz, et al.) aboard the USS Keeling fight in the Battle of the Atlantic during WWII and sink four German U-boats while escorting 37 Allied ships through Atlantic’s “black tip” where the multinational convoy is without air support as it heads to Liverpool, England, in February 1942.
“Hurricane Season” (PG-13) (2.5) [Brief sexual humor.] [DVD and VOD only] — In the devastating aftermath of hurricane Katrina in this inspirational, factually based, star-studded (Courtney B. Vance, Isaiah Washington, Taraji P. Henson, Irma P. Hall, Bonnie Hunt, and Bow Wow) 2008 film, high school coach Al Collins (Forest Whitaker) in Marrero, La., gathers a team of dedicated basketball players (Lil’ Wayne, Robbie Jones, Eric D. Hall Jr., Ryan Dunston, et al.) from five different schools and takes them all the way to the state championships.
“The Losers” (PG-13) (2.5) [Sequences of intense action and violence, a scene of sensuality, and language.] [DVD and VOD only] — After a ruthless terrorist (Jason Patric) and his henchmen (Holt McCallany, et al.) try to blow up a black ops team of five American soldiers (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, and Óscar Jaenada) in Bolivia and end up killing 25 children in this fast-paced, action-packed, twisting film, a mysterious woman (Zoë Saldaña) with a price on her head offers to fund their revenge in exchange for killing the terrorist.
“Love Me” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Opens Dec. 24 exclusively on First Look Media’s Topic streaming service via topic.com, and Topic’s channels on Amazon Prime Video channels, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku; Topic is required for viewing and for more information, log on to topic.com.] — A captivating, entertaining, realistic, well-acted, wit-filled, satirical, bittersweet, romantic, Swedish 2019 television series, which consists of six, approximately 45-minute episodes, that follows a kindhearted, regimented, wine-loving widower (Johan Ulveson) in Stockholm who reluctantly goes on a romantic vacation he booked to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary after the tragic and sudden death of his wife (la Langhammer) and surprises himself when he connects with a bubbly and free-spirited woman (Görel Elisabeth Crona), his cynical and frustrated obstetrician daughter (Josephine Bornebusch) who is looking for love on dating websites and ends up in a tumultuous relationship with a perhaps too-good-to-be-true handsome 36-year-old model (Sverrir Gudnason) next door who has a 15-year-old son (Edvin Ryding), and his jealous, hot-headed lawyer son (Gustav Lindh) who has been dating a feisty disc jockey (Dilan Gwyn Sofia) for years while ignoring the romantic feelings he has for his best friend (Sofia Karemyr).
“Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” (R) (3.5) [Language, some sexual content, and brief violence.] [Netflix Only] — Terrific costumes, jazz music, and sets and Oscar-caliber performances highlight this captivating, entertaining, powerful, well-acted, factually inspired, moving, 94-minute film adapted from August Wilson’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning play in which tempers flare and tensions quickly escalate when a tenacious white manager (Jeremy Shamos) hires an ambitious, talented, shoe-loving, hot-headed, trumpeter (Chadwick Boseman) and other backup musicians (Colman Domingo, Glynn Furman, and Michael Potts) to accompany the legendary, flamboyant “Mother of the Blues” singer (Viola Davis), who is accompanied by her gorgeous bisexual girlfriend (Taylour Paige) and stuttering nephew (Dusan Brown), at a recording session at a Chicago studio in 1927.
“The Square” (R) (3) [Violence and language.] [DVD and VOD only] — Bodies (Maree D’Arcy, Brendan Donoghue, Peter Phelps, et al.) begin to pile up amidst arson, blackmail, and murder in this unpredictable, compelling, tension-filled, twisting, 2008 film noir after a bored, troubled Australian hairdresser (Claire van der Boom) finds a stash of dirty money that her controlling, petty thug husband (Anthony Hayes) has hidden from her and his partners and concocts a dangerous, reckless, foolish plan with her construction worker lover (David Roberts), who finally decides to leave his suspicious wife (Lucy Bell), to grab the loot and then hire an arsonist (Joel Edgerton) to cover up the theft.
“Sweetgrass” (NR) (3) [DVD and VOD only] — Minimal dialogue and gorgeous scenery highlight this fascinating, captivating documentary that chronicles the grueling, dangerous 3-month, 150-mile journey and the frustrations that ensue for Big Timber sheep ranchers (Pat Connolly, Lawrence Allested, and John Ahern) as they wrangle thousands of sheep through the snow-covered Absaroka-Beartooth Mountains of Montana in the summer of 2003.
“Sylvie’s Love” (PG-13) (3) [Some sexual content and smoking.] [Available Dec. 23 on Amazon Prime Video.] — An engaging, well-acted, realistic, evenly paced, star-dotted (Eva Longoria, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Larenz Tate, MC Lyte, John Magaro, Ed Weeks, Aja Naomi King, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Jemima Kirk, Ron Funches, Regé-Jean Page, and Raquel Horsford), 114-minute romantic film highlighted by striking period costumes and a wonderful soundtrack in which an engaged, headstrong, wannabe television producer (Tessa Thompson), whose posh mother (Erica Gimpel) runs an etiquette school, in 1957 Harlem falls for a smitten, talented jazz saxophonist (Nnamdi Asomugha) who gets hired by her father (Lance Reddick) at his record store, and they find themselves breaking up when he left for a gig in Paris with other musicians (Tone Bell, et al.) and unexpectedly reconnect five years later despite now being married to an unsupportive husband (Alano Miller) and raising her daughter.
“Two Ways Home” (NR) (3) [Available Dec. 29 on various VOD platforms.] — Ron Vignone’s poignant, engaging, realistic, touching, down-to-earth, low-key, 92-minute film in which a well-meaning woman (Tanna Frederick), who struggles with keeping her bipolar disorder under control with medication and getting her life back on track, returns home to the Iowa hog farm owned her grumpy and stubborn grandfather (Tom Bower), who is recovering from a heart attack, after serving time in prison for a convenience store robbery attempt and tries desperately to reconnect with her estranged, angry, 12-year-old daughter (Rylie Behr) who is being raised by her husband (Joel West) and disgruntled parents (Kim Grimaldi and Richard Maynard).
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.