Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“The Cat” (NR) (3) [Available Dec. 1 on YouTube.] — Mary Apick’s engaging, creative, black-and-white, original, symbolic, animated, 13-minute, 2020 film in which a young, flower-selling girl (Ellie Baer) runs for her life as she desperately tries to escape from a menacing, evil darkness that follows her and consumes everything in its path, and when her tired body fails her, she gathers her strength to return to the nourishing light.
“Dino Dana: The Movie” (PG) (3) [Some creature action and thematic elements.] [Plays Dec. 1, 2021—Jan. 2, 2022, at the William L. McKnight 3M Omnitheater at the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Omni Theater; for more information, log on to smm.org or call 651/221-9444.] — When a prehistoric dinosaur comes to life and threatens their playground and surrounding neighborhood in J. J. Johnson’s entertaining, family-friendly, colorful, informative, 25-minute IMAX film, a 10-year-old, aspiring paleontologist (Michela Luci), her stepsister (Saara Chaudry), friends (Evan Whitten, Richie Lawrence, et al.), and a friendly T-Rex come together to save the day.
“Encounter” (R) (2.5) [Language and some violence.] [Opens Dec. 3 in theaters and available on Dec. 10 on Amazon Prime Video.] — When a mentally-disturbed, PTSD-afflicted, paranoid ex-Marine (Riz Ahmed) kidnaps his two young sons (Lucian-River Chauhan and (Aditya Geddada), who are living with his estranged former wife (Janina Gavankar) and stepfather (Misha Collins), after spending two years in jail and heads to an alleged military base in Nevada to save them from a supposed parasitic alien threat in Michael Pearce’s compelling, tension-filled, well-acted, suspenseful, psychological, 108-minute sci-fi thriller, they end up on the run from his caring parole officer (Octavia Spencer) and a tenacious FBI agent (Rory Cochrane).
“For Colored Girls” (R) (4) [Some disturbing violence, including a rape, sexual content, and language.] [DVD and VOD only] — Gritty, wound-opening poetry highlights Tyler Perry’s gripping, powerful, riveting, well-acted film, which is based on Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” that centers on an eclectic group of African-American women in New York City, including an abused executive assistant (Kimberly Elise) trying to raise two children while dealing with an alcoholic lover (Michael Ealy), a high-powered style magazine editor (Janet Jackson) struggling with an unhappy marriage to a man (Omari Hardwick) who is on the down low, a promiscuous bartender (Thandie Newton) failing to constructively handle her angry feelings toward her dance-loving sister (Tessa Thompson) and her zealous hoarding mother (Whoopi Goldberg), a guilt-ridden social worker (Kerry Washington) happily married to a cop (Bill Harper) and dealing with infertility issues, a comely dancer instructor (Anika Noni Rose) who unknowingly allows herself to become close to a rapist (Khalil Kain), a no-nonsense businesswoman (Loretta Devine) running a nonprofit organization and unfortunately looking for love with a married truck driver (Richard Lawson), and a friendly neighbor (Phylicia Rashad) struggling with her own demons.
“Four Boxes” (R) (1) [Language and some sexuality.] [DVD and VOD only] — A boring, strange, nonsensical, self-indulgent, 2009 film in which two longtime friends (Sam Rosen and Justin Kirk), who scour obituary notices in order to peddle the belongings of the deceased through internet auctions, and a wannabe singer (Terryn Westbrook) get caught up into watching a creepy website that shows what purports to be the clandestine activities of a terrorist.
“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” (R) (3.5) [Strong violence, some sexual material, and brief language.] [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — After being shot three times while defending herself from her scarred, abusive, Russian spy father (Georgi Staykov) and crazed half-brother (Micke Spreitz ) and recuperating at a Swedish hospital under the care of a kindhearted doctor (Aksel Morisse) in this powerful, riveting, convoluted, gritty, superbly written, well-acted, 148-minute final installment of Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy (that is, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played with Fire”), a caring journalist (Michael Nyqvist), a magazine editor (Lena Endre), and her lawyer (Annika Hallin) help gather evidence against numerous guilty parties(Lennart Hjulström, Jan Holmquist, et al.), including a prominent psychiatrist (Anders Ahlbom), when the mohawk-wearing, revenge-driven, victimized computer hacker (Noomi Rapace) goes on trial for attempted murder in Stockholm.
“A Great North Christmas” (NR) (2.5) [Available Nov. 15 for free on Crackle Plus at crackle.com.] — When two her kindhearted best friends (Melissa Bain and Kat Fullerton) arrange a surprise getaway to Canada during Christmastime for a beautiful, powerful, ambitious, workaholic, entertainment lawyer (Laura Mitchell) in Los Angeles with the hope that she will find someone special in James Douglas’ enjoyable, family-friendly, romantic, predictable, 85-minute film, she meets a handsome, warm-hearted former investment banker turned dogsled trainer (Jay Hindle), who lives with his widowed mother and ultimately changes her hectic, lonely life.
“The Laws of the Universe: The Age of Elohim” (PG) (2) [Subtitled] [Violence and destruction, language, and thematic elements.] [Opened in October in select theaters.] — When a menacing, darkness-spreading, arachnid-like alien (voiceover by Ayumu Murase), who joins forces with an ape-like alien (voiceover by Satoshi Tsuruoka), disguises a bomb as a meteor to attack Earth 150 million years ago in Isamu Imakake’s slow-paced, repetitive, simplistic, preachy, sci-fi, 2-hour animated Japanese religious parable with striking hand-drawn animation, a powerful warrior (voiceover by Fumika Shimizu) is sent to Earth that is ruled by the Christ-like God Elohim to train the various military leaders (voiceovers by Hiroki Takahashi, Jun Kasama, Ryôtarô Okiayu, Taku Yashiro, et al.) and their racially-diverse armies to defeat the impending darkness.
“Monsters” (R) (2) [Language.] [Partially subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — Overly dark cinematography mars this lackluster, disappointing, low-budget, 93-minute horror film in which an American photojournalist (Scoot McNairy) and an injured daughter (Whitney Able) of a wealthy publisher try to make it back to the safety of the United States after being stranded in a Central American country that was invaded and infected by monstrous, tentacle-clad aliens when a probe returned from Jupiter’s moon Europa six years earlier.
“Oil on Ice” (NR) (4) [[DVD and VOD only] — Peter Coyote narrates this educational, eye-opening, politically controversial, 57-minute, 2004 documentary that examines the pros and cons of the existing Alaskan pipeline and the potential repercussions on the already fragile ecosystem of drilling for possibly more than 3.2 billion barrels of fossil fuel in the stunningly beautiful, 1.5-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska by citing the effects on the annual migration of the Porcupine caribou herd and on the more than 180 species of birds, presents astonishing facts such as 85% of Alaska’s general revenue comes from oil and gas royalties, and discusses the devastating economic, ecological, financial, and climatic aftermath of the Exxon-Valdez disaster in 1989 through interviews with University of California Energy Institute representative Severin Borenstein, Gwich’in writer Adeline Peter Raboff, artist Char Davies, conservationists Bill Weber and Celia Hunter, Rocky Mountain Institute representative Amory Lovins, former Alaskan Governor Tony Knowles, activists Dune Lankard and Sarah James, caribou biologist Ken Whitten, arctic ecologist David Klein, mayors (Jim Whitaker, George Ahmaogak, and Rosemary Ahtuangaruak), wilderness guide Robert Thompson, Gwich’in leader Norma Kassi, auto industry consultant David Shearer, Sierra Club representative Carl Pope, Cordova fisherman Robbie Maxwell, marine toxicologist Riki Ott, marine biologists Dr. Paul Kingston and Mandy Lindeberg, and residents Charlie Swaney, Leonard Lampe, and Rodney Ahtuangaruak.
“Passing” (PG-13) (3.5) [Thematic material, some racial slurs, and smoking.] [Netflix Only] — Rebecca Hall’s gripping, critically acclaimed, black-and-white, poignant, award-winning, well-acted, thought-provoking, 98-minute film based on Nella Larson’s 1929 novel in which a well-to-do housewife (Tessa Thompson), who is living with her doctor husband (André Holland), two sons (Justus Davis-Graham and Ethan Barrett), and a housekeeper (Ashley Ware Jenkins) in Harlem, runs across a free-spirited, light-skinned childhood friend (Ruth Negga) visiting from Chicago at a posh New York City hotel in the 1920s and unexpectedly learns that her wealthy, racist husband (Alexander Skarsgård) hates Negroes and does not know his wife is African-American, and they end up reconnecting and sharing memories over several weeks until her husband intervenes at a social gathering.
“Red Pill” (NR) (2.5) [Available Dec. 3 on digital platforms.] — When an eclectic group of six friends (Tonya Pinkins, Adesola Osakalumi, Rubén Blades, Luba Mason, Kathryn Erbe, and Jake O’Flaherty) go on a weekend road trip and rent an insect-infested house in Virginia filled with hidden cameras before the 2020 election to canvas for votes in Tonya Pinkins’ riveting, award-winning, thought-provoking, disturbing, tension-filled, 87-minute sociopolitical thriller, a strange, urine-imbibing, torture-loving, white supremacist cult (Colby Minifie, Catherine Curtin, et al.) start creatively picking them off one by one.
“Red Notice” (PG-13) (2.5) [Violence and action, some sexual references, and strong language.] [Netflix Only] — Rawson Marshall Thurber’s entertaining, action-packed, fast-paced, humorous, slapstick, twist-filled, 118-minute film in which an FBI agent (Dwayne Johnson) working with an Interpol agent (Ritu Arya) try to arrest a crafty, globetrotting, elusive, wisecracking, international art thief (Ryan Reynolds) searching for the valuable 2,000-year-old, decorative, jewel-encrusted egg that is one of three that belonged to Cleopatra and then end up competing with another slippery crook (Gal Gadot) who is also searching for the priceless artifact.
“Wolf” (R) (3) [Some abusive behavior, sexuality, nudity, and language.] [Opens Dec. 3 in theaters.] — When a distraught, troubled teenager (George MacKay), who suffers from species dysphoria disorder and is convinced he is a howling wolf, is committed to a psychiatric hospital by his concerned mother (Helen Bahen) with other disturbed patients (Fionn O'Shea, Lola Petticrew, Terry Notary, Senan Jennings, Karise Yansen, Amy Macken, Elsa Fionuir, Darragh Shannon, et al.) who believe they are animals in Nathalie Biancheri’s compelling, gritty, moving, dark, well-acted, original, thought-provoking, 98-minute film, he falls for another patient (Lily-Rose Depp) who believes she is a wildcat as they are brutally mistreated by the sadistic, mean-spirited, callous, “zookeeper” psychologist (Paddy Considine) who uses controversial and unconventional methods while his burnt-out therapist assistant (Eileen Walsh) relies on her own more humane treatments.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.