Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“76 Days” (NR) (4) [Subtitled] [Opens Dec. 4 in Virtual Cinema sponsored by MSP Film Society (for more information, log on to mspfilm.org) and available on various VOD platforms.] — A captivating, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, informative, critically acclaimed, candid, moving, 93-minute documentary that follows the dedicated, caring, hazmat-suit-wearing medical staff at four Chinese hospitals, including the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital, during the 76-day lockdown between Jan. 23 and April 4 in Wuhan, China, in 2020 and their diligent attempts to treat and save an eclectic group of patients (such as a dementia-afflicted grandfather and a couple waiting in quarantine waiting to hold their newborn girl nicknamed “little penguin”) struggling with COVID-19 during the global pandemic.
“Ending Disease” (NR) (4) [Available Dec. 4 on various VOD platforms.] — Joe Gantz’s engaging, powerful, educational, inspirational, insightful, moving, 185-minute, four-part documentary that examines the passage of Proposition 71 in 2004 in California in which citizens agreed to fund $3 billion for stem cell and regenerative therapy research and follows ten FDA-approved clinical trials and progress of patients, including 19-year-old basketball player Ryan Custer who is a quadriplegic after a devastating spinal cord injury, Steve Sharples who is dealing with brain cancer, Rosie who is going blind from retinitis pigmentosa, gay man Andrew Caldwell coping with HIV/AIDS, anxiety-prone Korean Aaron who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion, young girl Ava who had a bone marrow transplant for an immune deficiency disorder called bubble baby disease, mother Cheryl who suffers from aggressive lymphoma, and Lucas Linder who had a spinal cord injury, participating in groundbreaking, controversial, and promising stem cell, CAR T-cell, and antibody therapies to hopefully cure or improve their condition and consists of commentary by numerous medical personnel involved in the trials, including Dr. Benham Badie, California institute of regenerative medicine (CIRM) first director Robert Klein, Dr. Henry Klassen at USC in Irvine, Dr. Amrita Krishnan at City of Hope, Dr. Nitya Nathwani at City of Hope, City of Hope trial coordinator Teresa Kim, Dr. John Zaia at City of Hope, Dr. Christopher Dvorak at University of San Francisco, Dr. Shekar Kurpad at Froedstet Hospital in Milwaukee, Paula Cannon PhD at USC, Dr. Richard Fessler at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, clinical research coordinator at USC in Irvine, Dr. Jay Lalezari at Quest Clinic in San Francisco, Dr. Jeff Grijalva, Dr. Stephen Forman at City of Hope, Dr. Judith Shizuru at Stanford, stem cell research director Dr. Irv Weissman at Stanford, Dr. Mike McCune at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and 31-year cancer survivor Ellen who was the first person to receive stem cell therapy.
“The Life Ahead” (PG-13) (3.5) [Thematic content, drug material involving minors, some sexual material, and language.] [Netflix only] — A somber, moving, well-acted, realistic, raw, down-to-earth, 94-minute remake of Moshe Mizrahi’s 1977 film and based on Romain Gary’s novel “The Life Before Us” in which a streetwise, angry, lonely, orphaned, 12-year-old, Senegalese Muslim immigrant (Ibrahima Gueye), who resorts to selling cocaine for a greedy drug dealer (Massimiliano Rossi), reluctantly agrees to live with an elderly, traumatized, PTSD-afflicted Auschwitz survivor and former prostitute (Sophia Loren) who cares for children (Babak Karimi, et al.) of prostitutes (Abril Zamora, et al.) in a small coastal town in Italy and finds a friendship they both desperately need.
“Red Riding: 1974, Part 1” (NR) (2) [DVD and VOD only]— A heavy Yorkshire accent and a convoluted plot hinder this dark, well-acted, slow-moving, factually inspired film noir, which is directed by Julian Jarrold and adapted from David Peace's bestselling crime novels and based on the Yorkshire ripper case, about an ambitious, idealistic crime journalist (Andrew Garfield) who suffers beating and after beating as he investigates the rape and brutal murder of a young girl in 1974 and stumbles on a corrupt police force (David Morrissey, John Henshaw, Warren Clarke, et al.) in Yorkshire and a greedy land developer (Sean Bean) while falling for the mother (Rebecca Hall) of one victim.
“Red Riding: 1980, Part 2” (NR) (2.5) [DVD and VOD only]— When a Manchester detective (Paddy Considine), who is cheating on his wife (Lesley Sharp) with a colleague (Maxine Peake), is assigned to head up a team (John Henshaw, Sean Harris, et al.) to investigate the alleged thirteenth victim of the Yorkshire killer in 1980 in this superbly acted, muddled, bleak, factually inspired film noir, which is directed by James Marsh and adapted from David Peace's bestselling crime novels and based on the Yorkshire ripper case, he uncovers a layer of corruption in the police force (David Morrissey, James Fox, Warren Clarke, et al.) and lie after lie in the case.
“Red Riding: 1983, Part 3” (NR) (2.5) [DVD and VOD only]— In this final trilogy installment, which is equally well acted but hard-to-follow, of the factually inspired, atmosphere-laden, slow-paced film noir, which was directed by Anand Tucker, a Yorkshire solicitor (Mark Addy) becomes convinced, and eventually convinces the shady police superintendent (David Morrissey), that the dimwitted prisoner (Daniel Mays) who they incarcerated six year earlier for the murder of a schoolgirl when he copped to the crime is actually innocent after another 10-year-old girl goes missing.
“Sound of Metal” (R) (3.5) [Language throughout and brief nude images.] [Available Dec. 6 available on Amazon Prime Video.] — When a former heroin-addicted, heavy-metal drummer (Riz Ahmed) suddenly loses his hearing after nightly gigs and his girlfriend/musical partner (Olivia Cooke), whose widowed father (Mathieu Amalric) lives in Paris, becomes increasingly concerned in this touching, enlightening, realistic, thought-provoking, well-acted, 130-minute, 2019 film, he struggles to accept his situation, contemplates getting cochlear implants, and finally agrees to enter a deaf community after accepting help from a deaf veteran (Paul Ravi), who lost his hearing in Viet Nam, and an ASL teacher (Lauren Ridloff).
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.