Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“180 Seconds” (NR) (4) [Plays March 2-6 at the Nitehawk Shorts Festival; for more information, log on to https://nitehawkcinema.com/prospectpark/nsf-2022/.] — Perry Strong’s hilarious, laugh-out-loud, original, entertaining, satirical, 4-minute, 2020 film in which an African-American man (Peter Strong) time travels back in time six months during the COVID-19 pandemic to warn himself to try and not gain weight by eating too many pancakes and then tells himself that President Trump almost started a war with Iran, that President Trump was not assassinated but only impeached, Australia almost burned down, the government finally admits that UFOs are real, Kobe Bryant dies too young in a plane crash, corporations got millions from the government while the “average Joe” got a $1200 stimulus check, and then a white cop killed a Black man while kneeling on his neck for more than 9 minutes.
“Big Crush” (NR) (2.5) [Plays March 2-6 at the Nitehawk Shorts Festival; for more information, log on to https://nitehawkcinema.com/prospectpark/nsf-2022/.] — Sophia Bennett Holmes’ realistic, low-budget, quirky, 10-minute film in which a beautiful, cigarette-smoking, 16-year-old blonde student (Emily Featherman), who likes to watch risqué porn videos and has a masochistic fetish, goes out at night in search of another random stranger (Michael McBride) to bring home to her apartment where she lives with her unsuspecting sister (Maddie Brown) in a desperate attempt to prove and validate that she is normal.
“Biutiful” (R) (3.5) [Disturbing images, language, some sexual content, nudity, and drug use.] [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — Ugliness of the world takes center stage in this intense, riveting, dark, well-acted, 160-minute film that follows the bleak life of a compassionate Spanish father (Javier Barden) in Barcelona who runs a black marketing business with his brother (Eduard Fernándes) while struggling to care for his two children (Hanaa Bouchaib and Guillermo Estrella) after separating from his bipolar-afflicted wife (Maricel Álvarez) and being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.
“The Company Men” (R) (3.5) [language and brief nudity.] [DVD and VOD only] — When a greedy, coldhearted CEO (Craig T. Nelson) of a global transportation company in Boston begins a round of downsizing in this riveting, down-to-earth, well-acted, star-dotted (Kevin Costner and Maria Bello) film, three longtime employees (Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and Chris Cooper) cope differently with the news and their families (Suzzane Ricco, et al.) in the aftermath.
“Continuum” (NR) (2.5) [Plays March 2-6 at the Nitehawk Shorts Festival; for more information, log on to https://nitehawkcinema.com/prospectpark/nsf-2022/.] — When a handsome man (Jordan Yagiello) buys a ticket to a film and ends up the only patron in the theater in William Breen’s fascinating, thought-provoking, mysterious, 5-minute film, he experiences terrible nightmares about the gorgeous chandelier that hangs from the theater’s ceiling and then eerily confronts himself while seating in the auditorium.
“Cousins” (NR) (3) [Plays March 2-6 at the Nitehawk Shorts Festival; for more information, log on to https://nitehawkcinema.com/prospectpark/nsf-2022/.] — Mandy Marcus’ award-winning, down-to-earth, low-key, coming-of-age, realistic, 14-minute, 2020 film in which a Brooklyn teenager (Victoria N. Alcala) hangs out in Queens for the day with her Guyanese cousin (Mickalia Forrester Ewen) buying snacks, talking about boys and life, and contemplating the future before attending the last day in a seven-day wake and funeral of an uncle.
“FITNESS! Or a Story About SWEAT” (NR) (3) [Plays March 2-6 at the Nitehawk Shorts Festival; for more information, log on to https://nitehawkcinema.com/prospectpark/nsf-2022/.] — Kana Hatakeyam’s quirky, entertaining, strange, 12-minute, 2020 comedy in which an image-obsessed woman (Kana Hatakeyama) hires a no-nonsense fitness trainer (Lenny Thomas) who uses unorthodox methods and is into collecting bowls of sweat from his client to get her into shape, but while away from the gym, she indulges in cupcakes, oysters, pizza, and wine.
“Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” (NR) (3) [Available Feb. 26 via streaming on MUBI.] — Shola Lynch’s eye-opening, powerful, educational, insightful, thought-provoking, ire-inducing, 102-minute, 2012 political documentary that chronicles the life of Afro-wearing, Communist Party member, Black Panther Party member, activist, and college philosophy professor Angela Davis whose social reform and civil rights movement involvement landed her on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and in prison when she is arrested for her role in a jailbreak attempt that went awry and involved a shootout that ultimately killed six people, follows her closely watched controversial trial, and consists of archival photographs, film clips, news footage, and candid commentary by Black Panthers Party co-founders Huey Newton and Bobbe Seale, Black Panthers Party deacon Franklin Alexander, Lt. Governor Ed Reinecke, UCLA chancellor Charles Young, photographers Stephen Shames and Roger Barkrath, journalists (such as Earl Caldwell, David Weir, and Elisabeth Coleman), classmate Lowell Bergman, prosecutor Albert Harris, defense attorneys (such as Howard Moore, Leo Branton, Margaret Burnham, and Doris Walker), FBI agent Robert McCartin, professor Michael Tigar, judge Richard E. Arnason, defense organizer Bettina Aptheker, childhood friend Margaret Burnham, and family, including mother Sallye Davis, sister Fania Davis, and brother Reginald Davis.
“Greys Inbetween” (NR) (2.5) [Available Feb. 27 on various digital platforms.] — Andrew Rajan’s award-winning, realistic, well-acted, dialogue- heavy, 90-minute, 2008 film that underscores the intense impact that a breakup causes for a distraught Black British actress (Natasha Bain) as she spirals downward and spends her day traveling across London, reading at an audition, visiting the famous sites that includes the National Gallery, and rehashing the struggles in her life through a nonstop monologue in her head and having a devastating affair with a married man (Charles Mayer).
“I'll Find You” (NR) (3.5) [Opens Feb. 25 in theaters and available on various VOD platforms.] — Terrific acting, sets, and costumes dominate Martha Coolidge’s captivating, bittersweet, suspenseful, tension-filled, unpredictable, star-studded (Stephen Dorff, Toby Sebastian, Sam Gillett, Marcin Czarnik, Katarzyna Z. Michalska Maciej Zakoscielny, and Jacob Ifan), 116-minute, 2019 film based on Zbigniew John Raczynski’s story in which an aspiring Catholic opera singer (Leo Suter), who lives with his parents (Lech Mackiewicz and Malgorzata Kozuchowska), and a Jewish violin virtuoso (Adelaide Clemens), who grows up with her wealthy parents (Adam Levy and Karolina Porcari) and sister (Sophia Decaro), meet as children (Sebastian Croft and Ursula Parker, respectively) when they are coached by a singing teacher (Connie Nielsen), and after they fall in love as adults, dream of performing together at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and are then separated, the desperate, talented singer seeks the help of a famous German opera star (Stellan Skarsgård) to find his girlfriend who is at the Auschwitz concentration camp playing first violin in an orchestra for a ruthless Nazis commander (Jacek Braciak).
“I’m Still Here” (R) (1) [Sexual material, graphic nudity, pervasive language, some drug use, and crude content.] [DVD and VOD only] — Crude language and gratuitous nudity highlight this odd, self-indulgent, meandering, exasperating, cameo-dotted (Bruce Willis, Ben Stiller, Jamie Fox, Edward James Olmos, Danny DeVito, Jack Nicholson, Billy Crystal, Danny Glover, Robin Wright Penn, and Mos Def) pseudo documentary in which brother-in-law filmmaker Casey Affleck uses show clips with talk show hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman and interviews with friends, reporter Jerry Penacoli, publicist Sue Patricola, agent Patrick Whitesell, and editor Christine Spines to chronicle coke-snorting Joaquin Phoenix’s alleged bizarre and surprising claim that he was quitting acting to become a hip-hop, rap artist with the help of music producer Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs.
“Let Me Be Me” (NR) (3) [Opens Feb. 25 in theaters and available on various digital platforms.] — Dan Crane and Katie Taber’s poignant, educational, inspirational, eye-opening, 76-minute documentary that focuses on the Westphal family who worked with numerous autism experts to make a meaningful connection with their talented, blanket-and-fabric-loving, autistic son Kyle from the time he was 6 years old to his twenties where he showed a passion for and was successful in designing clothes and consists of home film clips, creative computer-generated animation, and candid commentary by Son-Rise program volunteers (such as Lindsay Sterious, William Hogan, and Rachel Morin), classmate Alexa Whitehurst, fashion professor emeritus Roberta Gruber, fashion instructor Sally Seligman, Son-Rise teacher Jonathan Levy, autism specialist Andrew Shanhan, Applied Behavioral Analysis ABA O. Ivar Lovaas, fashion design professor emeritus Renee Weiss Chase, and Son-Rise Program & Autism Treatment Center of America co-founder Barry Neil Kaufman.
“Lucky Feet 2000” (NR) (2.5) [Plays March 2-6 at the Nitehawk Shorts Festival; for more information, log on to https://nitehawkcinema.com/prospectpark/nsf-2022/.] — Mary Dauterman’s wacky, oddball, creative, 4-minute, 2020 comedy in which a stylish, wide-brim-hat-wearing woman (Jenny Donheiser) enters a surreal, strange spa to treat herself to a pedicure and leaves in a happy daze with unusual looking, oozing feet after a supernatural spa employee (Jenny Donheiser) gives her a pedicure.
“The Mechanic” (R) (2.5) [Strong brutal violence throughout, language, some sexual content, and nudity.] [DVD and VOD only] — Dead bodies drop like flies in this action-packed, fast-paced, male-geared, violent remake of the 1972 film about a skillful, New Orleans-based assassin (Jason Statham) who accepts assignments from his unscrupulous boss (Tony Goldwyn) to take out unsavory people and ends up taking the revengeful, hotheaded son (Ben Foster) of a murdered, physically challenged colleague (Donald Sutherland) under his wing to teach him the trade.
“Mother and Child” (R) (3) [Sexuality, brief nudity, and language.] [DVD and VOD only] — An engaging, well-acted, down-to-earth, star-studded (Amy Brenneman, David Morse, S. Epatha Merkerson, Elizabeth Peña, and Cherry Jones) ensemble 2009 film about the relationships between mothers and their children, including a coldhearted woman (Annette Bening) who marries a kindhearted coworker (Jimmy Smits) and searches for the daughter she gave up 40 years earlier after the death of her invalid mother (Eileen Ryan), an African-American bakery shop owner (Kerry Washington) and her husband (David Ramsey) who want to adopt, and an ambitious, smart, seductive, bitter lawyer (Naomi Watts) who becomes pregnant after an affair with her widowed boss (Samuel L. Jackson) and her neighbor (Mark Blucas) whose wife (Carla Gallo) is pregnant.
“The Pilot: A Battle for Survival” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Available March 1 on Blu-ray™, DVD, and various VOD platforms.] — After decorated Russian pilot Aleksey Maresyev (Pyotr Fyodorov) crash lands his IL-2 plane on the Northwestern Front behind enemy lines in 1941 at the start of the Great Patriotic War when he is shot down by Germans and struggles to stay one step ahead of Nazis soldiers as he fights the cold and snow, tenacious wolves, leg injuries, frostbite, and hunger in Renat Davletyarov’s thrilling, factually based, intense, realistic, action-packed, well-acted, 106-minute film told in flashbacks, he is helped by a kindhearted Bolshevik blacksmith (Valery Grishko) and his wife (Elena Drobysheva) to return home to Moscow and his opera singer girlfriend (Anna Peskova) where he must overcome physical limitations in the hopes of getting in the cockpit and flying again.
“The Rite” (PG-13) (3) [Disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language, including sexual references.] [DVD and VOD only] — A creepy, tension-filled, well-acted, factually inspired psychological thriller in which a disillusioned, skeptical seminary student (Colin O’Donogue) leaves his widowed mortician father (Rutger Hauer) in Chicago and travels to Rome on the advice of a priest (Toby Jones) to participate in an exorcism course run by a Catholic exorcist (Ciarán Hinds) at the Vatican where he meets a journalist (Alice Braga) and a Welsh Jesuit priest (Anthony Hopkins) who is performing the exorcism rite on a pregnant Italian teenager (Marta Gastini) who was raped by her father.
“Rookie Season” (NR) (3) [Opens Feb. 25 in theaters and available Apr. 4 via digital and various VOD platforms.] — Adrian Bonvento’s thrilling, fascinating, insightful, behind-the-scenes, 75-minute documentary that tries to give its audience the adrenalin-rush feeling of being behind the wheel as it follows aspiring driver Frank DePew, who purchased Rebel Rock Racing in 2018, as he practices and races at racetracks such as Daytona International Speedway in Florida, Watkins Glen in New York, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario, Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, Virginia International Raceway in Virginia, and Sebring International Raceway and Road America in Wisconsin and learns from and works with 29-time-winning veteran racecar driver and team manager Robin Liddell and his team, including crew chief and wheel changer Joe Hall, driver Andrew Davis, race engineer Phil Pierce, support engineer and drivetrain Michael Hoffman, data engineer and driver changer Rob May, mechanic and wheel changer Bill Ellison, mechanic and fueler Danny Wilkinson, tires and fire attendant Darrin Rudicil, and truck driver and fuel leadman Billy Youngman, to hone his skill with the dream and goal of crossing the finish line first.
“Sextortion: The Hidden Pandemic” (NR) (3.5) [Plays March 3 and 6 as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival; for information, log on to https://sbiff.org/.] — Maria Demeshkina Peek’s powerful, eye-opening, informative, insightful, candid, disturbing, 84-minute documentary that examines the steps and methods that various agencies employ to catch online sexual predators, such as military pilot Daniel C. Harris, who use various sundry tactics to groom and manipulate underage victims to send compromising photographs and videos and then blackmail their scared victims to force them to continue the damaging behavior and consists of commentary by attorney Wes Nance, police task force member Steve Anders, Department of Homeland Security agent Paul Wolport, neurologist Dr. Andrew Doan, Million Kids president Opal Singleton, Department of Homeland Security Unit chief Erin Burke, victim advocate Dede Wallace, forensic expert Josh Taylor, cyber security expert Scott Winn, NCMEC Exploited Children Division executive director Lindsey Olson, activist/speaker Carol Todd, investigator Gary Babb, sextortion victim S.M., author/speaker Julie Doran, and inspector Pauline Friel.
“Studio 666” (R) (1) [Strong bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, and sexual content.] [Opens Feb. 25 in theaters.] — When the famous, creative Foo Fighters band members (Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, and Chris Shiflett) rent a mansion in Encino from a realtor (Leslie Grossman) to create and record their tenth heavy metal “Medicine at Midnight” album to finally appease their frustrated manager (Jeff Garlin) in B. K. McDonnell’s gore-filled, bloody, wacky, over-the-top, grisly, violent, cameo-dotted (Lionel Ritchie, Will Forte, Jenna Ortega, Whitney Cummings, Jason Trost, and Marti Matulis), 108-minute horror comedy punctuated by foul language, crazy dialogue, and rolling heads, they discover a haunting, evil, demonic presence that stalks and terrorizes them one-by-one.
“The Teacher from Vigevano” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Available Feb. 27 via streaming on MUBI.] — Elio Petri’s enjoyable, black-and-white, low-key, gloomy, funny, unpredictable, 105-minute, 1963 dark comedy adapted from Lucio Mastronardi’s novel in which the life of an underpaid, frustrated, discouraged Italian elementary schoolteacher (Alberto Sordi), who has a feisty son (Tullio Scovazzi), spirals out of control after his teacher best friend (Guido Spadea) commits suicide, he resigns his job to please his dissatisfied wife (Claire Bloom) who dreams of being wealthy to impress others, gets into trouble with the law due to underhanded financial shenanigans when he starts a shoemaking business, learns his duplicitous wife has been hanging out with a wealthy shoe factory owner (Piero Mazzarella) when an accident occurs, and then decides to return to teaching despite having to work with the nosey, controlling principal (Vito De Taranto).
“White Afro” (NR) (3) [Available Feb. 24 via streaming on MUBI.] — Nana Saah Adwubi Kete narrates Akosua Adoma Owusu’s intriguing, award-winning, insightful, 6-minute, 2019 documentary, which is the final film in the trilogy, that gives step-by-step instructions via an archival barbershop video to give a successful perm or body wave to a Caucasian client to achieve the popular Afro look and is highlighted by powerful, poignant quotes from Toni Morrison.
“Yakuza Apocalypse” (R) (3) [Strong bloody violence, a rape, and language.] [Subtitled] [Available Feb. 27 via streaming on MUBI.] — After a tattoo-phobic, Japanese Yakuza henchman (Hayato Ichihara), who is smitten with a sexual assault victim (Riko Narumi), is turned into a vampire by his boss (Rirî Furankî) who was brutally decapitated by a gunslinging, coffin-carrying priest (Ryushin Tei) and his martial-arts killer sidekick (Yayan Ruhian) and vows to avenge his death in Takashi Miike’s bizarre, action-packed, humor-dotted, over-the-top, entertaining, surreal, head-scratching, bloody, gruesome, well-paced, nonsensical, love-it-or-despise-it, unpredictable, 2015 comedic thriller, he ends up biting many of the non-Yakuza townsfolk and turning them into bloodsucking vampires while the town is attacked by an hypnotic, inflatable, Godzilla-like frog monster (Masanori Mimoto) and a suicidal man (Makoto Sakaguchi) wielding an axe.
“You Don’t Know Jack” (NR) (3) [DVD and VOD only] — A controversial, critically acclaimed, well-acted, factually based, 140-minute, 2010 HBO film that follows the infamously famous Michigan physician Dr. Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino), who was released from prison at age 70 in 2007 after serving 8-1/2 years of a 10- to 20-year sentence, as he assisted patients, including Janet Adkins (Sandra Seagat), Sherry Miller, Isabel Correa (Teresa Yenque), Hugh Gale (Jonathan Teague Cook), Thomas Hyde, and Marjorie Wantz, to commit suicide with the support of his sister (Brenda Vacarro), two Hemlock Society members (Susan Sarandon and John Goodman), and pro bono lawyer Geoffrey Fieger (Danny Huston).
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.