Rating system:  (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)

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“Aggie” (NR) (3) [Available on various VOD platforms and played on Jan. 14 as part of AARP’s Movies for Grownups.] — Wonderful, eclectic artwork is showcased in Catherine Gund’s fascinating, educational, inspirational, entertaining, 92-minute documentary that details the contribution to the arts by her mother Cleveland-born philanthropist, art collector, and former Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) President Agnes Gund, who sold Roy Lichtenstein's painting “Masterpiece” in 2017 for $165 million to begin the Art for Justice Fund to help stop indiscriminate mass imprisonment, and consists of interview snippets with artists (such as Glenn Ligon, Roy Lichenstein, Julie Mehretu, Russell Craig, Teresita Fernández, and Marina Abramović), curators Thelma Golden and Nicole Callo, civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, film directors John Waters and Ava DuVernay, philanthropic advisor Sophie Lopez, film producer Abigail Disney, granddaughter Sadie Hope-Gund, and daughter Tenzin Gund-Morrow.

“Angel Rodriguez” (NR) (2.5) [DVD and VOD only] — A well-written, down-to-earth, 2006 HBO film about a pregnant junior high school counselor (Rachel Griffiths) and her husband (Denis O’Hare) in New York City who try to help a troubled, computer-savvy student (Jonan Everett) after his angry, emotionally abusive father (David Zayas) and his girlfriend (Denise Burse) kick him out of the house. 

“Bionicle: The Legend Reborn” (NR) (3) [DVD and VOD only] — After being stripped of his powers and his people became enslaved in this colorful, imaginative, kid-friendly 2005 animated sequel, a powerful, compassionate, and wise ruler (voiceover Michael Dorn) lands on a rugged, lava-streaked planet where he joins mechanical-like creatures (voiceovers by James Arnold Taylor, Marla Sokoloff, David Leisure, Jim Cummings, Mark Fameglietti, et al.), who engage in gladiator-type matches, to defeat the Bone Hunters and the Scrawls who have banded together for war.

“The Cartel” (NR) (3.5) [DVD and VOD only] — Filmmaker Bob Bowdon narrates this eye-opening, thought-provoking, jaw-dropping 2008 documentary that uses New Jersey as a representative state to examine the disturbing, disgraceful, pitiful state of the educational system in the United States by presenting news sound bites and interviews with writers John McWharter and Susan Jacoby, councilwoman Dana Rone, former principal Hector Bonilla, Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper, whistleblower Paul Veggian, former teacher Beverly Jones, New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Lucille Davy, Attorney General Anne Milgram, Mayor Michael Bloomquist, state assembly representative Joseph Malone, school board president Theresa Minutillo, school board member Lisa Kasabach, NJEA President Joyce Powell, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, principals Mike Pallante and Susan Grierson, former superintendant Michael Glascoe, reporters Matt Kat and Jarrett Renshaw, NJEA spokesman Steve Wollmer, and senators Ray Lesniak and Bill Baroni. 

“Céline: Through the Eyes of the World” (NR) (4) [DVD and VOD only] — A terrific, 3-hour, 2009 concert documentary that gives a behind-the-scenes look as famous singer Céline Dion travels with her husband René Angelil and son René-Charles to South Africa, Japan, England, Ireland, China, South Korea, Austria, Australia, United Arab Emirates, France, Malaysia, Switzerland, Monaco, Canada, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Finland, Czech Republic, and the United States in 2008-2009 on her “Taking Chances” tour and performed hit songs such as “I’ve Got the Music in Me,” “All by Myself,” “We Will Rock You,” “All the Way,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “A New Day Has Come,” “Because You Loved Me,” “Can’t Fight the Feelin’,” “A Song for You,” “Alone,” “Eyes on Me,” “I’m Alive,” “A World to Believe In,” “I’m Your Angel,” “I Drove All Night,” “It’s All Coming Back to Me,” “Love Can Move Mountains,” “My Heart Will Go On,” “Respect,” “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “My Love,” and “River Deep, Mountain High”.

“The Exonerated” (NR) (3.5) [DVD and VOD only] — A captivating, powerful, moving, 2005 documentary-like film that uses trial transcripts and mock interviews to tell the gut-wrenching story of six former prisoners, including Sunny Jacobs (Susan Sarandon) who was convicted of homicide in 1976, Robert Earl Hayes (David Brown Jr.) who was convicted of rape and murder in 1991, Gary Gauger (Brian Dennehy) who was convicted of double homicide in 1993, David Keaton (Danny Glover) who was convicted or robbery and murder in 1971, Kerry Max Cook (Aidan Quinn) who was convicted of rape and murder in 1978, and Delbert Tibbs (Delroy Lindo) who was convicted of rape and murder in 1974, who were all erroneously sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. 

Extra-Terrestrial (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Available on various VOD platforms.] — While a successful, vegetarian, 33-year-old astrophysicist (Marisé Álvarez) is stressed out trying to reveal to her straitlaced, conservative family, including her closeted singing mother (Elba Escobar), her supportive sister (Laura Aleman) who is secretly in love with a mechanic, her genius nephew (Mauricio Alemañy) who has Asperger’s Syndrome and is fascinated with astronomy, and her brother (Yamil Collazo), that she is marrying her longtime gay lover (Prakriti Maduro) in the Canary Islands when she returns home to Puerto Rico after seven years in Carla Cavina’s poignant, engaging, well-acted, award-winning, 110-minute, 2016 film highlighted by gorgeous cinematography, her controlling, hardworking father (Sunshine Logroño), who owns a large chicken farm and is on the verge of a possible bankruptcy, deals with unfair laws, the USDA, and political corruption. 

“MLK/FBI” (NR) (3.5) [Opens Jan. 15 in theaters and in Virtual Cinema sponsored by MSP Film Society; for more information, log on to mspfilm.org.] — Sam Pollard’s powerful, eye-opening, compelling, educational, thought-provoking, 106-minute documentary, which based on David J. Garrow’s novel “The FBI and MLK Jr.: From “Sold” to Memphis” and on unclassified files, that examines the harassment during the 1960s of Black activists and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s and the FBI’s attempt to undermine the influence of famous, Atlanta-born, Nobel-Prize-winning Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, who was labeled “the most dangerous Negro in America,” during the civil rights movement through overt surveillance, wiretapping, and trying to find a Communist connection and salacious sex material to discredit the Baptist minister and consists of archival film footage (such as “The FBI,” “A Day with the F.B.I.,” and “Walk a Crooked Mile”), television clips, and candid overview commentary by U.S. U.N. ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, former FBI Director James Comey, writer Beverly Gage (“Bearing the Cross”), attorney and MLK speechwriter Clarence Jones, retired FBI special agent in counterintelligence Charles Knox, and writer Donna Murch (“Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party”).

“Please Give” (R) (2.5) [Language, some sexual content, and nudity.] [DVD and VOD only] — A low-key, engaging, quirky comedy that explores the tenuous relationship between two Manhattan neighbors, including two furniture store owners (Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt) and their jean-obsessed, acne-prone teenage daughter (Sarah Steele) and their cranky, negative, mean-spirited, 9l-year old neighbor (Ann Morgan Guilbert) who is cared for by her two exasperated orphaned granddaughters (Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet).

“Robin Hood” (PG-13) (4) [Violence, including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content.] [DVD and VOD only] — After fighting alongside King Richard the Lionhearted (Danny Huston) on the battlefields of France in the early 12th century and returning to England pretending to be Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge) with his trusted men (Kevin Durand and Scott Grimes) in Ridley Scott’s creative, engaging, action-packed, well-written, well-paced, star-studded (Matthew Macfadyen, Mark Addy, Eileen Atkins, and Simon McBurney) film that chronicles the back story in which greedy, childish King John (Oscar Isaac) proclaimed him an outlaw, archer Robin Longstride ends up falling in love with the headstrong, free-spirited widow Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett) in Nottingham upon returning a sword to her blind father (Max von Sydow) and then fights with other Englishmen (William Hurt, et al.) to take on a marauding, double-crossing Frenchman (Mark Strong) as he leads a full-scale attack when King Phillip and his French army arrive by sea.

“Shrek Forever After” (PG) (2.5) [Mild action, some rude humor and brief language.] [DVD and VOD only] — When the ogre Shrek (voiceover by Mike Myers) becomes disillusioned with his life at the first birthday party for his three children and impulsively signs a contract with the duplicitous, nefarious Rumpelstiltskin (voiceover by Walt Dohrn) in this entertaining, sporadically funny, colorful, family-friendly, 3D, star-dotted (voiceovers by Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, Lake Bell, Kathy Griffin, Mary Kay Place, Craig Robinson, Ryan Seacrest, Larry King, Regis Philbin, and Meredith Vieira) animated sequel, he has 24 hours to befriend Donkey (voiceover by Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (voiceover by Antonio Banderas) and to kiss his true love Princess Fiona (voiceover by Cameron Diaz) to return him back to the life he foolishly took for granted.

Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident. 

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