"A Hero"

"A Hero" 

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


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“Black Swan” (R) (3.5) [Strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language, and some drug use.] [DVD and VOD only] — A riveting, intense, unpredictable thriller in which a mentally fragile, disturbed ballet dancer (Natalie Portman), who lives with her controlling and smothering mother (Barbara Hershey) in New York City, slowly descends into madness when she competes with rival dancers (Mila Kunis, et al.) and strives for perfection after the artistic director (Vincent Cassel) replaces his former star (Winona Ryder) and gives her the lead role in “Swan Lake.”

“Crutch” (NR) (2.5) [Available on Discovery+.] — Sachi Cunningham and Chandler Evans’ fascinating, entertaining, engaging, inspirational, 98-minute, 2020 documentary that showcases the life and career of talented hip-hop/breakdancing dancer, skateboarder, and choreographer Bill 'Crutch' Shannon, who suffers from Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease that affects the hip sockets, as he creatively uses rocker crutches to aid in walking and in his live performance art and consists of enlightening commentary by parents Randa Shannon and Randy Shannon, brother Ben Shannon, wife Leah Lizarondo, Perthes Foundation founder Earle Cole, professors Rosemarie Garland-Thomas and Susan G. Cumings, Step Fenz dancers David Fogler and Tony Olivio, Rock Steady Crew dancers Alien Ness and Frosty Freeze, friend Jeff Chavez, artist Raphael Xavier, and performance artist Claire Cunningham and excerpts from shows such as Old Rain, AOW: Remix, The Art of Weightlessness, Work It Out, Sketchy, Window, Bench, Cirque du Soleil Varekai, Touch Update, and Slow Dancing.

“A Hero” (PG-13) (3.5) [Some thematic elements and language.] [Subtitled] [Opens Jan. 7 in theaters and available Jan. 21 on Amazon Prime Video.] — After an Iranian calligrapher (Amir Jadidi), who has a secret girlfriend (Sahar Goldoost) and a young son (Saleh Karimai) struggling with stuttering while living with his sister (Sarina Farhadi) and brother in-law (Alireza Jahandideh), on a two-day leave from prison for failing to pay a debt to his uncompromising creditor (Mohsen Tanabandeh) returns a purse containing seventeen gold coins to a mysterious woman he believes is its rightful owner in Asghar Farhadi’s captivating, award-winning, well-written, superbly acted, 126-minute film, he is initially hailed a hero until he isn’t and struggles to regain his honor as details of his good deed come to light as he falls victim to the complexities and absurdities of a complex bureaucratic system, which makes the quip “no good deed goes unpunished” so true.

 “I Love You Phillip Morris” (R) (3.5) [Sexual content, including strong dialogue, and language.] [DVD and VOD only]— Surprises punctuate this delightfully entertaining, well-acted, twist-filled, funny, factually based, 2009 film in which a smart, charismatic, smooth-talking, slick, Georgia cop (Jim Carrey) leaves his job, moves to Texas, comes out of the closet, divorces his devout wife (Leslie Mann), successfully carries out a series of cons to earn money to support his high-on-the-hog lifestyle, lands in jail where he then falls head over heels for a diabetic inmate (Ewan McGregor), and when he is released, eventually proceeds with another series of cons in the late 1990s to either support his lover or to get him out of the slammer.

“The Lost Daughter” (R) (3.5) [Language and partial nudity.] [Opened Dec. 31 in theaters and on Netflix.] — While on sabbatical in Greece a stressed-out, divorced, 48-year-old university English literature professor (Olivia Colman) from Cambridge near Boston rents a lighthouse apartment from its longtime caretaker (Ed Harris) and flirts with a working student (Paul Mescal) in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s award-winning, multifaceted, nonlinear, moving, well-acted, somber, unevenly paced, 122-minute, 2021 psychological film based on Elena Ferrante’s 2006 novel, and when she meets a mother (Dakota Johnson) from New York City on the beach who has a precocious young daughter (Athena Martin), she begins to reflect on her past and her affair with a colleague (Peter Sarsgaard) as the encounter triggers disturbing flashbacks as a twentysomething, overwhelmed mother (Jesse Buckley) struggling to raise with her husband (Jack Farthing) two daughters (Robyn Elwell and Ellie Blake) who are estranged as adults (Ellie James and Isabelle Della-Porta).

“Monsters in the Closet” (NR) (2.5) [Plays Jan. 4 via digital and various VOD platforms.] — After a popular, well-known writer (Tom Cikoski) of horror stories suddenly dies in his home under mysterious and bizarre circumstances while using black magic to help him write in the Snygg Brothers’ wacky, silly, gruesome, violent, gut-splattered, low-budget, intermittently funny, 89-minute satirical spoof, his skeptical daughter (Jasmin Flores) returns home to investigate his death and learns that when her father’s anthology of short stories is read out loud that his horror characters, including zombies (John Henninger, Jake Walbert, Charles Vitale, Jay Abelovsky, Ryan Chadwick, et al.), an oddball couple (Luke Couzens and Carmilla Crawford) remodeling their home who begin to brutally attack and dismember each other, a rifle-toting blonde (Jordan Flippo) who on a whim shoots her friends (Shanna Bess, Nelson JoaQuin, Kevin J. Rizzo, Tyler Hawkins, and Cory Jordan), and a Frankenstein-type doctor (John Paul Fedele) living in a Bavarian castle who tries to bring his wife (Valerie Wassell Bitner) back to life her using body parts from a neighbor (Kim Carson) and a pizza delivery man (Billy Erlacher) after he stabbed her, kill indiscriminately.

“The Tempest” (PG-13) (2) [Some nudity, suggestive content, and scary images.] [DVD and VOD only]— Old English language, an overbearing musical score, and a lush, austere landscape dominate Taymor’s poignant, visually stunning, offbeat, controversy-provoking, melodramatic, over-the-top, star-studded (Chris Cooper, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Tom Conti, et al.) adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic play, which is punctuated with superb acting, about an overprotective, revengeful, 16th-century Italian aristocrat (Helen Mirren) with magical powers and her teenage daughter (Felicity Jones), who is attracted to the shipwrecked hunky prince (Reeve Carney), is exiled by her brother (David Strathairn) for practicing sorcery to a remote island where a spirit (Ben Wishaw) and an African slave (Djimon Hounsou) are imprisoned.

“The Tourist” (PG-13) (3) [Violence and brief strong language.] [DVD and VOD only]— An odd pairing ensues in this twist-filled, action-packed, entertaining remake of the 2005 French thriller “Anthony Zimmer,” albeit unfortunately marred by lackluster chemistry and gargantuan plot problems, in which a sultry, mysterious woman (Angelina Jolie) picks up an allegedly widowed Wisconsin math teacher (Johnny Depp) on a Venice-bound train where an angry, revenge-fueled gangster (Steven Berkoff) quickly mistakes him for a Russian who owes him millions while Scotland Yard agents (Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, et al.) keep their eye on the shakedown.

"What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?" (NR) (3) [Subtitled] - [Opened Nov. 12 in theaters and available Jan. 7 on MUBI.] - Alexandre Koberidze narrates his compelling, award-winning, languid-paced, poignant, 150-minute romantic fairytale highlighted by gorgeous cinematography in which a Georgian pharmacist (Oliko Barbarkadze/Ani Karseladze) and a soccer player (Giorgi Amroladze/Giorgi Bochorishvili) fall in love at first sight in the city of Kutaisi on the Rioni River amidst the popular World Cup soccer match, a film within a film about love, and roaming canines, but when an Evil-Eye curse makes it impossible for the couple to recognize each other the next day or anyone else to recognize them, fate intervenes to draw the two back together.

“White Material” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only]— A stubborn, tenacious French woman (Isabelle Huppert) who works on her family’s coffee plantation in Africa with her employees (Adèle Ado, et al.) struggles to get her crop harvested while endangering her life and that of her former husband (Christopher Lambert), her sick father in-law (Michel Subor), and her lazy, apathetic son (Nicolas Duvauchelle) in this thought-provoking, disturbing, violent, 2009 film told in flashbacks when a wounded soldier (Isaach De Bankolé) with a bounty on his capture takes refuge on her property and she refuses to leave as rebels increasingly target whites during a civil war.

 Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident. 

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