Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Ammonite” (R) (3) [Graphic sexuality, some graphic nudity, and brief language.] [Played June 4 as part of AARP’s Movies for Grownups and available on various VOD platforms.] — When well-respected, renown, hardworking, repressed, poetic British paleontologist and fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet), who lives with her sickly, figurine-collector mother (Gemma Jones) and makes a modest living selling the fossils she painstakingly finds on the southern coast in West Dorset, England, agrees to befriend and care for the depressed, unhappy wife (Saorise Ronan) of a wealthy, geologist client (James McArdle) with the help of a doctor (Alec Secăreanu) and a longtime friend (Fiona Shaw) while he goes on an expedition in Europe in Francis Lee’s engaging, factually inspired, well-acted, risqué, 2-hour, 2020 film that takes too much poetic license with historical facts and is highlighted by amazing cinematography, both needy women find themselves in a passionate, taboo relationship in the 1840s which crashes and burns after the wife returns to London and then invites her friend for a visit.
“Dinner for Schmucks” (PG-13) (3) [Sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity, and language.] [DVD and VOD only]— An outlandish, preposterous, yet funny, star-dotted (Zach Galifianakis and Ron Livingston) comedy in which an uptight analyst (Paud Rudd), who is stalked by a former one-night stand (Lucy Punch), finds himself in hot water with his girlfriend (Stephanie Szostak), who acted as a curator for a self-absorbed, hedonistic artist (Jemaine Clement), after he unwittingly befriends an awkward, naïve IRS employee (Steve Carrell) with taxidermy tendencies and invites him to an exclusive dinner of morons hosted by his boss (Bruce Greenwood).
“The Dybbuk” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — When a gold-digging, devout Polish Jew (Mojzesz Lipman) breaks the pact of his longtime dead friend (Gerszon Lemberger) to marry off their offspring in this melodramatic, fascinating, black-and-white, 1937 Yiddish classic, the wandering soul of the would-be groom, a handsome Yeshiva student (Leon Liebgold), tragically enters the body of his pious Jewish daughter (Lili Liliana) prior to her nuptials to another man.
“The Extra Man” (R) (2.5) [Some sexual content.] [DVD and VOD only] — An offbeat, wacky, star-studded (Katie Holmes, John C. Reilly, and Patti D’Arbanville) film in which a former Princeton English literature professor (Paul Dano), who has cross-dressing proclivities, takes a marketing job at a Manhattan environmental magazine and then finds himself nurturing an unusual, unlikely friendship with a charismatic, manipulative eccentric (Kevin Kline) who escorts older women (Cathy Moriarty, Celia Weston, Marian Seldes, et al.) to high-society events.
“The Great War of Archimedes” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Available June 15 on Blue-ray and DVD.] — When the Japanese Rear Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Hiroshi Tachi) suspects that a Naval architect (Min Tanaka) is involved in a conspiracy to low-ball the cost of building a super battleship in 1933 in Takashi Yamazaki’s multilayered, complex, intriguing, well-acted, humor-dotted, 130-minute film based on the acclaimed 2015 manga series “Archimedes no Taisen,” he promotes a young math genius (Masaki Suda), who is in love with the supportive daughter (Minami Hamabe) of a military bigwig, to lieutenant commander to perform the Herculean task of estimating the true cost of building the super warship Yamato.
“How to Be” (NR) (1.5) [DVD and VOD only]— A boring, slow-paced, silly, 2007 British comedy in which an aimless, depressed, guitar-playing grocery store clerk (Robert Pattinson) moves back home with his neglectful, dysfunctional parents (Rebecca Pidgeon and Michael Irving) in London and tries to find meaning in his life by hiring a self-help author (Powell Jones) and by commiserating with his friends (Johnny White and Mike Pearce) after his schoolteacher girlfriend (Alisa Amah) breaks up with him.
“Lower Learning” (R) (.5) [Crude and sexual humor, language, and some drug content.] [DVD and VOD only] — When an elementary vice principal (Jason Biggs) and a comely district school board inspector (Eva Longoria Parker) learn that the horny school board chairwoman (Sandy Martin) will close the grade school, which is headed by a foul-mouthed, cocaine-snorting, golf-playing, bribe-taking principal (Rob Corddry), in this irreverent, groan-inducing, silly, unfunny, awful, 2008 comedy, they try to rally the apathetic faculty that includes a swearing, drinking, depressed schoolteacher (Monica Potter) who dwells on her divorce from her cheating gym teacher husband (Will Sasso) and a snack-obsessed, horny teacher (Nat Faxon) smitten with the school nurse (Jill Latiano) to save the school for its unruly, unhappy students (Zachary Gordon, Dannika Northcott, et al.) who deserve more than classroom babysitters.
“Those Who Wish Me Dead” (R) (3) [Strong violence and language throughout.] [Playing in theaters.] — After witnessing the murder of his forensic accountant father (Jake Weber) in Montana by two tenacious, ruthless assassins (Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen) who report to a mob boss (Tyler Perry) in Taylor Sheridan’s suspenseful, evenly paced, tense, well-acted, predictable, 100-minute film based on Michael Koryta’s novel, a traumatized young boy (Finn Little) is protected by a PTSD-afflicted smokejumper (Angelina Jolie) as the thugs force a deputy sheriff (Jon Bernthal), whose wife (Medina Senghore) is 6 months pregnant with their daughter, to help them find the child while a dangerous, swift-moving fire is hot on their shirttails.
“Wrath of Man” (R) (2.5) [Strong violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual references.] [Playing in theaters and available on various VOD platforms.] — When his only son (Eli Brown) is senselessly murdered during an armored truck heist in Los Angeles by a ruthless crew (Jeffery Donovan, Scott Eastwood, Chris Reilly, Laz Alonso, et al.) in Guy Ritchie’s action-packed, fast-paced, bullet-riddled, violent, intense, suspenseful, star-studded (Eddie Marsan, Andy Garcia, Raúl Castillo, and Rob Delaney), 119-minute film based on the 2004 French film “Cash Truck” and told nonlinearly, his mysterious, revenge-fueled father and crime boss (Jason Statham) takes a job as a security officer at an armored trucking company with other officers (Holt McCallany, Josh Harnett, Niamh Algar, et al.) in an attempt to find the killer.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.