"Mary J. Blige: My Life"

"Mary J. Blige: My Life"

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

 

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“Dying Is Not Giving Up” (NR) (3.5) [For information on upcoming screenings, log on to http://www.facebook.com/cwkheals.] — Alejandra Aschittino-Rodriguez’s gut-wrenching, eye-opening, educational, powerful, insightful, heartfelt, 36-minute, 2020 documentary that focuses on candid conversations between licensed psychotherapist Kelly Grosklags, who specializes in hospice care, and her Minnesota patient Judy Erdahl who candidly talks about her intimate and very personal journey of dealing with metastatic breast cancer for more than 20 years and her desire to live life on her terms while dying before her death in August 2019, discusses how physicians and caregivers must be compassionate, empathetic, and respectful and the need to focus on improving the quality of life and what matters most to the patient, and includes commentary by husband Steve, oncologist Dr. Paul Zander from Minnesota Oncology, and friend/caregiver Becky Thompson.

“F9” (PG-13) (3) [Sequences of violence and action, and language.] [Opens June 25 in theaters.] — Justin Lin’s action-packed, fast-paced, entertaining, over-the-top, violent, humor-dotted, predictable, star-studded (Dame Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Lucas Black, Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, Gal Gadot, Jason Statham, Shea Whigham, Cardi B., Michael Rooker, J. D. Pardo, Luc Don Omar, and Josh Tobin), 145-minute film dominated preposterous stunts, awesome choreography, and nonstop crashes in which the high-performance stunt driver (Vin Diesel/Vinnie Bennett), who has a young son (Isaac and Immanuel Holtane), and his talented crew (Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Sung Kang) take on his estranged assassin brother (John Cena/Finn Cole) who is hell bent on finding and implementing the Aries device that would give him ultimate power and allow him to control all global communications and computer networks.

“Fathom” (TV-PG) (3) [Available June 25 on AppleTV+.] — Terrific cinematography, scenery, and soundtrack highlight Drew Xanthopoulos’s engaging, intriguing, fascinating, educational, 86-minute documentary that follows dedicated, passionate, and enthusiastic bioacoustics specialist Dr. Ellen Garland from Cornell University and acoustic ecologist Dr. Michelle Fournet as they are aided by other researchers, including PhD student in zoomusicology Alex South, researcher Maggie Knight, marine biologist Dr. Michael Poole, marine ecologist Dr. Leanna Matthews, and research assistant Natalie Mastick Jensen, while traveling to Alaska, Scotland, and French Polynesia to study humpback hypnotic whale songs and their “whup” calls in an attempt to determine the meaning of these songs, the function of its language, and how far the calls travel and to play back their recorded calls to study humpback’s social communication.

“Here Are the Young Men” (NR) (3) [Available June 29 on Blu-ray™.] — Eoin Macken’s gritty, violent, intense, coming-of-age, well-acted, star-studded (Anya Taylor-Joy, Conleth Hill, Travis Fimmel, Ralph Ineson, Lola Petticrew, Susan Lynch, and Noomi Rapace), 96-minute, 2020 film adapted from Rob Doyle’s 2014 novel in which the lives of three rabble-rousing, mischievous, Irish high school friends (Finn Cole, Dean-Charles Chapman, and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who are eager to experience life after graduation and become grownups, increasingly go off the rails in 2003 in Dublin when they vandalize property, drink too much, experiment with drugs, party to excess, and engage in sex after witnessing a young girl die in a tragic car accident.

“Keepsake” (NR) (2.5) [Available on various VOD platforms.] — After a cigarette-smoking, redheaded woman (Emily O’Connor) returns to her hometown and stays where she used to live with a brother (Casey Hoekstra) and his disturbed sister (Gillian Strachan) who have a dysfunctional relationship in Vanessa Magowan Horrocks’s slow-paced, quirky, low-key, 86-minute 2014 film, the visit quickly goes off the rails.

“Mary J. Blige’s My Life” (R) (3) [Language.] [Available June 25 on Amazon Prime Video.] — Vanessa Roth’s educational, entertaining, insightful, 79-minute documentary in which talented, Grammy-winning R & B singer and actress Mary J. Blige, who grew up in the projects in New York, discusses her successful 25+-year career and the inspiration behind her 1994 LP “My Life” and honors her work by performing the album for the first time for a live audience and consists of archival photographs and film clips, concert snippets, creative computer animation, and commentary by actor Taraji P. Henson, singers (such as Nas, Alicia Keys, and Method Man), music producer Sean “Diddy” Combs, recording artist Jeff Redd, Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell, filmmaker and actor Tyler Perry, fashion designer Misha Hylton, former InterScope executive Jimmy Lovine, producer Chucky Thompson, songwriter Big Bug,  Friend Michelle Lisath, brother Bruce Allen Miller, and cousin Jarmado Miller.

“The Other Guys” (PG-13) (3) [Crude and sexual content, language, violence, and some drug material.] [DVD and VOD only] — An entertaining, action-packed, fast-paced, cameo-filled (Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson, Derek Jeter, Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez, and Ann Heche) funny comedy in which two bickering New York City detectives (Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg), one married to a sexy ER doctor (Eva Mendes) and the other pining for a comely dance teacher (Lindsay Sloane) at a ballet school, go against the wishes of their boss (Michael Keaton) to investigate the fraudulent, shady financial shenanigans of a billionaire banker (Steve Coogan), protected by a no-nonsense security officer (Ray Stevenson), and to make a name for themselves while competing with fellow officers (Bobby Cannavale, Michael Delaney, and Damon Wayans, Jr., et al.) for the limelight.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (PG-13) (1.5) [Crude and sexual content, language, violence, and some drug material.] — A weird, silly, nonsensical, cameo-dotted (Thomas Jane, Bill Hader, and Clifton Collins, Jr.), basically unfunny comedy in which a nerdy, 23-year-old bass guitarist (Michael Cera), who lives with a gay roommate (Kieran Culkin), plays with other musicians (Alison Pill, Johnny Simmons, Ben Lewis, and Mark Webber) in a rock band, and is hounded by his sister (Anna Kendrick), breaks up with his infatuated Chinese girlfriend (Ellen Wong) in Toronto and then must inexplicably fight the evil former boyfriends (aka X’s) (Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman, Brandon Routh, Aubrey Plaza, and Keita and Shota Saito) of his new girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

“Step Up 3D” (PG-13) (3) [Brief strong language.] [DVD and VOD only] — Numerous dance styles highlight this energetic, entertaining, 3D, dance-lovers film in which an NYU engineering student (Adam G. Sevani) disobeys his parents and ignores his best friend (Alyson Stoner) when he joins the Pirates hi-hop crew (Sharni Vinson, Keith Stallworth, Martín and Facundo Lombard, Louis Rosado, LaJon Dantzler, et al.) headed by a budding, wannabe filmmaker (Rick Malambri) to battle the Samurai dancers (Joe Slaughter, Daniel ‘Cloud’ Campos, Joshua Allen, Casper Smart, et al.) at the World Jam championship in Brooklyn for $100,000.

“Surviving the Silence” (NR) (3) [Played June 18 as part of AARP’s Movies for Grownups; for information on upcoming screenings, log on to https://www.survivingthesilence.com/news-festivals.] — Cindy L. Abel’s engaging, award-winning, educational, insightful, 79-minute, 2020 documentary that consists of archival film clips and photographs, interview snippets with former gay U.S. Army secretary Eric Fanning and attorney Mary Newcombe, and very personal and enlightening interviews in which decorated Col. Patsy Thompson, who was Chief Nurse of the U.S. Army National Guard at the Pentagon, and her wife Barbara Brass candidly discuss the struggles of hiding their lesbian relationship because the military forbad homosexuals at that time and the irony Col. Thompson faced when she ended up heading a military review board to determine whether to discharge Army Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer after she admitted to being a lesbian in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era.

“Twelve” (R) (2) [Strong drug content, alcohol abuse, language, sexual material, brief nudity, and some violence—all involving teens.] [DVD and VOD only] — Kiefer Sutherland narrates this gritty, dark, unpredictable film that focuses on a grief-stricken, wayward New York City drug dealer (Chace Crawford) and the impact that his irresponsible choices has on other people who come into his life, including his drug-addicted cousin (Jeremy Allen White), a smitten student (Emma Roberts), a gun-toting dealer (50 Cent), a lonely virgin (Rory Culkin), a hot model (Nico Tortorella), a manipulative blonde (Esti Ginzburg), a troubled jock (Billy Magnussen), a twelve-addicted teenager (Emily Meader) hiding her drug use from her neglectful mother (Ellen Barkin), an African-American runner (Maxx Brawer), and miscellaneous friends (Philip Ettinger, et al.).

Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident. 

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