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"Emma" 

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

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“2012” (PG-13) (3) [Intense disaster sequences and some language.] [DVD only] — The plot takes a backseat to phenomenal special effects in this action packed, frenetic paced, star-studded (Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, George Segal, and John Billingsley) apocalyptic thriller that focuses on an American geologist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and an Indian astrophysicist(Jimi Mistry) who advise the U.S. president (Danny Glover) and high-ranking government officials (Oliver Platt, et al.) as they prepare for global doomsday while a chauffeur (John Cusack) for a Russian billionaire (Zlatko Buric) tries to escape the calamity in California with his ex-wife (Amanda Peet), their two children (Morgan Lily and Liam James), and his wife’s boyfriend (Thomas McCarthy).

“Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” (R) (3) [Bloody violence, language, and some nudity.] [DVD only] — Witty dialogue highlights this bullet-riddled, fast-paced, colorful, entertaining, cameo-dotted (Peter Fonda, Judd Nelson, and Willem Dafoe) sequel to the 1999 hit film in which two vigilante brothers (Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus) leave an idyllic Irish sheep farm owned by their father (Bill Connolly) after a short gunman (Daniel DeSanto) with a chip on his shoulder lures them to Boston by framing them for the murder of a Catholic priest and then find themselves the target of a sexy FBI agent (Julie Benz) and three detectives (Bob Marley, Brian Mahoney, and David Ferry) when they hook with a tattooed Mexican (Clifton Collins Jr.) and return to their vigilante ways in Beantown.

“Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Plays March 19 at 7 p.m. as part of the 11th Minnesota Cuban Film Festival (MCFF) at MSP Film Society at the St. Anthony on Main Theater; for information, log on to info@mspfilm.org or call 612/331-7563.] — Vibrant music of jazz musician Chucho Valdes encompasses Cynthia Newport’s stunning, moving, insightful, informative, uplifting, colorful, 95-minute documentary that focuses on the career of talented principal Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta of the Cuban National Ballet in Havana turned international star, the enormous contributions of legendary dancers Alicia and Alberto Alonso to the excellence of the Cuban ballet and their founding of the National Ballet of Cuba in 1948, and showcases the artistic commonality in the language of dance across cultures through archival film footage and photographs, clips from ballets such as “Swan Lake” and “Tocororo,” and interview snippets with Washington Ballet Company artistic director Septimi Webre, choreographer Trey McIntyre, dancers (Laura Urgelles, Victor Gil, and Lorna Feijoo), dance instructor Silvia Rodriguez, New York Ballet Theater founder Donald Saddler, dance historian Miguel Cabrera, and Acosta’s father Pedro and sister Marilyn).

“Emma.” (PG) (3) [Brief partial nudity.] Stunning cinematography, scenery, sets, and costumes dominate this engaging, well-acted, coming-of-age, wit-dotted, star-studded (Rupert Graves, Miranda Hart, Gemma Whelan, and Johnny Flynn), 124-minute satire adapted from Jane Austen’s 1815 classic novel in which a beautiful blonde, meddling, kindhearted, 21-year-old, British matchmaker (Anya Taylor-Joy), who lives with her wealthy father (Bill Nighy) at his bucolic country estate, in 19th century England manipulates the love life of a naive 17-year-old student (Mia Goth) and friends (Callum Turner, Tanya Reynolds, Josh O’Connor, Amber Anderson, Connor Swindells, et al.) while ignoring her own romantic pursuits until others have found love.

“The Hunt” (R) (2.5) [Strong bloody violence and language throughout.] After an eclectic group of twelve allegedly deplorable strangers (Justin Hartley, Betty Gilpin, Sturgill Simpson, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Wayne Duvall, Jason Kirkpatrick, Sylvia Grace Crim, et al.) from different states are drugged and wake up in a field in this suspenseful, Tarintino-esque, violent, well-paced, action-packed, humor-dotted, predictable, star-studded (Glenn Howerton, J. C. MacKenzie, Macon Blair, Dean J. West, and Kate Nowlin), satirical, 89-minute thriller adapted from Richard Connelly’s 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” they find themselves the target of elusive hunters (Amy Madigan, Reed Birney, Hilary Swank, Ike Barinholtz, Steve Coulter, Steve Mokate, Teri Wyble, et al.) staying at The Manor.

“I Still Believe” (PG) (3) [Thematic material.] A moving, factually based, gut-wrenching, heart-tugging, inspirational, star-dotted (Melissa Roxburgh,Tanya Christiansen, Abigail Cowen, Gregory Hobson, and Hali Everette), 115-minute film highlighted by Christian music and based on Jeremy Camp’s memoir in which the 20-year-old Christian singer (J. K. Apa) leaves his family (Gary Sinise, Shania Twain, and Reuben Dodd) in Indiana to attend a religious college in California in 1999 where he begins his Christian music career after meeting another singer (Nathan Parsons) and then meets the love of his life beautiful student Melissa Lynn Henning (Britt Robertson), but their love story is short lived when she tragically dies of cancer four-and-a-half months after their wedding in Oct. 2000.

“Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire” (R) (4) [Child abuse including sexual assault, and pervasive language.] [DVD only] — A raw, gritty, sad, well-acted, ire-inducing, thought-provoking, critically acclaimed film in which abused, illiterate, 16-year-old African-American student Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) in Harlem, who is pregnant for the second time by her AIDS-infected father, tries to escape her horrific life with her hateful, angry mother (Mo’Nique) in 1987 after a compassionate, alternative Each One/Teach One schoolteacher (Paul Patton) and a welfare employee (Mariah Carey) finally reach out to her and offer her a way out.

“The Traitor” (R) (3.5) [Violence, sexual content, language, and brief graphic nudity.] [Subtitled] [Plays March 13 at MSP Film Society at the St. Anthony on Main Theater; for information, log on to info@mspfilm.org or call 612/331-7563.] Bellocchio’s captivating, factually based, well-acted, insightful, violent, 135-minute, 2019 film that is highlighted by terrific cinematography and chronicles the tumultuous life of no-nonsense Sicilian Mafia soldier Tommasco Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino) who moves to Rio de Janeiro with his third wife (Fernanda Cândido) and family in an effort to protect his the while his sons (Gabriele and Paride Cicirello) and brother (Ada Nisticò) are viciously gunned down in Italy and after the Brazilian police arrest him, he is extradited to Rome where he becomes a hated, traitorous informant by “spilling the beans” to Judge Giovanni Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi) to take down vindictive, revenge-fueled, murdering, heroin-trafficking members of the Cosa Nostra family, including Totò Riina (Nicola Cali), Pippo Calò (Fabrizio Ferracane), Salvatore Contorno (Luigo Lo Cascio), and Stefano Bontate (Goffredo Maria Bruno), during the exhausting 7-yeae trial in Palermo, Sicily, that began in 1986.

“The Way Back” (R) (2.5) [Language throughout, including some sexual references.] The game of basketball takes a backseat in this unfocused, well-acted, realistic, down-to-Earth, star-studded (Glynn Russ Turman, T. K. Carter, Chris Bruno, Hayes McArthur, Rachel Carpani, Marlene Forte, Jeremy Radin, Noah Ballou, and Lukas Gage), 108-minute film in which an alcoholic Los Angeles construction worker (Ben Affleck), who is separated from his wife (Janina Gavankar) after the death of their son, reluctantly accepts a position as a basketball coach when a priest at his former Catholic alma mater at which he was an all-star player offers him the job and while struggling along with the assistant coach (Al Madrigal) to coach the eclectic team of teenage players (Melvin Gregg, Brandon Wilson, Devon Childress, Will Ropp, Charles Lott Jr., et al.) to change their longtime-losing streak into a win, he struggles to accept and deal with his addiction and the loss of his child.

“Wendy” (PG-13) (2) [Brief violent/bloody images.] When a free-spirited, young girl (Devin France) and her twin brothers (Gage and Gavin Naquin) run away from their short order cook mother (Shay Walker) and follow an African-American boy (Yashua Mack) on board a train in this quirky, arty, disappointing, convoluted, 112-minute fantasy film highlighted with wonderful photography and weirdly adapted from the J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” classic, they end up on a mysterious volcanic island with a gigantic motherly ocean worm where time and age have no meaning and the Lost Boys (Krzysztof Meyn, et al.) fend for themselves while struggling to keep hope and imagination alive and well and the desperate elderly try to return to their youth.

Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident. 

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