Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Breath” (NR) (3) [Available May 3 on various digital platforms.] — After a strong-willed, expert geologist (Rachel Daigh), whose father (James Cosmo) often cares for her young daughter (Alba Di Mauro) when she was ill, decides to finish up conducting her survey work on the volcano after her teammate (Neb Chupin) leaves for the day and then injuries her ankle and calf when she accidentally falls into a lava-rock-filled hole where no one can see or hear her in John Real's gritty, gripping, intense, heart-wrenching, unpredictable, 106-minute psychological thriller, she cross-examines her life and reminisces about her child as she struggles to find a way out of her terrible, life-threatening predicament as the volcano begins to rumble.
“Escape the Field” (R) (2) [Violence and language.] [Opens May 6 in theaters and available via various digital and VOD platforms.] — After six frightened strangers (Shane West, Jordan Claire Robbins, Theo Rossi, Tahirah Sharif, Elena Juatco, and Julian Feder) suddenly regain consciousness in a remote, perpetual, trap-filled cornfield, which is guarded by a creepy scarecrow, with sirens blaring and left with only a single-bullet gun, a container of matches, a lantern, a knife, a compass, and a flask of water in Emerson Moore’s convoluted, tension-filled, violent, 88-minute psychological thriller with overly dark visuals, they struggle to work together to find a way out while being stalked by a menacing, mysterious creature (Dillon Jagersky) at every turn.
“Great Freedom” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Available May 6 via streaming on MUBI.] — Extraordinary acting dominates Sebastian Meise’s powerful, award-winning, factually inspired, gripping, gritty, moving, somber, violent, nonlinear, 116-minute, 2021 film with a predictable, but surprising ending in which a rebellious, homosexual Jew (Franz Rogowski), who was a Nazi concentration camp survivor, once again is incarcerated in post-war Germany under Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code that makes sex with the same gender illegal, which was not fully abolished until 1994, where he has relationships with three men, including a former lover (Thomas Prenn) on the outside, a younger music teacher (Anton von Lucke) arrested with him during a police sting operation, and his initially homophobic, drug-addicted, convicted killer cellmate (Georg Friedrich), over three imprisonments in 1945, 1947, and 1968.
“Heartbeats” (NR) (2.5) [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — Inevitable heartbreak, rivalry, and jealousy ensue in this low-key, quirky, 95-minute, French-Canadian film in which two longtime friends (Monica Chokru and Niels Schneider) in Montreal vie for the affections of a hunky blonde (Xavier Dolan) they meet one night at dinner.
“Hop” (PG) (2.5) [Some mild rude humor.] [DVD and VOD only] — While a coup d’etat of the Easter Bunny (voiceover by Hugh Laurie) is orchestrated by a disgruntled chicken on Easter Island in this family-friendly, colorful, uneven comedy that has a high cute quotient and mixes live action with animation, a Hollywood slacker (James Marsden), who still lives with family (Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, Kaley Cuoco, and Tiffany Espensen), and runaway, drum-playing bunny (voiceover by Russell Brand) find themselves misunderstood by their fathers and befriending each other.
“Human Factors” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Opens May 6 in theaters in L.A. and New York.] — After a workaholic, homophobic German co-owner (Mark Waschke) of a successful advertising agency in Hamburg accepts a controversial political client who is campaigning for office without informing his creative director wife (Sabine Timoteo), who is close to her gay brother (Daniel Séjourné), and then they head to their Belgian vacation home along the coast with their rebellious, moody teenage daughter (Jule Hermann) and younger pet-rat-loving son (Wanja Valentin Kube) to get away from the stress in Ronny Trocker’s intriguing, well-acted, dark, nonlinear, 102-minute, 2021 psychological thriller with awesome cinematography, a frightening home invasion escalates the tension and triggers the dysfunctional dynamics within their marriage and family.
“In a New York Minute” (NR) (3) [Partially subtitled] [Available May 3 on various digital platforms.] — A pregnancy test connects three vignettes in Ximan Li’s engaging, realistic, well-acted, down-to-earth, morose, 102-minute, 2019 film in which an influential New York food critic (Amy Chang), whose traditional, manipulative mother (Pei-Pei Cheng) is desperate for her to marry and have a family, develops bulimia after a breakup with a boyfriend and a smitten colleague (Jae Shin) comes to her rescue to help her overcome her eating disorder; an immigrant Chinese actress (Yi Liu), who is in an unhappy marriage to a wealthy American businessman (Erik Lochtefeld), has an illicit affair with a talented Asian writer David (Ludi Lin); and a Chinese restaurant employee (Celia Au), who works as an escort to help pay medical bills for her father (Fenton Li), falls in love with a food truck entrepreneur (Roger Yeh) while her controlling stepmother (Yan Xi) and mean-spirited stepbrother (Nic Tom) beg her for money to pay off a Visa debt.
“Mascarpone” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Opens May 6 in theaters and available May 10 on DVD and various platforms.] — When his unhappy, cheating husband (Carlo Calderone) finds a new lover (Fabio Fappiano) to the chagrin of friends (Michela Giraud and Alberto Paradossi) in Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati’s award-winning, entertaining, humorous, risqué, bittersweet, 101-minute comedy, a charming, uptight, bake-loving Italian (Giancarlo Commare) rents a room from a flamboyant gay prostitute (Eduardo Valdarnini) in Rome, and after he takes a job as an apprentice at a bakery working with its owner (Gianmarco Saurino), he finds himself smitten and then hooking up with random guys (Lorenzo Adorni, et al.) from dating apps in a desperate attempt to discover who is without his longtime partner.
“Room in Rome” (NR) (3) [DVD and VOD only] — A risqué, touching, intimate 2010 film in which a petite, divorced, Spanish lesbian (Elena Anaya) and an engaged, tennis-playing Russian actress (Natasha Yarovenko) end up spending one night in a hotel room in Rome making passionate love and sharing stories about their childhoods and traumatic pasts.
“Science Friction” (NR) (3.5) [Available currently on Amazon Prime Video and TUBI.] — Emery Emery’s eye-opening, educational, fascinating, thought-provoking, 86-minute documentary that exposes how some information and expert testimony by scientists in various mediums, such as documentaries, TV shows, films, and print, is manipulated, skewed, edited, or taken out of context to suit a specific agenda (e.g., increase sales, improve ratings, and generate hype) and consists of archival film footage and interview snippets with “Probably Science” host Matt Kirshen, mentalist and magic producer Banachek, neurologist and science communicator Steven Novella MD, “Skeptic Magazine” publisher Dr. Michael Shermer, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, author and investigator Benjamin Radford M.Ed., cryptozoologist investigator Scott Mardis, field researcher Katy Elizabeth, author Steuart Campbell, stellar physicist Bradley Hindman, paleontologist Dr. Mathew Wedel, virologist Dr. Emily Bailey, internet phenom Dr. Zubin Damania, anthropologist Ken Feder, magician and author Jamy Ian Swiss, volcanologists Janine Krippner and Sam Poppe Ph D., the science comedian Brian Malow, biologist Greg Szulgit, science writer Simon Singh, USGS geologist Jacob Lowenstern Ph.D., “Forgotten Civilization” author Robert M. Scoch Ph.D., shark scientist Jonathan Davis M.Sc, biotechnology researcher Martina Newell-McGloughlin, animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam, science journalist Dr. Riko Muranaka, and physician Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick.
“A Song for Cesar: The Music and the Movement” (NR) (3.5) [Played Apr. 29 as part of AARP’s Movies for Grownups and available on various VOD platforms.] — Memorable music highlights Abel Sanchez and Andres Algerian’s entertaining, captivating, educational, moving, thought-provoking, 85-minute, 2021 documentary that honors tenacious, charismatic, jazz-loving civil rights activist and labor leader Cesar Estrada Chavez who used music, art, poetry, peaceful protest, and fiery speeches to help organize the labor movement (aka Campesino) in California during the 1940s to 1970s for the protection and fair pay of Mexican migrant workers who struggled with racism, violence, and workplace dangers; showcases legendary songs, including “Juan De La Cruz,” “No nos moverán,” “De Colores,” “Don’t Put Me Down (If I’m Brown),” “Viva la Huelga,” “Brown Eyed Children of the Sun,” and “El Bracero,” and inspirational music that originated during the movement; and consists of archival photographs, film clips, and artwork and insightful commentary by writer and activist Dr. Maya Angelou, President Barak Obama, actor and art collector Cheech Marin, musicologists Mark Guerrero and Jesse ‘Chunky’ Varela, guitarist Carlos Santana, artists Malaquías Montoya and Esteban Villa, activist Jose Montoya, singers/songwriters (such as Abel Sanchez, Daniel Valdez, Joe Santana, Taj Mahal, Joan Baez, Joel Rafael, Lila Downs, and Emilio Castillo), singers (such as Rick Stevens, Mic Gillette, and David Bustamante), musicians (such as Pete Escovedo, Graham Nash, Jorge Santana, and Raul Pacheco), actor Tommy Chong, United Farm Workers Union cofounder and activist Dolores Huerta, activist and educator Juan Martinez, director and actor Edward James Olmos, attorney Jerry Cohen, striker Ron Trevino, music promoter Jim Cassell, former Supreme Court of California Associate Justice and civil rights lawyer Cruz Reynoso, and Cesar Chavez’s brother Richard Chavez, sister Rita Medina, granddaughter Julie Rodríguez, and wife Helen.
“Soul Surfer” (PG) (3) [An intense accident sequence and some thematic material.] [DVD and VOD only] — An inspirational, factually based film in which competitive, tenacious, optimistic, courageous teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), who lives with her parents (Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid) and two brothers (Chris Brochu and Ross Thomas) in Hawaii, survives a horrendous shark attack while training with her coach (Kevin Sorbo) and best friend (Lorraine Nicholson) and then is determined to learn how to surf with one arm.
“Stu's Show” (NR) (3) [Available May 2 via various digital platforms.] — C.J. Wallis’ informative, entertaining, fascinating, 96-minute documentary in which TV historian, archivist, and comedian Stuart Shostak discusses hosting his internet podcasts where he interviews a multitude of celebrities from the golden age of television, gives insights into legendary actress Lucille Ball as her archivist and Gary Morton’s assistant, describes in detail the rollercoaster recovery of his wife from a traumatic brain injury, and consists of archival photographs and television clips commentary by actors (such as Edward Asner, Jimmy Garrett, Tony Dow, Jeannie Russell, Larry Anderson, Donovan Scott, Stanley Livingstone, Jill Howard Ullo, Michael Cole Beverly Washburn, Betty White, Butch Patrick, Jon Provost, and Keith Thibodeaux), game show host and producer Wink Martindale, voiceover talent and author Randy West, writers Ken Levine and Mark Evanier, music teacher and Stu’s wife Jeanine Kasun, writers and producers Bob Illes and Jerry Jacobius, director Mark Daniels, publicist Tom Watson, radio and TV host Ronnie Paul, friend Lee Valentine, radio actress Shirley Mitchell, Tony Dow’s wife Lauren Dow, Stu’s daughter Lisa Shostak, Stanley Livingston’s wife Paula, Jerry Jacobius’ wife Arleen, Wink Martindale’s wife Sandy, Shemp Howard’s granddaughter Jill Howard Marcus, neighbors Sue and Jeff Brown, and home therapist Maureen Williams.
The following films play as part of the MSPIFF41 Film Festival running May 5-19; for more information, log on to MSPfilm.org for full schedule:
"Carajita" (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Plays 5/10 at 4:30 p.m. and 5/16 at 1:50 p.m.] – After a naïve, free-spirited teenager (Cecile van Welie), whose father (Richard Douglas) is a wealthy businessman, returns to their coastal hometown in the Dominican Republic with her family and close, longtime nanny (Magnolia Núñez) where her caretaker’s estranged, biological teenage daughter (Adelanny Padilla) lives, and when a terrible, tragic death occurs during an accident on a goat-filled road in Silvina Schnicer and Ulises Porra’s award-winning, taut, moving, well-acted, heartbreaking, 89-minute film, tensions escalate, trusts waiver, and a guilty conscience strains the tenuous relationships of all involved.
“Elektra, My Love” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Plays 5/12 at 7:15 p.m. and 5/13 at 1:45 p.m.] — Hisham Bizri’s artsy, unscripted, unusual, beautifully photographed, slow-paced, well-acted, 89-minute, 2021 film that showcases three days in the life of five Lebanese actresses Diamond Abou Abboud, Manal Issa, Flavia Bechara, Lisa Debs, and Reina Jabbour as they attempt an experimental staging of Sophocles’ “Elektra” in Beirut’s austere, closed Piccadilly Theater, which was destroyed during the Lebanese Civil War, through improvisation as a metaphor to highlight the horrors and injustices that the people of Lebanon have suffered and endured throughout the years.
“The Emigrants” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Plays 5/8 at 6:40 p.m., 5/15 at 2 p.m., and 5/19 at 1 p.m.] — Eric Poppe’s engaging, award-winning, well-acted, heartbreaking, 148-minute, 2021 film with stunning cinematography and told in flashbacks adapted from Vilhelm Moberg’s 1949 novel in which an ambitious, hardworking Swedish farmer (Gustaf Skarsgård) convinces his reluctant, stubborn, pregnant wife (Lisa Carlehed) to make the perilous voyage across the Atlantic onboard a crowded, disease-infested ship to America for hopefully a better life with their three children (Kerstin Linden, Harald Knutsen-Öy, and Vincent Folkessonet) in 1849 and his homesick, emotionally distraught wife ends up struggling with isolation in Minnesota and forming a surprising friendship with a feisty, former prostitute (Tove Lo) who helped locate her missing daughter at a crowded New York City train station, she finds herself in conflict with a strict, self-righteous Swedish Lutheran minister (Rasmus Lindgren) and his pious, judgmental wife (Sofia Helin) when they oppose her newfound friendship and the education of her daughter (and all women) while claiming to be good Christians by adhering to Lutheran doctrine.
“Karmalink” (NR) (2.5) [Subtitled] [Plays 5/8 at 1:45 p.m. and 5/14 at 11:30 a.m.] — While a free-spirited, 13-year-old Cambodian boy (Leng Heng Prak), who lives with his mother (Sveng Socheata), grandmother (Oum Savem), and sisters in Phnom Penh, seeks the help of a streetwise, orphaned con artist (Srey Leak Chhith) to find a relic, treasured golden Buddha statue, which was buried by a thief (Rous Mony) many years earlier, he has seen in his vivid dreams or past lives memories by using nanobug technology in Jake Wachtel’s intriguing, imaginative, multilayered, beautifully photographed, futuristic, 102-minute, 2021 sci-fi film, his feisty mother stages protests to stop the government's plan of relocating her family so that they can erect a bullet train to Beijing in her district and a dubious neuroscientist (Cindy Sirinya Bishop) doing neuroscience research and working with people suffering memory loss.
“Kendra and Beth” (NR) (2.5) [Plays 5/8 at 7 p.m. and 5/18 at 9:30 p.m.] — After a shy, eccentric, bored sausage company warehouse employee (Kate Lyn Sheil), who supports her ill, widowed, Julia-Roberts-obsessed mother (Catherine Curtin) and 36-year-old, Arby’s-loving, wannabe-artist brother (Whitmer Thomas) in a small Midwestern town, meets a charismatic, free-spirited, vaping waitress (Eleanore Pienta), whose father is in prison and her mother is an alcoholic, in Dean Peterson’s dark, quirky, down-to-earth, realistic, unpredictable, 86-minute, 2021 comedy, it creates a stir in her mundane life, and when her new friend begins dating a worker (Matt Bailey), her jealousy threatens their friendship.
“The Long Breakup” (NR) (3) [Partially subtitled] [Plays 5/9 at 2:10 p.m. and 5/15 at 12 p.m.] — Katya Soldak’s timely, eye-opening, poignant, educational, insightful, 85-minute, 2020 political documentary in which inspiring Ukrainian-American journalist Katya Soldak, who is Forbes Magazine’s editorial director for international editions in New York City, discusses growing up in Kharkiv, Ukraine, which is 18 miles from Russia with a population of 2 million, how the pro-Russian sympathies of her childhood were transformed as she experiences the Russian crackdown on the independent-minded Ukrainian people amidst the unstable, geopolitical environment.
“Move Me” (NR) (3.5) [Plays 5/12 at 7 p.m. and 5/18 at 4 p.m.] — Kelsey Peterson and Daniel Klein’s powerful, moving, inspirational, intimate, heartwarming, emotionally-driven, 82-minute, 2021 documentary that follows yoga-trained, wheelchair-bound, disability advocate, talented artist, dancer, and choreographer Kelsey Peterson who became a quadriplegic after diving into Lake Superior in Wisconsin in 2012 at age 27 and showcases her will to deal with and adapt to the countless challenges in her changed life, her arduous daily routine, contemplation of participating in cutting-edge clinical trials, and desire to return to dance as she choreographs and performs in a “A Cripple’s Dance” with other psychically challenged dancers.
“Raise Your Hand” (NR) (3) [Plays 5/6 at 7:10 p.m. and 5/8 at 7 p.m.] — Jessica Rae’s powerful, factually based, poignant, raw, well-acted, realistic, 94-minute, 2021 film in which a rebellious, creative high school student (Jearnest Corchado), whose father is in prison and lives with her mother (Fenix Lazzaroni), stepfather, and siblings (Gilbert Duran and Imrani Duran) in the Midwest, writes her turbulent, gut-wrenching feelings in her journal as she struggles with life, school, and a brutal rape by another Black student (Hackett-Little) in the mid-1990s while her longtime, promiscuous best friend (Hanani Taylor), who lives with elderly grandmother after her mom’s horrific murder, deals with her own problems, racism, and corrupt cops (Gregory Scott Cummins, Pat Skipper, and Jeffrey Larson) as the school counselor (Joel Steingold) and theater teacher (Jess Nurse) try to motivate and help.
“Sweet Disaster” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Plays 5/10 at 4:30 p.m. and 5/12 at 1:45 p.m.] — After an imaginative, warm-hearted, emotionally distraught, 40-year-old, German-Finnish painting therapist (Friederike Kempter), who works with mentally challenged children at a daycare along with its friendly bus driver (Lasse Myhr), discovers she is pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy and tells her pilot captain boyfriend (Florian Lukas) about the news in Laura Lehmus’ colorful, wacky, original, heartfelt, bittersweet, multilayered, 90-minute, 2021 romantic comedy, she finds herself desperate to get the expectant father back when he returns to his former flight attendant girlfriend (Diana Ebert) he dated for eight years and then she befriends her tech savvy teenage neighbor (Lena Urzendowsky) whose mother is reluctant to allow her to go to school for a year in Canada.
“To the End” (NR) (2.5) [Plays 5/8 at 4 p.m. and 5/17 at 7:10 p.m.] — Rachel Lears’ educational, poignant, behind-the-scenes, 104-minute documentary that follows activists policy writer Rhiana Gunn-Wright, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Justice Democrats executive director Alexandra Rojas, and Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash as they work on the passage the Green New Deal legislation, which provides needed funds for various efforts such as addressing repercussions of climate change (e.g., severe storms, flooding, droughts, and wildfires), sustainable economic development, and racial justice while the opposition is represented by Republicans and the more establishment branches of the Democratic Party and consists of interview snippets with political commentator Van Jones, St. James Parish community organizer Sharon Lavigne, U.S. Senators (such as Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, and Ed Markey), former Ogallala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner, environmental justice director Anthony Rogers-Wright, Exxon Mobile lobbyist Keith McCoy, U.S. Representatives (such as Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, and Clay Higgins), American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Mike Sommers, and the Sunrise Movement cofounder Will Lawrence, field director Ahmed Gaya, creative director Alex O'Keefe, and political director Amira Hansen.
“Yung Punx: A Punk Parable” (NR) (3) [Plays 5/7 at 4:45 p.m. and 5/19 at 4:30 p.m.] — Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger’s engaging, entertaining, inspirational, enjoyable, 63-minute, 2021 documentary about talented, juvenile punk rock group Color Killer and its tinted-hair members, including vocalist and bass guitarist Nathan Dalbec (age 12), vocalist and drummer Matthew Hiltz (age 9), rhythm guitarist Dylan Huther (age 11), and lead vocalist and guitarist Lincoln Zinzola (age 8), in Worchester, Mass., who are quickly gaining recognition as they prepare to play at the Warped Tour music festival and their supportive parents, including Bill and Christie Huther, Tony and Kanna Zinzola, Mike and Katie Hiltz, and Jake and Julie Dalbec, who act as managers and chauffeurs, and consists of commentary by “What Is Punk?” author Eric Morris, punk record producer Jamie McCann, punk musician and mentor Walt Labree, legendary punk producer Larry Livermore, promoter Kevin Lyman, Boy’s and Girl’s Club director Pete Dickerman, and Nate’s grandfather Ron Dalbec.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.