Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Alice Is Still Dead” (NR) (3) [Available Nov. 5 digitally and on various VOD platforms.] — Edwin P. Stevens’ gritty, factually based, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, candid, 96-minute crime documentary in which the grieving, L.A.-based filmmaker attempts to get closure and to pay tribute to his prank-prone, artistic, 24-year-old sister Alice after she was shot dead in Thunderbolt, Georgia, in November 2013 and consists of archival film footage and photographs, journal excerpts, eye-opening trial clips, and insightful interview snippets with chief detective Robert Merriman, high school adviser Lauren Adams, district attorney Jerry Rothschild, friend Jenny, college roommate Paige Kenney, priest and friend Audrey O’Brien-Stewart, medical examiner Dr. Jamie Downs, college friend Jalessa Allen, boyfriend Forrest Ison’s parents Mark and Sheila Bingham, and family, including mother Dorothy Stevens, sister-in-law Anne Stevens, brother Mark Stevens, wife Cecilia Stevens, and nephew Zach Stevens.
“Beans” (NR) (3.5) [Opens Nov. 5 in theaters and available on various VOD platforms.] — After a 12-year-old Mohawk student (Kiawentiio Tarbell), who lives on the Kahnawà:ke reserve with her parents (Rainbow Dickerson and Joel Montgrand) and younger sister (Violah Beauvais) in Quebec, gets approval to attend a white high school off the reserve in Tracey Deer’s powerful, factually inspired, award-winning, poignant, coming-of-age, thought-provoking, well-acted, 92-minute, 2020 film, she finds herself growing up quickly and feeling more rage and depression as she experiences more violence and racism, hangs out with a rebellious peer (Paulina Jewel Alexis), and gets involved in the 78-day, armed standoff in 1990 known as the Oka Crisis (July 11-Sept. 26) in which the indigenous Mohawk people go up against the Quebec police, the Royal Mounted Canadian Police, and the Canadian Army as they diligently and courageously try to protect a sacred, ancient burial ground known as “The Pines” from developers attempting to expand a 9-hole golf course into 18 and to erect condominiums.
“The Boy’s Gone” (NR) (3) [Played as part of the 28th Austin Film Festival that runs Oct. 21-28; for information, log on to www.austinfilmfestival.com.] — After the tragic loss of their rebellious, pot-smoking, disrespectful, smartalick, teenage son (Noah Odegaard) in Sarah Polhaus’ touching, heartbreaking, realistic, well-acted, unexpected, 16-minute film with several interpretations, a marriage struggles to remain intact while strained by a couples’ different approaches to grieving as the desperate mother (Lisa Roumain-Smith) attends a grief support group and tries to hold on to the all too painful evidence of her child’s existence and the account manager father (David Rees Snell) finds such evidence to be an all too painful reminder of his loss and tries to give away all his son’s belongings to benefit others; the viewer is left wondering the fate of the marriage and whether and what positive actions might be available to stop the implosion.
“Conviction” (R) (3.5) [Language and some violent images.] [DVD and VOD only] — After her colorful brother Kenneth Waters (Sam Rockwell) is convicted of a heinous murder and armed robbery in 1983 in this powerful, uplifting, factually based, star-dotted (Minnie Driver, Melissa Leo, Juliette Lewis, Clea DuVall, and Talia Balsam) film, tenacious Massachusetts housewife and part-time bartender Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) sacrifices her marriage and children when she decides to get her GED and eventually a law degree in an attempt to exonerate her sibling despite his 18 years of imprisonment with the help of a lawyer (Peter Gallagher) from the Innocence Project.
“Dangerous” (R) (3) [Violence and language.] [Opens Nov. 5 in theaters and available on various VOD platforms.] — After a lithium-popping ex-con (Scott Eastwood), who is under the care of a pill-popping Ohio psychiatrist (Mel Gibson) for an associative personality disorder and estranged from his mother (Brenda Bazinet), breaks his parole to attend the funeral of his brother (Matthew Che'z) who died suddenly on an island off of Washington state in David Hachl’s fast-paced, action-packed, suspenseful, violent, 99-minute thriller, he finds himself under arrest by the local sheriff (Tyrese Gibson), pursued by a tenacious FBI agent (Famke Janssen), and confronted by ruthless mercenaries (Kevin Durand, Brock Morgan, Jayce Barriero, et al.) searching for something exceedingly valuable hidden on the island.
“The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” (PG-13) (3) [Some thematic material and strong language.] [Available Nov. 5 on Amazon Prime Video.] — Olivia Colman narrates Will Sharpe’s captivating, poignant, factually based, wit-punctuated, well-acted, moving, melancholy, star-studded (Toby Jones, Taika Waititi, Andrea Riseborough, Nick Cave, Sharon Rooney, Olivier Richters, Sophia Di Martino, Richard Ayoade, Jamie Demetriou, Hayley Squires, Stacy Martin, Aimee Lou Wood, Phoebe Nicholls, Adeel Akhtar, Asim Chaudhry, Julian Barratt, and Sophia di Martino), 111-minute biographical film highlighted by amazing cinematography and chronicles the slow mental collapse of eccentric, schizophrenia-plagued, feline-loving British artist Louis Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch), who cares for five sisters and his mother (Phoebe Nicholls), found love with the supportive governess (Claire Foy) and became world famous for his psychedelic, anthropomorphic cat drawings and paintings in Victorian England from 1881 through 1930.
“The Emperor’s Sword” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Available Nov. 9 on Blu-ray™, DVD, and various VOD platforms.] — After a Chinese emperor dies during the Qin Dynasty and a power-hungry tyrant stages a massacre in his search for a powerful, valuable Dinjin sword that has been divided in to two pieces to ensure peace in Zhang Yingli’s engaging, action-packed, well-paced, complex, violent, 91-minute, 2020 thriller highlighted by striking cinematography, sets, and costumes, the surviving general's daughter (Hao Yi Lin) and seven warriors known as the Seven Gentlemen try to protect the ancient saber from enemy hands.
“Ending Disease” (NR) (4) [Available Nov. 5 on various VOD platforms.] — Joe Gantz’s engaging, powerful, educational, inspirational, insightful, moving, four-part, 185-minute, 2020 documentary that examines the passage of Proposition 71 in 2004 in California in which citizens agreed to fund $3 billion for stem cell and regenerative therapy research and follows ten FDA-approved clinical trials and progress of patients, including 19-year-old basketball player Ryan Custer who is a quadriplegic after a devastating spinal cord injury, Steve Sharples who is dealing with brain cancer, Rosie who is going blind from retinitis pigmentosa, gay man Andrew Caldwell coping with HIV/AIDS, anxiety-prone Korean Aaron who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion, young girl Ava who had a bone marrow transplant for an immune deficiency disorder called bubble baby disease, mother Cheryl who suffers from aggressive lymphoma, and Lucas Linder who had a spinal cord injury, participating in groundbreaking, controversial, and promising stem cell, CAR T-cell, and antibody therapies to hopefully cure or improve their condition and consists of commentary by numerous medical personnel involved in the trials, including Dr. Benham Badie, California institute of regenerative medicine (CIRM) first director Robert Klein, Dr. Henry Klassen at USC in Irvine, Dr. Amrita Krishnan at City of Hope, Dr. Nitya Nathwani at City of Hope, City of Hope trial coordinator Teresa Kim, Dr. John Zaia at City of Hope, Dr. Christopher Dvorak at University of San Francisco, Dr. Shekar Kurpad at Froedstet Hospital in Milwaukee, Paula Cannon PhD at USC, Dr. Richard Fessler at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, clinical research coordinator at USC in Irvine, Dr. Jay Lalezari at Quest Clinic in San Francisco, Dr. Jeff Grijalva, Dr. Stephen Forman at City of Hope, Dr. Judith Shizuru at Stanford, stem cell research director Dr. Irv Weissman at Stanford, Dr. Mike McCune at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and 31-year cancer survivor Ellen who was the first person to receive stem cell therapy.
“Enter the Void” (R) (1) [Explicit sex, a graphic abortion scene, and drug use.] [DVD and VOD only] — Psychedelic hallucinations and graphic sexual encounters highlight Gaspar Noé’s incomprehensible, 140-minute film, which is uses P.O.V. camera technology, told out of sequence in which a drug-addicted French teenager (Nathaniel Brown) is murdered in a Tokyo nightclub and returns as a ghost to look after his messed up sister (Paz de la Huerta) when she finds herself in dangerous situations.
“Eternals” (PG-13) (3) [Fantasy violence and action, some language, and brief sexuality.] [Opens Nov. 5 in theaters.] — Awesome special effects and cinematography dominate Chloé Zhao’s riveting, entertaining, unevenly thrilling, complex, wit-filled, thought-provoking, unpredictable, standalone, star-studded (Kit Harrington, Gil Birmingham, Harish Patel, and Alan Scott), 157-minute film in which immortal superheroes (Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Brian Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, Kumail Nanjiani, Don Lee, Lauren Ridloff, and Lia McHugh), who were created by the prime Celestial being and have been living on Earth for more than 7,000 years, use their diverse powers to protect humans throughout history from powerful, menacing alien race called the Deviants.
“Hell Hath No Fury” (R) (3) [Strong/bloody violence, language throughout, and some sexual content.] [Partially subtitled] [Opens Nov. 5 in theaters and Nov. 9 on various VOD platforms.] — Jesse V. Johnson’s gripping, gritty, factually based, action-packed, well-acted, unpredictable, 94-minute film in which gutsy, tenacious French national Marie DuJardin (Nina Bergman), who is part of the French Resistance but accused of being a traitor and collaborating with the Germans, finds herself rescued in 1944 by greedy, doggedly determined American soldiers (Louis Mandylor, Josef Cannon, Timothy V. Murphy, and Dominiquie Vandenberg) searching for a stash of gold bars that she presumably hid after allegedly killing her Nazis military officer lover (Daniel Bernhardt), who murdered her parents, when a resistance ambush goes awry.
“Luna: Spirit of the Whale” (PG) (2.5) [Mild thematic elements including brief teen smoking and drinking, and some language.] [DVD only] — When a former alcoholic (Adam Beach) returns home to his widowed mother (Tantoo Cardinal) in Vancouver after the sudden death of his chieftain father (Gerald Auger) in this family-oriented, touching, factually based, 2007 film filled with gorgeous scenery, the townsfolk (Graham Greene, Jason Priestly, Aaron Miko, Erin Karpluk, et al.) befriend an orca whale that has made its home in the bay.
“New York Ninja” (NR) (4) [Available Nov. 1 on Blu-ray™ with a theatrical release in 2022.] — Hilarious, God awful acting dominates John Liu and Kurtis M. Spieler’s recently discovered and completed, hokey, campy, over-the-top, highly entertaining, action-packed, fast-paced, star-dotted (voiceovers by Michael Berryman, Wayne Grayson, Darius Churchman, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Barrett Leddy, Ginger Lynn, Matt Mitler, Adrienne Meltzer, Vince Murdocco, Cynthia Rothrock, Linnea Quigley, Tom Wayland, Don Wilson, and Zihan Zhao), 93-minute cult classic film punctuated with child ninjas in which a grieving, white-clad New York City sound technician (John Liu) becomes a sword-wielding, shuriken-throwing vigilante and uses his martial-arts skills to pursue the ruthless killers who murdered his pregnant wife after she witnessed an abduction for a sex trafficking ring in 1984 and to bring unsavory street criminals, including gang members, carjackers, hoodlums, rapists, muggers, and pickpockets, to justice when he learns that the “Big Apple” police are overwhelmed trying to solve all of the kidnappings and getting a handle on the escalating crime wave.
“Perrier’s Bounty” (R) (2) [Violence, pervasive language, some drug use, and sexual content.] [DVD and VOD only] — Violence and murder ensue in this dark, quirky, profanity-laden film narrated by Gabriel Byrne when a young Irish slacker (Cillian Murphy) in Dublin finds himself on the run with his death-obsessed father (Jim Broadbent) and his jilted neighbor (Jodie Whittaker) while they try to evade a no-nonsense gangster (Brendan Gleeson) and his thugs to whom he owes money.
“Porcupine” (NR) (2.5) [Playing Nov. 5-7 at the Rising Sun International Film Festival, Nov. 9-14 at the Napa Valley Film Festival, and Nov. 10-14 at the Cucalorus Film Festival.] — After a lonely, twenty-something, pixie-haired blonde (Jena Malone), who loves watching YouTube videos of small animals, had lost her seventh job and moved four times in a short time, and her boyfriend just broke up with her, in M. Cahill’s quirky, factually inspired, thought-provoking, realistic, 92-minute film, she seeks meaningful companionship while estranged from her dysfunctional parents and looks into adult adoption with a cantankerous, regimented, retired NASA aeronautical German engineer (Robert Hunger-Bühler) and his kindhearted wife (Emily Kuroda) despite having their own strained relationships with their adult children (Will Rogers and Brook Bloome).
“River’s End” (NR) (3.5) [Available Nov. 2 on various VOD platforms.] — Striking photography punctuates Jacob Morrison's award-winning, thought-provoking, educational, eye-opening, complicated, disturbing, 81-minute documentary narrated by Delanna Studi that examines the complex, dire water crisis in California—with global parallels—in which competing interests in aggregate seek more water for their needs than exist in totality within the state and consists of insightful commentary by former U.S. congressman George Miller III, Mayor Felipe Perez (Firebaugh CA), NREC Director Doug Obegi, professors (such as Char Miller, Richard White, and Peter Gleick), attorney Hal Candee, South Delta Water Agency general counsel John Herrick, salmon fishermen (such as Mike Hudson, Larry Collins, and Captain Thomas Rogers), writer Juliet Christian-Smith, General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger, farmers (such as Al Medvitz, Rogene Reynolds, Brett and Chuck Baker, and Daniel Wilson), senior scientist San Francisco Bay Keeper Jon Rosenfield, California Governor Gavin Newsom, U.S. Congressmen (sugh as Jared Huffman, Tom McClintock, and Devine Nunes), Big Pine Water Program coordinator Alan Bacock, former Owens Valley Committee President Mike Prather, heavy civil contractor Allan Clark, Fresh Water Nature Conservancy lead scientist Julie Zimmerman, Westlands Water District General Manager Tom Birmingham, former U.S. General Secretary Jason Peltier, Executive V.P. Harris Farms William Bordeau, Pultizer-Prize-winning “L.A. Times” journalist Bettina Boxall, and Senator Mitch McConnell.
“Tamara Drewe” (R) (3.5) [Language and some sexuality.] [DVD and VOD only] — Gorgeous scenery and cinematography highlight this entertaining, funny, delightfully charming comedy of manners based on Posy Simmonds’ novel and inspired by Thomas Hardy’s 19th-century classic “Far From the Madding Crowd” in which a formerly insecure, comely British journalist (Gemma Arterton) raises several male libidos when she returns home to her idyllic English countryside and a conclave of writers (Bill Camp, et al.) and finds herself trying to make her former bullying lover (Luke Evans) jealous, seducing a smitten murder mystery novelist (Roger Allam) who has a habit of cheating on his hardworking wife (Tamsin Greig), and becoming engaged to a makeup wearing drummer (Dominic Cooper) on the rebound from a band mate while two bored, teenage schoolgirls (Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie) make her the center of their pranks.
“Take” (R) (2) [Some violent and disturbing content.] [DVD and VOD only] — While a gambling-addicted convict (Jeremy Renner) on death row reminisces about his life that led to his fateful execution in this gritty, dark, slow-moving, 2007 film filled with flashbacks, a stressed-out, struggling, middle-class mother (Minnie Driver) thinks about her hyperactive, troubled son (Bobby Coleman) after he was kidnapped during a store robbery and then tries to forgive the man who took her son away from her.
“They’re Outside” (NR) (2.5) [Available Oct. 29 on various VOD platforms.] — While a self-serving celebrity British psychologist (Tom Clayton-Wheatley) and his camera-wielding girlfriend (Nicole Miners) film an episode for the YouTube show “Psychology-Inside/Out” about a suicidal Englishwoman (Chrissy Randall) suffering from severe agoraphobia who has not left her home in 5 years in Sam Casserly and Airell Anthony’s eerie, nonscary, low-budget, slow-paced, unexpected, star-studded (Nicholas Vince, Emily Booth, Brad Moore, Jon-Paul Gates, and Emma Burdon-Sutton), 83-minute, 2020 horror mockdocumentary in the vein of “The Blair Witch Project,” they begin to experience strange events as the woman tells them about the legend of the evil creature Green Eyes (Rob Craine) that lurks in the woods and uses magic to lure people from their homes to make them disappear.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.