Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Bring It On: Fight to the Finish” (PG-13) (1.5) [Some language and innuendo.] [DVD only] — When a Latina high school cheerleader (Christina Milian) moves from East Los Angeles to Malibu and gains a new stepsister (Holland Roden) after her mom remarries in this typical, teenager-geared chick flick, she finds herself on the Malibu Dream team squad competing against the arrogant captain (Rachele Brooke Smith) and her All Star Jaguar team in the All Star Spirit Championship.
“The Burning Plain” (R) (2.5) [Sexuality, nudity. and language.][DVD only] — Flashbacks dominate this bleak, convoluted, nonlinear film in which a bitter, flesh-scarring, self-hating, promiscuous restaurant manager (Charlize Theron) in Oregon, who sleeps around with a married chef (John Corbett) and a wine-loving customer, is haunted by childhood memories as a 16-year-old student (Jennifer Lawrence) living in a Mexican border town after she learns that her unhappy mother (Kim Basinger) is cheating on her husband (Brett Cullen) with a kindhearted Mexican (Joaquim de Almeida), and she ends up pregnant with a beautiful daughter (Tessa Ia) she neglects when she rebels by sleeping with the smitten son (D. D. Pardo) of her mother’s lover.
“The Cave” (PG-13) (3.5) [Disturbing war-related thematic content and images.] [Subtitled] [Opens Nov. 8 at the MSP Film Society at the St. Anthony on Main Theater; for information, log on to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612/331-7563.] — After witnessing the horrors of war, the killing and maiming of thousands, and starving children in war-torn Syria in Feras Fayyad’s intense, gut-wrenching, moving, inspirational, eye-opening, 95-minute documentary highlighted by striking cinematography, dedicated and selfless Syrian pediatrician Dr. Amani Ballor ends up questioning her calling as she manages a dedicated team of civilians and medical staff, including Samaher and Dr. Alaa, trying to save the wounded at a secret underground hospital in Ghouta with limited food, personnel, medical equipment and supplies, and medicine and then having to justify her value and work to chauvinistic men.
“Classe Tous Risques” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD only] — When a no-nonsense French crime boss (Lino Ventura) ends up on the run from police after Italian custom officials kill his wife (Simone France) and thieving partner (Stan Krol) on their way to Paris with his two young sons (Thierry Lavoye and Robert Desnoux) in this tension-filled, taut, unpredictable, black-and-white, 1960 “The Big Risk” thriller, his former gang members (Claude Cerval, Michel Ardan, Marcel Dalio, et al.) hire a small-time thief (Jean-Paul Belmondo), who in turns aids an abused actress (Sandra Milo), to help him across the border into France and to hide from authorities.
“Frankie” (PG-13) (2.5) [Brief strong language and some sexual material.] [Partially subtitled] — While a successful, international, redheaded French actress (Isabelle Ruppert) and her grief-stricken Scottish husband (Brendan Gleeson) deal with her terminal cancer diagnosis during a vacation with her gay, restaurateur ex-husband (Pascal Greggory) and her commitment-phobic son (Jérémie Renier) in an historic, idyllic town in Portugal near Lisbon in this somber, poignant, meandering, down-to-earth, 100-minute film dominated by striking cinematography, scenery, and architecture, her ambitious New Yorker hairdresser and makeup artist friend (Marisa Tomei) must decide how to proceed after her cinematographer boyfriend (Greg Kinnear) proposes and her beautiful African-American stepdaughter (Vinette Robinson) must navigate her relationship with her teenage daughter (Sienna Nanua) and her crumbling marriage to her husband (Ariyon Bakare).
“Last Christmas” (PG-13) (2) [Language and sexual content.] — When a 26-year-old, free-spirit, unlucky, cynical, wannabe singer (Emilia Clarke) moves from Yugoslavia to England with her dour, PTSD-afflicted, ex-singer mother (Emma Thompson), her former lawyer, taxi-driving father (Boris Izakovic), and her gay sister (Lydia Leonard) and works as an elf clerk at a year-around Christmas shop for its eccentric Asian owner (Michelle Yeoh) between auditions in Paul Feig’s disappointing, lackluster, evenly paced, quirky, love-or-leave-it, star-dotted (Patti LuPone, Rebecca Root, Rob Delaney, Peter Serafinowicz, and Ingrid Oliver), 103-minute romantic comedy reminiscent of a television Hallmark movie interspersed with George Michael music, she falls for a mysterious, charming handsome deliveryman (Henry Golding) in London who gives her a new outlook and perhaps affects the course of her entire life.
“Midway” (PG-13) (3.5) [Sequences of war violence and related images, language, and smoking.] — When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, in Roland Emmerich’s riveting, factually based, action-packed, well-paced, violent, star-studded (Dennis Quaid, Patrick Wilson, Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Jake Weber, David Hewlett, and Keean Johnson), 138-minute film dominated by amazing special effects, the American military retaliated by bombing Tokyo in April 1942, fighting in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, and engaging in the Battle of Midway in which the intel provided by intelligence officer Lt. Comm. Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) and his code-breaking team (Brennan Brown, et al.) was vital to Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) who commanded the U.S. Pacific naval fleet and the astoundingly brave, skilled, hotshot pilots (Luke Evans, Ed Skrein, et al.) during the decisive battle of June 1942 which ended up being the turning point in WWII.
“Paris” (R) (2.5) [Language and some sexual references.] [Subtitled] [DVD only] — While a French cabaret dancer (Romain Duris) begins to see life from his Paris apartment differently after learning that he needs a heart transplant and his concerned sister, a social worker (Juliette Binoche) with three children, tries to help him through a difficult time in this low-key, down-to-earth film, a black man (Kingsley Kum Abang) in Cameroon dreams of emigrating to France, a French historian and lecturer (Fabrice Luchini) sends suggestive messages to a comely student (Mélanie Laurent), and an architect (François Cluzet) nervously awaits the birth of his daughter.
“Playing with Fire” (PG) (3) [Rude humor, some suggestive material, and mild peril.] — After a regimented, straitlaced, buff fire superintendent (John Cena), who hopes to be promoted to the top job when the fire commander (Dennis Haysbert) retires and is attracted to a scientist (Judy Greer) studying toads, and his smoke-jumping, firefighting crew (John Leguizamo, Keegan-Michael Key, and Tyler Mane) save three feisty, rambunctious siblings (Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery, and Finely Rose Slater) caught in a remote cabin fire in this wacky, entertaining, funny, family-oriented, evenly paced, 96-minute pratfall comedy, mayhem ensues at the firehouse in Redding, Calif.
“Terminator: Dark Fate” (R) (2.5) [Violence throughout, language, and brief nudity.] — An entertaining, action-packed, frenetic-paced, violent, unpredictable, star-studded (Edward Furlong, Tom Hopper, Steve Cree, and Matt Devere), 128-minute film filled with amazing special effects and dead bodies in which a computer-enhanced human soldier (Mackenzie Davis) returns to the present day from 2042 to protect an unassuming Mexican factory worker (Natalia Reyes), who lives with her father (Enrique Javier Arce) and brother (Diego Boneta) in Mexico City, from a tenacious, indestructible, Rev-9 terminator android (Gabriel Luna) that is hell bent on killing her and is assisted by a revenge-fueled, skilled terminator warrior (Linda Hamilton) and an outdated T-800 terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) living with his family (Alicia Bonilla and Manuel Pacific) in Texas.
“Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — A candid, insightful, interesting 2008 documentary that chronicles the life and legendary career of colorful and charismatic gay 1970s adult film star Jack Wrangler (aka Jack Stillman), who played both gay and straight in more than 85 films, from his career as a theater director to his marriage to singer Margaret Whiting through film snippets and photographs and interviews with Jack and Margaret themselves, as well as directors (such as Henri Pachard, Jerry Douglas, Joe Gage, Gino Colbert, and Chi Chi La Rue), adult film stars (such as Candida Royalle, Samantha Fox, Jamie Gillis, Sharon Mitchell, and Gloria Leonard), writers (such as Michael Musto, Arnie Kantrowitz, Bruce Vilanch, David J. Skal, and Samuel Delaney), pornographer Al Goldstein, historian William Margold, filmmakers Michael Denneny and Robert Alvarez, playwright Robert Patrick, composer/lyricist Marc Shaiman, artist Robert W. Richards, Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long, and critic Kevin Thomas.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.