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

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“Antlers” (R) (2.5) [Violence, including gruesome images, and language.] [Opens Oct. 29 in theaters.] — When a bullied, emaciated, 12-year-old student (Jeremy T. Thomas) tries to protect his younger brother (Sawyer Jones) after his father (Scott Haze) is turned in to an ancient, terrifying, flesh-devouring creature while making meth in an abandoned mine in Scott Cooper’s gritty, intense, violent, gory, predictable, star-studded (Amy Madigan, Rory Cochrane, Graham Greene, Cody Davis, Jake T. Roberts, and Glynis Davies), 90-minute horror thriller based on Nick Antosca’s short story “The Quiet Boy,” a once-abused middle-school teacher (Keri Russell) in Oregon seeks to help him while her skeptical sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) opens an investigation after several mutilated corpses are discovered.

“Backyard” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — A gripping, chilling, highly disturbing, factually based, 2009 film in which a tenacious Mexico detective (Ana de la Reguera) in the border town of Ciudad Juárez investigates the connection of a sadistic Egyptian rapist (Sayed Badreya) and a prominent, slick businessman (Jimmy Smits) to a series of grisly murders of many women that continues to escalate yearly and a no-nonsense radio talk show host (Joaquín Cosio) tries to keep the sex crimes and murders center stage in the minds of the public, the self-serving governor (Enoc Leaño), and the law (Alejandro Calva) while a factory worker (Amorita Rasgado) worries about her free-spirited cousin who has disappeared after rendezvousing with a former ex-boyfriend.

“Bigfoot Famous” (NR) (2) [Available Nov. 2 via digital and various VOD platforms.] — When two eccentric YouTube stars (Steph Barkley and Sam Milman), a dimwit and verbose Bigfoot store owner (Chris Kleckner), and a moronic, flask-carrying tracker (Anthony Ma) with a trigger finger go into the woods in search of the legendary, elusive Sasquatch in the hopes of making a video go viral for all interested Internet fans (Marlon Webb, Chris Guerra, Sam De Surra, Michael Fairman, et al.) in Peter Vass and Sam Milman’s wacky, groan-inducing, silly, intermittently funny, 89-minute comedic spoof, the search does not go as planned after one person meets their untimely demise.

“Boarding Gate” (R) (1) [Violence, sexual content, language, and some drug material.] [Partially subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — A convoluted, disjointed, lackluster, tepid, erotic, 2008 thriller about an sneaky and ambitious Italian woman (Asia Argento) who gets in over her head when she schemes to own her own Beijing nightclub by smuggling drugs through the international import company owned by two ruthless siblings (Carl Ng and Kelly Lin) from Hong Kong and by renewing her kinky relationship with a divorced businessman (Michael Madsen) in Paris.

“Buried” (R) (4) [Language and some violent content.] [DVD and VOD only] — A gut-wrenching, adrenaline-charged, enthralling thriller in which an American truck driver (Ryan Reynolds), who is working as a contractor in Iraq in 2006, is horrified and terrified to find himself confined to a buried wooden coffin with only a lighter, a cell phone, and a small whiskey flask and is instructed by a mysterious terrorist to raise $5 million in a few hours in exchange for his life.


“Clean Slate” (NR) (2.5) [Played as part of the 28th Austin Film Festival that runs Oct. 21-28; for information, log on to www.austinfilmfestival.com.] — While two lifelong friends (Cassidy Detmer and Joshua Litton) struggling with drug addiction and mental illness join a zero-tolerance drug recovery program at A Better Way Ministries for 18 months in Georgia in Jared Callahan’s heartbreaking, insightful, gut-wrenching, down-to-earth, 96-minute documentary, they produce commercials and graduation videos and struggle to make the short film “On the Fence,” which chronicles the anguish and strife they caused their families, after Cassidy relapses and is thrown out of the program.

“The Crickets Dance” (NR) (3.5) [Available Oct. 26 on various VOD platforms.] — When a beautiful, troubled, Georgia lawyer (Kristen Renton) inherits an antebellum mansion in Savannah from an old friend (Sandra Ellis Lafferty) and then becomes engrossed with a fascinating, 150-year-old diary she finds in the attic that chronicles the horrific life of a severely abused housewife (KateLynn E. Newberry), who was married to a cruel slave trader (William Mark McCullough), and her Black servant (Jamie Butler) in 1847 in Veronica Robledo’s riveting, captivating, award-winning, well-acted, 92-minute, 2020 film based on a Deborah Robillard’s novel and dominated with terrific cinematography, she finds herself falling for a Black attorney (Maurice Johnson) who works in her office after he saved her from a brutal attack by a disgruntled client and they both connect with the past.

“Escape from Death Block 13” (NR) (2) [Available Nov. 2 on various VOD platforms.] — When a revenge-driven foreigner (Robert Kovacs Bronzi) is erroneously sent to a hellish prison run by a corrupt, drug-dealing warden (Debbie Scaletta) after being framed for attempted murder while trying to collect wages owed him from his brother’s boss (Nicholas Turturro) and reluctantly being a snitch for two detectives (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Lyindaa Russell) for a reduced sentence in Gary Jones’s gritty, bloody, disappointing, action-packed, repetitive, violent, poorly written and acted, 104-minute thriller, he finds himself struggling to stay out of trouble with despite abusive guards and constantly fighting inmates (Jeffrey Miller, Chris Hahn, Leo McNamee, Jimmy Lee, et al.).

The French Dispatch” (R) (2.5) [Graphic nudity, some sexual references, and language.] [Opens Oct. 29 in theaters.] — Stunning visuals dominate Wes Anderson’s imaginative, quirky, convoluted, disconnected, sometimes incomprehensible, star-studded (Edward Norton,  Angelica Huston, Tilda Swinton, Liev Schreiber, Christopher Waltz, Lois Smith, Willem Dafoe, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Rupert Friend, Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan, and Henry Winkler), 112-minute film in which a gruff American editor (Bill Murray), who oversees a team of “French Dispatch” journalists and editorial staff (Frances McDormand, Owen Wilson, Elizabeth Moss, Fisher Stevens, Griffin Dune, Wally Wolodarsky, and Anjelica Bette Fellini), pulls together three unrelated stories including, a psychopathic murdering prisoner (Benicio del Toro) whose abstract painting is coveted by an incarcerated art dealer (Adrien Brody), a chess-playing student protestor (Timothée Chalamet) leading a revolution in May 1968, and a food journalist (Jeffrey Wright) interviewing for a job who ends up penning a piece about a kidnapping while profiling a chef (Stephen Park) and his poisonous radish pie, for a fictional magazine published in the fictional city of Ennui-sur-Blasé.

“Hereafter” (PG-13) (1.5) [Mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and brief strong language.] [Partially subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — Parallel stories fail to connect in this disjointed, contrived, slow-moving, underdeveloped, disappointing, stat-dotted (Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard, Derek Jacobi, Richard Kind, and Steven R. Schirripa) Clint Eastwood film in which a reluctant San Francisco psychic (Matt Damon) tries to lead a normal life, a successful French television journalist (Cécile De France) in Paris tries to recover from a near-death experience after surviving a tsunami in Indonesia and tries to share her story with her atheist boyfriend (Thierry Neuvic) and reluctant publishers, and a grieving English schoolboy (Frankie McLaren) in London tries to deal with the sudden death of his twin brother (George McLaren) and his absentee drug-addicted mother (Lyndsey Marshal).

“I'm an Electric Lampshade” (NR) (2.5) [Opens Oct. 27 at San Francisco film festival.] — After balding, milquetoast, 60-year-old corporate accountant Doug McCorkle in New York retires after 19 years on the job in John Clayton Doyle’s entertaining, upbeat, campy, touching, artistic, 96-minute quasi-documentary, he heads to the Philippines with encouragement of his supportive wife Regina, who suffers from mental illness, of 30 years to take singing and dancing lessons from drag queen dance instructor Cesar Valentino and then makes a music video and ultimately performs live on stage in an attempt to fulfill his lifelong fantasy of becoming a rock star.

“Jackass 3D” (R) (0) [Male nudity, extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, and language.] [DVD and VOD only] — A crude, crass, asinine, vulgar, 3D comedy in which stupid, juvenile grownups, including Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Preston Lacy, Jeff Tremaine, Dave England, Ehren McGhehey, Wee Man, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Jason Acuña, and Ryan Dunn, perform reckless, irresponsible stunts with names such as Electric Avenue, Snake River Redemption, Roller Buffalo, the High Five, Poo Cocktail Supreme, Really Bad Grandpa, Lamborghini Tooth Pull, the Ram Jam, the Rocky and Rocky 2, the Jet Ski, Super Mighty Glue, the Field Goal, Bad Dog, Beehive Tetherball, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Will the Farter, Sweatsuit Cocktail, Bungee Boogie, Pontius Barbarian, Tee Ball, Helicockter, the Christmas Tree, Apple of My Ass, Duck Hunting, The Invisible Man, and the Blindside.

“Last Night in Soho” (R) (3.5) [Bloody violence, sexual content, language, brief drug material, and brief graphic nudity.] [Opens Oct. 29 in theaters.] — When a wannabe, small-town, British fashion designer (Thomasin McKenzie), who lives with her supportive grandmother (Rita Tushingham) in Cornwall, England, after the tragic death of her mother, moves to London to study fashion and is befriended by a smitten, kindhearted Black student (Michael Ajao) after renting an flat from a mysterious, no-nonsense landlady (Diana Riggs) in Edgar Wright’s captivating, original, creative, dark, intense, taut, unpredictable, star-studded (Terence Stamp, Andrew Bicknell, Synnove Karlsen, and Jessie Me Li), 115-minute psychological thriller dominated by terrific acting and stunning cinematography and punctuated with humor, she begins to see terrifying visions of a flamboyant, aspiring singer and actress (Anya Taylor-Joy) whose life took a tragic turn during the 1960s and well-meaning ghosts (Matt Smith, et al.) haunt her dreams and waking hours where reality and hallucinations merge.

“Pure Grit” (NR) (3) [Opens Oct. 24 at the Newport Beach film festival.] — Kim Bartley’s poignant, down-to-earth, moving, inspirational, 88-minute documentary, which is dotted with gorgeous scenery, that focuses on tenacious, determined, skilled Native American bareback horse racer Sharmaine Weed, who lived on the Wind River reservation in Wyoming with her daughter and supportive, cigarette-smoking girlfriend Savannah Martinez, and when they move to Denver to earn money in order to pursue her dream to return to horse racing after a one-year absence to care for her paralyzed sister, it puts a strain on her relationships. 

“Shock Wave 2” (NR) (3.5) [Subtitled] [Available Nov. 2 via digital and various VOD platforms.] — When a ruthless terrorist (Kwan-Ho Tsa) and his army of followers (Raymond Chiu, Babyjohn Choi, Wilfred Lau, Ben Yuen, Man-Lung Ling, et al.) try to blow up Hong Kong with a nuclear bomb in Herman Yau’s riveting, action-paced, fast-paced, award-winning, complex, well-acted, bomb-riddled, suspenseful, 2-hour, 2020 thriller dominated by awesome special effects and choreography, a highly skilled Chinese bomb disposal expert (Andy Lau), who lost his leg and memory in a horrific bombing accident, infiltrated a terrorist organization and works with his police officer girlfriend (Ni Ni) and a police commander friend (Ching Wan Lau) to stop the destruction.

“Stone” (R) (3.5) [Strong sexuality and violence, and pervasive language.] [DVD and VOD only] — Terrific acting dominates this captivating, suspenseful film in which the regimented, mundane life of an Illinois parole officer (Robert De Niro), who lives with his alcoholic wife (Frances Conroy) of 33 years and is nearing retirement, is quickly turned upside down when he begins foolishly seeing the sexy grade schoolteacher wife (Milla Jovovich) of a crass, calculating, manipulative inmate (Edward Norton) who is up for parole.

“Surge” (NR) (3) [Available Oct. 25 on various VOD platforms.] — When a miserable, tightly-wound, impulsive, tick-prone British airport security agent (Ben Winslow), who has aging, volatile, petty parents (Ian Gelder and Ellie Haddington), goes off the deep end in Anvil Karia’s gritty, award-winning, gripping, intense, unpredictable, 105-minute, 2020 thriller, he rampages through the London streets during a chaotic 24-hour period as he tries to repair a television for a kindhearted coworker (Jasmine Jobson), robs several banks, vandalizes a hotel room, crashes a wedding reception, steals and then crashes a motorbike, instigates a fight, and finally just resigns.

“Time Now” (NR) (2.5) [Opens Oct. 26 in theaters and available various VOD platforms.] — Spencer King’s down-to-earth, gritty, slower-paced, dark, unpredictable, 90-minute psychological thriller in which an estranged, protective, grieving, unhappily married mother (Eleanor Lambert) is contacted by her aunt (Claudia Black) and returns to her hometown with her young son to attend with her parents (Jeannine Thompson and Peter Knox) the funeral of her twin brother (Sebastian Beacon) in Detroit after his sudden, tragic death in a car accident and then tries to understand the circumstances surrounding his death by hanging out with his close friends (Xxavier Polk, Paige Kendrick, Ashley Sheri, et al.).

“Torao” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Played as part of the 28th Austin Film Festival that runs Oct. 21-28; for information, log on to www.austinfilmfestival.com.] — Kazuya Murayama’s engaging, factually based, well-acted, realistic, gloomy, 97-minute film in which a tenacious, passionate Tokyo university student (Sakiko Kato) ignores the fact that the statute of limitations has passed to team up with a retired Japanese detective (Torao Nishimura), who had 30 years experience on the job and was removed from a murder investigation 20 years earlier, to investigate the cold case of a swimming coach (Ayano Ogata) discovered in a field in the city of Kanazawa in 1992 after the uncharged, murdering coach (Tomoya Kono/Masaaki Kono) returned the victim’s car to the swimming club.

Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident. 

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