Rating system: (4=Don't miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
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“Ajami” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — A gripping, compelling, convoluted, Oscar-nominated, culture-driven 2009 film that follows an Israeli Arab (Shahir Kabaha), who loves a Christian woman (Ranin Karim), and his younger brother (Fouad Habash) in Tel Aviv who have resorted to selling drugs to get their family out of a vendetta debt incurred after their uncle murdered a Bedouin clan member, a 16-year-old Palestinian refugee (Ibrahim Frege) trying to earn money for an expensive bone marrow transplant for his mother, a rich Palestinian (Scandar Copti) who wants a good life with his Jewish girlfriend, and a Jewish police detective (Eran Naim) trying to locate his brother who went missing on leave from the army.
“Alpha and Omega” (PG) (2.5) [Rude humor and some mild action.] [DVD and VOD only] — After her parents (voiceovers by Danny Glover and Vicki Lewis) want her to mate with an alpha wolf (voiceover by Chris Carmack) to unite two wolf packs in this cute, family-friendly, 3D, star-studded (voiceovers by Dennis Hopper, Larry Miller, and Christina Ricci), animated film, a Canadian alpha wolf (voiceover by Hayden Panettiere) and an Omega wolf (voiceover by Justin Long) with whom she is smitten must find their way home to Canada when they are captured and taken to Idaho.
“Crazy Fist” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [Available Sept. 14 on Blu-ray™ and DVD and Aug. 6 on Hi-YAH! at www.hiyatv.com.] — After an undercover Chinese cop (Steve Sueng Jun Yoo), who falls for a cheeky, free-spirited woman (MayaLau), skilled in the martial arts fights a well-known champion MMA fighter (Ai Yisheng) who mysteriously and tragically dies during the match in the ring in Qing Guo’s action-packed, entertaining, well-paced, 102-minute film punctuated by a surprise ending, he continues to investigate a drug dealer (Zhu Gechencheng) and her ties to a ruthless drug trafficking warlord (Collin Chou) while the deceased fighter’s grief-stricken best friend (Guo Qing) seeks revenge while being framed and arrested for running an international illegal drug operation.
“Easy A” (PG-13) (3) [Mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language, and some drug material.] [DVD and VOD only] — Easy A When an erroneous rumor spreads like wildfire that a feisty, free-spirited, smart high school student (Emma Stone), who lives with her liberal parents (Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci) and her adopted brother in California, has lost her virginity in this enjoyable, tween-geared, star-studded (Malcolm McDowell, Thomas Hayden Church, and Lisa Kudrow) comedy adapted from the classic The Scarlett Letter, she finds herself pretending to seduce a gay teenager (Dan Byrd) so that his peers would not think that he is a homosexual which ultimately creates discord with her best friend and puts an even bigger target on her back from a group of school Bible thumpers (Amana Bynes, Cam Gigandet, et al.).
“Eating Our Way to Extinction” (NR) (4) [Plays Sept. 16 one night only in AMC theaters and will be available on various VOD platforms in the future.] — Kate Winslet narrates Ludo and Otto Brockway’s powerful, eye-opening, educational, insightful, timely, ire-inducing, shocking, controversial, depressing, 95-minute documentary highlighted by stunning cinematography that examines the massive costs in resources to produce animal food—beef, poultry, and fish—for human consumption, including massive deforestation, use of enormous quantities of potable water for growing animal feed, overfishing, producing unhealthy farm-raised fish, polluting of surface water in our oceans, lakes, and rivers and of groundwater worldwide through the use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, and antibiotics, and climate change that leads to both drought and flooding affecting food production and consists of candid commentary by indigenous people, former NOAA chief scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle, former U. N. Special Rapporteur professor Olivier de Schutter, senior environmental sustainability researcher and The Future of Food founder Dr. Marco Springmann, lecturer Joanne Kong, economic and political advisor Jeremy Rifkin, Polar Ocean Physics Group head professor Peter Wadhams, zoologist and environment and agriculture researcher Joseph Poore, Food Climate Research Network head Dr. Tara Garnett, physician and researcher Dr. Michael Greger, Virgin Group founder and chairman Richard Branson, food industry and policy consultant Roger Roberts, water management expert Prof. Arjen Hoekstra, Dr. Gemma Newman, entrepreneur and life coach Tony Robbins, Plymouth Marine Lab senior research scientist Dr. Penelope Lindeque, dietician Brenda Davis, The Good Food Institute founder Bruce Friedrich, Nutrition Org. physician Dr. Michael Greger, virologist Dr. Jane Greatorex, environmental activist Taryn Bishop, farm fish investigator Don Staniford, EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, WHO Health Emergency Programme executive director Dr. Michael Ryan, nutritional expert Dr. Udo Erasmus, Brazilian Young Farmers Association president Joaquin Pino, ITPA Conservation founder Mauricio Ruiz, former Queensland government principal scientist Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop, Norwegian fisheries director Liv Holmesfjord, former butchers Juliet Holland-Rose and Doug Maw, and vegan bodybuilders Indira Nadia Fonseca and Stephen Coote.
“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” (PG-13) (3) [Thematic elements, strong language, and suggestive material.] [Opens Sept. 10 in theaters and available Sept. 17 on Amazon Prime Video.] — Jonathan Butterell’s charming, entertaining, factually based, coming-of-age, humor-punctuated, well-acted, 115-minute biographical musical adapted from the popular West End stage musical and the documentary “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16” in which a gay, talented, 16-year-old British student (Max Harwood/Noah Leggott), who lives with his divorced mother (Sarah Lancashire) in Sheffield, England, and is estranged from his neglectful, homophobic, father (Ralph Ineson), dreams of being a drag queen and performing with female impersonators (Richard E. Grant, Ola Jide, Gareth Joyner, Dan Wallace, et al.) while being supported by his smart and witty best friend (Lauren Patel) and his mom’s close friend (Shobna Gulati), picked on by the school bully (Samuel Bottomley), and unsupported by the school principal (Adeel Akhtar) and career counselor (Sharon Horgan) when he wants to wear a dress and glittering high heels to the prom.
“Gold Watch” (NR) (3) [Played Sept. 2 via Eventbrite and available on various VOD platforms.] — Lloyd Richards’s poignant, heartbreaking, realistic, well-acted, down-to-earth, star-dotted (Philip Baker Hall, Robert Ito, Richard Narita, Soon Teck Oh, Evan Kim, Mary Robinson, and Virginia Wing), 90-minute, 1976 semi-autobiographical film based on Momoko Iko’s stage play in which a poor, hardworking Japanese couple (Shizuko Hoshi and Mako), who live on a modest farm in California with their strong-willed teenage son (Jesse Lizon) and free-spirited young daughter (Mariel Aargon), find themselves facing racism after they lose freedom, property, and belongings when they are rounded up with other Japanese Americans and legal Japanese immigrants and incarcerated into camps during WWII after President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed the executive order in February 1942 in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (PG-13) (3.5) [Sequences of violence and action and language.] [Opens Sept. 3 in theaters.] — When their 1,000-year-old villainous Chinese father (Tony Leung), who possesses ancient, magical ten rings that give him strength and power, decides while still mourning to invade the idyllic, mystical forest, dragon-protected homeland of his deceased wife (Fala Chen) in Destin Daniel Cretton’s highly entertaining, thrilling, action-packed, fast-paced, humor-dotted, 3D, star-studded (Ben Kingsley, Benedict Wong, Tim Roth, Florian Munteanu, Ronny Chien, Andy Le, and Zach Cherry), 132-minute film based on the Marvel Comics and dominated by stunning choreography and cinematography, his karaoke-loving, martial-arts-trained son (Simu Liu) working as a valet in San Francisco with his longtime sidekick (Awkwafina) and his equally skilled, estranged sister (Meng’er Zhang) in Macau, who both have struggled with loss, use their martial-arts training as children (Jayden Zhang/Arnold Sun and Elodie Fong/Harmonie He) to join forces with villagers (Michelle Yeoh, et al.) to stop their grieving father bent on destruction.
“Soul Kitchen” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — When his girlfriend (Pheline Roggan) leaves for Shanghai for a journalist assignment in this hilarious, charmingly quirky, well-written, 2009 comedy, a lackadaisical German cook (Adam Bousdoukos), who serves mediocre food at his ramshackle restaurant in Hamburg, by chance hires a talented, egotistical, self-serving, hotheaded chef (Birol Ünel) to cook more upscale food while trying to decide whether to join his lover in China, to sell his property to a greedy businessman (Wotan Wilke Möhring) he met in school, and/or to give his gambling-addicted, ex-con brother (Mortiz Bleibtreu) a job after he falls in love with a waitress (Anna Bederke).
“Temple Grandin” (NR) (4) [DVD and VOD only] — An inspirational, captivating, Emmy-winning, well-acted, factually based, 2010 HBO film that follows a troubled, difficult life of bullied, shunned, brilliant, autistic student (Claire Danes) from her days growing up with her headstrong, tenacious mother (Julia Ormand) and supportive aunt (Catherine O’Hara) during the 1960s, attending a specialized boarding school at which an understanding and compassionate teacher (David Strathairn) challenges and empowers her, graduating from an eastern college and giving the commencement address as valedictorian, and through studying animal behavior on her aunt’s farm during the summer months and observing cattle behavior on Arizona feedlots and publishing articles regarding her research, she eventually designed a more humane and efficient system to kill cattle at slaughterhouses that is currently in use at more than 50% of slaughterhouses in North America today.
Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.