Once again this week, we're going to dispense with our normal pre-amble/ramble and get right to the handicapping. We could give you the standard excuse that there's just too much concrete activity going on to waste the space on scattershot observations — but the truth is that we've simply resolved to suspend our essaying until the economy is fixed. See you next week, when we'll all be licking lollipops on a big old pile of twenties!

of twenties!


Opening Friday, Oct. 3

An American Carol There are two ways to approach a right-wing broadside against all things liberal that stoops to including the ashes of the 9/11 victims as a dramatic prop (First Shot, Aug. 21). One is to consider this a great country indeed for making room for all points of view, even in the popular media. The other is best encapsulated by the words of South Park's Mr. Garrison: "You go to hell! You go to hell and you die!!" (PG-13)

Religulous Though we like Bill Maher, we wouldn't in a million years call his positions nuanced. (Yes, Bill, being willing to die for your beliefs is a sign of courage; forcing innocent people to die along with you is cowardice.) So we're worried that the sorely needed doc Religulous won't stop at skewering the awful things that are done in the name of religion, and will instead go straight into insulting people's faith itself. Oh, well; with Michael Moore momentarily relegating himself to the web, somebody's gotta hand the election to McGramps. (R)

Beverly Hills Chihuahua Go figure: We're on record as abhorring critter features that match celebrity voices to cheaply animated mouth movements. It even took us months to stop resenting the Taco Bell dog for mimicking Ren from Ren & Stimpy. So how come there's still some shadowy element of our psyche that not only wants but expects this third-gen chihuahua-out-of-water story to somehow be "good"? Honestly, folks, we're really starting to worry about ourselves. (PG)

Flash of Genius We detect echoes of the last great Francis Ford Coppola movie, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, in this true-lifer about an amateur inventor whose windshield-wiper technology was ripped off by the Ford Motor Company. Now, you might think that the average American's resentment of big business hasn't yet reached the point where he could get worked up about windshield wipers. To which we can only say: Watch CNBC much? (PG-13)

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People Simon Pegg brings to life journalist Toby Young's reminiscences of being British and befuddled in the New York publishing industry. Those lovable limeys: They're so funny when they're not buying us outright. (R)

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist When a movie's very title is an iPod reference, the over-30s can consider themselves put on notice that their ticket monies are wholly extraneous. (Any allusion to Nick and Nora Charles is all in your mind, pops.) But the clearer agenda of this kids'-night-out comedy is to further burnish Michael Cera's persona as the sweet, floppy-haired man-child who's "just pals" with everybody until an open-minded lady gives him a tumble. Real-life translation: He gets laid like he's handing out pardons in a women's prison. (PG-13)

Blindness While we were by no means antagonistic toward Fernando Meirelles' English-language crossover, The Constant Gardener, we weren't in the tank for it like most other reviewers and awards voters. The way we figured it, Meirelles worked best in his City of God/City of Men milieu. So we were saddened but not surprised to hear that his affliction allegory, Blindness, had been one dud of a Cannes opener, termed "earnest and dreary" by and later to earn such critical appraisals as "self-conscious" and "a mess." Um … City of Adorable Talking Babies, anyone? (R)


Available Tuesday, Oct. 7

Psycho: Special Edition The seminal slasher flick gets a snazzy rerelease that incorporates all manner of making-of footage and news clips, plus three-dimensional extras like a full set of lobby cards. Man, is this thing gonna be a tall order for Gus Van Sant to recreate.

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer This horror comedy about a plumber's fight against ancient evil arrives on DVD straight from the recent Fantastic Fest, where it won a Special Jury Award for Best Use of Latex. Ah, yes, we remember when that category was founded in the late '60s to honor Warren Beatty.


Available Tuesday, Oct. 7

Otto: Or, Up With Dead People The new flick from "political pornographer" (and John Waters fave) Bruce LaBruce concerns a gay punk zombie who wanders onto the set of a low-budget German film. Appropriately, the soundtrack — available on both CD and trés-chichi vinyl — features tracks by indie lurkers like the Living Dead Boys and the Pandas of Black Metal. Oh, and speaking of gay punk zombies: No Clay Aiken?

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