I really love graphic novels (comics, trade paperbacks, whatever your nomenclature of choice is). Part of it has to do with how busy I am; between my family, my job, and regaling all of you with my sparkling prose, when I sit down to read something the last thing I want to pick up is War and Peace. I have the brand new translation in gorgeous hardback even, it’s sitting on the nightstand next to my bed, and I want to read it, but it requires an effort of will that is currently being expended elsewhere. Tolstoy will have to wait.

Currently I’m reading The Walking Dead (hattip to Matt Gamble), essentially what you would get if Night Of the Living Dead never ended. I dip into Fell by Warren Ellis on occasion (hattip to Graham Culbertson), and I have Adolf by Osama Tezuka waiting in the wings. One of these days I’d like to try my hand at actually writing a graphic novel. I just have to find someone who can draw.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Elite Squad
I’ve been jonesing for this one ever since it won top prize at the Berlin Film Festival (although some were baffled by its victory). Take the geography and visual punch from City of God but place your protagonists on the other side of the law and Elite Squad is what you get. Hyper-stylized, politically ambiguous, and raucous entertainment: please sir, can I have some more now.

Recommended if you liked City of God, City of Men, or Dirty Harry.

Billy the Kid –
Social awkwardness comes to life in this documentary about Billy, a one-of-a-kind teen cutting his own personal swath through the world. At times fascinating, at times painful, this is an intimate look into the life and mind of someone who is definitely not like you at all.

Recommended if you liked Crumb, Stevie, or American Teen.

There is something deeply gratifying about the revenge genre. The intellectual in me knows – knows! – that revenge is poisonous and unsatisfying, but sometimes you just want to see the bad guy get it. Brian Cox tries his hand at a little righteous payback here, the difference being that the titular “Red” is a dog. I could probably watch Brian Cox read the IRS tax code, so watching him exact sweet vengeance is a no-brainer.

Recommended if you liked Sleepers, Death Wish, or Deathproof.

Tuya’s Marriage
Oddly enough, this film won the exact same award that Elite Squad won the following year, the Golden Bear. I love films that open a window into another world, and Tuya’s Marriage takes a deep look into complicated relationship within inner Mongolia, something I certainly know less than nothing about. When Tuya’s husband is crippled in an accident, she sets out to find a new mate with one condition: he has to take care of both her and her ailing husband. Although Mongolian romance is foreign to me, I imagine that is just as tall of an order as it would be here.

Recommended if you liked Mongol (the romantic bits) or The Cave of the Yellow Dog (the nomadic life bits).

Death Defying Acts
Starring Guy Pearce and Catherine Zeta-Jones, this film about Harry Houdini was left to die in the dumpster behind the one theater it played in. It received poor reviews, but I have to believe that outside politics or fiscal concerns directly led to its demise. If Ed Norton and Jessica Biel can sell a tepid hocus-pocus period romance, why can’t Pearce and Zeta-Jones do the same?

Recommended if you liked The Illusionist or The Prestige.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
This one received above-average reviews all across the board, surprisingly so. If my daughter was a bit older or I was, you know, someone other than a 28 year old male with a penchant for guilty pleasure action flicks, I’d be snapping up this puppy and its irresistibly adorable star (Abigail Breslin) in a heartbeat.

Recommended if you liked Nancy Drew, Mathilda, Ella Enchanted, or Nim’s Island.

Buy Kit Kittredge: An American Girl on Blu-ray

Journey to the Center of the Earth –
I’m going to go ahead and say that, much like Beowulf, this film is probably even more of an exercise in misery minus the 3D that was used to sell it to the masses in the first place. Amazon says that the DVD ships with 3D glasses, but I’m going to also guess that watching 3D in your own home will provide nausea much faster than it will entertainment (unless nausea=entertainment in your book, in which case you’re visiting the wrong site my friend).

Recommended if Brendan Frasier is your favoritist action star of all-freakin’ times! Wait, where’s my gold-plated copy of The Mummy? I MUST WATCH IT NOW!

Buy Journey to the Center of the Earth on Blu-ray

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
Normally I would spend no time on something like this, but then I caught this blurb from the pen of Entertainment Weekly’s critic-at-large Owen Gleiberman, and I couldn’t resist: “As savage as Dawn of the Dead, as slapstick nutzoid as Evil Dead 2, as gag-on-your-popcorn gross as Pink Flamingos, and as dementedly foulmouthed literate as a Kevin Smith raunchfest. It’s genuine sick fun, and there isn’t a boring moment in it! B+!”

Recommended if you know what Troma is. ‘Nuff said.

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