“Peter and the Wolf”, winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

For all intents and purposes, there’s really only one film being released this week. Which is too bad, since a few independent gems might fall into the shadow of the bat, never to be seen again. But that’s what I’m here for.

The Dark Knight –
I don’t need to write much about this. If you’re one of the 2.5 people who haven’t seen it already, nows your chance. It knocked my socks off (literally – they’re lying in a pool of dried Coke on some dirty multiplex floor out there). Will it age well? Is it the masterpiece many (including myself) have claimed it to be? Who the heck knows? It is, however, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the most thrilling films of the year. Even if your name is Luke.

Recommended for all non-blind people.

Purchase The Dark Knight on Blu-ray

Man On Wire
Any other release day, this film would be topping the list. One of the best documentaries of the year, it recounts Philippe Petit’s 1974 act of “performance art terrorism,” in which he strung a cable between the two towers of the World Trade Center and crossed back and forth, using only a pole for balance. Part Ocean’s 11, part Werner Herzog insanity, this is a must-see doc that entertains as often as it takes away breath. See Craig Kennedy’s review for confirmation.

Recommended also for all non-blind people.

Purchase Man On Wire on Blu-ray

The Rape of Europa: Collector’s Edition –
This one came out a month and a half ago, but they’re now releasing it in a fancy collector’s edition, complete with supplementary interviews and intriguing tidbits. If you missed it once before, don’t let it pass you by a second time (I’m looking at you Daniel Getahun). An absolutely fascinating perspective on a time period that I thought the History Channel had exhausted a long time ago.

Recommended if you liked Stolen, The War, or Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollack?

Peter and the Wolf
The winner of last year’s Oscar for that hottest of Academy categories, Best Animated Short Film. Luke caught Peter and the Wolf during a special engagement earlier in the year and liked it immensely: “A new, wordless adaptation of Prokofiev’s program music, done this time with stop-motion. The attention to detail here is incredible: if you were to walk in halfway through, you might think for a second that you’re watching a live action film.”

Recommended if you long for the days when stop-motion filmmaking wasn’t dedicated to creating new episodes of Robot Chicken.

Horton Hears a Who –
I took my 2-year old daughter to see this at the budget theater. She lasted 17 minutes, give or take, before her attention became fixated on making as much noise as possible, and I took her into the hall to run up and down a ramp (thrilling stuff, actually). I didn’t dislike that 17 minutes and came away with the impression that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. But what, pray tell, was with the WTF anime sequence haphazardly wedged in there?

Recommended if Ron Howard’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and Mike Meyers in The Cat and the Hat didn’t scar you for all eternity.

Purchase Horton Hears a Who on Blu-ray

A documentary investigation into the global water crisis, director Irena Salina builds a case against the rapid privatization of water, and features interviews with scientists, politicians, and activists. Sounds a bit dry (yuck yuck yuck), but could be an important look into an issue that is regularly muscled out of the spotlight by global warming.

Recommended if you liked An Inconvenient Truth or Who Killed the Electric Car?

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