By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Night Watch (Fox Searchlight)
Every once in a while, Hollywood needs somebody else to steal a genre and totally reimagine it; it keeps old ideas young, like celluloid Botox. Well, Hollywood's gonna need one big needle to absorb Night Watch, an insane, insanely cool Russian action/horror/sci-fi brew that's like nothing you've seen. Set in modern-day Moscow (which looks strangely post-apocalyptic), it chronicles the secret war between the good and evil "Others" who walk among us, from vampires to were-tigers. But it's not the somewhat goofy plot that'll catch your eye; it's the flashy mix of bargain-basement CGI, gore, and cinematography that shows the real talent of co-writer/director Timur Bekmambetov. Veins glow through skin, blood gushes through the air, and the camera whips around to catch it all. It's pretty much a gut-stained Russian Tilt-a-Whirl, and who wouldn't have a ball on that? --Jordan Harper
Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman (Warner Bros.)
What could have been an infomercial for Superman Returns is a surprisingly thoughtful and enlightening doc about the Man of Steel, from his humble origins in the bedrooms of two Jewish boys in Cleveland through his evolution as icon, myth, and franchise. Not only does it seek to put him in context--contrasting his exploits with archival footage of real-life heroes (JFK) and villains (Hitler)--it's also plenty honest about how DC Comics has done him right and wrong in recent years. Full of interviews with his gatekeepers and caretakers and fans (among them Kiss' Gene Simmons), the doc soars when delving into the darker corners of Superman's history. If you're not a fanboy, this might make you one. --Robert Wilonsky
Punk Rock Film School (Image)
If everyone in music were as stolid and reactionary as old punks, rock would still sound like Chuck Berry and rappers would all ape the Sugar Hill Gang. Fortunately, kids know that's baloney; this lesson in music-video-making assumes that a digital camera and computer are as vital a part of punk as amps and crappy clothes. Hosted by veteran director Darren Doane (Blink-182, AFI), it shows a one-day garage shoot for the band Operatic. Doane drops knowledge between takes (how to lip-synch convincingly, how to muffle drums), but the post-production advice on editing and color correcting may be even more essential. The hour-long disc is heavily padded--six takes of the song "Interested in Madness"!--but it should help teens in garages avoid looking like total morons. Which might not be punk rock, but it's a favor to the world. --J.H.
The Omen: Collector's Edition (Fox)
Among the revelations contained in this two-disc package: Warner Bros. owned the rights to this cautionary tale about adoption but was threatening to put it in turnaround oblivion because of its other demonic property, The Exorcist; only the involvement of its producers and director Richard Donner saved it from being buried. Guess that's good news for fans of this satanic freakout; me, I was never scared by either pic, maybe because my people believe guilt's a far more terrifying force than a cherubic Antichrist. Donner says this wasn't supposed to be a horror movie, and it isn't; a Bible lesson's more like it, with special effects thrown in to keep it moving till the end that really wasn't, as it spawned sequels that were more malicious than any son of Satan. --R.W.