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Notes from the Back Row

Movies R good to go

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“Rated R — for strong, bloody violence, terror, and strong language.”

This is like a road map to my heart. Heck, toss “nudity” in there and I’d truly be in love. Strong, bloody violence, as you know, never gets old. Just watch the news. Or watch The Hitcher , the newest R-rated terror/horror/suspense/road trip flick that opens Friday at the fantastic Village 8 theatres.

Was the original Hitcher (1986) worth a remake, even 21 years later? Michael Bay thinks so. His company (which also remade Amityville Horror, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre) has bankrolled the project. A college couple has replaced the original single protagonist and after that the story is pretty well known. They pick up a hitcher, he torments them, they fend him off but it doesn’t end there, does it?

My advice is go out and rent the original Hitcher , and if you don’t like that, probably best to skip this one too. And don’t even think about trying The Hitcher 2 (2003). Otherwise, if you’re like me, give it a go.

Me, I long for the simpler days of my youth, when the third “Hitcher” movie would have been called, not surprisingly, Hitcher 3 . These sequel-remakes are gay. It’s not like the plot really ever changes and don’t you kind of feel sorry for the actual Hitcher, that lonely, dark stranger just starting to make a name for himself then suddenly, yet furiously, trying to hang with guys like Jason (11 sequels), Freddy (9) and least-sequels-but-best of all, Michael (8).

Okay, what movie to review next? How about the new Angelina movie, The Good Shepherd , a flawed, overlong yet ambitious flick directed by Robert De Niro. Matt Damon and John Turturro (small role; too small) give strong performances in this creepy, historical CIA flick. Plus the return of Joe Pesci doing what he does best isn’t too shabby either. Not great, not bad. Give De Niro the benefit of the doubt, check it out (but it is 168 minutes long).

And if you haven’t seen the new Bond yet, go right now. Kudos to the Village 8 for continuing to screen this, the best Bond since Connery. It’s bad-ass, it’s cool — gambling is hot right now, and the controversial new Bond is top-notch and perfect.

Test his pedigree by watching Layer Cake starring Craig as a retired drug runner pulled back into the swing of things. Yes it’s Brit-crime, yes it’s wise-ass, yes it’s awesome. Check it out before you start whining about a blonde James Bond. It’s the DVD of the week.

The other DVD of the week is: Pump Up the Volume . Not just ’cause hot chicks my age absolutely love a 1990s Christian Slater, but because the whole flick is about sticking it to the man and shirking responsibility and the law. Remember when Whistler was cool and we had pirate radio?

In the meantime, keep watching the silver screen. The Departed comes back next week, best flick of the year, because it was a bit smarter than Borat. and we all know, HE can hitchike.

AT VILLAGE 8 Jan. 19-25: The Hitcher; Babel; Pursuit of Happyness; Children of Men; Night at the Museum; Primeval; Happily N’ever After; Casino Royale; Happy Feet; Borat; Good Shepherd; Holiday.

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