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The DVD Queue: A Jock, a Prep, a French-Arab Gangsta, and a Piranha!

A Prophet.

A Prophet is the perfect antidote to crime-flick fatigue.
Lately, blue aliens, mind-invaders, and men in tights have stolen the macho crown from old-fashioned hoods — whose problem has been, really, that classic gangster stories have become so old-fashioned themselves. But if you’re suffering from gangster-movie burnout, Jacqued Audiard’s epic crime film The Prophet is reason enough to give crime-flick cinema another chance, and not just disappear into a lifetime of Grand Theft Auto. Audiard, the director of The Beat That My Heart Skipped, throws his audience into the slammer with Malik, a 19-year old Arab kid with a brain but nobody to protect him on the inside. He’s forced to carry out a murder for a Corsican godfather and then becomes his de facto capo. Malik works his way up through the rungs, mastering the grisly art of behind-bars assassinations and, eventually, until the Corsican’s blunt racism eventually becomes too much for him to bear, and Malike begins to crave his own piece of the prison pie. Malik’s rise to power is brutal but not swift: He’s hard-to-read, a cold calculator who doesn’t have a plan in the beginning, but watches, learns, and brilliantly improvises his way up. By the end of the film, Malik is the tough, fresh-faced king of the prison — a nice mirror of the way the film itself eclipses the old crime-flick regime with something harsh, smart, and new. For David Edelstein’s review, click here.

Did John Sayles write his best line ever for Piranha?
Oh yes, just in time for Piranha 3D and the massive rollout of the excellent Roger Corman Cult Classics collection, Joe Dante’s 1978 action flick leaps back out of the water. It’s worth noting that the film sports a script by none other than John Sayles (Matewan, Lone Star), who wrote one of the most perfect lines in B-movie history: “People eat fish, Grogan. Fish don’t eat people.”

Watch a 13-Year-Old Gut a Man in Kick-Ass.
Sure, Nicolas Cage’s bizarro Adam West voice is weird, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Red Mist costume is super-strange, but the crowning weirdness of Matthew Vaughan’s low-rent superhero fight-fest is the way Chloe Moretz, a 13-year-old killing machine, guts grown men in an ever-more-disgusting series of gruesome kills. After cringing through the violence, read our profile of Christopher Mintz-Plasse, in which McLovin shockingly admits, “I’m not Daniel Day Lewis. I’m not a Method actor who stays in character 24/7.”

Celebrate (or condemn) Roman Polanski’s freedom with a screening of The Ghost Writer.
David Edelstein wrote that The Ghost Writer, Polanski’s paranoid political thriller about a politician (Pierce Brosnan) and his co-author (Ewan McGregor), “is a trim, fluid, perfectly sustained work. Whatever its narrative lapses, it conjures from first frame to last his malignant inner world.” The film is precisely executed, and expertly Hitchockian, but the real suspense is wondering whether it’s so engrossing that you can stop thinking about Polanski’s lingering court case.

See Emilio Estevez’s Library Dance in High-Def with The Breakfast Club on Blu-ray.
This 25th-anniversary edition will not only make you (or the film) feel very, very old. The high-definition Blu-ray release allows you to finally fully appreciate the dance stylings of Emilio Estevez, the vocal talent of Judd Nelson, the hairspray of Molly Ringwald, and the blond cuteness of Anthony Michael Hall — while counting every speck of dandruff left on the desk by Ally Sheedy.

Also out this week:
The Kim Novak Collection; Pandora and the Flying Dutchman; Humanoids of the Deep; Deathsport; Battletruck; Elvis on Tour; Diary of a Wimpy Kid; The Dungeon Masters; The First Films of Akira Kurosawa; Heroes: Season 4.

The DVD Queue: A Jock, a Prep, a French-Arab Gangsta, and a Piranha!