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‘Charlie Bartlett’ is week’s Can’t Miss movie

Coming-of-age film adds a 21st century twist to ‘Ferris Bueller,’ plus ‘quarterlife’ comes to TV, Erykah Badu's new album and more.
/ Source: contributor


Charlie Bartlett has the same irrepressible spirit as Ferris Bueller once did, except Ferris never doled out psychiatric advice, not to mention prescription drugs. But that’s what this new teen rebel does from the boys’ room of a public high school in the fresh comedy “Charlie Bartlett,” which marks the directorial debut of Jon Poll, an editor who sharpened his comedic teeth working with Jay Roach. Charlie, who has been kicked out of several private schools, goes from being bullied as the new kid in public school to becoming a sought-after amateur therapist with a knack for knowing just what his classmates need. The incomparable Hope Davis co-stars along with Robert Downey, Jr. Who knows? Now that he’s reached middle age, Ferris Bueller could probably use someone like Charlie Bartlett. (MGM Films, in theaters now)


QUARTERLIFE -- Pictured: (l-r) Michelle Lombardo as Debra, David Walton as Danny, Maite Schwartz as Lisa, Michael Foster as Jed, Bitsie Tulloch as Dylan, Kevin Christy as Andy -- NBC Photo: Elisabeth CarenElisabeth Caren / Gallery

It seems this Internet thing is here to stay. Yet another reminder is “quarterlife,” the latest lower-case series by Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, the team that brought you “thirtysomething,” as well as the capital-lettered feature film, “Legends of the Fall.” The difference here is that “quarterlife” began as an Internet series, and is now being expanded for network exhibition. It revolves around a bunch of twentysomethings entangled in careers and romances. It includes video blogging Bitsie Tulloch (“Lost,” “The West Wing”) among a fine ensemble cast. They keep saying that eventually the Internet and television as we know it will meld into a single distribution device. It seems Zwick and Herskovitz are doing their part to accelerate that process. (NBC, Tuesday, 10 p.m.)


In the “best of both worlds” department stands Erykah Badu, the soul songstress extraordinaire and Grammy winner from Dallas. She has carved out an incredible career by staying true to roots of old school R&B, but her music is original and energetic thanks to sufficient hip-hop influences. Together her work is a hybrid of the finest kind. Her new disc is “New Amerykah, Part I: 4th World War,” the first of a three-part series that is being released on her birthday, February 26. She has recruited some top-notch studio help, including Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder (who has worked with Jay-Z, Nas and Mary J. Blige, among others). Some of the standout tracks include the single “Honey” plus “Soldier” and “The Healer.” Clearly, this is a bold step forward in Amerykahn music. (Universal Motown)


They don’t make epics any more. Not really. Now when Hollywood puts out a film that is purported to be on an “epic” scale, it means lots of computer-generated battle scenes or graphically manipulated landscapes. One of the last of the sweeping sagas truly on an epic scale is “The Last Emperor,” Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterpiece about Pu Yi, who took the throne in Ching dynasty China in 1908 and presided over incredible tumult and transformations over decades. John Lone and Joan Chen star in this 1987 feast for the eyes, which won all nine Academy Awards for which it was nominated, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography (the legendary Vittorio Storaro). “The Last Emperor” is out on DVD in a four-disc set with lots of extras, including both the theatrical and television versions of the film. “The Last Emperor” is still king. (Criterion Collection)


John Huddy is a former columnist for the Miami Herald who is now keeping busy producing television shows. He was in Las Vegas working on a documentary when he came across the story of Jose Manuel Vigoa Perez, who was sort of a real-life Tony Montana, a criminal who lived on adrenaline rather than cocaine. Vigoa came from Cuba and claimed to have been trained as a commando in the former Soviet Union. When he came to the U.S., he used that training to stage brazen armed robberies in Las Vegas. Vigoa’s story is the subject of Huddy’s scintillating non-fiction thriller, “Storming Las Vegas.” Huddy actually got much of his information from the crook’s mouth, interviewing him at length about his audacious heists. The meticulous planning of the robberies, as well as some of the bungled jobs, makes it hard to put the book down. And of course the best part for Huddy: If Hollywood decides to make a movie about his book, he has the inside track to produce it. (Ballantine Books)