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Mamet’s complex ‘Redbelt’ is a Can’t Miss film

The film will have moviegoers battling over whether or not it's preposterous. Plus: a Marvin Gaye special on PBS, and the classic film "Red Balloon" comes to DVD.
/ Source: contributor


Image: Tim Allen in Redbelt

Fans of David Mamet expect his movies to be puzzles, but this time the whole concept is a puzzle. Mamet’s realm usually is populated by cops and con men, but in “Redbelt” he steps into territory that seems strange and unfamiliar for him: the world of martial arts. Mike Terry, played by the vastly underrated Chiwetel Ejiofor (“Dirty Pretty Things”), is the owner of a struggling Jujitsu academy in Los Angeles who refuses to compete in fights because he feels it’s dishonorable. But of course, this being Mamet, a complex web of events begins to unfold and before you know it, Mike’s fists are flying. The plot will have people battling it out after leaving the theater over whether it’s preposterous or not. But such reactions are part of Mamet’s puzzle, too. (Sony Pictures Classics, opens Friday)


Image: Singer Marvin Gaye In Knit Cap
Headshot of American soul singer Marvin Gaye (1939 - 1984), wearing a knit cap, 1977. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)Pictorial Parade / Hulton Archive

What’s going on? When Marvin Gaye asked that question many years ago, the answer was a great deal as far as his career was concerned. He was one of Motown’s princes who started with light rhythm and blues such as “I’ll Be Doggone” and “Ain’t That Peculiar” to more profound material such as “Inner City Blues” and “Sexual Healing.” He was shot dead by his father after an argument in 1984, and a staggering career came to a tragic halt. His life and career are the focus of “American Masters: Marvin Gaye,” which chronicles his rise through the Motown machine, his desire to be a solo artist and make the kinds of records he wanted to make, his personal struggles and his relationship with his parents. Gaye was one of the most influential of all the Motown alumni, and his legacy is worth a whole series of these shows. For now, enjoy this one. (PBS, Wednesday, check local listings for time)



Well before Tom Petty embraced the Heartbreakers, he was the leader of another band in the early ‘70s called Mudcrutch, which is now back together — at least temporarily. It had a regional following around Florida, but never released an album. Mudcrutch now consists of Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, but also with original Mudcrutch band members Tom Leadon and Randall Marsh. “Mudcrutch” the comeback CD is sort of heartland, old school, democratic rock rather than a showcase for Petty, although he certainly is still center stage. Some of the more notable tracks include “This Is a Good Street,” “Crystal River” and a cover of the Byrds’ “Lover of the Bayou.” This might be a good time to investigate if there are any previous incarnations of the Rolling Stones, U2 and others who might want to reconnect. (Reprise/WEA)


The Red Balloon
The Red Balloon

In 1957, the French short film “The Red Balloon” won an Oscar for best original screenplay for its writer-director, Albert Lamorisse, for a story that couldn’t be much simpler, yet the sheer power of the narrative was clear. It’s a children’s story about a young boy who finds a stray red balloon and begins playing with it in the streets of Paris. Naturally, it’s not that easy. Eventually, real life begins to intrude on his fun. “The Red Balloon” is now on DVD for the first time, and while there are no extras to speak of other than a theatrical trailer, the film is a superb example of how storytelling that relies on images can be much more breathtakingly poignant than some bloated studio release with an overabundance of snappy dialogue. The word most often associated with this film is “enchanting,” which is the only word it needs. (Janus Films in association with Criterion Collection)


Image: \"The Mysterious Montague\" by Leigh Montville
\"The Mysterious Montague\" by Leigh Montville

Who was the mysterious Montague? Back in the 1930s, everybody wanted to know, or more accurately, everybody in Hollywood who had a passion for golf wanted to know. John Montague played at Lakeside Golf Club in Burbank with some of the film industry’s most notable stars, including W.C. Fields, Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore and even Howard Hughes. Sportswriter Grantland Rice was so impressed he declared Montague “the greatest golfer in the world.” But the man never wanted to be photographed. Why? Because he might not be who he seemed? Because he might be linked to a crime that occurred on the other side of the continent a few years back? Leigh Montville reconstructs in “The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf and Armed Robbery” the legend of this trick-shot golf artist who had all the stars awed. From now on, this might cause you to ask the other golfers in your foursome for fingerprints and DNA, just in case. (Doubleday)