Hard as Nails
Premieres on HBO 12/17
Why should Showtime (which premiered the Fred Phelps documentary Fall From Grace on Dec. 4) be the only network to mine drama from religious zealotry? Enter HBO’s premiere of Hard As Nails (pictured), David Holbrooke’s film about unorthodox Catholic minister Justin Fatica. The 29-year-old Fatica’s loud, confrontational approach to ministering (which includes crucifixion reenactments) attracts troubled teenagers who spill their guts to him about problems like drug addiction, self-mutilation, and sexual abuse. His controversial methods are condemned by some, including the Diocese of Burlington, Vt., which banned him following a school presentation. But like any passionate, and arguably somewhat extremist religious figure, he attracts parishioners who would follow him to the end of the earth.
The latest project from director Michael Lehmann (Heathers) is an indie film about a wannabe rock star, played by Aaron Stanford (Tadpole, The Hills Have Eyes), who runs a funky restaurant in pre-Katrina New Orleans that only sells breakfast cereal. His too-good-to-be-true business is turned upside down when a competitor moves in across the street and rips off his idea. Zooey Deschanel co-stars as his artist girlfriend, Pussy Katz. The movie got good buzz at last year’s South by Southwest Festival with critics praising the chemistry between Stanford and Deschanel. Plus, it provides about as recent a glimpse of old New Orleans as you can get (the film was shot just months before the hurricane did its catastrophic damage).
Chris Rock, Cheese and Crackers: Greatest Hits
This compilation puts together 19 recorded highlights from one of the great living stand-up comics. The bold, hilarious tracks include the Rock’s brilliant yet controversial bits "Blacks" and "OJ," plus "The Government Hates Rap" (Only rappers get gun down like this. I’ll tell you right now, if Billy Joel, Elton John, and David Bowie got shot, they’d have Bruce Springsteen’s house surrounded!), "Fat Black Women" (That’s right. It looks like they baking bread in her shoe. "Baby, your foot ready yet? l’ll just sprinkle some cinnamon on it.”), and the one that schooled us on a favorite prison pastime, "Tossed Salad Man."
Boy Eats Girl
If you missed out when it hit theaters in 2005 (and we know you did), now is the time to enjoy the British zombie horror-comedy Film Threat called ‘"Shaun of the Dead-lite" in the comfort of your own home. Irish singer-actress Samantha Mumba (Nailed, Johnny Was) stars in this 77-minute balancing act between tongue-in-cheek high school horror (a kid hangs himself, has his mother bring him back to the dead, and then starts a full blown zombie apocalypse after he bites the school bully) with a healthy dose of gruesome splatter gore. If you can overlook the fact that it’s kinda stupid and riddled with plot holes, Boy Eats Girl is a pretty good time.