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Flashbacks of a Fool (R)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Daniel Craig, whose career has ignited since he became James Bond, takes on a decidedly different role as Joe Scott, a washed-up, coked-out, over-sexed actor in the powerfully compelling Flashbacks of a Fool. When Joe's best friend from his teenage years unexpectedly dies, it sends him into a series of reminiscences about the summer they met and the situations that made Joe into the mess he is today. Usually films like this are overacted, embarrassing indulgences that slide into self-parody within the first 10 or so minutes, but Flashbacks wisely avoids that fate by scraping away the Lifetime TV-movie histrionics in favor of a realistic, downbeat and at times shockingly likable story that's pushed along with vibrant acting. I didn't expect to like this one so much, and I've got to say that if I hadn't given it a chance, I'd have been the real fool. Louis Fowler

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Up the Yangtze (NR)

Zeitgeist Video / Release date: Nov. 18

China's Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest hydroelectric project. And though it provides much-needed energy for the increasingly modern country, the rising water has displaced 2 million people. Director Yung Chang captures this uneasy dance between progress and tradition, East and West, and rich and poor while on a "farewell cruise" up the Yangtze River. In the process, he highlights the lives of some of those affected. The most stirring is Yu Shui, a teenage girl who works on the cruise to support her family as they lose their home to the flooding. Don't skip the extras, which contain some powerful outtakes, including residents of a 1,000-year-old village who mount a protest. In a country often noted only for its huge population, Up the Yangtze brings home the experiences of the individuals who make up this nation of contradictions. Jill Thomas

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Too Tough to Die: A Tribute to Johnny Ramone (NR)

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Although, sadly, the title Too Tough to Die didn't prove true Ramones guitarist Johnny died shortly after this tribute concert I like to think, instead, this documentary's title refers to the steel-strong legends of the punk godfathers, just as relevant today as they were 30 years ago. The concert, hosted by Rob Zombie, features stellar performances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Henry Rollins (with Sex Pistol Steve Jones on guitar), X, Eddie Vedder and Pete Yorn among others, belting out on-target renditions of classic Ramones tunes. The final 10 minutes is a heartbreakingly bittersweet coda, filmed at Johnny's funeral. Tears flow and a giant bronze statue of the punk superstar is unveiled, a fitting reminder to the driving force behind one of the greatest, and most important, bands of all time. Louis Fowler

  • Flashbacks of a Fool, Up the Yangtze, and Too Tough to Die: A Tribute to Johnny Ramone

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