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The Secret in Their Eyes (R)

Sony Pictures Classics

This year's Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, based on the Eduardo Sacheri novel, The Secret in Their Eyes is a seductive film noir, a lonely love story, a cautionary tale about taking a quest for justice too far, and a nightmare about a repressive period in Argentina's tumultuous recent history. Circa 2000, Benjamín (Ricardo Darín) is a court prosecutor about to retire and spend his time writing a novel about the unsolved 25-year-old rape-and-murder case that still haunts him. That story unravels for us as writer-director Juan José Campanella flashes back to the mid-1970s. At first, the film feels like a Law and Order episode set in Buenos Aires — a really great episode, but still TV-small in its ambitions. But slowly, the emotional grandeur and tragedy of what it's aiming at becomes clearer, and The Secret in Their Eyes thrills as a powerful reflection on regret and grief. — MaryAnn Johanson

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Starcrash (PG) (Blu-ray)

Shout! Factory

Star Wars, when you get right down to it, is a pretty uninspired sci-fi film that coasts along purely on the arrested-development nostalgia of fanboys. On the other hand, all the rip-offs Star Wars inspired — now those we should be celebrating and holding conventions for! Starcrash, from Roger Corman's New World Pictures, managed to gather an insane dream-cast: former child evangelist Marjoe Gortner, Brit beauty Caroline Munro, greasy cult madman Joe Spinell and, yes, a pre-Knight Rider David Hasselhoff. Directed by Italian schlock-god Luigi Cozzi, Gortner and Munro must rescue the universe from the evil Count, complete with lightsabers and telepathic powers, along the way fighting Amazons, cavemen and giant stop-motion robots. The real Force is with Starcrash, the best space-opera to come out of the '70s with a distinct Eurotrash flair. — Louis Fowler

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Woodshop (NR)

42 Productions

Filmed on location in Boulder, Woodshop is a highly admirable attempt at creating a homegrown coming-of-age teen comedy in the Breakfast Club vein: A group of socially diverse kids are made to spend a Saturday detention in woodshop class, taught by Jesse "The Body" Ventura. For the first hour, it's great, with valedictorian Chris leading us through a real breakdown of high school cliques and the like. But sadly, the film spirals into lame adolescent wish-fulfillment fantasy as bombs are made, lives are threatened, and Homeland Security makes a cameo. Did we really need all that? Wasn't the film doing a good enough job without all this extra silliness? Still, director Pete Coggan shows great promise, making a sturdy low-budget comedy that ranks right up there with more recent tween geek-makes-good products like Superbad and I Love You Beth Cooper. — Louis Fowler

Survival of the Dead (R)

Magnolia Home Entertainment

George A. Romero, godfather of the modern-day horror film, is back with Survival of the Dead, his sixth entry in the Living Dead series. No longer shooting for bigger and better zombie movies, he's instead telling slice-of-life stories from when our undead outbreak first started. And it really does breathe new life into the same old rotting ideas. More dramatic than horrifying, Survival finds an AWOL platoon on a small island where a Hatfields-and-McCoys-type war is being waged over the proper and moral disposal of the dead. Even more surprising than the family drama is the constant use of gallows humor from Romero. It's as if he realizes how silly this all is and decides to run with it, with zombies getting their heads removed in the most creatively hilarious of ways. It would actually be great to see him just say, "Screw it!" and do a full "splat-stick" zombie comedy. Perhaps Sidesplitters of the Dead? — Louis Fowler

Growth (NR)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

I have a completely irrational fear of slugs, so any time a horror film comes along that features the slimy creatures sliding into human mouths and eating brains, well, it's something I enjoy with masochistic glee. Movies like Night of the Creeps, Slugs, Slither and, now, the low-budget shocker Growth. When geneticists on a remote island decide to play God — again — by trying to create a "super-human," things go haywire: Little parasitic slugs develop and burrow deep into the body, controlling minds and causing the hosts to kill. This doesn't sit well when a family, on the island for the weekend to clear up some family business, finds itself right in the middle of a slimy uprising, with no cure in sight. Great, creepy special-effects really make your skin crawl and completely make up for the constant jumps in tone and logic that would be the failure of any other B-monster movie. In other words, Growth really grows on you. Or in you. — Louis Fowler

The Norm Show: The Complete Series (NR)

Shout! Factory

I have always held tightly to the belief that Norm MacDonald is the funniest comedian working today — he's almost an anti-comedian, a guy who relishes making the audience not laugh. He ruled SNL's "Weekend Update" desk and killed in Dirty Work, but has never really been able to translate that "not-comedy" into a decent sitcom premise. Still, that didn't stop ABC from running The Norm Show for three seasons, with wildly varying results. MacDonald, cast here as an ex-hockey player and current social worker, gets laughs every time he's on-screen. But since he's forced to work within the parameters of a typical sitcom, filled with stock plots and clichéd secondary characters, he tones things down too much. Sometimes, it just falls flat. But, then again, knowing MacDonald, maybe that was all part of the act? — Louis Fowler

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