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Monsters (R)

Magnolia Home Entertainment

What a surprise, to find so much depth inside what's essentially a laptop movie. Writer-director Gareth Edwards is uniquely qualified to tell this story of aliens on Earth and the contentious (mis)understanding that develops between the occupied and the incidental occupiers. He has a background in both digital effects and nature documentaries, having directed sensationalistic "what-if" programs for Discovery like Solar Storm and Super Tornado. That same sense of impending, amorphous dread pervades here, as a freelance journalist and his girlfriend attempt to navigate a Mexican wasteland where creatures that hitchhiked from one of Jupiter's moons exist in a kind of quarantined nowhere. Due to budget constraints, we don't see these creatures in their full glory too often, and the film is better for it — all the better to ponder Edwards' potent, smart allegories. — Justin Strout

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Futureworld (PG-13)

MGM/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Like Warner Archive, MGM is rolling out its own DVD-on-demand service, starting with Futureworld. The technology-gone-wrong classic Westworld was insanely popular in the '70s, a prime example of pre-Star Wars science fiction that preyed upon people's want for hedonism but fear of innovation, written and directed by Michael Crichton. The image of Yul Brenner as the murderous robot known as the Gunslinger is an iconic image burned into the American consciousness. This sequel should be an interesting curiosity, with Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner as reporters investigating the internal workings of the theme park, finally reopened after the massacre a few years earlier. Their findings are indeed new and shocking — world domination is a great twist — but director Richard T. Heffron is never able to elevate the picture above a made-for-TV level. — Louis Fowler

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Enter the Void (NR)

IFC Films

After directing the brutal double-feature of I Stand Alone (wherein a nihilistic butcher rages at the world) and Irreversible (a temporally displaced rape-revenge fantasy), it's good to see French director Gaspar Noé take things down a notch with this three-hour hallucinogenic mind-fuck treatise on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. A young man — about to make a drug deal in the dystopian nightscape of downtown Tokyo while high on Dimethyltryptamine — gets shot by cops and finds himself out-of-body, observing how his death affects his friends and family. Enter the Void can, if you're in the right (or, even better, wrong) frame of mind, change your life and open your eyes to the tracer-infused astral plane that surrounds us at all times, leading to sleepless nights questioning the world beyond this one. Of course, smoking some DMT wouldn't hurt matters. — Louis Fowler

  • Monsters, Futureworld, Enter the Void

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