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The Baader Meinhof Complex (R)

MPI Home Video

Like its contemporary war, Vietnam, the student movement of the 1960s and '70s will exist as fertile ground for storytelling, probably forever. In his unflinching, non-glamorized account of one of those stories, based on Stefan Aust's book of the same name, director Uli Edel presents the true tale of radical college kids in Germany who believed their country was teetering on a return to fascism and turned to violent protest — mostly fire bombs — to prevent it. Edel's stylized exploration lends itself to hero worship, but he doesn't back down from casting attention on the killing of innocents and the often despicable nature of the actions of the young radicals (terrorists?). Edel's choices guide the film into the difficult territory of unanswerable questions and moral incertitude, which makes it all the more energizing and fascinating. — Justin Strout

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Alvin and the Chipmunks:The Squeakquel (PG)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

I've always attempted to review children's movies with different rules, because, well, youngsters aren't as smart or sophisticated as us. No offense, kids! They want something loud and glossy that comes complete with a toy-line; and Hollywood often listens. But with Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel evidently even those standards have become too high: This is one of the laziest movies I've ever had the displeasure to view. Sure, it's based on an equally dumb cartoon, but this live-action entry doesn't even live up to that. The Chipmunks go to high school, meet the Chipettes, sing "We Are Family" and ... that's it. No discernible plot whatsoever. There's gotta be something better your kids can watch, because the Squeakquel isn't a movie, it's a movie studio ATM machine. — Louis Fowler

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Afghan Star (NR)

Zeitgeist Films

In the U.S., when people deny watching American Idol, it's often out of embarrassment over their potential lack of cool. But in Afghanistan, where TV and pop music were prohibited by the Taliban, voting for singers in a TV competition takes on layers of cultural and political significance. The documentary Afghan Star, named for the show it examines, renders our country's Kris Allen-vs.-Adam Lambert debates trifling in comparison to the high-stakes dramas faced by Afghan contestants. (Female competitors even receive death threats.) Director Havana Marking captures not only the enthusiasm of the competition and its various players, but the subtleties of the battles being won and lost behind the scenes in a country struggling to balance its history and its future. — Jill Thomas

Deadliest Catch: Season 5 (NR)

Discovery Channel

I've always felt that the best reality television shows were the ones in which the participants don't know that the camera is there, or at the very least, ignore it totally to let life unfold somewhat naturally. Far too many reality shows now allow constant mugging and quipping because most of them have become nothing more than a talent show for bad behavior. And that brings us to the Discovery Channel's popular Deadliest Catch. Having never seen an episode before, I was excited to check out season five; I had heard that it was a pulse-pounding look at the dangerous work of crab fishermen. Instead, I found myself just watching the same ol' thing: another group of foul-mouthed misfits putting on a "show," making the whole thing feel just as staged and fraudulent as everything else that's considered reality today. My heart is broken like a king crab leg. — Louis Fowler

The Sadist With Red Teeth / Forbidden Paris (NR)

Mondo Macabro

The recently discovered, rarely seen films of French filmmaker Jean-Louis van Belle are definitely an acquired taste. But for fans of late-'60s French low-budget surrealism — I know you're out there! — you'll be glued to the screen, enjoying a fun and dated pop-art train-wreck. In this double-feature from Mondo Macabro, The Sadist With Red Teeth is a bizarre take on the vampire mythos, about a graphic designer who becomes obsessed with vampirism after a car crash, leading him to hate moviegoers, joke-shop clerks and chickens. He's egged on by a psychiatrist with a twitchy assistant who carries around an ancient portable phone. The second feature, Forbidden Paris, is worthy, yet ultimately silly, wonderfully detailing the swinging '60s Paris underbelly, featuring end-time nuts, kissing fetish weirdos and stereotypical hippie gurus. It's pure cinematic insanity! — Louis Fowler


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