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Notes from the Back Row

Next not the best thing

Yes, start reading Amazing Spider-Man issue 298-327 right now. Those were the Todd McFarlane/David Michelinie issues and you’re gonna wanna have them all under your belt by next week when Spider-Man 3 drops. This week, two new movies at the Village 8, neither worth getting all that wet over.

Up first, at least Next , opening Friday, has Nic Cage in it. Say what you like, that guy’s a performer, giving it at least 85 per cent every single time. Nic Cage can be brilliant (Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona) or not (Ghost Rider,) but he’s never terrible. This time Nic plays a guy who can see a few minutes into the future, but is sick of doctors and government people poking and prodding him so he lives in Vegas where he gets by on “small time gambling winnings” and his day job as a “showroom magician.”

Now I haven’t checked this one out yet but if that didn’t sell you, how about this: “ But when a terrorist group threatens to detonate a nuclear device in Los Angeles, government agent Callie Ferris must use all her wiles to capture Cris (Cage) and convince him to help her stop the cataclysm.”

That’s direct from the Paramount website, by the way. Directed by competent-but-not brilliant Lee Tamahori ( although Once Were Warriors was pretty good) Next is another Phillip K Dick short-story adaptation but looks to be more in the vein of Paycheck than Total Recall. Remember Paycheck, another Dick sci-fi tale that was adapted for the screen and starred Ben Affleck? It blew. At least Next has Cage and super hottie Jessica Biel going for it, but it is PG-13 so look for lots of action but no real nudity. I like Jessica Biel because she reminds me of my accountant, who also tosses around lots of those purse-lipped come hither looks. But that’s neither here nor there.

Next (ha ha) up is The Invisible, another sci-fi premise, this time a murdered writer is somehow trapped between the world of the living and the dead. He has to figure out his own murder but he’s, you guessed it, invisible to the living. Of course, there’s an entire time-is-running-out aspect as well.

Directed by David Goyer, a screenwriter/producer with no directing experience to speak of, The Invisible looks to be a pretty forgettable tense sci-fi/mystery flick in the vein of The Sixth Sense but not as good. One bright spot is young Russian/American actress Margarita Levieva, who despite having a ridiculous first name, gives a strong performance in what may be her breakthrough role.

Speaking of Margs, my friend Ace once sneakily tossed a few frozen hot dog buns into the blender when we were short on ice. No one noticed. I suspect The Inivisible will have a similar fate.

Since we’re talking substance, the DVD of the week is actually an entire set, Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show . This box-set features 23 of the best episodes of that epic mid-90s comedy about a fake late night talk show, hosted by Garry Shandling and Jeffery Tambor (and featuring real celebrity cameos). Except Larry Sanders was way better than most real talk shows. In the days before reality TV and Entourage, this self-reflexive gem was perhaps the best thing on TV. Packed with tons of extra interviews The Larry Sanders Show set provides hours of entertainment for old fans and new recruits.

Speaking of new, Spider-Man 3 has new villains, new conflicts and new love interests and it drops next week so all you fanboy geeks like me, start getting stoked now.

AT VILLAGE 8 April 27-May 3: The Invisible; Next; Blades of Glory; Disturbia; Vacancy; Hot Fuzz; In the Land of Women; Fracture.