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Notes from the back row

Violent movies entertain, and little else

Movie fans who happen to be in New York this weekend can pop into Lemmy, 49% MutherF4cker, 51% Son Of A Bitch , an all-access, worshipping look into the life of the man who is basically the living embodiment of rock and roll. Best known as lead singer of Motorhead , Lemmy Klimister is, at age 65, still a rough, gruff, take-no-shit metal icon who claims, "I'm not qualified to be anything else."

The two-hour-plus film is not groundbreaking in any way but it delivers an inside look at Lemmy (even if it almost totally ignores band members Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee) and shows a softer, regular-guy side of a man who likes to dress up like a Nazi and ride in tanks - but insists he only likes the clothes, not the ideology. "I've had a lot of black girlfriends," Lemmy explains, "so how could I be a Nazi?"

If you can't make it to NYC or LA in the next while, the Lemmy DVD drops in Canada on March 8. Look for it.

At home, the Village 8 is opening The Mechanic , a high-flying, R-rated Jason Statham ( Crank) revenge flick about a leave-no-trace hitman known for never getting attached to anything - business is business.

But this time it's personal. When his aging mentor (Donald Sutherland) gets taken out the Mechanic teams up with the old man's slightly useless son (Ben Foster, 3:10 to Yuma ) to kick some ass and blow some shit up. The Mechanic is actually a remake of an old Charles Bronson film from the '70s and this time around it's actually better. Discerning viewers will enjoy a popcorn ride of escapist violence and the ratio of hand-to-hand and gun violence is particularly well balanced.

Also opening Friday is The Rite, a tense exorcism flick staring Anthony Hopkins as the wise old priest charged with showing a skeptic young novice the path to dealing with devil. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom ( 1408), the flick avoids the gruesome details that feature prominently in most exorcism films and instead aims for a mood of building dread that only falters a few times (an evil donkey?).

Based on true Vatican doctrine to re-instruct clergy members on the rites of exorcism, this PG-13 flick is creepy enough to be worthwhile and quality-wise falls somewhere in the middle of the exorcism genre, just above The Exorcist 4 .

The Oscar nominations came out today and 127 Hours is up for five awards including best picture, original score, adapted screenplay and best actor for James Franco, who plays the guy who has to cut off his own arm. Director Danny Boyle ( Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) again proves his genius by using unique camera angles and techniques to create a visually arresting film centered on just one location. What makes it even more astounding is how he draws the viewer in and creates interest when almost everyone knows the outcome going in. It ain't where you go, it's how ya get there and 127 Hours deserves at least one Oscar for the sound effects during the slicing-through-a-nerve sequence. Guaranteed to make you cringe, maybe vomit.

The DVD of the week is 2009's Universal Soldier: Regeneration. Most people wrote off this Jean-Claude Van Damme sequel but it also stars Dolph Lundgren and has some really bang-up, single shot, ultraviolent steadicam shots. It watches like a first-person shooter videogame, but if you are into long takes of a universal soldier strolling through a building shooting and knifing dozens of bad guys then this is the best 97 minutes of your week.  Meanwhile Oscar fever starts now and the big night is Feb 27. Lemmy isn't up for anything.