Notes from the back row 

Good news, bad news, positive thoughts

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The good news is, The Departed came out on DVD last Tuesday. That means all you poor buggers who haven’t been picking up Indonesian bootleg DVDs for a buck apiece can finally own what I consider the best film of 2006.

Directed by Marty Scorcese, who remade 2002 Hong Kong blockbuster Internal Affairs and set it in the mean streets of Boston, The Departed is an identity movie. There’re cops pretending to be gangsters and gangsters pretending to be cops and both sides know they’ve been infiltrated and are walking a tightrope plot stretched over a minefield of emotions, deceit and betrayal.

Starring Matt Damon (who kills it), Leo DiCaprio (who’s not as good as he was in Blood Diamond, but way better than The Beach ) and Jack Nicholson (as Jack Nicholson doing his thing) and with a standout performance by Mark Walberg, this cat-and-mouse story showcases brilliant actors playing strong characters amidst superb storytelling, and with that little something extra that Scorcese always brings to the table. That’s the good news.

Also good news is that Disney releases The Bridge to Terrabithia this Friday and it is a pretty stand-up fantasy adventure flick for the coveted 8-11 (tween) market. An ostracized boy with four sisters and an overbearing father meets a new girl next door who can run faster than him and, while bonding over their love of telling stories and drawing things, the two invent a fantasy world accessible only via rope swing. This film, while set in the present, captures the “simpler times” feel of the popular 1970s kids novel it’s based upon. I realize tweens today are more into Britney Spears and Rainbow Parties but Terrabitha’s mix of imagination, good performances, cool CGI, and a dark-ish ending should still draw the kiddies in.

Now the bad news, Columbia Pictures is so sure that GhostRider is going to suck they’re not having any preview screenings for critics. This is not because they want to surprise us all with an awesome flick about a stuntman with a magic moto and a “hot” hairdo who fights crime. It’s ’cause they know it stinks worse than burning ass hair.

I, however, don’t care because I own Ghost Rider comic book issues 5-6 where he fights the Punisher (it’s a tie, of course) and now I want to see if the GhostRider film could possibly be worse than the two Punisher ones. Call me a geek, I like comic books, the secret is out.

And so is The Secret, an inspirational, self-help, spiritual guidance DVD that promises you any and all of your wildest dreams if you just use the power of the mind and of positive thought. The Secret’s logic is pretty sound — the law of attraction states that like things are attracted to each other and everything on earth has its own “energy.” So it you’re full of negative thoughts, you’ll attract shit with negative energy. And vice versa.

I totally believe in the power of positive thought and The Secret’s message is sound and harmless. The delivery of said message, however, comes across as something closer to a late night infomercial or Amway recruitment video. And the two, count ’em, copyright infringement messages that pop up before the flick proves the people behind it are far more interested in making bank than spreading the good word.

Still though, you can’t really argue with the fact that it’s better to think positive than negative and so long as you can find a bootleg copy (and save 50 bucks) The Secret promises good news from here on in.

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