Orson Welles, Muay Thai Mayhem, and a Lost Musical Genius

Dynamite Warrior

Magnolia, $26.98

What does it mean when the makers of the mighty Ong-Bak produce another blast of Muay Thai mayhem, this one involving a rocket-surfing Robin Hood, buffalo rustling, a porkpie-hatted cannibal, an effeminate bad guy who capers like Rip Taylor on The Gong Show, and a nefarious plot to dominate turn-of-the-20th-century Siam with...tractors? It means my prayers have been answered: This lunatic action yarn means to wipe out whatever brain cells survived all those sixth-grade viewings of Infra-Man. If it's goofy Muay Thai delirium you're wanting, this is equal parts TNT and nitrous oxide. JIM RIDLEY

The Stranger

Fox, $19.98

Legend has it this is the movie Orson Welles loathed the most—the MGM studio job he took to prove he could play the game on a budget and a stopwatch. It's certainly not his best, but The Stranger (1946)—among four new MGM noir titles—remains engaging and enjoyable 61 years later, perhaps because even then it suggested that sleeper cells nap among us, in this case a Nazi (Welles) playing Yankee history prof till the start of the third World War. G-Man Edward G. Robinson travels to Norman Rockwell country to track down a disappeared war criminal engaged to a judge's daughter (Loretta Young). The beginning's a mess, the middle a drag, the end a hoot. But for all Welles' sneering, the movie's beautifully made. ROBERT WILONSKY

You're Gonna Miss Me

Palm, $24.98

Keven McAlester's doc about the papa of psychedelia, Roky Erickson, at long last gets its proper release. But time has done McAlester a tremendous favor: Had he shot the film too soon, he would have been forced to depict Erickson solely as he's been portrayed over the past 20 years—a damaged wreck living in squalor, a forgotten influence with rotten teeth. But McAlester got there at the right time, as Erickson was taking control of his life and returning to the stage, where he's now performing complete concerts for the first time in decades. Erickson's tale is heartbreaking and uplifting—redemption to the nth degree. ROBERT WILONSKY

Other Releases

From HBO, Taxicab Confessions: New York, New York continues that slightly smutty reality TV series. The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg profiles the late, great American writer. The animated French dystopian tale Renaissance will probably find its true home on home video. No amount of extras or Joel Schumacher's commentary can explain what he and Jim Carrey had in mind with The Number 23. The indie comedy Live Free or Die is like a pleasant update on The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Mads Mikkelsen stars in the fine Danish drama After the Wedding, while Factory Girl provides a star turn for Sienna Miller (see this week's Interview). And what could be more appropriate for summer than a collection of old Esther Williams titles, including Dangerous When Wet?


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