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UNDERRATED / OVERRATED

October 19, 2008

OVERRATED

Red state / blue state cinema: From "Religulous" to "An American Carol," election year seems to be when politically motivated filmmakers campaign for your vote -- or at least your dollars. Surely they're hoping to win hearts and minds, but after 2004's "Fahrenheit 9/11" it's tough to think much comes of cinematic preaching to the choir. Think many undecided voters are lining up for "W."?

The return of shaky cinema: After the '90s gave us "NYPD Blue" and a steady diet of Lars von Trier, we thought we had built up a tolerance to hand-held camerawork. Then along came "Rachel Getting Married" and not even Anne Hathaway's terrific performance could keep our stomach from doing backflips with every unsteady shot. We love "real life" movie drama, but not if it's going to require Dramamine.

UNDERRATED

'Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist': This film's been dismissed by a lot of people for looking like just another way to spell "Juno," but those comparisons are just unfair. Sure there's some superficial similarities (right down to the cartoonish graphic design), but this movie has better dialogue, more believable characters and much better music. Long live the Michael Cera coming-of-age sub-genre!

Erykah Badu's latest album: Earlier this year Badu released "New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)" to a host of raves, but now the album is crowding nearly any local record shop's used CD bin. Even if this album was released way back in February, it's still worth discovering. Sprawling, dark and difficult, Badu's labor of love holds the sort of uncompromising passion that soul music needs.

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