By DNA Smith
This week features the release of three great films that either didn’t make it to your local multiplex or, if they did, didn’t stay there very long.

“Big Fan” — Patton Oswalt is best known for his outrageously funny stand-up comedy and as the voice of Remy the Rat in “Ratatouille.” In “Big Fan,” Oswalt proves that he is capable of doing complex, dramatic character work — and his performance in this movie is brilliant.

Oswalt plays a dude named Paul, who works as a ticket-taker in a parking garage, is 35 years old and still lives at home with his mother. But most of all, Paul is an obsessive New York Giants fan. When a chance meeting with the team’s star player leads to Paul getting viscously beaten by the player, Paul’s world crumbles and he must make a choice: Does he allow the police to prosecute the man (meaning a losing season for Paul’s beloved team?) or does he come up with a deluded plan that Just Might Work? Watch and find out.

“Moon” — I thought “District 9” was the best science-fiction movie of 2009; but coming in a close second is “Moon,” directed by David Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones. “Moon” stars Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, a poor schlub pulling a three-year stint on the moon maintaining an automated mining station. The three years without human contact is beginning to wear him down, and he misses his wife and little daughter terribly.

One day while on a routine inspection of one of the harvesters, Sam makes a disturbing and dangerous discovery that leads him to question his sanity — and a lot more.

“The Hurt Locker” — Jeremy Renner stars as Staff Sergeant James, the leader of a bomb disposal unit stationed in Iraq. James is an adrenaline junkie, and his gung-ho, reckless attitude toward the job has the members of his team so worried about whether he’s going to get them killed, they actually consider fragging him.

Director Kathryn Bigelow does a masterful job of directing this film. Despite the shaky-cam cinematography that seems almost compulsory nowadays for films like this, she manages to keep the emotional tension at such a high level, there are moments when you actually feel like you’re with the guys on a mission. The acting is outstanding, and most of all, this isn’t one of those preachy movies about the war (pro or con). It’s just a gripping story about men doing a dangerous job — and how that mission affects them. “The Hurt Locker” is one of the best films of 2009. Check it out.

“Top Gear” The Complete Season 11
“Top Gear” The Complete Season 12
“Jon and Kate Plus Ei8ht: Season 5 — Big Changes”
“The Simpsons” The Complete Twentieth Season
“ER” The Complete Twelfth Season
“Robin Hood” Season Three
“Becker” The Third Season

© 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.