By Sam Struckhoff
“Of Gods and Men” (R) — This French import has been collecting awards and nominations for the past few months as the critics’ new favorite foreign-language film. It’s a quiet, thoughtful movie about Trappist monks in Algeria who are faced with a dilemma as fundamentalist violence reaches their peaceful village.

It’s easy to see why the film is such a hit with the critics — like the monks, the movie is slow, contemplative and devoted to its vision. The modest day-to-day lives of the monks reveal a quiet compassion and firm faith. This slow pace tacitly takes on different tones as the conflicts of the outside world close in.

The R-rating comes as a surprise. There is only one brief scene of violence, and absolutely no danger of a child seeing it since no child can make it through the first 20 minutes of this beautiful, snail-slow movie about the challenges of the faithful.

“Hobo with a Shotgun” (R) — This deranged circus of gore and bad language is a treat for fans of ultra-violence and 1970s exploitation films. That statement should be sufficient warning for those with high taste, because that’s as mild as it can be put. “Hobo with a Shotgun” is more accurately described as a blood-fueled roller-coaster ride through a riot of craven psychopaths turning to each other for entertainment.

The movie starts with the titular vagrant (Rutger Hauer) arriving in Scumtown, a city controlled by a sadistic criminal family. Disgusted by the violence and inhumanity he sees in the streets, a lone drifter becomes the only one to take a stand.

The quality of the movie shows throughout, so even as it drives off the cliff of good taste — rolling and burning in the valley below — you can tell that somebody really cared about the color palette and art direction for this horrific spectacle.

“Crack in the World” [Blu-ray] (NR) — If you need a reminder that today’s overblown disaster-adventure movies have a rich and storied ancestry, turn to this flick from 1965. It’s a fine specimen of a breed that had to keep the tension going without the aid of computer graphics. When Dr. Stephen Sorenson (Dana Andrews) goes forward with a risky plan to harness energy from the earth’s core, his hubris triggers a split in the planet’s crust — one that threatens to tear the world wide open! It’s a premise so silly that it could be remade any day now!

Indeed, this movie is wonderful proof that cheeseball science-disaster movies were pretty well figured out a good while ago. The story keeps a steady pace of drama, science and explosions. It’s recommended for fans of disaster movies, or anyone who needs to prove to a young person that exciting old movies do exist.

“Eureka” Season 4.0
“Boy Meets World” The Complete Sixth Season
“Mannix” Fifth Season
“Mcmillan & Wife” Seasons 4, 5
“Southland” The Complete Second Season
“According to Jim” The Complete Fourth Season
“The PJ’s” Season Two
“The Cape” Complete Series

(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.