Couch Trip

Apr 29, 2009 at 12:00 am

Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts
Koch Lorber

It's a good thing Philip Glass didn't take it upon himself to direct this biographical feature; had he done that, in all likelihood, each of these dozen sections would have lasted an hour and would have featured him repeating the same sentence over and over again with only slight variations of inflection delineating his different meanings. Director Scott Hicks has no such minimalist inclination, and, although Glass may not be as robust or as fleshed-out as it could be, the film does a marvelous job of presenting the composer as a down-to-earth dad, a hardworking artist and, of course, something of a kook. Nowhere in Hicks' film, however, do we get much of the expected pomposity and self-aggrandizing attitude that one would expect from an artist such as Glass, whose works have been shorthand for accessible art for decades. In fact, Glass is quick to puncture his own balloons and prove that he not only has a sense of humor but also an awareness of how his approach to art plays in Peoria. Seeing the composer cook pizzas for his kids one minute and then, the next, go on about spiritual matters humanizes Glass and gives quite a real perspective on his work. While his oeuvre is quickly reduced by many to "He's the 'dun-dun-dun-dun' guy, right?" it's clear Glass is under no illusion that his compositions will be remembered as anything less than revolutionary. And that seems to be what drives him to work as furiously and monomaniacally as he does. Because, after all, even though he may be a dad and a friendly, quirky New Yorker, at the end of the day, he's Philip Glass, and that's a full-time job. —Jason Ferguson

Nightstick Black POV Vol. 5
Mercenary Pictures

Let it be said that Lexington Steele is the ultimate African-American prongsman in the adult racket these days, and here he brings us yet another "black-on-black" (according to the box cover) tour de force. Though the sisters on the receiving end of Mr. Steele's boggling man-root are anything but forced.

Dig the enthusiasm of wicked vet Nadia Styles (who may be white, but who's counting?), and gorgeous, high-yellow Cassidy Clay, who's too pretty to do what she does, but too slutty not to, not to mention mega-sister Ayrana Starr (no relation to Ringo), who takes on the mighty Lex schween in a scene that will make your empty evening full indeed. Let's not forget the delicious Katie Cummings. Call up her folks and tell them what she does in this warped footage. Yikes!

And yes, fellahs, it's a POV project, allowing you to imagine whatever you're packing —or lacking — in the pants is actually the righteous ebony tube-steak that extends from the slacks of the Lex master. And speaking of tips, set aside some serious time for Nightstick. The son of a gun is three hours long, which leaves you plenty of time to order a pizza, take a nap, imagine having a girlfriend, and get back to the DVD. —Fern LaBott

The Burrowers

It doesn't take long for the action to get under way in this 2008 horror Western, and there's a mystery afoot even before the opening credits. The film opens in the Dakota Territories, 1879, with the slaughter and kidnappings of members of two plains families. Of course, those native savages are behind it ... or are they?

A posse (consisting of Lost actors Clancy Brown, Doug Hutchinson, and William Mapother) mount up and hunt for the missing Stewart women. Another guy named Coffey (Karl Geary) is desperate to find his beloved, Maryanne Stewart (Jocelin Donahue), but he's not leading the posse. In lieu of mean Indians, the hunting party discovers strange holes and a comatose woman buried a few inches in the ground.

Initially, The Burrowers may seem like a prequel to Tremors (which was already done in the fourth installation of the series) but there's a lot more going on. In the skilled hands of writer-director J.T. Petty (S&Man, Soft for Digging), the film's a fun ecothriller with solid pacing, characters, and a clever revelation of its title creatures. With its superb production and cult cast, it's hopeful that The Burrowers will get Petty some well-deserved recognition. —Mike White