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Ray’s Picks: Sci-fi gem "Serenity" full of energy

Ray Ivey

Friday 28 July 2006, by Webmaster

Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are four to watch this week (july 24) :

Serenity (2005): Joss Whedon wrote and directed this underrated 2005 science-fiction adventure. Based on his short-lived TV series Firefly, this film follows astro-mercenaries (Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres) led by a scruffy captain (a very funny Nathan Fillion). The crew is hired to protect a strange woman (Summer Glau) from bad guys (led by the always-superb Chiwetel Ejiofor).

The movie was made on a shoestring budget but looks very expensive; its gleeful energy makes it a pleasure to watch. - 3:30 and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Cinemax

The Aristocrats (2005): Here I go again, recommending a movie that’s in really bad taste. This unusual documentary by comedian Paul Provenza and magician Penn Jillette focuses on a notoriously vulgar joke. The joke is a legend among comedians, and many top comedians discuss it on-screen. The result is a wonderful window into the clever, twisted minds of comics.

Just a few of the comedians who appear are Drew Carey, George Carlin, Shelley Berman, Tim Conway, Phyllis Diller, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Mahr, Paul Reiser, Chris Rock and Don Rickles.

Be warned that many versions of the joke are utterly dirty and reasonably inappropriate for anyone in their right mind. But if you can take the blue language, the film is funny and illuminating. - 10 p.m. Wednesday, HBO

Paperhouse (1988): This beautiful, eerie movie stars Charlotte Burke as Anna, a sick British girl who draws to while away the hours.

Then something strange happens. As she draws pictures of a house, it appears in her dreams. So does a little boy she draws into a window. Is the boy real? What links her dream world and reality? How are her parents (Glenn Headly and Ben Cross) involved? Keep watching as reality and dreams merge. - 11 p.m. Thursday, Independent Film Channel.

12 Angry Men (1957): Sidney Lumet directed this exploration of individual conscience versus mob mentality. Based on a television play, the film retains the small feeling of that medium. Virtually the entire story takes place in a 16-by-24-foot jury deliberation room.

The action is the process by which 12 male jurors (Henry Fonda, Marin Balsam, Ed Begley, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, Robert Webber and others) try to determine the verdict in an assault case. The script and acting are masterful in this tense, realistic drama. - 3 p.m. Saturday, Turner Classic Movies

Trivia Question 127: What star of Serenity also appeared in the Monty Python musical Spamalot on Broadway?

Answer to Trivia Question 125: In the John Waters film Female Trouble, actor Divine played both roles in a notorious roadside rape scene.