It's all about mentors and apprentices this week, so you youngsters might be able to pick up some useful job tips -- if you plan to become assassins or exorcists, that is.
'The Mechanic' (R)
Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Tony Goldwyn, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Chase
Directed by: Simon West
What's It About? In this remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson shoot-'em-up, Jason Statham is a veteran hitman who teaches the ropes to Foster, son of Statham's own late mentor (Sutherland). Soon, the older pro and the newbie realize they've been betrayed by The Company; now it's Payback Time.
Why Should You See It? After more then a decade of making hard-boiled action fare without smiling once, the taciturn Staham is about as close as we're going to get to an heir to Bronson. Early buzz suggests that the movie is light on plot, heavy on elaborate action sequences.
You Might Like It If You Like: The original 'Mechanic,' 'The Transporter,' 'Crank'
Watch a Scene From the Movie and Mr. Moviefone's Six Second Review
'The Rite' (PG-13)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue
Directed by: Mikael Håfström
What's It About: Young American seminarian learns the ropes of the exorcism biz from veteran priest Hopkins at an exorcism school at the Vatican. It's not long before he has to put his newfound knowledge to use -- on his teacher. Supposedly based on a true story.
Why Should You See It? No one can chew scenery like the guy who played Hannibal Lecter. We're betting that no one can spit pea soup like him, either.
You Might Like It If You Like: 'The Exorcist,' 'Stigmata,' 'The Last Exorcism'
Watch the Trailer for 'The Rite'
'Biutiful' earned two Oscar nominations this week, one for Best Foreign Language film and one for Best Actor for Javier Bardem, who plays a father dying of cancer. It's the latest from acclaimed Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu ('Babel,' '21 Grams'). Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
'From Prada to Nada' is a modern gloss on 'Sense and Sensibility,' starring Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega as two pampered Los Beverly Hills teens who reconnect with their Mexican heritage when they're forced to move out of their mansion and into their aunt's home in the barrio. Showtimes & Tickets
'Kaboom' finds bad-boy filmmaker Gregg Araki ('Smiley Face') returning to his roots. Thomas Dekker and Haley Bennett star in this surreal, darkly comic tale of pansexual teens haunted by violent omens, a premise mich like those of such '90s Araki films as 'The Doom Generation' and 'Nowhere.' Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
•'No Strings Attached' -- After she freaked you out in 'Black Swan,' aren't you glad Natalie Portman is doing something normal and wholesome again, like a sex comedy about friends-with-benefits? Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
•'The King's Speech' -- Hurry and see this year's Best Picture Oscar frontrunner before they re-release it with all the swear words edited out. (This is the one movie in which cursing is truly essential to the plot.) Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
•'Blue Valentine' -- See why Michelle Williams got an Oscar nomination (and why Ryan Gosling wuz robbed!) for this searing portrait of a marriage, from sweet, goofy courtship to bitter disintegration. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
New on DVD: Who knows where John Lennon's musical genius came from, but his withering wit and wounded candor can be traced back to his traumatic teen years, as is apparent in 'Nowhere Boy,' a depiction of the troubled adolescence he experienced (raised by a no-nonsense aunt, briefly reconnecting with the mother who abandoned him) before he met a fellow aspiring musician named Paul. 'Kick-Ass' star Aaron Johnson captures Lennon's youthful fire, and Kristin Scott Thomas is just right as his firm Aunt Mimi. Buy or rent the DVD | More new DVD releases
Movie Homework: 'The Mechanic' is a remake of a decent Charles Bronson action movie, one made during the 'Death Wish' years when he tended to play quiet but feral men who, when threatened, lash out in a fury of righteous, vigilante violence. If you really want to see what made Bronson a one-of-a-kind action star, check out 1974's 'Mr. Majestyk,' in which he plays the world's most badass watermelon farmer. (And really, who else could make watermelon farming look like a job for a badass?) Even in sleepy Colorado farm country, the Mob tries to muscle in on Bronson's action and shake him down. Whereupon he's forced to take matters into his own hands, as usual. Grunts are uttered, bullets are fired, heads roll and many bushels of melons meet an even grimmer fate than being used as props at a Gallagher show. This film redefines the phrase "pulp thriller." Buy or rent the DVD
On Our Netflix Queue: Just out on DVD is 'Animal Kingdom,' the Aussie crime drama that earned Jacki Weaver a Best Supporting Actress nomination this week. She plays a sweet grandma named Smurf who, it turns out, runs the most twisted crime family this side of the Sopranos, or maybe even the Borgias. Everyone in this is good, but Weaver is scary good and will haunt you for days after. Buy or rent the DVD
On TV: Six years ago, when DreamWorks began casting the big-screen adaptation of 'Dreamgirls,' I wrote an article suggesting that they hire Jennifer Hudson, then best known as an 'American Idol' also-ran, to play Effie. Don't know if they read my recommendation or if great minds simply think alike, but that turned out to be a pretty good call. You can see the results when ABC airs the Supremes-inspired saga on Saturday at 8PM. At a time when blacks are curiously absent from the Oscars for the first time in 10 years, it's worth taking another look at Hudson's Academy Award-winning performance, as well as awards-worthy turns by Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy. Check your local listings
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.