One afternoon last week, I found myself explaining the benefits of transcendental meditation — and its much cheaper, guru-free alternative Natural Stress Relief — to a junkie at an East Village pizza joint. (He asked.) You see, I was predisposed to love The Dhamma Brothers, a documentary about inmates of an Alabama high security prison who take up Vipassana meditation. Despite its fascinating subject, the film turned out to be a disappointment. Read my review on to find out why.

I also saw Redbelt, David Mamet’s latest. It’s an entirely enjoyable fight movie starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as noble jiu-jitsu teacher that’s perched somewhat uncomfortably between Mamet’s usual snappiness and a few very tired genre conventions. In typical Mamet style, Redbelt is thick with cons, counter-cons, and strange coincidences, but this time, it’s nearly impossible to tell which is which. Opens on May 9.

Tonight, I’m excited to see Harmony Korine’s Mister Lonely, and on TV, we’re enjoying the continuing adventures of Liz Lemon and Kara Thrace. In the mobile department, Peeping Tom and Paths of Glory have proven themselves eminently watchable on a packed subway — just don’t tell Messrs. Powell and Kubrick.

The Dhamma Brothers. Andrew Kukura, Jenny Phillips, Anne Marie Stein, 2007. **
Redbelt. David Mamet, 2008. ***
Peeping Tom. Michael Powell, 1960. ***
Paths of Glory. Stanley Kubrick, 1957. ****

The Redbelt trailer: