By Todd Leopold
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(CNN) -- This is a splendid weekend for entertainment. Three notable movies -- "Flags of Our Fathers," "The Prestige" and "Marie Antoinette" -- are receiving wide openings. The World Series begins. And a DVD of "SCTV's" early years is due out Tuesday.
But I want to -- I must -- talk about something else.
Aldo Kelrast is dead, and attention must be paid.
He wasn't anything special, this Kelrast fellow. Yes, his last name is an anagram of "stalker." Yes, he looked like Captain Kangaroo. Yes, he could be annoying and socially awkward.
But did he have to die?
What? You've never heard of Aldo Kelrast? Well, of course you haven't. Kelrast was the odd duck who wandered into the odder world of the comic strip "Mary Worth," a strip that was anachronistic 40 years ago and that nobody reads except me and a few other demented comics completists. (It is funnier than "Cathy," "Curtis" and "Dennis the Menace" combined, which isn't saying much.)
He put the moves on Mary (who, mysteriously, has gotten younger over the years), was rejected and then received an intervention from the busybodies who populate the strip. Then, in a twist that nobody saw coming, he (spoiler warning!) got blitzed on booze and drove his car off a cliff. (The roads around "Mary Worth's" hometown of Santa Royale conveniently lack guard rails.)
Why, even Alfred Hitchcock would be jealous.
"Mary Worth" being "Mary Worth," the excruciating Kelrast denouement -- a funeral gathering -- explained nothing, and the busybodies have since moved on to the next "plot." It's as if Kelrast had never existed.
By now, the readers of this column -- both of you -- have likely clicked on something else. The death of a comic-strip walk-on in the midst of such entertainment bounty as this weekend's movies -- why, it's like focusing on a mysterious murder suspect in an old crime while world events spin out of control.
But Kelrast, I daresay, struck a nerve. In the molasses-moving world of "Mary," his appearance was like a breath of fresh methane. Josh Fruhlinger and the fine posters at "The Comics Curmudgeon" agonized over his every appearance. Somebody set up a MySpace page for him. There were even videos lamenting his demise.
And for what? We still don't know if Aldo killed his wife, as was rumored (by Toby, that guttersnipe). We barely suspected his alcoholism. And his family -- what stories could they tell?
We'll never know.
Now, Eye on Entertainment looks to the future.
As noted, this weekend represents a high point for fall releases. The three top films -- "Flags of Our Fathers," "The Prestige" and "Marie Antoinette" -- have earned a number of raves and some Oscar buzz. Even the negative reviews find much to respect.
"Flags," directed by Clint Eastwood, is based on the memoir by James Bradley and Ron Powers about Bradley's father, one of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima in Joe Rosenthal's famous Associated Press photo.
But Eastwood's film isn't a rah-rah tribute to the glories of war; it reflects the brutality of the battle, which took 7,000 U.S. lives and many more Japanese. It also shows what the survivors went through when they were sent home while the battle raged on, where they were lauded as heroes for the war effort while questioning all the attention. (Johnny Cash sang "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" about one of the flag-raisers, a Native American who struggled with alcoholism.)
"The Prestige," directed by Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "Batman Begins"), stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as magicians in turn-of-the-century London. The two begin a game of one-upmanship that draws blood -- and worse. Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie (playing Nikola Tesla) also star.
And "Marie Antoinette," the new film from Sofia Coppola ("Lost in Translation"), stars Kirsten Dunst as the ill-fated French queen. The film takes some liberties with Antoinette's story -- using modern music and contemporary-sounding dialogue, for example -- but manages to evoke the feeling of a woman at sea in an unfamiliar world.
The three films open Friday.
On the tube
Aldo Kelrast challenges Mary in a panel from "Mary Worth." Kelrast was a strange addition to the comic strip's world.
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