Rental Recs: DVDs & Taxes

What a week in news: the pope's here, an earthquake rocked the Midwest, and, most recently, a Yale art student claimed her final project was made from the byproducts of self-induced miscarriages (yeah, gross).

But it was also tax week, and as a freelancer who underestimated his liability, I can't not exploit the IRS for my weekly rental recommendations column. So, here you go: a few must-see films in which taxes -- possibly the most tedious and boring subject matter ever -- play a pivotal role.

The Untouchables (1987)


Kevin Costner and Sean Connery spend a whole film cracking down on bootlegging and chasing Al Capone's men with Tommy Guns, but oddly enough this Oscar-winning film ("a sympathy vote," according to Trainspotting's Sick Boy) doesn't end with a bang, but an audit. Yes, true to history, Brian De Palma has Costner's Eliot Ness bust Robert De Niro's Capone for tax evasion.

Stranger than Fiction (2006)


Not only did this film mark a significant change in direction for comedian Will Ferrell (not that he's abandoned his old slapstick; didja see his George W. Bush impression the other night on Comedy Central?), but it was the first truly, all-around sympathetic and lovable treatment of an IRS agent. Ferrell's agent finds his life being predicted and dictated by a tortured but genius writer, who plans to kill him off in the last pages of her novel. It's a romantic comedy about redemption as Ferrell attempts to woo an anarchist baker with his tax-deduction inside knowledge.

Income Tax Sappy (1954)


Holy crap. This was the 153rd short film by the Three Stooges (Larry, Moe, and Shemp -- no Curly) out of 190. Man, they were prolific. Anyway, the set-up here has the Stooges forming a dubious tax-filing firm. The good news is that the film is available in two parts on YouTube.

The Firm (1993)


You can go plenty wrong with Tom Cruise, but a film based on a John Grisham legal thriller rarely disappoints. Cruise is a law student who is seduced by an incredibly well paid job with a tax firm. Murders, mafia, blah, blah, blah... Cruise finds himself stuck between rocks and hard places, both in his morals and in his personal safety.