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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

DVD alternatives to this weekend’s multiplex offerings

We all know how it is. You’d like to get out to see a new movie this weekend, but you can’t find a babysitter or you are the babysitter or you know that the gorgeous weather most of the U.S. is promised for this weekend means you won’t want to do anything but sit on the deck under the stars and sip chardonnay. But you can have something close to that multiplex experience at home with the proper application of rental DVDs. In fact, you might even be able to one-up everyone else at the watercooler come Monday, because while they’re saying, “Hey, did you catch that amazing movie with Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx?” you can respond, “Hey, have you seen the earlier version of almost the same story starring Josh Hartnett and Samuel L. Jackson?”
INSTEAD OF: The Soloist, in which Robert Downey Jr.’s Los Angeles journalist has a close, deeply disturbing, and very moving encounter with the unlikeliest homeless man (Jamie Foxx), who claims to have attending Julliard as a cellist…

RENT: Resurrecting the Champ, the almost unseen flick in which tells a similar tale about Josh Hartnett’s Denver sports reporter, who befriends a street person (Samuel L. Jackson) who claims to have been a boxing champion. (And don’t be put off by the prospect of Hartnett: he’s trying to do grownup parts, and he’s excellent here.) And also rent August Rush, about Freddie Highmore’s child musical prodigy who ends up living on the streets of New York City. It’s more conventional that either The Soloist or Champ, but it’s fairy-tale lovely anyway.

INSTEAD OF: Fighting, in which Channing Tatum’s buff doofus goes underground in NYC to make some dough as a bare-knuckle fighter…

RENT: Rocky, which finds all the soul that Fighting can’t even be bothered to deal with, and gives us a character we can actually root for in Sylvester Stallone’s boxer.

INSTEAD OF: The not-screening-for-critics Obsessed, in which Ali Larter’s scary-sexy office temp tries to entice poor Idris Elba away from his happy life with wife Beyoncé Knowles…

RENT: Oh, for pete’s sake, just go for a rewatch of Fatal Attraction and see Glenn Close do the crazy-ass obsessive bitch the way it’s supposed to be done. Even if that flick is wildly misogynist and absolutely preposterous.

INSTEAD OF: Earth, the nature documentary adapted from the BBC series Planet Earth

RENT: The original 2007 BBC series, all 11 parts, 4 discs, 9-plus hours of it. (You’ll probably want to pace yourself and not watch it all in one sitting.) Some have praised this groundbreaking series as the best nature series ever. If you have the right equipment, rent a high-def version, which has been credited by some as being the first great example of what high-def television can do.


Where to rent:

Rent DVDs by mail from GreenCine.com, As Low As $9.95 Per Month! Unlimited rentals, choose from 80,000 titles. Free Shipping!

Netflix, Inc.

Where to buy:

Amazon U.S. | Amazon U.K.



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