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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

June 19: 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 the Old Testament stippled with fart jokes ain’t your idea of a good time. But you can have something close to that blockbuster experience at home with the proper application of 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 see Year One?” you can respond, “No, I saw a couple classic movies from the era when blasphemy was taken seriously.”
INSTEAD OF: The Proposal, the “romantic” “comedy” in which “poisonous bitch” Sandra Bullock sexually harasses her secretary, Ryan Reynolds, into marrying her to avoid being deported…

WATCH: Green Card, obviously, the 1990 dramedy in which Andie MacDowell agrees to marry Gérard Depardieu so he can stay in New York. It’s unaffectedly charming, unlike The Proposal, because it’s from an effective storyteller, writer-director Peter Weir, and because its stars have real chemistry. For Bullock in a more romantic role, check out 2006’s The Lake House, a time-travel fantasy in which she exchanges love letters with Keanu Reeves, who is living two years in the past. For Reynolds at his most appealing, see last year’s Definitely, Maybe, a “mystery love story” whose old-fashioned magic buoys a modern love story.

INSTEAD OF: Year One, in which Jack Black and Michael Cera navigate a goofy Biblical world seemingly organized around God’s great command to “Maketh poop jokes”…

WATCH: Life of Brian, Monty Python’s 1979 satire about a young man (Graham Chapman) in ancient Judea who is mistaken for a messiah — it earned its reputation for blasphemy the hard way: by blasphemy with delirious joy. Or try Wholly Moses!, Hollywood’s 1980 attempt to ride the Pythons’ coattails with a movie about Dudley Moore being mistaken for that dude who got those famous tablets with all of God’s rules on ’em. If you want to be reminded of the way-back-when when Harold Ramis — director of Year One — was actually funny, you cannot go wrong with Ghostbusters (which he wrote and starred in but didn’t direct), just out on blu-ray this week.

INSTEAD OF: Whatever Works, Woody Allen’s latest, which is — shockingly! — the story of a neurotic old man (Larry David) who falls in love with a sprightly girl young enough to be his granddaughter (Evan Rachel Wood)…

WATCH: Almost any other Woody Allen movie, actually. You could try 2002’s Hollywood Ending, in which a bevy of unlikely beauties in the primes of their lives throw themselves upon the ancient and decrepit Allen, but fair warning: you’ll want to be hosed down after witnessing such appalling cinematic desperation. For an Allen flick that actually works as breezily well as Whatever Works does, go back to 1977’s Annie Hall, which actually allows you to believe that Diane Keaton’s modern woman might in fact be genuinely attracted to Allen’s nebbish. (Plus, Keaton is only 11 — not 111 — years younger than Allen.)

INSTEAD OF: Dead Snow, the Norwegian horror comedy about zombie Nazis who munch on a group of snowboarding-and-partying vacationers…

WATCH: Another Nazi horror flick, such as The Boys from Brazil, the 1978 thriller in which Nazi medical monster Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck) is attempting to clone Adolf Hitler; or 1998’s Apt Pupil, in which Brad Renfro’s teenager discovers that his neighbor, Ian McKellan, is a secret Nazi war criminal, and prompts him to share the gruesome tales of his experiences in the Reich. Or, try one of the several older Nazi zombie flicks (I just discovered these exist): 1977’s Shock Waves, 1980’s Zombie Lake, or 1982’s Oasis of the Zombies.


Where to buy:

Annie Hall [Region 1] [Region 2]
Apt Pupil [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Boys from Brazil [Region 1] [Region 2]
Definitely, Maybe [Region 1] [Region 2]
Ghostbusters [Region 1] [Region 2]
Ghostbusters (blu-ray) [Region 1] [Region 2]
Green Card [Region 1] [Region 2]
Hollywood Ending [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Lake House [Region 1] [Region 2]
Life of Brian [Region 1] [Region 2]
Oasis of the Zombies [Region 1] [Region 2]
Shock Waves [Region 1] [Region 2]
Wholly Moses! [Region 1]
Zombie Lake [Region 1] [Region 2]



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