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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

July 1-3: 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 all those fireworks aren’t gonna shoot themselves off, and there’s too many hot dogs to be eaten, anyway. But you can have something close to that blockbuster experience on the road 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 check out Public Enemies?” you can respond, “No, I saw some of the movies that inspired it.”
INSTEAD OF: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, the latest animated adventure for sitcom-ish prehistoric megafauna, in which they stumble upon a long-protected realm of archaic dinosaurs who’ve survived for tens of millions of years…

WATCH: There have been many adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original concept, from his 1912 novel The Lost World, but one that adheres the closest (though still with plenty of deviations) is the 2001 BBC miniseries The Lost World, in which Bob Hoskins leads a jungle expedition that finds surviving dinosaurs. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) reverses the process, bringing genetically engineered giant reptiles into contact with modern San Diego. For the kiddies, there’s the 1988 animated flick The Land Before Time, in which the dinos remain in their own era, which has been fantasized and idealized to diminish the dino-eat-dino reality.

INSTEAD OF: Public Enemies, in which Johnny Depp portrays notorious Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger, and Christian Bale the proto FBI agent hunting him…

WATCH: Hollywood has been in love with gangsters since forever, and great films about them litter the history of cinema like so many gunshot shells at a crime scene. Check out 2002’s Road to Perdition to see Tom Hanks as a mob hit man who discovers his scruples on his last job, or 1987’s The Untouchables, which squares off Robert De Niro’s Al Capone against Kevin Costner’s Eliot Ness. For an early classic of the genre, don’t miss 1931’s The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney as a fictional gangster; this movie contains the famous scene in which he smushes a grapefruit in Jean Harlow’s face.

INSTEAD OF: I Hate Valentine’s Day (opening theatrically on only three screens, but you can watch it at home on IFC on Demand), a romantic comedy in which writer-director-star Nia Vardalos is a woman who won’t see any man for more than five dates…

WATCH: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, from 2003, may be one of the most unpleasantly cynical rom-coms ever made, but it sounds like an excellent complement to Vardalos’s flick, if you can stomach it. Likewise, Julia Roberts’ Runaway Bride (from 1999) makes comedic hay out of the turnabout of a woman terrified of commitment, if you like that kind of thing. Or perhaps Vardalos would benefit from what ails Drew Barrymore in 2004’s 50 First Dates: she can’t remember anything from one day to the next, including her ongoing relationship with Adam Sandler. That’s one way to avoid commitment.


Where to buy:

50 First Dates [Region 1] [Region 2]
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Land Before Time [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Lost World [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Lost World: Jurassic Park [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Public Enemy [Region 1] [Region 2]
Road to Perdition [Region 1] [Region 2]
Runaway Bride [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Untouchables [Region 1] [Region 2]




posted in:
dvd buzz
  • wooster182

    Are you sure it was Jean Harlow? I thought he smashed it in someone else’s face…

  • wooster182

    I’m anal enough that I wiki-ed it. It was Mae Clarke whom he smashed the grape fruit on. In the movie, he was really in love with Jean Harlowe.

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