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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

August 28: DVD alternatives to this weekend’s multiplex offerings

We know how it is: You’d like to go to the movies this weekend, but you’re still hung over from celebrating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. But you can have a multiplex-like experience at home with a collection of the right DVDs. And when someone asks you on Monday, “Hey, did you see Taking Woodstock this weekend?” you can reply, “No, I took a DVD trip through the summer of ’69 instead.”
INSTEAD OF: Taking Woodstock, Ang Lee’s ode to the people who made Woodstock happen, with none of the messing about with the music of the three-day concert at all…

WATCH: Woodstock, the classic 1970 documentary, for the perfect complement to this film: it’s all about the music. If you need more music and concerts from the era, there’s also 1970’s Gimme Shelter, which follows the Rolling Stones on tour… and to the notorious Woodstock-esque outdoor concert, Altamont, in Northern California. For another story — albeit a fictional one — about other doings nearby the Woodstock concert, see 1999’s A Walk on the Moon, in which Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen have an illicit love affair in the Catskills, in the backyard of Woodstock, that summer. (Moon also features Liev Schreiber, who appears in Taking Woodstock, too.)

INSTEAD OF: The Final Destination, the fourth installment in the series devoted to ridiculously gory, gorily ridiculous deaths of characters you don’t ever care one whit about…

WATCH: Any of the previous films in the series — Final Destination, Final Destination 2, and Final Destination 3; they’re all pretty much identical anyway, and are certain to be indistinguishable from this one, too. If you like the Rube Goldberg-esque death sequences but would prefer a bit more psychological terror, too, then check out the underappreciated Canadian flick Cube, from 1997, about a group of strangers who awake to find themselves held prisoner in a mysterious series of cube-rooms and have to find a way out before they all get offed in imaginative ways. For the adventures of a guy who should be dead because of all the bizarre shoulda-killed-him things that happen, see Crank, in which Jason Statham cheats death over and over again thanks to modern chemistry. (The sequel, Crank: High Voltage, which begins with Statham surviving a fall from a helicopter, won’t be available on DVD in either Region 1 or Region 2 till September, but check it out then.) If all you need is an homage to Rube Goldberg without the fatalities, then you must see Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, for its clever opening sequence, which moves our heroes from bed to brekke and into the car in the most complicated machine-assisted way possible.

INSTEAD OF: Halloween II, Rob Zombie’s remake of the sequel to the classic 70s horror flick he remade two years ago…

WATCH: The original 1978 Halloween, naturally, and then its 1981 sequel, Halloween II. Of try one of the parodies that the original Halloween spawned: there’s 1996’s Scream, of course, which sent up the “don’t have sex if you want to survive” trope that the John Carpenter film originated… or go way back to 1981 for the slasher comedy Student Bodies, which did the same thing a decade and a half earlier. For more Rob Zombie, don’t miss his 2005 movie The Devil’s Rejects, which he wrote and directed. It’s not a remake of anything, but it does ape, with terrible, wonderful precision, the gritty cinema of the 70s.


Where to buy:

Crank [Region 1] [Region 2]
Crank: High Voltage [Region 1] [Region 2]
Cube [Region 1] [Region 2]
The Devil’s Rejects [Region 1] [Region 2]
Final Destination [Region 1] [Region 2]
Final Destination 2 [Region 1] [Region 2]
Final Destination 3 [Region 1] [Region 2]
Final Destination 1-3 [Region 1] [Region 2]
Gimme Shelter [Region 1] [Region 2]
Halloween [Region 1] [Region 2]
Halloween II [Region 1] [Region 2]
Scream [Region 1] [Region 2]
Student Bodies [Region 1]
A Walk on the Moon [Region 1]
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit [Region 1] [Region 2]
Woodstock [Region 1] [Region 2]



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