November 20: DVD alternatives to this weekend’s multiplex offerings
We know how it is: You’d like to go to the movies this weekend, but there’s all that sighing and sulking and brooding over your immortal undead lover to do, and that’s just exhausting. 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 New Moon this weekend?” you can reply, “No, I watched some vampire and werewolf movies that don’t suck instead.”
INSTEAD OF: The Twilight Saga: New Moon, in which -- OMG! -- adorable clumsy beautiful humble human Bella has to choose between her love for sparkly mopey vampire Edward and her attraction to buff buff werewolf Jacob...
WATCH: A real vampire movie... like 2000’s Shadow of the Vampire, a sly sendup of bloodsuckers and moviemaking; its premise is along the lines of: What would happen if an actor playing a vampire was actually a vampire? (Calm down, girls: I’m not suggesting that Robert Pattinson is really a vampire.) To see what happens when children are turned to the undead -- as Bella (Kristen Stewart) keeps begging Edward to do for her -- see 1994’s Interview with the Vampire: Kirsten Dunst’s doll-like Claudia is the creepiest thing about the movie. For a werewolf fix, try Teen Wolf, from 1985, for Michael J. Fox as a cute, furry high-schooler, or 2002’s Dog Soldiers, to see what happens when a band of British grunts on maneuvers in remote Scotland encounter the beasts -- cute, it ain’t.
INSTEAD OF: Planet 51, the animated flick about a square-jawed dimbulb American astronaut who lands on another world and discovers it’s inhabited by a civilization of green people with antennae and no pants who are in the midst of their own 1950s...
WATCH: Battle for Terra, the little-seen and even less appreciated animated movie from earlier this year, also positing humans as the aliens; but while the fear of alien invasion is played for laughs in Planet 51, in this one, the humans really have arrived as a force for a whole buncha no-good. For nobler -- and more realistic -- spacebound flyboys, do not miss one of the best movies ever made, 1983’s The Right Stuff, about the first American astronauts and the, ahem, launching of the U.S. space program during the Cold War. The 1950s -- our 1950s, that is -- get satirized in a much darker way in Pleasantville (1998), in which a TV repairman in the form of Don Knotts is Satan offering the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge to button-down, asexual small-towners. If you need to amuse the kiddies with NASA-approved entertainment, there’s always Space Camp, from 1986, in which a group of kids get accidentally sent aloft in the space shuttle. (How come that never happens to me?)
INSTEAD OF: The Blind Side, about Sandra Bullock as a nice rich white lady who adopts a poor black teenager -- it’s all true! -- turns him into a football star, and learns something about herself in the process...
WATCH: Sports-themed “magical negro” stories abound -- it seems black men just can’t help teaching white folks about the meaning of life, never mind the meaning of [insert your favorite sport here]: for another football story, try Radio, the 2003 film in which Cuba Gooding Jr.’s retarded tinkerer teaches coach Ed Harris a thing or two about something or other; for golf, 2000’s The Legend of Bagger Vance gives us Will Smith, from his perch in heaven or somesuch, imparting the wisdom of the golf masters of the ages to Matt Damon. Blind Side director John Lee Hancock has previously given us one of the best sports movies ever in The Rookie (2002), about a middle-aged high school baseball coach (Dennis Quaid) who gets his shot at pitching in the majors. If by-your-bootstraps stories appeal, one of the most inspiring is 1999’s October Sky, based on another true story, of a kid (Jake Gyllenhaal) who loved rockets but didn’t think he’d escape his presumed destiny as a West Virginia coal miner; he went on to work for NASA.
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Fri Nov 20 09, 5:11PM
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by MaryAnn Johanson
Battle for Terra
Cuba Gooding Jr
Interview with the Vampire
John Lee Hancock
Legend of Bagger Vance
Michael J Fox
Shadow of the Vampire
· female gazing at: Jake Gyllenhaal
· Snow White and the Huntsman (review)
· trailer break: ‘Centurion’
· watch it: 1960s Sanka commerical featuring Andy Griffith and Don Knotts
· DVDs and screeners received: ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl,’ ‘Captains and the Kings,’ more
· my week at the movies: ‘The Unborn,’ ‘Bride Wars,’ ‘Hotel for Dogs,’ ‘Notorious,’ ‘Yonkers Joe’
· cinematic roots of: ‘Let Me In’
· Ted (review)
· The Hunger Games (review)
watch it: “Kitten Still Loves Puppy”
question of the weekend: What book are you reading right now, and what’s up next?