May 15: 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 neglected to study the conspiracy theories about the Vatican and secret medieval European societies and so you don’t know how to buy a ticket to that Tom Hanks movie. 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 check out Angels & Demons?” you can respond, “No, I caught up on the Illuminati lore that permeates Hollywood movies.”
INSTEAD OF: Angels & Demons, in which Tom Hanks solves ancient puzzles in Rome in order to (hopefully) prevent the Vatican from being blown up by antimatter — seriously!…

RENT: Well, sure, you could just rent The Da Vinci Code, Tom Hanks’ last outing as Dan Brown’s Illuminati expert Robert Langdon. But that’s too easy. Instead, try 1986’s The Name of the Rose, in which Sean Connery takes on the Church, secret libraries, and dangerous books in order to stop the end of the world from coming (or so some of the characters believe). Or check out Stanley Kubrick’s bizarre 1999 flick Eyes Wide Shut, which some conspiracy nuts believe reveals more about the Illuminati than the Illuminati would like. Or try 2001’s historical horror movie From Hell, in which a Victorian Johnny Depp solves the mystery of that notorious Illuminati member, Jack the Ripper.

Everyone else is staying out of the way of the Dan Brown juggernaut this weekend: Angels & Demons is the only new wide release in North American (though expect Star Trek, in its second week, to be neck-and-neck with it in the box office rankings come Monday). But a few cities will see a couple of releases of note:

INSTEAD OF: The Brothers Bloom, the con-artist caper starring Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel Weisz…

RENT: Brick, the first film from Bloom writer-director Rian Johnson. This 2005 cinematic treat is a high-school film noir in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s soft-boiled “detective” goes up against Lukas Haas’s crime lord. It’s wildly inventive and a lot of grim fun.

INSTEAD OF: Management, in which Steve Zahn’s motel manager stalks Jennifer Aniston across the country…

RENT: 2006’s Rescue Dawn, to see Zahn move away from zany and do something you’ve never seem him do before: major intensity. He’s a Vietnam-era POW imprisoned with Christian Bale’s downed pilot, and they plot an escape through the deadly jungles…

Where to rent:

Rent DVDs by mail from, 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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Fri, May 15, 2009 7:37am

From Hell wasn’t about Illuminati, it was Freemasons. And the movie version completely got it all wrong. Expect a call from Alan Moore crying his eyes out that Hollywood bastardizes his work any minute now.

If you want movies to hop about using Illuminati as the conspiracy du jour (am I correctly using my mangled French?), try Tomb Raider… then again maybe not, Ms. Flick will probably blow up the DVD player to save your brain…

Kevin Fergison
Kevin Fergison
Sat, May 16, 2009 8:10pm

How can you afford to see so many movies? My wife and I can barely watch 3 per month. How is the new Soderberg movie Girlfriend Experience? He’s always a good director and never ceases to amaze.