May 8: 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 dread heading to the multplex in case it’s clogged with people in Spock ears and Klingon foreheads, and anyway, Mom won’t want to beam up to the Enterprise for Mother’s Day. 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, man, is that new Star Trek awesome or what?” you can respond, “Hey, I’ve been into J.J. Abrams’ mad skillz at reboots of 1960s shows for years.”
INSTEAD OF: Star Trek, J.J. Abrams’ alternative-timeline reboot sequel prequel to the much beloved future history…

RENT: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, from 1986, the best of the old-school Trek movies, and also the one with the best time-travel element (which also features heavily in Abrams’ flick). Or, check out the only other theatrical movie to Abrams’ credit, Mission: Impossible III, which is clever and witty, both visually and verbally, and also is as much a commentary on its star (Tom Cruise) as it is on the delicious absurdity of the classic spy series it’s based on.

INSTEAD OF: Next Day Air, a comedy about dumb criminals and package-delivery services that you probably won’t want to see anyway, because it has mostly not screened for critics (and you know what that means)…

RENT: 2006’s 16 Blocks, starring the only cast member of Next Day Air worth paying attention to: Mos Def, who has morphed from one of the most intriguing hip-hop artists into one of the most intensely watchable actors of our generation. Or try 2004’s The Woodsman, which offers a nice contrast to Def’s 16 Blocks criminal — here, he’s a weary cop keeping an eye on Kevin Bacon’s convicted child molester.

Unless you’re in a city with a major first-run arthouse scene, you won’t have any choice but to go the DVD route with this new limited release:

INSTEAD OF: Little Ashes, in which Twilight’s Robert Pattinson takes on the role of avant garde artist Salvador Dali…

RENT: One of the other great movies about artists, such as 1994’s Crumb, Terry Zwigoff’s documentary about the controversial underground comic-book artist; 1996’s Basquiat — by Julian Schnabel, an artist himself — starring Jeffrey Wright as the artist who made graffiti respectable; or the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love, from 1998, which posits a lovely romance that inspired one of the Bard’s greatest plays.

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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Jan Willem
Jan Willem
Fri, May 08, 2009 5:06pm

Another more than worthy alternative to “Little Ashes” might be John Maybury’s “Love Is the Devil” from 1998 about the doomed affair of Francis Bacon and his burglar boyfriend George Dyer, played by Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig respectively. Also visually arresting, which the Dali-Lorca picture is not, if its trailer is anything to go by.