Big screen or rental? That's the Mason/Dixon line of movie preview watching. Some get thrown in the "never" bucket, while others are tagged "must see on a large screen." Others get "rental" coughed at them in a Jim Belushi Animal House voice. If you dislike paying a babysitter or taking out a mortgage to see a movie, or prefer the comfort of your (presumably) non-sticky home theater, or dislike chatty and/or smelly neighbors blurting during the buildup, or like real popcorn made correctly with nutritional yeast and Spike, thank you very much -- well, then, your algorithm leaves you with even more DVDs to queue.
I like to take a second during the first week of each month to do some digital gardening in my DVD rental queue, bumping some new available rentals up my list, perhaps making plans to buy one or weed out others. Do you do the same? Here are my best recommendations from the DVDs releasing in June:
1. Mary and Max
Image courtesy Icon Entertainment International
I want to put this DVD in your hand, give you a plate of tiny macaroons, and close the door. Two oddball Claymation characters, featuring incredible voicework by Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman, find connection as long-distance penpals. This secret treasure is very funny, might also make you cry -- though I really hate it when clay makes me cry -- and definitely understands the lonesome but incessantly communicating hearts of writers.
Image courtesy Walt Disney Pictures
I liked this on the big screen, but it will also be fun to take a closer look at Tim Burton's visuals a second time. If you are seeing it for the first time, don't expect a faithful homage to the classic, but do settle in for Burton's characteristic wicked play with scripts and images. Quality time with Johnny Depp is always nice, of course.
Image courtesy Paramount Pictures
Critics complained that this was not A+ work for Scorsese, but it's not like he phoned it in, either. Shutter Island is a chilling, intelligent Gothic game with more than enough twists and horror movie nods to entice you to watch a very engaging cast (Leonardo Di Caprio, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo) more than once.
Image courtesy Sony Pictures Classics
This Tolstoy biopic is the sumptuous period drama you would expect, but at core it's a film about marriage, about jealousy and commitment, and about staying. The Last Station is great if only for Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer's fabulous performances.
Image courtesy MGM
A completely enjoyable waste of time, raunchy humor, indulgent midlife crisis homages to the '80s (including stars John Cusack and Chevy Chase parodying themselves)--so in other words, a perfect rental, especially if you owe your partner a meaningless comedy after coercing him or her to sit through The Last Station with you.
Do you have other summer DVDs to recommend, or to warn borrowers to avoid? Oh, speaking of avoiding, don't let Jonathon Rhys Meyers tempt you. Avoid From Paris with Love. C'est horrible!
Contributing Editor Deb Rox doesn't talk during movies. Not in the theater, not in her house No, seriously.
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