DVD Alternatives to This Weekend's Theatrical Offerings

Here's one way of looking at things: Exorcists are professional assassins of supernatural beings who have immigrated to places where they shouldn't be. Watch all these DVD alternatives to what's on at the movies this weekend, and that might even make sense.

INSTEAD OF: The Mechanic, in which Jason Statham's professional killer takes on a psychotic new apprentice (Ben Foster) as well as his bosses, when they betray him...

WATCH: The Mechanic (1972), the Charles Bronson flick the Statham flick is a nominal remake of; expect it to be much better than the new one. For more from hacktacular director Simon West, check out his Con Air (1997), which is equally brutish and misogynist, two qualities he appears to believe de rigueur in an action film. If you need more preposterous thuggery from Jason Statham, see him in the ridiculously named The Transporter (2002), as yet another character who does dangerous things for dangerous people for dangerous amounts of money. For a truly great movie about a professional killer, don't miss the excellent Collateral (2004), in which Tom Cruise surprises as a smoothly calculating assassin.

INSTEAD OF: The Rite, about a young priest who goes to the Vatican to learn about exorcisms and finds himself taken under the wing of a priest (Anthony Hopkins) who may himself be possessed...

WATCH: The Omen (1976), for the granddaddy of all great movies about demonic possession and exorcism; the entire genre takes cues from this terrifying flick, but few of them ever get it right. If you want another cheesy movie about priests and demons and what happens when they clash, check out the accidentally hilarious The Order (2003), and see what happens when Heath Ledger dons the clerical collar (hint: he still gets the girl). For supernatural scares from director Mikael Hafstrom that are genuinely enthralling, see his 1408 (2007), a Twilight Zone-ish treat in which John Cusack's journalist spends a spooky night in a famous haunted motel. For more of Anthony Hopkins phoning in paranormal nonsense, check him out in The Wolfman (2010), as a rather beastly fellow.

INSTEAD OF: Biutiful, in which Javier Bardem -- now Oscar nominated for his performance -- wanders sadly around Barcelona trying to support his family by his generally illegal businesses involving putting undocumented immigrants to work; also, he sees dead people (really)...

WATCH: Amores Perros (2001), director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's first film, a beautiful and brutal tale of how -- as the title translates -- love's a bitch. For more of Javier Bardem caught between the living and the dead, see his extraordinary performance as a paraplegic who wants to die but can't do the job himself in The Sea Inside (2005). For more mainstream stories about immigrants caught in various kinds of limbo, see The Terminal (2004) -- in which Tom Hanks is an Eastern European stranded at JFK airport when his country disappears -- or The Visitor (2007), in which Richard Jenkins befriends a man who's run afoul of federal officials who want to deport him.


MaryAnn Johanson professionally assassinates movies (but only the ones that deserve it) at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)