Alternative Summer Rental List

I love books. I do. For me, reading is a passion, something I can’t imagine life without.
But sometimes, when it’s really super-summer hot, the thought of focusing your sweat-brimmed eyes enough to read a novel is just plain agonizing. Not to mention those dreadful rainy days when you are forced to stick it out indoors.
So here, for your viewing pleasure, I propose some alternative summer rentals (film = another love of my life). Some of these are weird and some are, well, weirder. But hopefully you’ll enjoy at least some of them as much as I have.


Okay, don’t watch this if you don’t like to feel very, very uncomfortable. (I do want to say, however, that this is my favorite movie of all time.)
Oldboy is a Korean film (director Chan-wook Park, for whom Oldboy is part of a trilogy; Park also directed the lovely I’m a Cyborg and That’s Okay), part of the wave of innovative Korean filmmakers that was going on a few years ago. It’s the story of a man who is suddenly kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years. By the time he gets out, the only thing he cares about is finding out who imprisoned him and why–and getting revenge.
Oh yeah, and it’s based on a comic book, so it’s extremely graphic. You’ve been warned.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
…In which the “angry inch” refers to the bit of man-part left over after a botched sex-change operation.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a phenomenal film about a transexual rocker who came to the United States to escape Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall. It’s a funny and sad story about identity and love…and did I mention it’s a punk-rock musical? Do not miss this one. I have yet to meet someone who’s seen this movie who didn’t absolutely love it.

Ghost World
Napoleon Dynamite ain’t got nothing on this quirky teenage coming-of-age story. Also based on a comic book, Ghost World features great talent Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi, and you also get a look at Scarlett Johansson when she was still cute… and could act.
Ghost World is a tale of slightly surrealist teenage dissatisfaction and choosing one’s own path to adulthood. Enid and Rebecca are inseparable when they’re misfits in high school, but when they graduate, things start to fall apart. Throw in Steve Buscemi as a very uncomfortable love interest, a weird old guy on a bench who is waiting for a bus that never comes, and a whole lot of sad music and funny moments, and you’ve got a really great movie.
28 Days Later
Don’t be disillusioned by the horror schlock that was 28 Weeks Later. The original of the to-be trilogy, 28 Days Later, is a brilliant comment on society without once becoming heavy-handed. When Jim wakes up from a coma, he finds his hometown of London all but abandoned…until he starts encountering zombies.
Under the guise of “horror movie,” 28 Days Later is funny and sad and so much more about the people in the movie than about the zombies.

The Host
Another in the new wave of Korean cinema, The Host is a monster movie. Let’s be clear about that–it really is a monster movie.
However, more importantly, it’s a story about a family’s love and dysfunction, and it’s at points both hysterically funny and incredibly sad. I, along with most of the rest of the audience when I saw this in the movie theater, literally both laughed and cried.
This is not a movie that is deeply intellectual (unless you’re thinking about the current Korean political situation, in which case, yes, it says a lot), but it is a real emotional ride and a joy to watch. This little gem has gone widely unnoticed, but I promise you won’t regret seeing it. Just make sure you watch it with subtitles, NOT dubbed.
Well, that’s all I got. Any other suggestions?
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