"The Weekend Rent offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Friday."
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and the gang are back and revving their engines in Fast & Furious 6, which has the professional criminal gang led by Dominic Toretto (Diesel) being lured out of retirement with an offer to clear their records in exchange for helping to take down a mercenary organization. Michelle Rodriguez's character, who plays Toretto's thought-to-be-dead lover, returns as the second in command of said mercenary outfit.
As with every Fast & Furious movie, you can expect NOS-enhanced action, tough bromances and tricked-out rides. Instead of driving down memory lane and revisiting the other five films in the series (you can do that here or with our beginner's guide), I thought a little counterprogramming was in order. If you don't want to put the pedal to the metal this weekend at the theater with Fast & Furious, how does "slow and meandering" sound?
Gus Van Sant's 2002 film stars Matt Damon and Casey Affleck as two buddies who drive to a remote location to walk the "Wilderness Trail." After an impromptu foot race, the two get lost and end up wandering around aimlessly for days without food and water. Eventually one strangles the other out of sheer frustration and madness. The kicker? A highway was very close by the entire time.
The Lord of the Rings
Peter Jackson's acclaimed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as the J.R.R. Tolkien novels it is based on, is a story about lots and lots of walking all over Middle-earth. Had Gandalf called this giant eagles a little sooner (or asked them for another favor), maybe they could have flown Frodo and Sam to Mount Doom at some point and trimmed several hours off the film's runtime. This didn't happen, of course, so enjoy the Hobbit-speed crawl to toss the One Ring into the fire—on the other end of Middle-earth.
The Straight Story
In this heartwarming 1999 drama directed by David Lynch that is based on a true story, WWII veteran Alvin (Richard Farnsworth) finds out that his estranged brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton) has suffered a stroke. Wanting to make amends before Lyle dies, Alvin sets out on a 240-mile journey from Iowa to Wisconsin while driving 6.5 mph atop a John Deere 110 lawn tractor since his legs and eyes are too impaired to get a driver's license. Pass with caution.
The Way Back
As slow as Richard Farnsworth is going in The Straight Story, at least he had wheels. In 2010's The Way Back, which is also based on a true story, a group of prisoners (including Jim Sturgess, Mark Strong, Colin Farrell and more) escape from a Siberian Gulag during WWII and embark on a 4,000-mile freedom walk to India. Along the way they meet Irena (Saoirse Ronan), an orphaned Polish girl on the run from Soviet Russia. The final hurdle of the epic marathon is to climb over the Himalayas. Needless to say, not everyone crosses the finish line.
Into the Wild
In this biographical film directed by Sean Penn, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) graduates with honors from Emory University in Atlanta and then decides to reject conventional life and live off the grid. He destroys all his credit cards and personal documents, donates his life savings to Oxfam, and drives his Datsun B210 across the country—eventually reaching Alaska after several extended pit stops. There, in the northernmost state, Christopher is thrilled with the isolation and lives off the land: he hunts game with his .22 caliber rifle, reads books and keeps a diary of his thoughts. On the long road away from Fast & Furious this weekend, Into the Wild is the last exit.
All of the movies listed above are available on DVD and/or Blu-ray as well as various VOD services.
Follow Robert B. DeSalvo @zuulboy