My love affair with Family Video

Denise Wright

I haven’t had cable since I moved out of the dorms back in May. I guess it’s one of those “absence makes the heart grow fonder” things, because honestly, I miss it.

Six months ago, I would have had an entirely different take. If I saw that “Thriller” Vitamin Water commercial again, I was going to chuck my TV right out the window.

Fast forward to mid-October: I’m yearning for the day I can participate in “Project Runway” discussions. It’s a little difficult to watch reruns online when your laptop decides it doesn’t want the Internet to work anymore.

So now’s the point in the column where I stop whining and actually get to the point. Well, my cableless summer brought a newfound appreciation for Netflix and Family Video.

Recently, I’ve gotten on this kick where I want to see well-known actors in more obscure films. Here are a couple note-worthy performances I’ve delved into lately:

Ellen Page in “An American Crime” – I discovered this one while roaming Family Video a few weeks ago.

“Why is Ellen Page in every other movie?” I exclaimed to my roommate. “She really whored herself out after ‘Juno.'”

Hearing my remark, a nearby employee said, “But this one is actually pretty good.”

I heeded his advice and rented “An American Crime” – a decision I don’t regret.

The film is based on what is called “the single worst crime perpetrated against an individual in Indiana’s history,” in which teenager Sylvia Likens (Page) was brutally tortured.

While director Tommy O’Haver defends the significance in making such a film, it is truly difficult to stomach most of the time. The events that unfold are horrible, and I wouldn’t call the film “entertaining” in any way, shape or form.

But while others bash it for its lack of emotional sentiment, I thought the film really hit home, and the historical significance of the events alone makes it worth a (single) watch.

Anton Yelchin in “Hearts in Atlantis” – You may not recognize his name, but you’d probably recognize his face. You may have seen Anton Yelchin as “stolen boy” in “Alpha Dog.”

That’s the first time I saw him, and honestly, I wasn’t smitten. I suppose his quiet persona fit that of the character, but I just really didn’t see anything from the actor that left me wanting more.

Until I saw “Charlie Bartlett.” Yelchin played the title character, a charmingly witty teenager who takes it upon himself to diagnose his school’s problems.

I was intrigued by Yelchin’s performance and wanted to see more of his films, which led me to “Hearts in Atlantis.”

The 2001 film, loosely based on a Stephen King collection, features Yelchin as a pre-teen who sets out to protect an elder neighbor (Anthony Hopkins), and in doing so, learns to stand up for himself and others around him.

While the storyline was lacking (Was it really necessary for the FBI to be chasing a psychic?), it is a charming coming-of-age tale in which Yelchin gave a genuinely heartwarming performance.

Not bad for a kid who was almost an ice skater.

Contact all editor Denise Wright at [email protected].