Eric D. Snider

Movie Review: "Transcendence" C April 18, 2014

Someone tampers in God's domain again

Like so much of modern technology, "Transcendence" starts out full of excitement and promise before proving to be just another expensive gadget of dubious usefulness. The directorial debut of cinematographer Wally Pfister (he's Christopher Nolan's favorite), this half-hearted examination of the conflict between humanity and technology stars Johnny Depp as Will Caster, a brilliant Berkeley scientist at death's door who uploads his consciousness into the artificial intelligence device that he's been developing with his heal-the-world do-gooder wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), and their conscience-stricken colleague Max (Paul Bettany). Now a super-intelligent living computer with access to all the world's knowledge, Will develops nanotechnology that can heal injuries and cure disease -- BUT AT WHAT COST?

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Eric's Blog April 11, 2014

Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider #206: 'Draft Day,' 'Oculus,' 'Rio 2,' more

[We got a big ol' pile of reviews for you this week on Movie B.S..]

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Movie Review: "Hide Your Smiling Faces" B+ April 11, 2014

One tranquil summer marred by tragedy

The boys in "Hide Your Smiling Faces," an evocative rumination on adolescence by first-time filmmaker Daniel Patrick Carbone, are in the "exploring" phase of youth. Composed of fragments taken from one typical-but-formative summer, the film shows them roaming the woods, testing their own strength in wrestling matches, investigating an abandoned house, and poking curiously at dead animals. When a gun is introduced, the younger boys stupidly (yet innocently) just want to get a closer look at it.

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Movie Review: "Oculus" B April 11, 2014

Evil mirror a reflection of our times

The first thing you should know about "Oculus," a horror film about a haunted mirror, is that it is much better than a film about a haunted mirror has any right to be. Directed, co-written, and edited by Mike Flanagan, it's an expansion on a well-received 30-minute short he made several years ago, and the extra practice he's had at getting it right is evident in the way he creates atmosphere and builds suspense.

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Movie Review: "Draft Day" C+ April 11, 2014

Haha there's a team called 'The Browns'

After seeing the trailer for "Draft Day" a few months ago, I made the observation that Summit was clearly making no effort to sell the film to people who aren't already interested in the NFL draft (people like me, for example). As if to prove my point, the NFL-loving friend I was with told me his reaction: "I'm sold!"

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Movie Review: "Joe" B April 9, 2014

A comparatively sane Nic Cage drama

We give Nicolas Cage a lot of ribbing (and rightly so) for his over-the-top performances in nutty movies, but "Joe" is a reminder that he can balance those lunatic sensibilities with real acting when he feels like it. Set deep in rural Texas and based on a 1991 Larry Brown novel, the film is also a reminder of director David Gordon Green's knack for atmosphere, and of 17-year-old Tye Sheridan's status as one of the most promising young actors in the movies today.

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Eric's Blog April 4, 2014

Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider #205: 'Captain America 2,' 'Noah,' Pitch Me

[If you like podcasts, here's good news: Movie B.S. is one!]

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Movie Review: "The Grand Budapest Hotel" B+ April 4, 2014

Wes Anderson's latest twee nostalgia

As the patron saint of cinematic hipsterism, writer-director Wes Anderson is known for making films that, even when set in the present day, have an aura of timelessness about them. The dialogue may be arch and modern, but the diorama-like sets and symmetrical shot compositions suggest the formality of a bygone era -- possibly one that never actually existed.

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Movie Review: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" B April 4, 2014

1940s optimism runs into 2010s paranoia

It was probably inevitable that the new Captain America film, having moved from World War II to the present day, would be more cynical and less rah-rah than its predecessor. "Captain America: The First Avenger" had its flaws, but it also had an exuberant squareness that distinguished it from the other Marvel superhero films, which tend to be hipper, more jaded. Now that the biologically enhanced super-soldier Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has been brought forward in time and added to the Avengers mix, his second standalone adventure, "The Winter Soldier," starts to match the slick, glib tone of your Iron Mans and your Thors and whatnot.

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Movie Review: "The Raid 2 (Indonesian)" B- March 28, 2014

More punching, kicking of Indonesians

In fall 2011, a splendidly violent martial-arts film called "The Raid" popped up out of Indonesia and blew the heads off film festival audiences at midnight screenings around the world. Dumbly retitled "The Raid: Redemption" for its U.S. release, the flick boasted 101 minutes of almost nonstop hand-to-hand combat and gunfights in a story about a SWAT team taking down a crime lord in his well-fortified apartment building. The plot was unremarkable (the usual dirty cops and personal vendettas), but the action was some of the best that fight aficionados had ever seen.

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