Eric D. Snider

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Friday movie roundup – May 21

The surprising thing about “MacGruber” (review at Cinematical) is that despite being based on a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, it’s not terrible. I know! Believe me, we were as astonished as you are, when we saw it at South By Southwest in March. The general consensus was that wow, this is actually pretty funny.

The less surprising thing about “Shrek Forever After” (review at Film.com) is that, eh, it’s all right. Not bad, not great. If it were an episode of a “Shrek” TV show, it would be fine. Doesn’t seem worthy of the big screen, though, unless you’re seeing it for free, maybe.

In limited release is “The Square,” a fiendishly bleak and gripping thriller from Australia about plans gone awry. You know the type: a couple ordinary people plan a crime of some kind, things go wrong, then more things go wrong when they try to fix the first things that went wrong, and then things go even more wrong, etc. It’s playing now in Portland and in Salt Lake City, to name two places where I know a lot of you people live.

Also in limited release: “The Human Centipede.” To me this title sounds like a jolly children’s book, but it is not. It’s an already-legendary “midnight” movie about a mad scientist who wants to sew three people together into a, um, human centipede. It’s pretty gross, although not nearly as gross as it could have been, given the circumstances.

Other movie things I wrote this week:

Eric’s Bad Movies at Film.com has “Rambo III,” in conjunction with “MacGruber,” which is sort of a parody of movies like “Rambo III.” “Rambo III” is big, loud, and stupid, and I stand by that. Also, I’m more pleased with the outcome of this edition of Eric’s Bad Movies than I have been in a few weeks. Sometimes you nail it, sometimes you don’t, you know?

Speaking of hilarious comedy jokes, I wrote a piece for Cinematical about why it’s a mistake to cut Megan Fox from “Transformers 3.” Be sure to read the comments people have left…

Then there was the “Hurt Locker” producer who managed to win a debate be on the right side of a debate while still being a jerk.

Were you wondering whose fault it is that “Robin Hood” turned out lousy? Turns out we’ve identified the culprits.

And What’s the Big Deal? at Film.com addresses “Chinatown,” a fantastic movie from  1974, a year that also brought us “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “The Godfather Part II,” “The Conversation,” and the birth of Eric D. Snider.

Two things you should subscribe to: “In the Dark,” my weekly e-mail collection of the latest reviews, DVD releases, and merriment; and “Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider,” the weekly Internet-radio program in which Jeff Bayer and I talk about movies. You can also listen to that show live at 11 a.m. (PDT) every Friday. There’s no way to listen to “In the Dark” live, however, as it is an e-mail, not an audio program.

7 Responses to “Friday movie roundup – May 21”

  1. Clumpy Says:

    Do you really feel that Chartier won that debate? He responded to a plea not to threaten noncommercial infringers and wished ruin and prison upon his entire family for taking a reasonable stance.

    I would go so far as to say that a critic’s darling without mainstream popularity like The Hurt Locker has little to lose from “piracy”, and very much in fact to gain, unless we take Chartier’s absurd “why don’t we come into your house and take all your stuff” argument at face value, which ignores both the questionable practice of estimating pirated copies as lost sales and the clear difference between information (intellectual property) and physical property.

    Your point – that “[pirating the movie] instead of going through regular channels to see the film takes money out of the pockets of the copyright holders” is legitimate, given a case where somebody already had enough information to know they intended to make a purchase and then ripped off the movie instead. But I’d argue that this type of situation is few and far between and the reverse – somebody who hears about a hyped film, picks it up and watches it once with some friends, one of whom mentions it to a friend who pirates it and then buys it – is far more common, and an entirely legitimate way of making informed choices in our modern world. Chartier is shooting himself in the foot.

  2. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Do you really feel that Chartier won that debate?

    No, you’re right, that was poor phrasing. His debate skills are terrible. What I meant was that he’s on the right side of the argument.

    With the laws as they currently stand, one does NOT have the right to pirate a movie, even if doing so would ultimately “help” the film in question. (Who gets to decide that? The copyright holder, or the consumer?) The laws might need to be reformed to catch up with our modern world, but until they are, Chartier is on the right side of the debate.

  3. Clumpy Says:

    Ah, ok. In that case I think I understand where you’re coming from. Still, by the cold legal standard he’d still be on the “right side” of the debate even if his entire argument had consisted of an expletive and a pronoun, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

    I’m not one to put much faith in law over ethics, though, particularly with an issue like intellectual property, the definition of which has expanded mainly through the influence of corporate and trade groups, groups who have been very successful at framing the debate as one of theft and rights when the reality is far more murky and ambiguous. I feel that those rights owners who jump on this bandwagon are clinging to antiquated views of “property” in a modern digital age of public goods and information, views which themselves ironically only came into view as copyright power shifted from individual creators to massive publishers and studios who show by their actions on a daily basis how they really feel about the rights of creators. But I’m not really confident enough to jump on that soapbox since public perception and populist technology is already winning the battle.

    Oh and, um, sorry to ramble. I realize this isn’t really the place for a conversation like this and I’m not really aware of your beliefs on this particular matter. Still, as somebody who still snagged both of your collections when they became available despite having those same columns saved on my computer, I still think that any creator has a vested interest in the outcome of this issue.

  4. Karen Says:

    Your review of MacGruber should have mentioned how sickeningly violent it was. I figured the comedy would be crude, but I was not prepared for the barehanded ripping out of multiple throats. It was revolting.

  5. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Hmm, somehow the part referring to the violence was left out of my tag. It should have read: “Rated R, a lot of harsh profanity, a lot of vulgarity, some nonsexual nudity, some strong sexuality played for laughs, a lot of over-the-top comic violence.” I know you know I don’t intend for those summaries to be total dissections of a movie’s content — that’s what sites like Screen It and Kids In Mind are for — but I do try to cover all the major bases. Sorry about that.

  6. Clumpy Says:

    Just a quick note that Screenit requires a subscription to view parental reviews for movies, while http://pluggedin.com fulfills much the same function for free (even if it is from Focus on the Family).

  7. Joel Says:

    The Transformers 3 article was hilarious. Well done.

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