Eric D. Snider

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Archive for December, 2010

Film.com and Cinematical: 2010 in review

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The organizations that keep me most gainfully employed are Film.com and Cinematical. The editors I work with — Laremy Legel at the former, Erik Davis and Scott Weinberg at the latter — are a writer’s dream: supportive, professional, laid-back, and easily amused. I consider them friends in real life, too, and I always enjoy hanging out with them in person at film festivals. Sometimes they pretend to fight over me, which is nice.

My arrangement at Film.com has me writing four articles a week: “Eric’s Bad Movies,” “What’s the Big Deal?,” a review, and a miscellaneous other movie-related feature. We usually try to make those “other” pieces funny. Below is a list of the ones from 2010 that I like. In every instance, the idea for the column was Laremy’s. This is great, because I’m terrible at coming up with premises, and once someone tells you, “Explaining ‘Machete’ to Aliens Who Have Just Arrived from Outer Space,” half the work is done for you.

My Film.com highlights from 2010
(My author page at Film.com)

2/9: What to Expect from a George Lucas Musical
3/3: Circumstances Under Which I Would Willingly Watch ‘Little Fockers’
3/17: Pitch Meeting: ‘The Bounty Hunter’
4/19: ‘Furry Vengeance’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’: How to Tell the Difference
6/1: Pitch Meeting: ‘Killers’
6/2: Imagining ‘Marmaduke’ As an R-Rated Horror Film
6/21: Pitch Meeting: ‘Grown-Ups’
6/28: Our Idea for a Smurfs vs. Garfield vs. Marmaduke Film
8/4: And Now We Imagine a Meeting Between Nicolas Cage and His Agent

Continue reading…

All the wide releases of 2010

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

For people who like lists of things, here is a list of the 137 movies that opened in wide release in the United States in 2010. “Wide release” means it played in at least 1,000 theaters. Some movies started much smaller than that and expanded; this list includes those, as long as they eventually made it to 1,000. Missing are the 300+ movies that opened this year but didn’t go into wide release. That isn’t a judgment against those movies, just a way of sorting them. Information is according to Box Office Mojo. Links are to my reviews.

I saw 117 of them. How many did you see?

1/8 Daybreakers
1/8 Leap Year
1/8 Youth in Revolt
1/15 The Book of Eli
1/15 The Spy Next Door
1/22 Tooth Fairy
1/22 Extraordinary Measures
1/22 Legion
1/29 Edge of Darkness
1/29 When in Rome

2/5 From Paris with Love
2/5 Dear John
2/12 Valentine’s Day
2/12 Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
2/12 The Wolfman
2/19 Shutter Island
2/26 Cop Out
2/26 The Crazies

Continue reading…

Wednesday movie roundup – Dec. 22

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

It’s that magical time of year when movies come out on Wednesday instead of Friday! It is a Christmas miracle. 

Among new wide releases, your best option is “True Grit,” the Coen brothers’ rip-roarin’ new adaptation of the 1968 novel. Jeff Bridges plays the role made famous by John Wayne, while newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is terrific as the girl looking for the man who killed her dad. 

Under no circumstances should you see “Little Fockers” (review at Cinematical), unless you enjoy sadness and pain. 

But check out the excellent “The King’s Speech” (review at Film.com), in limited release now and going wider on Christmas Day. It’s one of the most joyful movies I’ve seen in a while. You will love Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, this I promise you. 

(Oh, Jack Black is in a version of “Gulliver’s Travels” that opens on Christmas, but they only screened it in a handful of markets, in which Portland was not included. So, whatever.)

Now let’s talk about how “The King’s Speech” and “Little Fockers” are perfect examples of how the MPAA rating system is screwed up. “The King’s Speech” is rated R while “Little Fockers” is PG-13. But I suspect any parent who had seen both films would rather their children see “The King’s Speech” than “Little Fockers.”

The MPAA’s official designation — always very, very helpful and clear — is that “The King’s Speech” is rated R “for some language.” Specifically, after the speech therapist realizes the king doesn’t stammer when he’s swearing, he has him fire off a string of profanities as a means of loosening himself up. So there’s this barrage of F-bombs in one scene, and four or five more in a later scene, for the same reason. 

If it weren’t for that, this would be a PG film. You could show it at church. But because of the F-words, it’s rated R. Restricted. No children under 17 admitted without parent or guardian. 

Meanwhile, “Little Fockers” is rated PG-13 “for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content.”

This is one of the dirtiest PG-13 movies I’ve ever seen. It’s chock-full of vulgarity and sexual innuendo. An underwear-clad hot chick tries to seduce a married man. An old guy takes a Viagra-type pill and we see the evidence of it tenting his pajama pants. Then the old guy’s son-in-law, a nurse, gives him an injection in his penis to prevent permanent damage, just as the 5-year-old grandson walks in. A man and a woman give a hospital patient an enema, engaging in filthy double entendre all the while. 

But don’t worry! Nobody ever says the F-word! (Well, except for the million or so times that somebody says “Focker,” wink wink.) There are no actual naked bosoms or wieners, either. So it gets the PG-13, which “cautions” parents that some material might be inappropriate for preteens, but which doesn’t actually prevent children from seeing it. 

If you’re scoring along at home, “The King’s Speech” got the same rating as “Basic Instinct” and all seven “Saw” movies, while “Little Fockers” is under the same classification as “The Simpsons Movie” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Merry Christmas!

Subscribe to “In the Dark,” a weekly e-mail with the latest movie reviews, DVD releases, and other pertinent info.

Listen to “Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider,” a weekly Internet radio show featuring Jeff Bayer and Eric D. Snider, at Cascadia.fm. It’s live at 11 a.m. (Pacific) every Friday, then downloadable as a podcast. Ignore the iTunes “explicit” tag; we always keep it PG.

Friday movie roundup – Dec. 17

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Exactly one year — 52 Fridays ago — a movie called “Avatar” was released to much fanfare. It was universally admired for its amazing visual effects and stunningly realistic imaginary world, but criticized for its lackluster story. In honor of this anniversary, today we get “Tron: Legacy,” which can be described in exactly the same way.

“The Fighter,” which opened in limited release last week, goes wide today, and it’s a very entertaining underdog sports story with terrific performances by Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo. I was also a fan of “How Do You Know” (review at Film.com), starring the delightful Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd.

I was not so much a fan of “Yogi Bear” (review at Cinematical), but you might enjoy reading the review if you enjoy seeing grown men write angrily about cartoon bears. It is possible you will also enjoy this piece I wrote for Film.com, “A Scientific Breakdown of the Physical Comedy Presented in the ‘Yogi Bear’ Trailer.”

“What’s the Big Deal?” was about “The Wild Bunch.” And speaking of dudes who fight a lot, “Eric’s Bad Movies” addressed “Mr. Nanny,” starring Hulk Hogan. While I was writing the column, I discovered that Hulk Hogan got married this very week, suddenly making my commentary relevant (or at least topical)! This was a coincidence, and a sign that the gods of comedy were looking favorably upon us.

Subscribe to “In the Dark,” a weekly e-mail with the latest movie reviews, DVD releases, and other pertinent info.

Listen to “Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider,” a weekly Internet radio show featuring Jeff Bayer and Eric D. Snider, at Cascadia.fm. It’s live at 11 a.m. (Pacific) every Friday, then downloadable as a podcast. Ignore the iTunes “explicit” tag; we always keep it PG.

Friday movie roundup – Dec. 10

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Nothing but a big pile of meh for you this weekend. (Yes, it’s still Friday as I post this. Let’s agree to that.)

The “the”-heavy sequel “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (review at Film.com) is just good enough to be considered good enough. But “The Tourist” (review at Cinematical) is a great deal less good. And “The Warrior’s Way” (review at Film.com), one of Hollywood’s Shameful Secrets from last week, is likewise lackluster.

At Film.com, “The Big Chill” is a Big Deal, and “Only the Strong” is only a Bad Movie.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I filled in for my friend Dawn Taylor as sidekick and newsreader on Rick Emerson’s “Legion of News” on Cascadia.fm. If you would like to hear me read and comment on important news stories of the day in a sarcastic fashion, you may listen to those episodes.

Finally, allow me to remind you of the existence of my page at iLike.com, where you will find many of the songs that I have written and recorded, for your listening pleasure, for free.

Subscribe to “In the Dark,” a weekly e-mail with the latest movie reviews, DVD releases, and other pertinent info.

Listen to “Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider,” a weekly Internet radio show featuring Jeff Bayer and Eric D. Snider, at Cascadia.fm. It’s live at 11 a.m. (Pacific) every Friday, then downloadable as a podcast. Ignore the iTunes “explicit” tag; we always keep it PG.

Friday movie roundup – Dec. 3

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Weep with sorrow, ye denizens of the multiplex, for Hollywood has forsaken you! Only one new film opens in wide release this week, and it wasn’t screened for critics, and it’s about ninjas and cowboys. It’s called “The Warrior’s Way.” Review to come.

In limited release, however, there is “Black Swan” (review at Cinematical), an insane psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman as a ballerina. Seeing this was the highlight of my first Telluride Film Festival a few months ago. Seeing it again last week confirmed that it wasn’t just the thin mountain air that made me love it the first time.

In other news, “Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider” has been nominated for the Podcast Awards! We assume this is very prestigious. We’re calling them the Poddies. You can vote for us “American Idol”-style (i.e., multiple times), but only once per day. Please do so! Even if you don’t listen to our show! Bayer and I thank you for your support.

Over at Film.com, “What’s the Big Deal?” is about “Dr. Zhivago,” a very long movie about the Russian Revolution and the romances found therein. “Eric’s Bad Movies” covers the 1998 version of “Godzilla.” Not only is the movie bad, but so is my original review of it. Bad as in poorly written, I mean. Good critics don’t start a review by telling you what they were expecting when they walked into the movie. For one thing, it’s a lazy way to start an article. For another thing, it doesn’t MATTER what you were expecting. What matters is what you actually saw. Can you imagine how dull it would be if a critic regularly started out with, “When I went to see this movie, I was expecting this…”? Bleh.

Good critics also don’t use the audience’s reaction to bolster their own opinion. “See? It wasn’t just me who didn’t like it! Neither did the people I saw it with!!” That’s desperate and insecure. It suggests that you’re terrified of being the only person with that opinion. So take my original “Godzilla” piece as an example of how not to write a review, and take my “Eric’s Bad Movies” treatment as an example of how to exact revenge on a bad movie 12 years later.

Subscribe to “In the Dark,” a weekly e-mail with the latest movie reviews, DVD releases, and other pertinent info.

Listen to “Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider,” a weekly Internet radio show featuring Jeff Bayer and Eric D. Snider, at PDX.fm. It’s live at 11 a.m. (Pacific) every Friday, then downloadable as a podcast. Ignore the iTunes “explicit” tag; we always keep it PG.

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