Eric D. Snider

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Archive for February, 2011

My Oscar predictions and wagering

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Jeff Bayer is not just my friend, colleague, and podcast co-host. He is also my rival and sworn enemy. So on this week’s “Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider,” we wagered on who could correctly predict the most winners at Sunday’s Academy Awards. The loser has to watch and live-tweet an episode of “Two and a Half Men,” while the winner gets to not do that.

But Jeff doesn’t just like to wager! He likes to wager in a complicated fashion, hence the “confidence rankings” of our Oscar predictions. Here’s how it works: First you make your predictions for each of the 24 categories. Then you arrange them in order of how confident you are that you’re right. The one you’re most certain of will be worth 24 points if it actually wins; the one you were totally taking a wild guess on gets 1 point if it happens to prove correct. Whoever has the most points at the end of the show is the winner.

Here are my predictions, ranked in order of confidence. Jeff’s are here. Many of our predictions are the same, but we vary quite a bit in our levels of confidence. For example, if I’m right about the Best Makeup category, I’ll get 19 points, whereas Jeff will only get 3 if he’s right. And again, the loser has to live-tweet an episode of “Two and a Half Men,” so there’s a lot at stake.

24 – Animated Feature: “Toy Story 3″
23 – Actor: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
22 – Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
21 – Screenplay, Adapted: “The Social Network”
20 – Cinematography: “True Grit”
19 – Makeup: “The Wolfman”
18 – Picture: “The King’s Speech”
17 – Director: David Fincher, “The Social Network”
16 – Actress: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
15 – Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
14 – Screenplay, Original: “The King’s Speech”
13 – Documentary Feature: “Inside Job”
12 – Sound Editing: “Inception”
11 – Sound Mixing: “Inception”
10 – Visual Effects: “Inception”
9 – Film Editing: “The Social Network”
8 – Original Score: “The King’s Speech”
7 – Art Direction: “The King’s Speech”
6 – Costume Design: “Alice in Wonderland”
5 – Foreign-Language Film: “In a Better World”
4 – Animated Short: “The Gruffalo”
3 – Documentary Short: “Killing in the Name”
2 – Original Song: “We Belong Together,” from “Toy Story 3″
1 – Live-Action Short: “The Confession”

Friday movie roundup – Feb. 25

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Two new wide releases this weekend, and they’re both super R-rated. But a couple weeks ago there were two G-rated releases at once (“Gnomeo and Juliet” and the Justin Bieber thing), so it balances out.

“Hall Pass” (review at Film.com) is a not-very-good comedy about some married men who get permission from their wives to have all the extramarital sex they can for a week. (You know, a “hall pass.” People totally do that.) “Drive Angry” is an insane work of grindhouse trash — note that this is not necessarily a bad thing — starring Nicolas Cage as a man determined to save a baby from a satanic cult.

Also this week: At Film.com, I considered what message the Academy would be sending by choosing each of the nominees as Best Picture; “What’s the Big Deal?” addressed “A Streetcar Named Desire”; and “Eric’s Bad Movies” tackled “The Saint.” I thought I had vague memories of seeing “The Saint” in theaters in 1997, but then I thought maybe I was remembering “The Jackal” instead, but then I read about “The Jackal,” and I think it was actually “The Saint.” 1997 was not a good year for movies.

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.

My Twitter philosophies: a manifesto

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Many people have no use at all for Twitter, and good for them. But for people like myself, who are basically sitting at their computers all day, Twitter is an excellent way to stay connected to the world, to keep up with friends and colleagues, and to try out one-liners.

There are many different ways to use Twitter, however, and it’s disheartening when people expect everyone else to do it their way. Specifically, it’s aggravating when Twitter becomes just another tool, like Facebook, to apply social pressure to one another.

Here are my Twitter philosophies. I won’t say that this is how everyone should think, just that it’s how I think.

- I’m selective about who I follow. This is out of necessity. If I follow too many people, my Twitter feed becomes a torrent, and I can’t keep up with it. On Facebook, you can be “friends” with someone but make it so you don’t actually have to see all their updates. Twitter doesn’t have that feature. If you follow someone on Twitter, all their tweets will show up in your feed.* Therefore, I only follow people whose tweets I actually want to read.

I know not everyone does this! Some people follow hundreds and hundreds of people, apparently indiscriminately. Maybe they use the “lists” feature extensively to sort them all. I don’t know. I’m not that way. I only follow you if I want to read your tweets.

- This is not a reflection of how I view you as a person! Good grief, some people have made Twitter into a social minefield. They take it as a personal grievance if someone they know doesn’t follow them. You shouldn’t do this. It ain’t healthy. Don’t make it out to be more than it is.

I take back the part where I said I’m not going to tell you what to think. I am going to tell you what to think.

Continue reading…

Friday movie roundup – Feb. 18

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

If you like mild, PG-13-rated adventures that are sort of good but not great, then this is your weekend!

In “Unknown” (review at Film.com), Liam Neeson wakes up from a coma to find that nobody knows who he is, and that maybe he isn’t who he thought he was. In “I Am Number Four,” a teenage boy is an alien trying to keep his identity a secret from the monsters that want to kill him. Both movies got a B- from me: modestly entertaining, certainly not bad, worth checking out if the subject matter interests you.

The same cannot be said for “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” (review at Cinematical), the third entry in Martin Lawrence’s “Big Momma’s House” franchise. It was one of Hollywood’s Shameful Secrets® (i.e., not screened for critics before its release), yet it turns out to be even worse than that distinction normally implies.

Over at Film.com, “What’s the Big Deal?” takes on “The Grapes of Wrath,” while “Eric’s Bad Movies” deals with “Hocus Pocus.” I note with some pride that Sarah Jessica Parker appears in that movie, yet my column contains no direct mention of the fact that she looks like a horse. I did that as an exercise, like writing a story without using the word “the.”

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 – Feb. 11

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Monday is Valentine’s Day, yet the closest thing to a romantic comedy opening this weekend is “Just Go with It,” starring Adam Sandler as a pathological liar who must create a fake soon-to-be-ex-wife in order to date the smokin’ hot babe he met at a party. And they say romance is dead! And they are right when they say that!

“Gnomeo & Juliet” sounds like it’s a romance, and I guess it is. But it’s also a cartoon, and it’s about garden gnomes that come to life when people aren’t around, “Toy Story”-style, and I didn’t see it, so never mind.

Before I saw “Just Go with It,” I wrote a piece for Film.com analyzing the logical problems presented by the trailer. I submit it now as a historical artifact, from the period of time before we saw “Just Go with It.”

What is “The Eagle” (review at Film.com)? It is a movie with Channing Tatum as a Roman centurion, and Jamie Bell as his slave/sidekick! It has swords and stuff.

Oh, and I saw “The Roommate” last weekend. I didn’t write a review, but it’s plenty stupid, believe me.

“Cedar Rapids” (review at Cinematical) opens today in limited release. It’s worth catching, especially if you’re a fan of Ed Helms, unsung hero from “The Office.”

Over at Film.com, “What’s the Big Deal?” dealt with “Last Tango in Paris,” while “Eric’s Bad Movies” addressed “Bolero,” starring Bo Derek and her many naked breasts. (She must have seven or eight.)

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.

Help my niece help the Ukrainians

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Do you love baked goods? Do you love helping Ukrainian orphans escape a life of poverty and Ukrainianism? Do you love seeing adorable 6-year-olds endeavor to bless the lives of others? Then this is your lucky day, Hector!

In Utah dwells one Gary Ceran, who had a wife and nine children. Two died at birth; three more died of brain cancer. Then his wife and two of the remaining children were killed by a drunk driver. On Christmas Eve. This left Gary Ceran and two children out of a family that originally had 11 members. Then Gary forgave the drunk driver and asked the court to show leniency on him, because Gary is a better person than you or me.

Gary eventually married a woman named Corrine, who had four children of her own, joining Gary’s two surviving teenagers. Do you think six children is enough for one household? You are mistaken! Gary and Corrine now seek to adopt three Ukrainian orphans, ages 11, 9, and 8, whom they hosted for a few weeks last fall. The process is expensive — $40,000. That is the going rate for Ukrainian orphans nowadays, because of inflation. But if the kids stay where they are, in the Ukraine, as orphans … well, forget about it. Even living in Utah would be preferable to that. They want to be a permanent part of the Ceran family, and the Cerans want them too.

Here’s where the adorable 6-year-old comes in. My niece, Lindsay, wanted to have a bake sale, primarily as an excuse to make brownies. Her parents steered her toward the idea of raising money to help someone in need and told her about the Cerans. Lindsay got excited and wanted to help that family. (Lindsay is pictured here with her 3-year-old brother, Logan, who is also adorable.)

So this Friday, Feb. 11, from 3-6 p.m., Lindsay will host a bake sale at her house in Pleasant Grove, Utah, assisted by her parents (my brother Jeff and his wife, Beth). I’m told that a variety of tasty homemade treats will be available for purchase. If you are in the vicinity and can figure out how to find something in Pleasant Grove (I always end up in American Fork), why not stop by, pick up some goodies, and help the Ceran family?

If you are not in the vicinity, you can still help Lindsay raise money by sending a donation through PayPal to Jeff Snider, snidog@JeffJSnider.com. (Mind the “J” in there. We like middle initials in our family.) Every penny will go directly to the Cerans’ adoption process. What’s more, Jeff and Beth have told Lindsay that they will match whatever she raises.

Lindsay, being young and uncynical, is awestruck to think that strangers — people she doesn’t even know! — would send her money on the Cerans’ behalf. Her face lights up whenever Jeff reports that a donation has come in.

You want to make a 6-year-old’s face light up, don’t you? And you want to help Ukrainian orphans, don’t you? WELL, DON’T YOU??

More details on the event, including the address for the bake sale, are here.

UPDATE: Holy crap, you guys! The bake sale raised $796.85! I don’t have the details. I don’t know if brownies were being sold at $50 apiece. I don’t know if sorcery was involved. But in addition to that money raised in person, another $971.00 was donated via PayPal, from all over the world. That’s $1,767.85 that my 6-year-old niece raised, to be matched by my brother and his wife, for a total of $3,535.70 that will go to an amazing family adopting three Ukrainian orphans. You have to go to the Ceran family’s site and read more about them. These people are unbelievably generous and good-hearted. Their actions are informed by their religious faith, and they are the epitome of what Christians are supposed to be.

And think how great little Lindsay must feel! She’s 6 years old, and she got to help organize this project that will directly bless the lives of others. I’m six times her age and I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything that useful. To all of you who contributed via PayPal or who showed up at the bake sale, thank you for helping a little girl experience the joy of helping others, and thank you for helping the Cerans bring their new kids home.

2011 Sundance Film Festival linkage

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Maybe it was just the luck of the draw, or maybe I’m getting better at selecting which movies I see, or maybe the high altitude is finally making me loopy, but the 2011 Sundance Film Festival seemed like one of the best in several years. Of the 24 movies I saw, only five were what I’d call “bad.” Everything else was at least OK, several were very good, and I didn’t even get to see “Win Win,” “How to Die in Oregon,” or “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey,” to name just three that everybody said were fantastic. (Then again, I also didn’t see “The Ledge,” “Son of No One,” or “Margin Call,” which everybody said were terrible.)

Here’s what I did see, arranged approximately from best to worst. Links are to the reviews. If there’s no link, it’s on account of I didn’t write a review.

“Bellflower” A-
“Like Crazy” A-
“Hobo with a Shotgun” A-
“Silent House” B+
“Project Nim” (documentary) B+
“Submarine” B+
“Take Shelter” B+
“The Lie” B+
“The Future” B+
“The Music Never Stopped” B
“The Catechism Cataclysm” B
“Pariah” B
“Martha Marcy May Marlene” B
“The Guard” B
“The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” (documentary) B
“Cedar Rapids” B- (and my interview with Ed Helms)
“The Troll Hunter” (Norwegian) B-
“The Woman” B-
“Terri” C+
“Homework” C-
“The Devil’s Double” D+
“Uncle Kent” D+
“I Melt with You” D
“Septien” D

I didn’t write a daily diary as in years past. You’ll just have to take my word for it that I had a lot of fun, and that I saw Rutger Hauer at a party.

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