Eric D. Snider

Movie Review: "Don't Breathe" B+ August 25, 2016

Maybe don't rob houses in the first place

"Don't Breathe" is satisfying, meat-and-potatoes horror, the kind that takes a simple premise, adds a couple of flourishes, makes the most of it for 85 minutes, then gets out before it can overstay its welcome. We would all do well to emulate "Don't Breathe."

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Movie Review: "Free to Run (documentary)" B- August 25, 2016

Run! Run like it's not weird to do that!

[In theaters and Video on Demand.] ••• With the sport of running now being enjoyed (if that's the right word) by millions of people worldwide, it's easy to forget that until about 1970, it was rare and bizarre, a pastime for "masochistic weirdos." That's the phrase used by one enthusiast in the enjoyably informative documentary "Free to Run," which traces the sport's history over the last few decades and includes details that may surprise you.

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Eric's Blog August 19, 2016

Friday movie roundup - Aug. 19

My, what a busy week! A busy two weeks, actually -- I was away on fambly bidness last weekend and didn't update you. I have a whole bunch of new reviews, listed here alphabetically:

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Movie Review: "Morris from America" B August 19, 2016

Just a boy and his dad against Germany

[In theaters and Video on Demand.] ••• As you may recall from when it happened to you or from the many movies you've seen on the subject, growing up is hard. That's especially true for kids with single parents, and for minorities, and for kids living in a foreign country. The boy in "Morris from America" is all of those things, but don't expect a lot of high drama. This is a slight, pleasant coming-of-age comedy, offering smiles and warm fuzzies and two charming central performances.

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Movie Review: "Kubo and the Two Strings" B August 19, 2016

Storytelling and the art of magic origami

There's something broken in my head that causes me to like and respect Laika's stop-motion animated films without falling in love with them, some emotional circuit that's not being completed. "Coraline" was brilliantly twisted enough for it not to matter that it didn't have much heart. But then came "ParaNorman" (fine), "The Boxtrolls" (same), and now "Kubo and the Two Strings," an ambitious, beautiful, imaginative creation of painstaking detail ... that left me cold. Admiring, but cold.

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Movie Review: "Ben-Hur (2016)" C August 18, 2016

I'll say this much for it: it's shorter

Here's a fascinating bit of trivia about the 1880 novel "Ben-Hur" that you would never guess from watching Timur Bekmambetov's pedestrian new movie version: it was subtitled "A Tale of the Christ," and it made Judah Ben-Hur's conversion a significant part of the story. In the movie, everything Jesus-related feels like an afterthought, like they forgot it was supposed to be a religious drama and wedged some Christianity into it at the last minute. This is a movie about Jesus the same way "Jaws" is a movie about the Fourth of July.

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Movie Review: "War Dogs" C August 18, 2016

Bro bro bro bro bro bro bro bro bro bro

In "War Dogs," the title epithet is a derogatory term for dishonest, bottom-feeding greed-monsters who profit from war by selling weapons to the Pentagon. The fact that the bros to whom the term is applied wear it as a badge of honor tells you a lot about them, and goes a long way toward explaining why "War Dogs" had an uphill battle that director Todd Phillips ("The Hangover") was ill-equipped to win.

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Movie Review: "Hell or High Water" B+ August 17, 2016

Two bank robbers vs. two Texas Rangers

Most Westerns made in the last 50 years, whether set in the past or the present, have been at least partially about how the West has changed from how it was in the Westerns made in the previous 50 years. "Hell or High Water" is no exception. Set in a present-day West Texas where citizens still boast of their fondness for frontier justice (that is, vigilantism) and readily form posses to pursue outlaws (in SUVs instead of on horseback), the film is a crackling example of the New Western, mixing familiar archetypes into an entertaining genre exercise.

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Movie Review: "Our Little Sister (Japanese)" B August 16, 2016

No big conflict, just a gentle slice of life

There's a lot of heartache and yearning under the surface of "Our Little Sister" -- a strange thing to say about a movie so outwardly congenial and nearly conflict-free, but that's the pleasure (maybe) of this understated Japanese family drama from director Hirokazu Koreeda.

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Movie Review: "Pete's Dragon" A- August 15, 2016

A little boy's best friend is his dragon

Released any time of the year, Disney's in-name-only remake of "Pete's Dragon" would be a delicate and refreshing treat. But it's especially welcome as it comes near the end of a loudly disappointing summer, a soothing balm after so many seething bombs.

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