Friday movie roundup & Film.com pimpage – Aug. 31

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Last call, everyone! This is your last call for summer movies! Anything released after today must be a “fall movie”: Oscar bait, serious themes, and comedies not good enough to survive in the harsh glare of summer.

Summer 2007 goes out bleeding with three wide releases this week, two of which were not properly screened.

“Balls of Fury” opened Wednesday and has already been discussed.

Today we get two violent R-rated films: “Halloween,” Rob Zombie’s remake of the 1978 horror classic; and “Death Sentence,” in which Kevin Bacon turns vigilante after his family is harmed.

“Halloween” wasn’t screened until last night in most markets, and not screened at all in others. Hilariously, publicists were telling critics in some areas that they couldn’t run their reviews until tomorrow, even though the movie opens today. Granted, screening it Thursday night prevents newspapers from reviewing it any sooner than Saturday anyway. But the onliners could certainly post reviews right away, and I laugh merrily at the publicists’ notion of holding the reviews an extra day.

I didn’t see it last night. I’m seeing it tomorrow with my old bad-horror-movie-watching buddy in Utah. It’s just something we do.

(In related news, I’m going to be in Utah this weekend. Do not try to contact me! I will be busy.)

“Death Sentence” was screened last night, too — at 10 p.m.! Actually, critics who write for daily papers got to see it a few days ago, in time to review it in today’s paper. Everyone else had to wait until late last night, at a hectic and crowded public screening.

But wait a minute. “Death Sentence” is from Fox. Didn’t Fox tell us just a few weeks ago that they weren’t going to segregate the critics like that anymore? Why yes, yes they did.

So what gives? Well, publicity for “Death Sentence” was reportedly handled by the studio’s Fox Atomic subdivision, and it would appear that the new, more enlightened policy hasn’t quite trickled down to every department yet. When I pointed out the discrepancy between what we were told a few weeks ago and what was actually happening with “Death Sentence,” there was a flurry of activity among Fox’s publicists in L.A. and Seattle. There was even talk of setting up a special screening for those who had been “inadvertently” not invited to the press screening a few days ago. Or maybe just for me, since I was the one complaining. At any rate, they seemed to take the whole thing seriously.

I think it’s just a matter of there being a few bugs in the system. Fox seems to be communicating with and listening to us, which is more than I can say for some studios. We’ll see what happens with Fox’s next big release.

Finally, you’ll find a new article by me over at Film.com. It addresses a topic near to our hearts: Are the films the studios won’t show to critics always lousy? (Short answer: Pretty much, yeah.)

Have a great holiday weekend! Film.com should have a new article by me on Monday, though they might hold it until Tuesday because of the holiday. There will be no new “Snide Remarks” on Monday, also because the holiday. Labor Day is a great excuse for a lot of things!

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