MOVIE REVIEWS: SUPERBAD

Any movie titled Superbad would appear to be inviting negative reviews from critics. But, for the most part, critics are declining the invitation. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times, in fact, gives it a 3 1/2-star rating and writes that the movie "is a four-letter raunch-a-rama with a heart ... astonishingly foul-mouthed, but in a fluent, confident way where the point isn't the dirty words, but the flow and rhythm, and the deep, sad yearning they represent." Likewise Carina Chocano remarks in the Los Angeles Times, "Wide-eyed and sincere as it is hilariously, unrepentantly profane, the movie aims to express what it's like to stare down the barrel of your first foray into adulthood, and it's not afraid to be honest about it." Manohla Dargis in the New York Times is inspired to write a similar description in raunchier terms (befitting the movie itself, apparently, but hardly the prose one would expect to find in the pages of the Times.) "If the penis is puzzled in Portnoy's Complaint, as Alexander Portnoy's shrink believes, in Superbad it is thoroughly, stunningly clueless and as violently tremulous as a divining rod at Hoover Dam," she comments. Gene Seymour in Newsday assures wary filmgoers, however, that "no matter how outrageously prurient things get, you never once feel as though you're being jabbed in the ribs or shoved face-first into the muck of hormonal excess." Joanne Kaufman in the Wall Street Journal describes the movie as "the canny evocation of male friendship in all its richness and complexity." And Ann Hornaday concludes in the Washington Post: "Superbad proves itself to be not just smutty and stupid, but tender and all too aware of the rue that can lie behind the smiles of a summer night."

MOVIE REVIEWS: THE INVASION

While The Invasion may sound like the title of a war movie, it's actually the fourth incarnation of the 1956 sci-fi/horror B-movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in which alien pods land on earth and take over the bodies of humans. "The latest and lamest version" is the way Manohla Dargis describes it in the New York Times. It's "godawful," writes Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News, who suggests that the title ought to be Night of the Living Dud. Likewise Glenn Whipp in the Los Angeles Daily News comments that the film comes to the screen DOA -- "killed by Hollywood conventionality and bland uniformity." And while some critics suggest that the performance of Nicole Kidman nearly redeems everything else that is wrong about The Invasion, Lou Lumenick in the New York Post will have none of that argument. "The only thing that's frightening this time around is the sheer, across-the-board incompetence of the filmmakers and the hugely narcissistic performance of its leading lady," he writes.

MOVIE REVIEWS: DEATH AT A FUNERAL

It's not often these days that comedies are described as farce. But the term is used by most of the critics writing about Frank Oz's Death at a Funeral. The director, best known for providing the voices of Muppets characters Bert, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and Yoda, has taken his camera back to England where farce still counts for something. (Many of the Muppets' TV shows and films were also produced in England.) "Death at a Funeral shows us how funny farce can be -- even with the hokiest of premises -- in the hands of the British," writes Desson Thomson in the Washington Post. "Why did Hollywood director Frank Oz cross the Atlantic to make Death at a Funeral?" asks Ty Burr in the Boston Globe. "Because he knows that a comedy of embarrassment works better when those being mortified are British." Adds Claudia Puig in USA Today: "The lack of propriety and solemnity is precisely what makes this comic farce so uproariously funny." And Ruthe Stein in the San Francisco Chronicle observes that like many of the classic British comedies, "the humor manages to be simultaneously sophisticated, supremely silly and very dark." But Kyle Smith in the New York Post is unimpressed. "The movie," he writes, "is a gentle British ensemble comedy much like Four Weddings and a Funeral -- minus the four weddings and four-fifths of the wit."

CONDEMNED FILM ATTRACTS THRONGS IN PAKISTAN

Despite being condemned by radical clerics, who issued a fatwa against it, the film Khuda Kay Liye (In the Name of God) has become an unqualified hit in Pakistan, Newsweek is reporting on its website. Produced by the Pakistani media conglomerate GEO TV Network, the film not only unfavorably depicts Muslim radicals but also the U.S. military, and takes on such issues as marital rape, forced marriage and jihad, the magazine says. Concerned by the attacks on the film by local mullahs, theater owners are requiring ticket buyers to pass through metal-detection devices as they enter. "It's heroic for the population to want to see this film," GEO TV chief Mir Ibrahim Rehman told Newsweek. "We didn't want to make a popcorn film. We wanted this film to prompt a dialogue and discussion."

BLOCKBUSTER INDICATES IT BOUGHT MOVIELINK AT FIRE-SALE PRICE

While some reports said last week that Blockbuster had acquired Movielink for "less than $50 million" and other reports suggested that the price was much lower -- in the neighborhood of $20 million -- the actual purchase price stunned analysts Wednesday. In an SEC filing, Blockbuster said that it had paid $6.6 million for the movie downloading service that had been created by the major Hollywood studios. A year ago it was reported that Blockbuster had begun negotiations to buy Movielink but that its offer of $70 million had been rejected. The studios are believed to have poured more than $100 million into the company since it was launched in 2002.

PIRATED SIMPSONS MOVIE CAPTURED ON CELLPHONE

It's hard to believe that it was acceptably watchable, but a video of The Simpsons Movie, captured on a cellphone by a 21-year-old in Australia, became the first pirate version of the movie to be uploaded to the Internet on July 26, Australian authorities said today (Friday). (Since Australia is a day ahead of the U.S., the copy appeared online even before the movie premiered in U.S. theaters.) Australian Federal Police raided the home of the suspected bootlegger in Sydney today, acting on a complaint by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT). In a statement, AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic said, "Within 72 hours of making and uploading this unauthorized recording, AFACT had tracked it to other streaming sites and P2P (peer-to-peer) systems, where it had been illegally downloaded in excess of 110,000 times, and in all probability, copied and sold as a pirate DVD all over the world."
Cinemark Movie Club

Brian B.