SNOWPIERCER Go see it. This means you.
  • SNOWPIERCER Go see it. This means you.

Here, I'll make it easy for you: If you give a shit about good movies, you're obligated to go to Snowpiercer.

In Portland, the movie starts today at both the Hollywood and Cinema 21 (the Mercury's review will be up later this afternoon is right here), and that makes us exceedingly lucky: Snowpiercer almost wasn't released at all, at least in its current form, and it's still not playing a ton of places. Which is too bad, because not only is it fucking fantastic, but it's exactly the kind of movie you should be supporting if you've ever complained about, say, a Transformers movie.

Actually, that reminds me: Trans4mers has made over $300 million so far, including $90 million in China; it's now a certainty that there will be a Transformer5 and a Tran6formers and that our distant descendants will see Optimus Prime cold-heartedly murder Frasier Crane for the 735th time and that the final sound uttered by human lips before the inevitable heat death of the universe will be a weary "Cut!" whispered from the cryogenically preserved head of Michael Bay. I bring this up because people who pay money to see Transformers movies are, increasingly, the only people going to movie theaters—and one of the side effects of that is that theater owners are having a harder and harder time justifying booking movies like Snowpiercer. None of this is helped by Video on Demand (VOD), which is where a lot of those movies that are getting crowded out by blockbusters are ending up. But while VOD is becoming increasingly prevalent, it still isn't really understood by anybody.

As Ty Burr notes in his excellent piece for The Boston Globe, "Harvey Weinstein and the Saga of Snowpiercer," Snowpiercer barely survived getting 20 minutes cut out of it, and now finds itself in that awkward space between a wide-release film and one of the unknowns that pops up on VOD:

Go to your cable service’s On Demand menu, though, and you’ll be confronted with a dizzying array of films you’ve never heard of. Some are coming off a small theatrical run—often only in major cities and intended to “tease” the digital release—and some never made it to theaters in the first place. They’re the B movies and direct-to-video titles of yesterday reconfigured for today’s technology, and many more of them are coming.

What that means for you, the moviegoer, is as yet unclear. At the very least, films that don’t strictly conform to the big-budget studio entertainment model—that are labors of love, or are challenging, or just different—will find it harder than ever to find a big-screen toehold in this paranoid new world. Snowpiercer may have been relegated to the exhibition boondocks because it falls between the audience cracks: It’s too violent for genteel art-house audiences, too weird for the mainstream. (Via.)

Some movies are better to watch at home. Snowpiercer isn't one of them—dense and bold and intricately imagined, you've got to see it on the big screen to appreciate it. Which is why it belongs in a theater—and why filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho need big screens and big budgets to work with. A mumblecore movie on VOD? Sure, why not. Something like Snowpiercer, which literally spans the goddamn globe while managing to tell a surprisingly intimate story? You need a big screen for that. Filmmakers need money to do that. And it's in theatrical revenue where that message is most clearly gets passed on to studios, distributors, and theater owners. I love blockbusters. A lot. Hell, I'm even one of "those people" I referred to above who went to go see the new Transformers. But I also love movies like Snowpiercer, and I think it's important that we keep getting to see them.

So here. I'll make it easy for you. You've got a holiday weekend coming up. You've got some extra time. Take two hours and go see Snowpiercer. You'll be glad you did.