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Despicable DVD

Posted by Wesley Morris  July 29, 2010 11:05 AM

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despicable him.jpg
Robust as it is, in Boston, the market for shoddy bootlegs isn't as strong it is, say, in New York, where I took this admittedly shoddy photo. That being the case, you don't have as many opportunities to see the flagrant moviegoing habits of strangers. But in New York, this gentleman is a fairly common occurrence. At the risk of being too 21st century, I'm not sure if I care where people watch their movies. But if you've ever purchased an illegal copy of, say, "Why Did I Get Married, Too?" on Canal Street or somewhere on or off our own Washington Street, you know what a crapshoot this bootleg situation can be. The quality can be as bad as my photo. Often, it's worse. 

I rode eight stops with this particular guy and got to watch him watch a certain animated film on his movie device. It took two stops to realize it was "Despicable Me." I spent the next six wondering if he felt as ripped off as Universal certainly does. The offending camcorder appears to have zoomed in so close it can take in only 70 percent of the screen. The subway was headed south. It's possible he was on his way to ask for a refund. Unlikely, but good luck with that, all the same.

Your relationship with a DVD bootlegger should be built on the same foundation that forms your bond with the dealer of other narcotic goodies: trust. This fellow got a particularly bad dose. Looks like the $3 work of a novice or a crackhead. Perhaps, the bootleg industry needs a watchdog -- or, at least, a dedicated bootleg-movie critic. (Such a service actually exists -- a funny one, too. But at the moment the site seems understaffed.)

It's true that an evening at the movies isn't cheap. But there's a bargain and then there's this. My train mate looked like he was studying this movie (it's not "Inception") as opposed to enjoying it. Aside from the savings, what pleasure could he have derived from his viewing experience? He didn't even get the 3D glasses. 

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

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Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

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