#movies

A.O. Scott on the state of cinema:

Equally hard to refute is the idea that we are approaching a horizon of video convergence, in which all those screens will be equal and interchangeable and the distinctions between the stuff that’s shown on each one won’t seem as consequential as it does now. We still tend to take for granted that a cable drama, a network sitcom, a feature film, a web video and a first-person combat game are fundamentally different creatures, but they might really be diverse species within a single genus, their variations ultimately less important than what they have in common. They are all moving pictures, after all, and as our means of access to them proliferate and recombine, those old categories are likely to feel increasingly arbitrary and obsolete. The infrastructure of a multiplatform future is before us, and resistance to it can look like an especially tiresome kind of sentimentality. Cinephilia is nostalgia. We might keep going to the movies out of habit, or because it’s sometimes nice to leave the house, but we are losing the old, sustaining belief that this is a special and exalted cultural activity, the supreme mode of participation in the popular arts.

But even as the studios, in the midst of a panic, trip over themselves to look dumb and greedy:

But within this landscape of bloat and desolation, there is quite a lot worth caring about. More important, there are filmmakers determined to refine and reinvigorate the medium, to recapture its newness and uniqueness and to figure out, in a post-film, platform-agnostic, digital-everything era, what the art of cinema might be. Like every previous period of decline — which is to say like just about every other moment in the past century — this is an age of wild and restless experimentation. Maybe even a golden age.

Ultimately:

You might end up watching these at a theater, on a tablet or in your den, courtesy of Netflix or BitTorrent or your local cable provider. But you will not be able to mistake them for anything but movies. What is cinema? You know it when you see it.

The entire article is well constructed. In the post-Ebert world, Scott has become the go-to writer not just for reviews of film, but about film.

The popular argument nowadays is that the movie business is tanking because the majority of movies suck. But that’s not really true. Sure, many big, Hollywood movies suck. But for each of those, there are a few smaller, independent movies which are great. In fact, as a whole, I might argue that quality is better than it ever has been thanks to technology greatly driving down the cost to make a film. 

As Ebert lays out, the actual problem is with the distribution model. That is, most movie theaters in the U.S. are set up to play only the big ticket items — and again, a good percentage of that is crap. Massive films like Avatar and The Dark Knight disguise this — but only temporarily. This year there wasn’t a film of that magnitude, so we’re seeing it.

Here’s a shocker: the theaters showing actual good movies are doing quite well.

I see a healthy number of movies myself — at least one a week, sometimes two. But I rarely go to the AMCs of the world (in fact, the only time I’ve been to one recently was to see an IMAX). I go to theaters like Sundance which pride themselves on the quality of the experience and the quality of the films they show. You buy a reserved seat and you can buy a drink for the showing. Because it’s a bit more expensive, the audience tends to be better behaved as well. It’s well worth the money.

Ebert has this exactly right and the theater industry would be wise to listen to him. But they won’t. Because next year, we’ll get The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit and a few other massive films. And they’ll think everything is just fine again. And they’ll keep on thinking that until they go out of business. Which will happen.

On The Score

Like just about everyone else on the planet, I saw Inception last week when it opened. Then I saw it again two days later. I love that movie. But one of the main reasons I love it isn’t so conventional.

Sure, I love the writing, which manages to make an almost impossibly complex story (at least somewhat) understandable for mainstream appeal. And the acting is good, the action is good, the directing is good, etc. But what I really love is the score and the sound.

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Or if you prefer Rotten Tomatoes. 
Yeah, that’s 100% after 17 reviews. 

"Inception could very well be Nolan’s masterpiece."
"Inception is a masterpiece. Making a huge film with big ambitions, Christopher Nolan never missteps and manages to create a movie that, at times, feels like a miracle."
"A wildly entertaining and dazzling mind-trip not to be missed. Kubrick would have been proud."
"a stunning achievement and the most completely entertaining film I’ve seen in years."

Yeah, may have to go on opening day.

Or if you prefer Rotten Tomatoes

Yeah, that’s 100% after 17 reviews. 

"Inception could very well be Nolan’s masterpiece."

"Inception is a masterpiece. Making a huge film with big ambitions, Christopher Nolan never missteps and manages to create a movie that, at times, feels like a miracle."

"A wildly entertaining and dazzling mind-trip not to be missed. Kubrick would have been proud."

"a stunning achievement and the most completely entertaining film I’ve seen in years."

Yeah, may have to go on opening day.

Yeah, I’d say the reviews of Inception are pretty good so far.
3 early reviews:

"In terms of sheer originality, ambition and achievement, Inception is the movie of the summer, the movie of the year and the movie of our dreams."
"With physics-defying, thunderous action, heart-wringing emotion and an astonishing performance from DiCaprio, Nolan delivers another true original: welcome to an undiscovered country."
"In a summer of remakes, reboots and sequels comes Inception, easily the most original movie idea in ages."

Yeah, clearly I’m excited. Oh, and.

Yeah, I’d say the reviews of Inception are pretty good so far.

3 early reviews:

"In terms of sheer originality, ambition and achievement, Inception is the movie of the summer, the movie of the year and the movie of our dreams."

"With physics-defying, thunderous action, heart-wringing emotion and an astonishing performance from DiCaprio, Nolan delivers another true original: welcome to an undiscovered country."

"In a summer of remakes, reboots and sequels comes Inception, easily the most original movie idea in ages."

Yeah, clearly I’m excited. Oh, and.