Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lowering our expectations: watching movies on cell phones

Posted By on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 11:22 AM

One day, I fully expect someone to shove their thumb in my face and say, “Hey! Look at these Star Trek previews!”

If I then broke their thumb, would I be convicted by a jury of my peers?

As I have gotten older (okay, I hate that hackneyed phrase as much as you do), I have become ever more appreciative of the art and skill which goes into the making of movies - and even certain television shows, if I can be so honest.

Like most people, I suspect, movies were just there when I was a kid. I have written at great length - enough to bore entire stadiums full of people, probably - about watching television in Germany when my father was stationed there in the early 1970s.

But it is true that when your viewing choices are narrowed into a stream, where before you had a pond to wade in, you begin to pay more attention to what you are watching. No longer were they “just movies,” but the results of vision and hard work.

Sometimes the hard work pays off, and sometimes it just sort of sits there, hoping that people might be drunk when they watch it.

Outside of theaters, I have have watched movies on all sorts of televisions and in all sorts of circumstances:

Clunky color TVs

12" black-and-white portables

Fuzzy reception

Running outside to turn the damn antenna - yeah, you punk kids have got it easy these days!

And, of course, most of the time the picture was full screen, not wide screen. And the movies were cut up by commercials, with nudity and swearing removed for the dainty among us.

Enough of wallowing in the past though, Abbevillian Reader; let’s talk about watching movies today.

Some years ago Tracy and I bought a large TV for the living room (one of those clunky jobs that should probably be traded in for a slimmer model one day) and watching movies has become almost a theater experience for us again - plus, of course, you can pause a DVD while you go to the bathroom. Just try asking a projectionist to do that . . .

I am flummoxed by the idea of watching movies on cell phones, though - hell, even on laptops, really. I might understand watching the news on a cell phone (no, really not) but a movie? And lose what the film-maker has presented to us, all for the sake of novelty? Convenience?

I fail to see the attraction, unless it would be one of the crap movies that the Sy Fy Channel likes to run. Megashark versus Legoman
, perhaps?

When I talk to some of the more enthusiastic phone movie watchers about this, they look at me as though I have landed from another planet, or traveled through time - true, in a sense - from the 1970s.

I love movies. I love them so much, in fact, that I can pretty much say that I will never feel the desire to see an epic film on a device that I also call the grocery store on. I want the movie experience.

I want the dark room, and my goodies spread about me. I want to notice and appreciate the glory of a director’s hard work, or the wit offered up by the writer. I don’t think I’ll ever be so bored that I’ll want to watch Lawrence of Arabia on a tiny screen.

Incidentally, here is a neat video on why the wide screen format is much better to watch a movie on, and how those of us who watched movies for many years in full screen mode were literally not getting the whole picture. It runs on Turner Classic Movies, so you may have seen it.

If not, it’s a dandy video to watch.


Paying respect to my old RCA TV

In January of 1988 I bought myself a 25" color set, which is still in pretty good condition. While the set in the living room has been repaired twice since 2002, this baby has never been to the doctor.


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