Monday, September 6, 2010

Movies Everywhere

image courtesy
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about movie watching.

I’ve always agreed with the former owner of Baltimore’s historic Senator Theater, Tom Kiefaber, who would say before each screening,  that “the best way to watch a movie is on the big screen ...” What is better than watching Lawrence of Arabia on a 90 ft by 40 ft screen with big, booming THX Surround Sound? I never like sitting in a far smaller multiplex theater—although stadium seating has been an improvement  sound bleeding through the walls of theater #28 is not so much of one.

So I’ve been surprising myself, lately by how “intimate” I’m willing to go to watch films these days. Seems pretty darn intimate.

The other day I watched Pete Docter's Up on my brand new BluRay DVD player, feeding to my equally new 50” 1080p/720HZ plasma HDTV. An amazing picture, wonderful THX sound. Thoroughly enjoyable, right in my own living room. Amazing.

OK, how much less would I accept and still enjoy. I sat in my backyard and watched The Marx Brothers' Duck Soup ... 17” MacBook Pro. Feeding instantly from Netflix. Looked great, and with my soft-gel headphones, the sound was more than acceptable. Much more.

What a world.

Yesterday the computer and TV were occupied—more like dominated—by  teenagers, and I had a DVD from my Netflix queue—Marco Bellocchio’s 1968 curio piece, Fists in the Pocket. I really wanted to watch that on the HDTV, but I opted for what I had at hand—my portable 9” DVD player. Soft-gels in, I layed across my living room sofa and became immediately absorbed. To my mind, it felt like I was surrounded by the light.

What a world.

But I was not yet done my downward spiral to the uplifting prospects of 21st- Century movie-watching. Recently told by a student that Netflix would now stream to my 4 ½” iPhone, I eagerly downloaded the app, searched my Instant Watch queue and decided on The Last Detail. Gels in, cozy in bed 'round midnight, I watched one of my favorite Jack Nicholson films from one of my favorite periods of American cinema ... while my wife sleept next to me undisturbed (unaware, really). 

I still prefer movies on the big screen, but the quality of new technology gives me the opportunity to go to the movies whenever and wherever I want. And as long as I can see the entire frame (not that horrific “full screen” substitute), I find my mind’s eye adjusts surprisingly well—and joyfully—to movies anytime.

What a world.


  1. Sal, I saw "Eat,Pray, Love" at this theater in Dallas last night. It's on the complete opposite spectrum- watch the tour. THIS is the way movies should be seen. Gotta find out if the do revivals..

  2. How funny. I think you 'liked' my "Evolution" project over on Facebook, which deals with how movie watching has changed over the years. I can't really say my standards are high...I'm still more than willing to watch an old VHS of a favorite film, but Yuri refuses to watch anything not available in HD. As much as I enjoy the convenience of having several different options for watching films, it's also kind of frightening. I'm dreading the day that cineplexes disappear, particularly because it's always been a dream of mine to run one.