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August 22, 2005

Entertainment Weekly's Fall Preview

As anyone who has visited this site should know, I see a lot of movies. Most of the people who visit this site probably also see a lot of films. Most of us read about films, be it biographies of film artists, histories, critical studies, and maybe even a book on film theory when we are no longer required to read Bazin or Eisenstein. For the past ten years or so I have had a problem, more with American films: reading about the movies is often more interesting than actually seeing the damn film.

I am using Entertainment Weekly as an example. One could use a magazine like Premiere. This phenomena is not restricted to a particular type of publication. I just know that I can read about 145 movies and think to myself that some sound more interesting than others. I also know that even if I was selective about what I saw, after the movie is over, I often hear Peggy Lee singing, "Is that all there is?"

As it is, the only film on the list that I am truly excited about is thirty years old. This is probably due to my regarding Michelangelo Antonioni was the best living filmmaker, and the thrill of seeing The Passenger again. For those who haven't seen it, the final shot is a technical marvel. I hope that it makes it to my neighborhood multiplex where art and indie films usually come and go in a week if they show up at all. Whether I see the film theatrically or on DVD, according to the Sony Classics website, the film has a running time of 126 minutes, unlike the original MGM release of 119 minutes. Jack Nicholson held the rights to this film as payment for a big budget film that MGM ended up not producing.

The only films I'm fairly certain I will see theatrically are two that interest my significant other as well - Curtis Hanson's In Her Shoes, and Transporter 2. Some reading may ask, how does Louis Leterrier rate over Roman Polanski and David Cronenberg. The answer is that some second unit work was shot on the Miami Beach street I lived at last year.

Even among the Christmas holiday releases, the only film I know I want to see in a theater is Peter Jackson's King Kong. Preferably on the biggest screen possible. Ideally with a quiet, attentive audience.

I used to be the kind of purist who felt that I had to see a film in a theater in order to fully appreciate it. But more often than not, I find that I am, if not happier, at least less unhappy, to see the film at home on DVD or cable.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at August 22, 2005 03:49 PM


Ah, well, you are much less of a fogey than I am. When I get Vanity Fair's annual movie issue I immediately search for the Old Hollywood stories. I would far rather read an article about Irene Dunne than Angelina Jolie. So seldom do I get really excited about seeing a new movie.

As for the theatrical experience; well, I have had some nice conversations with a gentleman who worked behind the scenes on some real masterpieces. He almost never goes to the cineplex anymore because the audiences drive him crazy. Even at an art house, he claims that things like inappropriate laughter or people rattling their Junior Mints are just not worth the effort.

I wonder if new movies often suffer from the same kind of overhype I associate with weather forecasts. You know, "this is the storm of the century!!" and then it's maybe 12 inches of snow and some wind. When I get to a new movie I have the Peggy Lee reaction too. "Lost in Translation" is a perfect example.

But there really is nothing like seeing a really, really good movie in a theater for the first time. The excitement of your fellow viewers just feeds yours, too. I'm trying to think of the last new release that did that for me; it's been a while.

Posted by: Campaspe at August 22, 2005 05:45 PM