Thursday, June 24, 2010

Here, There and Everywhere... At the Same Time!

The world is littered with stories of new technologies, ideologies and innovations getting snuffed out of existence by the competition before they even have a chance to make a go of it. The funny thing with history is, eventually, the new technology takes over one way or another because as time progresses, the old ways start to feel, well, old. In the mid to late seventies, laser discs came on the scene, as seen in the 1977 cover of Popular Mechanics to the right (click to enlarge). But they were expensive, hard to market and you had to flip the disc over like a vinyl LP to see the whole movie, part two of which was on the other side. Video tapes with their ease of use and much lower cost won the market by 1982 as video stores began to dot the suburban landscape and VCR sales headed north (and even within the VCR market there was a battle staged between VHS and Beta with VHS emerging the victor). Videotapes didn't have the proper aspect ratio, wore down quickly, had to be physically rewound or fast-forwarded to watch a specific scene which had to be located via the 'stop and watch every 10 seconds to see if you're there yet' method and on top of all of that, the visual quality left much to be desired (although the average VCR owner didn't seem to care a whole hell of a lot in that area).

After a couple of decades of domination though, videotape fell to digital laser video. It was no longer the bulky laser disc but a smaller compact version, a video sister of the audio compact disc. It was the DVD and it didn't take long for the average VCR owner to suddenly want what they finally realized they had been missing, that is, clear picture, proper aspect ratio and special features. And that's often how it happens: Resistance, which forces the new technology to hone itself, edit itself and make itself more appealing and more needful in the eye of the consumer, followed by acceptance. Business models usually work this way too.

Starting in the early days of Hollywood and going through the seventies, movies slowly opened across the nation, sometimes taking as long as six months to make their way to every state. The average movie would get a two week release date in several big cities and eventually get two week release dates in progressively smaller cities and towns along the way. If the movie proved popular, it would be "held over," meaning it would be booked for longer than its initial two week run. Moviegoers in their forties and up probably remember seeing marquees announcing "Held over for the 17th week!" or "20th week!" or "35th week!" depending on the popularity of the movie. I remember seeing such a marquee for The Godfather in my childhood with the held over number being somewhere in the upper forties.

It was a sound business model based on decades of tried and true practices. There were, however, studios and producers who broke the model, notably Walt Disney, who tried to get his movies into as many theatres as possible as quickly as possible. Somehow, Disney's success didn't clue in the other studios to what he had. It was assumed that this was something that would work well for kids movies but not other movies. After all, Disney was trying to sell toys and albums and games along with the movie (he really was the father of the modern movie marketing campaign model, wasn't he?) while grown-up movies needed "word of mouth" advertising to get the adults into the theatre. Then, in 1973, William Friedkin had it written into his contract that he would have approval over how The Exorcist was released, which he wanted because he believed the slow release model would fail for The Exorcist. He didn't want "word of mouth," that which the slow release depends upon, ruining the shock of the film for most moviegoers. He wanted it shown to as many people as possible as soon as possible. The studio agreed and on December 26, 1973, The Exorcist opened on multiple screens all across the nation. It was a hit and slowly, the old model started to break down. In 1977, with Star Wars opening on some 400 screens across the nation (a paltry number by today's standards) the slow release model was all but dead. By 1979, the success of such non-kiddie fare as Kramer vs. Kramer and An Unmarried Woman, both given wide-release shortly after their premiere dates and both enjoying great success, set the new model in stone. Wide release was the way to go. Slow release was dead.

In part, it died because the technology improved for producing prints at lower costs to theatre owners, partly because theatres expanded beyond single screen palaces and partly because both theatre owners and movie studios realized there was one hell of a lot of money to be made in wide release. Today, movie viewing technology is at the point that many cinephiles and average moviegoers are expecting, but not yet demanding, that the model change once again. The new model is called Simultaneous Release*, and it's only been tried with a few low-profile pictures, to very limited success. Basically, it goes like this: With the quality of home movie entertainment systems and the remarkable ability in the modern world to get the movie of your choice into your home without ever leaving it, why not release a new movie in the theatres, on DVD and on instant streaming all on the same day?!. Or, at the very least, release it in the theatres by itself for its big "Premiere Week" and then, the following weekend, release it to DVD and instant streaming. Currently, the model followed is oddly reminiscent of the old slow release model for movies in the seventies and before, only except being a slow release around the country, it's a slow release around the different types of media.

Not everyone agrees this a good idea, most notably, and understandably, cinema owners who fear they'll lose money. But I submit, circumstantially mind you, based solely on being a parent of teenagers, that the core audiences for multiplexes will not change. My kids don't want to watch movies at home, they want to go out, with their friends. My adult friends, on the other hand, want to stay in and see that new movie everyone is talking about without having to get a babysitter for the youngest, pay for parking, etc. And guess what? If they don't have a choice, they're still not going to see it. I can count on two fingers the number of friends I know that have been to a multiplex in the last year. "I'll watch it on DVD" is the mantra of the new age.

I venture out into the theatre fairly often myself but mainly to the AFI to see older films on the big screen with wonderfully appreciative audiences and can tell you, as a result, that I am a full convert to the notion that seeing a classic film on the big screen can redefine it for you. A recent example would be La Dolce Vita, which my wife and I saw at the AFI last month and which was an extraordinary experience. Before, I had liked the movie, after, I was absolutely floored by it. I realize the power of the big screen so I'm not cavalierly suggesting we should do away with the experience altogether. Simply saying that in this day of modern digital conveniences it may be time to switch to a simultaneous release model to get more people in on the action. How many more older movie lovers would give a look to the new blockbuster everyone is talking about if they could, easily and conveniently, right from their home? But they can, you say, when the DVD is released. True, but the excitement is gone. Let me explain.

Often I find myself curious about some blockbuster in the theatres. Is it really as bad as everyone says it is? Is it really as good? Is it a fun popcorn movie or an overblown noisemaker? In the biggest success stories, like an Avatar, I plop down my money and go see it. More often than not, I don't. And even more often than not, when it's released on DVD I've already read everyone's reaction and no longer care and never bother seeing it. If simultaneous release were in play that wouldn't be the case. I believe the cinema owners would make the same money they're making now and the distributors would make even more as simultaneously released movies would rake in far more than delayed release DVDs do now.

I believe the time has come for simultaneous release to become the standard model, giving every movie, especially adult fare, the chance to have a wider audience. We're almost there. I've already noticed what I call the "Netflix Instant Effect" more and more on the movie blogs. That is, when a new movie or classic movie becomes available on Netflix Instant, suddenly there are a lot of blogs writing it up. We all want to be a part of the same conversation and simultaneous release would allow more of us, especially us cinephiles, to enjoy the feeling of seeing the same movie together, no matter how far apart we are.


*click on the link to read a rather hyperbolic reaction to simultaneous release from M. Night Shyamalan. It's funny because I can't think of a director who would benefit from it more.


Ed Howard said...

I have to say, as someone who very rarely gets out to the theater these days, I'd be a big proponent of simultaneous release. I think the romanticism of the theatrical experience has perhaps been overstated — and while I still like going to the theater once in a while, usually I only do so when it's something I can't see in any other form, like a rare film not available on DVD at all, or a new film by a director I particularly love. Anything else falls into the category of "I'll see it when it's convenient," which means Netflix Instant or DVD. The quality of TVs and DVDs/BluRay has risen to the level where the home viewing experience has become not just an adequate substitute for the theater but sometimes a preferable one. I'm sure I'm not the only person who would rather watch a movie at home than put up with annoying multiplex audiences, disgustingly filthy seats and floors, and substandard projection/sound.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I would consider Night as "heartless, soulless, and disrespectful" for deracinating The Last Airbender.

Instant viewing ain't perfect, but I'm telling everyone to see Henry King's version of Way Down East over at Netflix Instant, and not available on DVD. Gorgeous cinematography, and Margaret Hamilton doing what is virtually the prototype for her role in Wizard of Oz, even with similar music.

Greg said...

I'm sure I'm not the only person who would rather watch a movie at home than put up with annoying multiplex audiences, disgustingly filthy seats and floors, and substandard projection/sound.

Ed, over at Scanners in this piece, which partly inspired this post, Jim Emerson writes:

Last week when I went to see "Splice" at an AMC multiplex in North Seattle, I couldn't help but think how much better the movie would have played at home on my five-year-old 55-inch Sony Bravia and makeshift 5.1 surround system than it did on the big screen in the nearly unoccupied auditorium. It wasn't dark enough in the room, the print was soft (as was the projection), there wasn't enough light on the screen -- even the sound was less than vivid, perhaps due in part to the muddied acoustics of the empty hall. It's not that anything was particularly wrong with the presentation, it just wasn't very good.

So, no, you're not alone. Besides that, sitting 70 feet from a 55 foot screen is the equivalent of sitting 70 inches from a 55 inch screen so I can't imagine the size of the big theatrical screen will continue to be that much of a factor for very much longer. It's not that a great, huge widescreen presentation of a great film isn't something to behold, but like you, I think it's a bit more romanticized than most people want to admit.

My main gripe is that no one makes big 70mm panoramic movies anymore and I wish they would. Seeing a big widescreen film on the big screen, like La Dolce Vita which seemed twice as wide as any movies I've seen in a multiplex ever, is one hell of an experience. If movie makers want me in the multiplex, dammit, give me something worth seeing!

Greg said...

Peter, I think Shymalan definitely would benefit greatly from simultaneous release. His movies generate incredible buzz for their theatrical releases and, almost every single time, deflate within a week as the word of mouth circulates that it's not worth seeing. By the time it's available outside the theatres nobody cares. Whether they're good or bad is beside the point. The point is, that's how they usually go, buzz-wise. Simultaneous release would immediately end that.

And I'm going to watch Way Down East. The quality of Netflix instant on tv is improving all the time and most look great. I'm so glad I can watch them on tv too (we use a wii player to transer them). It opens up so many choices when I want to see a movie and not be forced to watch it on my computer.

Ed Howard said...

Yeah, I've got an Xbox 360 and it transforms Netflix Instant from an OK way to casually view something on the computer into nearly-as-good-as-DVD.

Good point about the fact that nobody really makes movies that benefit from huge theatrical screens anymore. One movie that could get me out to the movie theater for sure is Playtime, I'd love to see that on the big screen for sure; I can only imagine how overwhelming that must be.

Greg said...

Ed, I'd go see Playtime too and just missed the opportunity! Some months back my wife and I took the youngest to see Mon Oncle at the AFI and, of course, we all loved it. Again, watching it by yourself at home doesn't quite give you the same feel as watching Tati with an audience, something Jim also alluded to with Marx Brothers movies.

Anyway, Playtime was showing too that week (as were all Tati films) but we could only all get away for Mon Oncle much to my great dismay.

Jason Bellamy said...

Good post, Greg. I was late to reading Emerson's piece and missed a chance to jump in there. But your post/discussion is in the spirit of something I wanted to get at. Ed writes ...

The quality of TVs and DVDs/BluRay has risen to the level where the home viewing experience has become not just an adequate substitute for the theater but sometimes a preferable one.

This is true. I've got a beautiful LCD and Blu-ray, and I love my home set-up. It's rare that I watch something at home and feel like I missed out. (Of course, how would I know?) And often I'm surprised at how much that home-viewing matches the theater-viewing even in cases when the film in question makes good of its wide format. Perfect example: There Will Be Blood in Blu-ray is fucking awesome (technical term). I'm glad I saw it on the big screen. It's the kind of movie I'd try to see again on the big screen at the AFI Silver. But ... At the beginning when Plainview is down in his mine working away, his pick kicking up sparks, it's a much lusher image than I saw at the theater.

Still ...

I saw Inglourious Basterds three times on the big screen. The first time I saw it in Blu-ray at home, it felt depressingly small. Not every scene, but a lot of them. I missed how the theater walls rattled with the blasting Morricone score. I missed the palpable energy of the audience, particularly in those beautiful moments when a huge crowd is rapt in silence. And, no small thing, I missed how easy it was to read the subtitles, which on the Blu-ray version of that film have a strange habit of blending into the background in key places. (Why can't all subtitles be white with a thin layer of shadowing to provide distinction when necessary?)

Likewise, two weeks ago I went ahead and watched The Descent 2. I saw the first film twice in the theater and NEITHER time (this is important) with large crowds. And what I realized early in the made-for-DVD sequel is that what The Descent 2 was already missing -- even before the sequel inevitably failed to live up to the first film -- was the sense of dread that comes from having terror cast up on a giant screen above me. See, no matter how close I sit, I'm bigger than my TV. But I'm never bigger than the movie screen.

Anyway, I typically see movies at early times -- weekend mornings -- to minimize distractions. Or I wait until a movie is forgotten and catch an equally quiet 4:30 pm show on a week day. So I should be overjoyed about seeing a movie in the peace and quiet of home. (I fucking hate talkers!) But in cases in the past when I've had the on-demand option versus the theater option, I select the theater each and every time. It's not even a debate. At its best, the theaterical experience is the best way to see a film, I think, even if there's much more risk involved.

Sam Juliano said...

Of course, I must dissent here and celebrate the theatrical experience, which has by and large been the dominate mode for me for many years, what with my convinient proximity to Manhattan's multiplexes. While I can't argue Jason Bellamy's points about multiplex noise and hassle, the situation at Manhattan art house is far different, where serious art lovers don't even drop a pin. A simultaneous release (which Ed supports) would certainly be favored by most (and with fair enough reason) but it would serve to demote the theatrical platforming, which keeps the status quo in a number of way.

No matter how pristine, ane how magnificent our plasmas and blue ray players are, there is nothing to match the experience in a theatre, and it goes far more than just the "size" of the image.

Until the focus of filmmakers and movies in general reaches the point where movie watching in theatres isn't fashionable or feasible (and I suspect we may get to that point sometime in the foreseeable future) people should see as much as they can in the theatre. The Film Forum is presently offering an Anthony Mann Film Festival for two weeks, and even though I have seen 80% of the films being offered, I am donning my cowboy hat and spurs and heading over for a slew to see again in the ideal incarnation, the way Mann intended his films to be seen. But many here (and most of the people I know here in northern New Jersey) watch their films on DVD and pay-on-demand, as they simply don't have the time and finances to attending screenings. I am not a snob or anyone privleged. I am just bold and lucky, though with college educations around the corners for some of my kids, I am also downright selfish to this point.

But you know Greg how obsessions can get out of control, no?

That was fabulous that your wife and you got to see LA DOLCE VITA is that place!

bill r. said...

Though I'm not happy about it, the only time I make a real effort to go to the theater is when a filmmaker I have a particular fondness for -- the Coens, Tarantino, Mamet, Scorsese, the Andersons, etc. -- has a new movie out. There are all sorts of other movies I'd love to catch on the big screen, but laziness, money, and various other things almost always get in the way. I do think it's better to see films on in theaters, because it's harder for me to focus on films I'm watching at home, yet that's where I do most of my movie-watching. An AFI theater showing classic American and foreign films near me would be a Godsend.

Yet I'm a HUGE fan of this simultaneous release idea. Because of it, I've been able to catch movies like THE KILLER INSIDE ME and ANTICHRIST that would almost never play in any theater near me. There is one arthouse in my area, and they did show ANTICHRIST (quite a long while after I saw it On Demand, however). This is the theater where I saw A SERIOUS MAN, and that audience was one of the worst I've experienced in years. I can only imagine what a nightmare it would have been trying to watch ANTICHRIST with those hipster assholes.

So this whole VOD thing...yeah, I'm all for it. I love it.

Neil Sarver said...

I agree. It's an idea whose time has come.

Most people I know already know before a movie's release if it's one they want to see at a theater or at home. Who doesn't at this point?

And for the very few that haven't, the Premiere Week covers. If your trusted friends or reviewers or whatever can convince you it's a big screen must, you can cancel the rental and make the effort.

I'm not arguing against the theatrical experience, but it is a different experience, and, yes, for some things totally worthwhile.

But then I look at the fact that I have the good fortune to live in Austin, so a substantial amount of what crosses the threshold of spending money and getting out of the house and other obstacles that keep me from the theater, are older movies that show at the Alamo... either proven classics, including ones I own, or rarities that aren't readily available for home viewing.

And many of those are worth the time and money to see in a theater.

But the experience is different.

And I think it's insane to imagine that theatrical is inherently superior at this point. It's cheaper. It's more relaxed. I can go to the bathroom when I want. The popcorn's cheaper. I don't have to wear pants.

Which isn't to take away from the theater, which has its own advantages, assuming it's well-maintained theater with proper projection and sound. There can be a great energy to being in a theater, especially a crowded, excited theater.

But I don't need - or even want - that experience for every movie. I'm not sure it even would benefit some.

Flickhead said...

Two quotes appropriate to this rather extensive subject:

"VHS tapes will last forever!" -- Jeffrey Lyons to Neil Gabler on "At the Movies", circa mid-1980s.

"Playing for keeps! 62 weeks!" -- Village Voice ad for Diva, likewise in the mid-1980s.

As for M. Night Shamalamadingdong, I believe the only way to see his stodgy pictures is at home, with the audio piped in via headphones. Why everyone whispers in his movies is the biggest mystery of all. The first film of his I saw, I kept saying "What the fuck did he say?" after nearly every line.

Greg said...

Jason, I saw There Will be Blood at the AFI Silver as well and it was an awesome experience. I've still not watched it on tv and wonder how the experience would play for me.

I saw Inglourious Basterds at the Majestic and had a much better than average experience there only because I never see a movie at the Majestic after the first matinee and always on a weekday. It makes crowd problems a moot point but I do lose something from never having a crowd, which I always have at the AFI.

And I'm with you on the subtitles. Whenever I see subtitles that don't have the shadow offset behind the letters I think, "Have these people not used a computer in the last twenty years? Who's responsible for this?"

Greg said...

Sam, your experiences don't sound a lot different from mine and, if I may, kind of make the argument for simultaneous release.

What have I seen in the theatre in the last few months? La Dolce Vita, Nights of Cabiria, Foreign Affair, Mon Oncle, etc. All movies (with the possible exception of Foreign Affair) readily available on DVD and streaming and yet I saw them in the theatre anyway! Simultaneous release doesn't take away the theatrical experience, it provides the option of seeing the movie to people who weren't going to have the theatrical experience in the first place.

There's no way you can go to the Majestic in downtown Silver Spring on the weekend and tell me those ten thousand teenagers are all going to see at home what they can see in theatre. My kids, given the choice, are going to the theatre to get out of the house! My adult friends, given the choice, stay away from the Majestic. Simultaneous simply allows people to see what they couldn't before without waiting.

And if you ever get the chance to see La Dolce Vita on the big screen, take it! It was amazing!

Greg said...

Bill, that's funny but I often focus less at home too which, again, lends support to the notion of the theatrical experience being unbeatable. And yet, like you, I'd love simultaneous release to just happen, and now!

By the way, I never saw Antichrist but notice it's on Netflix Instant. Is it recommended? I don't even know the basic story.

Greg said...

Most people I know already know before a movie's release if it's one they want to see at a theater or at home. Who doesn't at this point?

I know before the movie's even made sometimes. Going back three years to when the first poster was released for Avatar (yes, three years ago!), which was a simple planet/space pic with the word "Avatar" above it, I knew I wanted to see it in the theater. It was James Cameron going back to sci-fi and I wanted the big screen experience, even if when it finally came, I was underwhelmed by it on the whole.

And yes, plenty of movies I've seen in a revival theatre I already owned but still jumped at the chance to see them on the big screen, especially things like 2001, Citizen Kane, Casablanca. I mean, I'd be a fool to miss that opportunity.

But like you said, it's a different experience and one I wouldn't want to do without. But for some movies, especially, say, a movie that has more appeal for a teenage audience and so I know I'd rather just watch it at home and leave the ticket rentals to them.

Greg said...

Flickhead - Jeffrey Lyons, what a putz. I watched Sneak Previews every Sunday night on PBS from 1979 (when my local PBS station started carrying it) until that horrifying moment in 1982 when I tuned in and, horrors, Siskel and Ebert weren't there. It was these two putzes, Gabler and Lyons, and they were reviewing Class of 1984 with Michael J. Fox (without the J.) and Perry King. Yes, I remember the exact goddamn episode. I turned it off and went for a few months before we started getting At the Movies.

bill r. said...

Greg, I think ANTICHRIST is absolutely worth seeing, but, you know...a lot of people hated it. I didn't (neither did Dennis, just so's you know), but it's not the kind of film I would feel confident about recommending to anyone.

But the dismissive attitude that I've heard from some people, and the unwillingness to take it seriously (I've heard more than one person say the opening scene was "hilarious") is pretty baffling to me.

Do I think you'll like it? Fuck if I know.

Greg said...

But what is it? I try to read about it but never get too far before it seems like they're going to give the movie away so I stop. It's a horror film, right? Is it psychological horror while they're alone in the cabin or is it an actual Descent-like horror film?

bill r. said...

It's neither. Yes, it's a horror film -- very much a horror film -- but it's not so easily categorizable (that's a word, right?). Basically, a married couple lose their son in a freak accident. The husband is a psychologist of some kind, and his wife is starting to lose her shit, so they go into the country alone to see what they can accomplish by way of rehabilitation. But nature is evil, so...

It's a very hard movie to describe, at least succinctly. I say, watch it tonight, and just see how you feel in the morning. I will say this, though: I've essentially described the plot to you. The power of the film is in its very deep strangeness, emotions, and imagery.

Greg said...

I will say this, though: I've essentially described the plot to you. The power of the film is in its very deep strangeness, emotions, and imagery.

That explains a lot. I wasn't able to get a full idea of the story because I didn't realize that's all the story was and the rest was based on mood, atmosphere and imagery, a method of storytelling I like very much.

Tonight I'm watching movies with my wife and daughter so it won't be tonight's selection but soon enough.

bill r. said...

Yeah, ANTICHRIST probably isn't a "Movie Night" kind of movie.

Greg said...

Yeah, I'll wait and show it at her 10th birthday party next year. 10 years old should be fine.

Peter Nellhaus said...

One thing not mentioned, but that goes with the theme of the essay, is that in addition to nationwide release of movies, is a new trend of internationally releasing movies at about the same time. My own experience was seeing the 2006 version of Casino Royale in Thailand, actually a day earlier than the stateside release, because movies open on Thursdays there.

The concept of regional coding of DVDs is based on an outmoded pattern of releasing movies internationally, primarily designed to protect the big Hollywood movies. One of the reasons why it's a stupid idea is that everywhere outside of the US, it's totally open for getting a region free or hacked DVD player. Especially with bit torrent and other methods of seeing films, the concept of region coding DVDs is outmoded and restrictive for those most interested in films from outside of Hollywood.

Greg said...

I agree, region coding seems fairly pointless. If I want a DVD only available on region 2 I can order it anyway and watch it on my region free laptop player and, if I so desire, conveniently record the whole thing and transfer it to a region free disc. Or just hack a DVD player to get region free coding.

It's good to see international simultaneous releasing. If they didn't release Hollywood movies oversees at about the same time, someone would end up bootlegging them anyway. Releasing them at the same time probably cuts losses from the black market.

Flickhead said...

Apropos of nothing, but it may be of interest to Cinema Stylists, since many of us seem to be leaning toward geezerhood: the new documentary, Stones in Exile, about the Rolling Stones and their album, Exile on Main Street, is, according to the packaging, 154-minutes long. I bought it, only to find that it runs a minute or two over an hour. The packaging lists the 154-minute running time under the documentary's credits; below that it mentions bonus features which, if timed, could pad it out to 154 minutes. That's deceptive. Had they said 154 minutes including bonus features, I wouldn't feel like I just got ripped off.

Even though I generally adhere to a harebrained theory that a good feature film should clock in under 90 minutes, I was looking forward to two and a half hours on Exile, as it suggested a wealth of material concerning what I think is the band's most creative period. (Their Mick Taylor albums are my favorites.)

Instead what I got was a puff piece made specifically to promote the recent CD release of Exile on Main Street. There's a lot I wanted to say about how disappointing it is, but my time and energy is low and I figured I'd drop off this comment here, for what it's worth.

I'm kinda pissed because I bought this thing sight unseen, thinking it would be long and comprehensive. I placed an advanced order a couple of months ago on Amazon and it just came out this week. Wouldn't it be great if we could take legal action against a video company that tells you the 60-minute movie you're buying is 154 minutes?

Greg said...

Wouldn't it be great if we could take legal action against a video company that tells you the 60-minute movie you're buying is 154 minutes?

Can't you? I mean, people sue over slipping on a spilled soda at Taco Bell that they themselves spilled! And they won! I figure anything's fair game at this point.

I've seen that time thing happen a lot before, especially on documentaries. I have the Ken Burns Baseball doc and on the back of each case it will list an episode at, say, 240 minutes, which is way off because each episode is only around 90 minutes. The thing is, each episode doesn't even have more that a couple of minutes of extras but there is around 2 and a half hours of extras on a separate disc that would make up 240 minutes if added to each episode. Why they feel the need to add that time to each episode I have no idea.

And yes, the Mick Taylor years were the best. If not for Mick Taylor insisting on spending all night working with Jagger on developing a riff Richards had come up with we wouldn't have "Moonlight Mile," one of my favorite Stones' songs.

Fred said...

I've always been fascinated how, in the late 70s battle between laserdisc, VHS and Beta, the absolute WORST format won! Laserdisc was clearly the best format, but as you correctly point out, the masses were not quite ready for it. And as for Beta, well it kicked VHS's proverbial butt, except the nimrods at SONY got all proprietary and patented their format out of relevance. My understanding from industry insiders is that the DVD format for film and CD for music have been around for longer than the companies involved will ever let on, but the industry wanted to milk all it could out of tape and vinyl formats so they could then sell folks the same content a second time, but this time in a more elaborate (and expensive) format.

By the way, if you loved La Dolce Vita on the big screen, you will go nuts if you ever get a chance to see Juliet of the Spirits on the big screen. It's rarely screened (I saw it back in the mid-80s at one of those late, lamented revival houses they used to have in the Village) and have never forgotten the experience. Sadly, the film feels lacking on the small screen, even on my 56-inch Samsung LED.

Good luck with getting things going in your private life, Greg. I'm glad you decided to keep the blog going.

Greg said...

Fred, I don't doubt the companies had the technology for a long time before producing it. VHS came out in 1977 when the laser-disc did, the CD in 1982 and yet the DVD wouldn't come out until 1995, a full 13 years after the CD. Does seem a little strange that the foundation for the technology, the CD and Laser-Disc, would be there and yet it would take so long to take the next step.

By the way, if you loved La Dolce Vita on the big screen, you will go nuts if you ever get a chance to see Juliet of the Spirits on the big screen...

The AFI had a good 20 or so Fellini films but my wife and I were only able to take in three due to time and money. We planned to take in Juliet of the Spirits as our last one. It played on a Thursday night at 9:30 and my wife has to get up around 5:30 to get ready for work and once she thought it over she realized it wouldn't be worth it. By the time it was over and we got home and she got to bed she'd be lucky to get four hours of sleep. If only the damn thing had had a 7:00 running time like the others did!

And thanks for the words of support. Blogging helps keep me sane.

Flickhead said...

While it may not be his best film, Juliet of the Spirits is my favorite Fellini. The color!! The color!!

Christopher said...

I think the old single screen theatres were beneficial to a proper film education.As a pre-teen in the late 60s and young teen in the early 70s,going to a movie was practically the only game in town for kids our age wanting to get out of the house and look for girls and smoke cigarettes in the lobby..In one town I lived,we had only 2 theatres downtown and what was playing is what you got..We learned to appreciate many types of films that we otherwise would ignore if we had the choice of multiple screens and video..

Greg said...

I saw pretty much everything that got released when I was in my teens. And you could smoke either in the theatre itself or, later, just the lobby. Boy, times have changed.

Flickhead said...

Back in the '70s, I loved the theatres where you could smoke weed in the audience. They were few and far between, which was no problem for us back then.

Greg said...

I never found one of those theatres. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough.

Flickhead said...

Back in the day, you could find me and my droogs passing a spliff here, or here, and of course here. I once tried smoking boo here, only to get the boot some fifteen minutes into this.

Greg said...

Ray, how many times have I told you, never fire up a blunt in Wantagh.

Flickhead said...

Words to live by, Lloyd, words to live by!

Arbogast said...

My main gripe is that no one makes big 70mm panoramic movies anymore and I wish they would.

That gauge all but screams "Gerard Butler!"

Greg said...

"This. Is. Panavision!"

Christopher said...

The old Granada theatre here in the 70s,used to run classics from bogart to the Marx Bros....and all us kiddies would smoke weed up in the balcony..the Stagering Stoogarama festival on brown barrel Mescaline!
Oh those old old cold wet movie seats where you'd sink into 60 years body ooze.

Fred said...

Flickhead, I remember those places well. The Uniondale Mini was where I saw Eraserhead for the first time. As for Wantagh, I remember going there to see Kentucky Fried Movie only to have the manager who was a real prick refuse me entry because I was only 13 (my oldest brother was pretty po'd and almost ditched me at a fast food joint in Wantagh so he could see the movie).

Flickhead said...

Fred, the Mini Cinema was legendary. And I'll bet the manager who turned you away at the Cinema Wantagh was the same guy who threw me out of Alice in Wonderland. If I recall, he had a fair complexion, sandy hair and eyeglasses. That bastard!

The Cinema Wantagh, of course, should not be confused with the Wantagh Theatre, where Joan Crawford made a personal appearance to promote Straight Jacket!

bill r. said...