Saturday, November 5, 2011

Home Cinema Doesn't Exist

God bless you, Anthony Lane. And by God, I mean one of those black and white Bergman numbers where heaven is strawberries or some such.
There’s only one problem with home cinema: it doesn’t exist. The very phrase is an oxymoron. As you pause your film to answer the door or fetch a Coke, the experience ceases to be cinema. Even the act of choosing when to watch means you are no longer at the movies. Choice—preferably an exhaustive menu of it—pretty much defines our status as consumers, and has long been an unquestioned tenet of the capitalist feast, but in fact carte blanche is no way to run a cultural life (or any kind of life, for that matter), and one thing that has nourished the theatrical experience, from the Athens of Aeschylus to the multiplex, is the element of compulsion. Someone else decides when the show will start; we may decide whether to attend, but, once we take our seats, we join the ride and surrender our will. The same goes for the folks around us, whom we do not know, and whom we resemble only in our private desire to know more of what will unfold in public, on the stage or screen. We are strangers in communion, and, once that pact of the intimate and the populous is snapped, the charm is gone. Our revels now are ended.
He also has some very funny, Freudian things to say about Brett Ratner's Tower Heist. It is the New Yorker, after all. And tower is in the title. There was no choice, really.

Oh, and actually, I'm quite happy with carte blanche. I want, as the subtitle up there says, everything ever. I want Pandora and Spotify and Grooveshark and podcasts curated by DJs. I want Mubi and Netflix and old, obscure, Spanish neo-realist films beamed to my brain, and I want, on occasion, to put on a coat and scarf, walk down a sidewalk in the fall, with yellow leaves falling and that smell in the air, and then enter into some dark room, sit down with a bunch of strangers, and watch something grand and silly, preferably with, of late, the involvement of Emma Stone or Wong Kar-Wai.

Happy 5th of November, readers. Remember, remember.


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