Saturday, September 11, 2004

Random bitterness

I know I'm a rapidly aging old crank, but am I the only person who misses the days when theatres were actually relatively peaceful before the curtain opened? There may have been music playing, but it wasn't the relentless slides-and-canned-music combination that you get at most theatres today. Some of you may find it hard to believe that there was a period in the 1970s when theatres began to experiment with running commercials before films - but actually stopped doing it when they found out that patrons didn't like it!!! (When I lived in a small town in Wisconsin for a few months in 1977, one of the two local theatres in town showed Pepsi commercials - but only after the feature when most people had left...)
Today's theatre chains don't care much about what you think once you've shelled out your $7.50, so the slide show, followed by even more commercials, often in grainy video blown up to 35mm, are just part of what you're expected to endure.
And of all the on-screen advertising pushed upon your senses, is there anything more irritating that the current anti-piracy campaign from the MPAA in which a seasoned stuntman named Manny Perry suggests that you're stealing bread from the mouth of his babies every time you download a movie or dub a friend's copy of The Sorrow and the Pity. The always entertaining "Defamer" has been carrying on about this for a few weeks now (see here) so I'll just mention the two things that irritate me the most about the whole campaign.
1) It's safe to assume that Manny Perry gets paid for his work as a stuntman once his job is done. His car crashes may have been as essential part of Enemy of the State, but I doubt that he gets much in the way of profit participation. So after he finishes his work on the next Jerry Bruckheimer epic,if you download a copy, sneak your video camera into a screening and sell low quality bootlegs on the street, steal the negative and dump it into the Hudson or persuade JB to shelf the whole thing so it doesn't distract him from his true purpose in life - Coyote Ugly 2 - it's not going to cost Manny a penny. In this respect, the whole campaign is a guilt-inducing lie.
2) When do you see the MPAAs plea from Manny? Just minutes after you've shelled out a fair amount of cash to see a movie. If the MPAA wants to go after movie pirates, have them run a flash version of Manny's ad on BitTorrent or some other P2P site where the pirates and movie downloaders will see it, not in front of the paying audience who they should be thanking......

Don't Worry; I'm changing the subject
...but while I'm in High Indignation Mode, can't someone come up with a way to convince filmmakers that DVD technology doesn't mean that they need to constantly tinker with and "improve" films? Obviously I'm thinking of the forthcoming Star Wars collection, where, among other revisions to the films (which, if memory serves, were fairly well received in their original versions), the faces of the actors playing the Emperor and the unmasked Darth Vader have been replaced with images of the actors who played those roles in the two most recent installments. George Lucas, if you're out there... I enjoyed the first three Star Wars movies - okay, I didn't exactly build a religion around them like some fans, but I liked them well enough. But they don't need to be repackaged every five years or so just because your CGI team has come up with a way to make lightsabres a little shinier... If you feel the need to tinker with your films, why not work on Howard the Duck or come up with a way of making The Radioland Murders funny?

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