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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

A Soderbergh Idea

Okay, so I keep hearing overpaid actors and extortionist theater owners talking about how you can't get that big-screen experience at home and you need to see movies in a real theater. I hasten to add that I've already ranted on the demise of big-screen theaters which happened back in the seventies when they decided that they could make more money chopping them all up into small screen theaters and shoving half a dozen of the little buggers into the space that used to hold on Cinerrama screen. There is one theater in Seattle (thanks to Paul Allen) where you can still go to see Star Wars and Lord of the Rings on a big screen that throws you into the middle of the action, but let's face it, most movie houses are just big TVs anyway. So I'm not going to rant about that again.

But Bubble, Steven Soderbergh's January simultaneous release in theaters, DVD, and Cable Pay-per-View, has reached the top of my must-see list. So this week, while I'm sitting at home as a bachelor as the DW and DD are off visiting relatives for Spring Break, I'll rent the movie and watch it. My expectation is that I'll have a pleasant and entertaining 73 minutes of in-home viewing on a fairly high-quality digital LCD television. I'm guessing that there will be no remorse that I didn't get to see it on the "big screen". So maybe the big theater chains were not so far off the mark to boycott the movie and just maybe they should consider boycotting a bunch more of the movies that are coming out that would be just as good or better on a TV than on the big screen. Of course all the ego-driven movie execs believe that if there's a car-wreck, a space scene, or a tall building in their movie it needs to be shown on the big screen. But get real. 90% of the movies that are brought out today are television shows shot without commercials.

But being a glutton for entertainment, I've got a suggestion for Steven and if I could find his e-mail address I'd send it straight to him. He's shot big screen movies on film and he's shot direct to digital movies that he edited on a computer. So why not do both? At the same time? This is a challenge to his directorial skills (which I have great faith in) because he would be filming two movies at the same time. He's talked about digital video being a new medium that is its own artform, so why not show us the difference. Here's a simultaneous release that could really go somewhere, because even though the storyline, dialog, and even the running time might be the same in both movies (though not necessarily the last of those), the movies would be very different. There is nothing that would hold people out of the box office line just because they could see the movie on DVD. It would really be a different movie. Up the stakes a little bit and decline to release the theater version on DVD at all.

The 1984 movie Streets of Fire was the first movie that I remember seeing that broke the wall between Film and Video. I remember thinking, "Somebody figured out how to make the camera a player in the play." The editing was filled with video effects. I thought perhaps there was going to be a breakthrough in cinema. Well, I was wrong. We hastily re-erected the barriers and there are only occasional glimpses beyond the incessantly boring trivia that Hollywood produces and art.

So here's the challenge, Steven. Conceive a production that has a significantly different look at 100' than at 10'. Don't ever release the film version on DVD, but release the DVD version at the same time as the film. Extra bonus points if you shoot the whole thing during a live performance. (Might as well make it a 3-way.) Same dialog and same action, but different camera angles and ranges. Give us two different looks at how you see a story.

I'll go see both versions.