March 6, 2010

The End of a Silver Age

The triumph of Avatar at the box office suggests than a pleasant era is ending that we didn't even notice.

Going to the movies has been one of the few things that hasn't gotten more complicated. Seemingly everything else in my life has gotten complicated due to the number of choices available to me. I hate choices.

In contrast, at least since the financially foolish over-expansion of the number of movie theatres in the 1990s, going to the show has been a pleasantly simple-minded way to get out of the house. You don't have to mark it on your calendar. It always costs about ten bucks per person no matter how good or bad the movie; there are few special discounts or coupons that you'd feel bad if you missed out on; no reservations are needed; theaters are seldom sold out; you don't have to choose seats until you walk in the door; you don't need any special apparati to watch the movie, etc.

And then along comes Avatar to end this era of mindless ease of choice (not to mention, to exacerbate those feelings of personal inadequacy and ineffectuality that James Cameron always induces in me).

I saw it back in January, and what an ordeal it was just to get in. First, it was showing in four different flavors of dimensionality and digitality. When I eventually figured out which one I wanted to see, I realized those few theatres were always sold out. And the closest one charged $9 just to park. After a few weeks, I finally paid $18 per ticket (plus a $4 service charge) online and wound up in a theatre where the only seats left were in the front row at the bottom of an immense Imax screen, which would give me a headache, so I got (most of) my money back. I came back the next night an hour early, but still ended up worrying all evening whether I'd chosen the optimal row to sit in. It felt like I was sitting one row off the sweet spot, and for the $49 my wife and I had paid plus all the hours we'd invested in getting there, that we should be sitting in the exact seats that Cameron would have instantly chosen for himself.

And then there's the glasses you have to wear over your glasses, which induces a kind of tunnel vision. So, I sat there wondering, "Should I get laser eye surgery so I don't have to wear two sets of glasses to see 3D movies? Has James Cameron had laser eye surgery? Of course, he's had laser eye surgery. He's James Cameron. He probably invented a new improved laser and, using a mirror, operated on his eyeball himself, like Arnold in Terminator."

By the way, here's the story of the Soviet surgeon at the South Pole who had to took out his own appendix.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

70 comments:

OneSTDV said...

I've always preferred watching movies at my own leisure in my own house. I guess I miss out on the full experience as my small TV can't do some films justice. But the atmosphere is worth it.

Gc said...

I like this new situation. I feel like I`m getting something extra compared to watching dvd`s or blu-rays in my home when I go to movie theater.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of rapid tech change, recent post from Roissy: Sexbot Armies Gather On The Horizon

Yagguri said...

What I miss are the second-run theaters charging $2 or $1 on Tuesdays. Video rentals and cable TV gradually killed them off. But there were still many of them around until the mid 90s and then there were fewer and fewer. By 2005, there was only one second run theater in the entire region where I liveth but last yr even it closed down.

I refuse to pay $10 for a Hollywood movie. And you should too, if only because Hollywood is a huge donator to the Democratic Party.

Anonymous said...

It's posts like this one that convinces me that Steve is the funnest blogger in the whole gosh-darn blogosphere. Hilarious, and I couldn't agree more.

But GC is right: Hollywood's got to do something different to compete with TV/other home entertainment. You can't blame them for going down this road when a stupendously dumb movie such as Avatar counts its box office in the billions. Look for more of the same coming down the pipeline.

Anonymous said...

your plural of apparatus is wrong

Cordelia said...

"...here's the story of the Soviet surgeon at the South Pole who had to cut out his own appendix."

I read that story a couple of weeks ago. Amazing story!

agnostic said...

Playing video games has become overly complicated too. You need to buy more junk just to play a game (memory cards, controllers). The controllers have too many buttons.

Rather than jump right into it, you have to read an encyclopedia on a game before playing it. That started with Street Fighter II.

Eyestrain is endemic since there's no more light or variety of colors in the graphics. Also true for the instruction manuals, which are now illegible.

Superstar games now have 50 versions rather than a standard one like when Nintendo was the only console that anyone owned.

Games increasingly need to be purchased in pieces. You buy the core game for some amount, then pay more if you want more levels. Imagine paying $15 for a movie that had more scenes than the $10 version.

Anonymous said...

And you should too, if only because Hollywood is a huge donator to the Democratic Party.

I haven't been to the movies in years.

And the last two times were for children's movies.

And I barely watch TV anymore - Bellisario has farmed out the writing of NCIS to a bunch of damned, ah, bolsheviks, and the show is becoming unwatchable as a result.

Lately I am thinking that if Bellisario can't right the listing ship that is NCIS [and right it quickly], then Smallville, on Friday nights, might now have the best cast chemistry of any show on TV.

And the chicks on Smallville have always been uber-hot.

Beyond that, I guess there is the new season of Breaking Bad...


PS: Has anyone seen the new Amanda Seyfried movie? I think that chick might be a closet Republican.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

I live in a mid-sized city with a pretty good number of screens and don't see a lot of the really big blockbusters, so my movie-going is pretty stress-free to start with.

But there are a few things I try to do:

-Don't see any movie on its opening weekend.
-If possible, avoid the multiplexes that serve large numbers of high school kids.
-Try to make it a matinee on Sunday or, if I'm taking a day off, a weekday. The earlier in the day, the better.
-There are usually two doors from the theater common area into the screening room. The layout of the theater will usually create a natural "flow" to one of them. Take the other. There are pretty much always more open seats on the less obvious side, and they're easier to spot if you walk in that door.

Udolpho.com said...

Look on the bright side, now Tommy Wiseau can use a rig with three cameras strapped together when he shoots his remake of The Room.

Your post is oddly timed because the movie Shutter Island offered a distinctively silver age outing. But Hollywood has also been experimenting with differentiating ticket prices, 3D just gives them cover. Why exactly do we need 3D? It's always pushed by hacks like Cameron who need to make up for their deficiencies as a filmmaker.

anony-mouse said...

These complications are all the fault of all those inherently smart people you've been raving about for years. If only we had more dumb people around these things would never happen.

Anonymous said...

Can't agree that moviegoing has ever been simple in my lifetime. In fact it's intensely stressful figuring out when, exactly, you need to get to the theatre to (a) not arrive so late you get stuck in a seat too lousy to watch a movie from (b) not arrive so early you sit in an empty theatre watching the stupid trivia games and ads for local businesses for an hour. In most cases you have a 10-minute window to get it right, and it's impossible to know in advance when that 10 minutes is going to be. I've given up on going to the movies.

Anonymous said...

How very twentieth century of you.

Let's say you have two kids. That means that by your own figures you spend forty dollars each time you go to the movies. Or you pay for a babysitter. That's $2,000 a year if you only go once a week. Since you are a movie reviewer I guess it's more like $3K to $5K.

You can get a new Home Theater projector for $700 to $1K. A Blu-ray player now costs about $125. Get a NetFlix subscription, paint a wall white and watch movies at home. Etc..

People who set up an HT stop going out to the movies. No one ever tears out their HT and goes back to public movie watching. The image and the sound are always better at home and there's less chewing gum on the floor.

Mitch said...

going to the show has been a pleasantly simple-minded way to get out of the house.

I am a devout, knowledgeable movie buff who stopped going to the movies routinely about five years ago. In the Bay Area, at least, it hasn't been simple. You can't go at the last minute, because the theaters are packed. Never mind the possibility of a sold out show--you might not be able to park in time to see it.

When movies topped $9, I quit going as a routine entertainment. I still go with friends or with my son, but I rarely see more than five or six movies in a theater per year (and I watch probably 50-60 movies I haven't seen before each year).

Going to the movies was one of my favorite activities for over twenty years, and I miss the pleasurable experience it was. But long before Avatar, it's something that had to be planned.

Graham Asher said...

You need to find a beautifully restored Art Deco cinema near your home that has a bar in the auditorium, so that you can drink a beer while watching the film. I refer of course to The Rex at Berkhamsted. Well worth going to if you are ever within a thousand miles of southern England.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I only go to the movies a couple time a year and haven't had any *troubles* but I am getting annoyed at spending five minutes trying to figure out what's on television. Your choices are going on the web or slowly scanning through the screen channel guide. For those of you who don't know, once upon a time you could hold a single piece of paper in your hand that would show you what was on television at any given time. Yes, I know, I'm old.

John Seiler said...

For me, the high prices have reduced the choice basically to one: Is something I want to see at the $3 second-run theater? Then I go. Parking is easy.

Exceptions: 1) The Regency shows classic movies Wednesdays for $8. If I want to see one, I go. Never big crowds. Parking is easy.

2) If my friends want to see something, I go. They choose. If the parking is far away or the seats crowded, it doesn't matter, because I'm with my friends.

Anonymous said...

People who set up an HT stop going out to the movies. No one ever tears out their HT and goes back to public movie watching.

When faced with making the decision between going "out" to the movies -vs- staying home in your gated compound and watching a movie on your "HT", if you stop to consider who your probable teenaged seatmates are going to be, then this [also here] will figure vary prominently in the calculus.

[And the probable IQs of your teenaged seatmates would go a long way towards explaining why movie plotlines don't make sense anymore, and why movies don't have dialogue or repartee anymore, and why actors and actresses with speech defects - who can't enunciate their lines - can nevertheless find gainful employment in modern Hollyweird, etc etc etc...]

Anonymous said...

$49 for two people to see a movie.


The HollywoodVideo franchise in my suburb is going out of business. They are selling everything in a complete liquidation.
Redbox, Netflix, and downloading movies from the internet has killed what was a hot little business in this bedroom-town from roughly 95'-06'. The building will probably end up housing another couple of failing Mexican resturaunts.

Anonymous said...

It's gotta be a guy thing to just have to see Avatar. (Of course, I do know you are a movie reviewer, Steve, so you are forgiven.)

No way do I or other too many other grown women go through all that to see a movie with a bunch of robos/special effects.

I'd be interested to know the percentage of male to female in the theater viewing audience for this film, especially in non-coast states.

Anonymous said...

Steve- your writing looks like the head of Detroit's school board....good God man.


Dan in DC

Sideways said...

Agnostic: memory cards? Those went away years ago. We have hard drives now. Controllers? The king of controller variety is still the 25 year old Nintendo Entertainment System. Yeah, systems come with one controller now instead of two, but that reflects the fact that people play online instead of in the same room these days.

Read the manual? Games are far better at incorporating tutorials these days than they ever have been, although you'd still want to look up a list of moves for a Street Fighter II style fighting game.

I don't know what games you're playing that have no variety of colors and induce eye strain. I don't have that problem, although my eyes aren't as sharp as they were when I was playing on my NES (and I'm continually amazed that my toddler can instantly identify people from pictures smaller than 1 cm from two feet away). You might want to start adjusting the gamma setting when you play.

Games can come in a lot of versions now, but does it really matter that you get superhero X if you buy from Best Buy and Y if you buy from Gamestop?

DLC and buttons I'll give you (although I like the option of having DLC, despite never having purchased it, and large numbers of buttons can be a mixed bag), and you could have made an argument for gameplay itself in certain games.

AmericanGoy said...

Dear Agnostic,

I hate you.

I LIKE my computer games to be complicated, to make me think, to make me confused and get my grey matter working.

There are thousands of dumbed down games with absolutely no thinking involved.

I loathe games that place you on a rail instead of a sandbox environment.

Thank goodness for the Stalker series.


Also, Steve - I like choices. If you want to live in a "on the rails" society, North Korea beckons.

David said...

Some people live to complicate things. I interviewed with a CEO who jumped up and down jabbering, "I change things for the sake of changing them! Look, for instance, at that blue wall. If I had time, I'd paint it a different color every day - maybe twice a day!" (I declined the job offer.)

Mental cases with neuro problems. Anything that works and makes sense is "boring" to them. They have to smoke pot (at least) to get through the day. A lot of this type in Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

Movies are for kids. The fact that so many people take them seriously speaks ill of our declining civilization.

josh said...

A)Dont let Jim Cameron get you down. Yes he is an unstoppable force,a ruthless movie genius,a leader of men--and women;but to what end? Sappy love stories,and this,a fun romp which says nothing of any value about race,culture and politics--tho it pretends to. (And current events pretty much demand it to!)He is missing,at heart,testicular fortitiude. B)I wish I couldve seen 'Precious' at an all black neighborhood theatre on a Saturday night. That would be fun. Of course I would have to have a Klingon cloaking device...C) The highest return on all this hi tech wizardry,you might think,will be in porn.

Topiary Utopia said...

"Playing video games has become overly complicated too. You need to buy more junk just to play a game (memory cards, controllers). The controllers have too many buttons.

Rather than jump right into it, you have to read an encyclopedia on a game before playing it. That started with Street Fighter II."

Not really. The Wii was a huge success thanks to its intuitive controls. And if stuff Project Natal bears fruit, controlling your console will become even easier.

Also, printed manuals have been largely substituted by in-game tutorials. You don't need to read any manual to play Portal.

Not to mention the success of many casual games (here's a scary/awesome talk about Facebook games, among other things) which work on almost any machine and are very easy to learn.

Peter A said...

The upshot of this post and the comments is that living in a major metropolitan area sucks. In Concord, NH the movie going experience is far more pleasant. Granted, the selection is more limited...

Mr. Anon said...

Quite apart from the juvenile fare on offer at a movie theater, one of the reasons that people stop going is that, as they get older, they just can't sit through an movie without having to go to the bathroom. This makes seeing a movie unpleasantly stressfull. Do you try to wait it out with a near-bursting bladder, so that it's not even fun to watch the movie? Do I wait for a lull in the story to go to the bathroom? When should I go? Now? I might miss something. Now? Damn, the action just picked up. Nuts. Guess I'll have to go now, and miss something crucial. Next time I'll just wait for it on DVD.

Moralist said...

Steve,

Isn't this observation consistent with your view that we're living in what you call the "Age of Fine Print"? Innovation is now taking the form of greater complexity in pre-existing areas, instead of blazing new paths. (Neither movies nor 3-D is new, just the particular forms now offered.) For the latter, I guess we'll have to wait for downloading media entertainment directly into our brains. (Which I don't look forward to.)

Udolpho,

James Cameron is a lot of things: 1) A gearhead geek who compensates by denigrating technology in his stories, which he tells through the conspicuous use of high tech; 2)a military hardware enthusiast who wants to be invited to Sean Penn's parties, so he adopts the latter's politics; and, 3)a megalomaniacal jerk.

What he is not is a "hack." Hacks don't conceive, then put on celluloid the most intricate and technologically ambitious action sequences ever accomplished -- all within the context of a gripping overall story (exceptions: his last two features). They don't push forward the technological envelope with every movie they make. They don't graduate from Roger Corman employee to writer/director of two of the top-grossing movies of all time. They don't display mastery of every single behind-the-camera aspect of moviemaking, from screenwriting to CGI.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Has anyone seen the new Amanda Seyfried movie? I think that chick might be a closet Republican.

Decent movie for a chick flick. Based on a Nicholas Sparks movie so inevitably someone dies. Her character falls in love with a soldier so it's quasi-patriotic. It's set in and around Charleston so the scenery is beautiful. Plus it's got Amanda Seyfried in it, and I can easily sit and watch Seyfried in any movie for two hours, no matter how bad the rest of it is.

And I have no reason to think that Seyfried's a closet Republican, but I sure wouldn't mind.

If possible, avoid the multiplexes that serve large numbers of high school kids.

It's all superteramegamultiplexes these days; all high school kids. I miss the days of the 5- or 6-plex, when the theatre was around the corner, and my date and I could walk to dinner and then to the theatre. That seems like forever ago, but the theatre I saw "The Phantom Menace" in was like that, and that was only 11 years ago.

Nowadays to walk to a theatre you have to cross a parking lot the size of a small town, and there's nothing interesting or romantic about that kind of walking. You just feel like a loser who can't afford a car.

I refuse to pay $10 for a Hollywood movie. And you should too, if only because Hollywood is a huge donator to the Democratic Party.

If you're consuming their product you're consuming their message, and that's more consequential than the money you're giving them. It's amazing how readily even very conservative people adopt the attitudes and beliefs spread by Hollywood.

Carolyn said...

Seeing movies in LA sucks. There aren't enough theaters. My husband and I were living in the South Bay when Titanic came out. We tried for weeks to see it but every showing until the 10 pm would be sold out. I'm one who like to get to the theater early, too. Here in Orange County its much easier to see movies because of so many (new) theaters. We have a great non-chain theater nearby that has all DSP, stadium seating, and great sound system seating that charges $5 for matinees before noon for first run movies. I love going to the 9am show on Sunday morning because I love seeing movies in(nearly) empty theaters. We can take our family of 5 to new movies for $25 for the tickets. It's awesome. We go to the movies a lot.

That being said, no matter what the media thinks, I don't think 3D is going to take off like a rocket ship. I hate wearing the glasses - it took me a good 45 minutes before I stopped seeing the edges of them when watching Avatar. They weigh a lot and started to bother my ears and nose towards the end of the movie. My kids (6,8, & 10) also tell me they could care less about seeing a movie being shown in 3D.

I love seeing movies and sometimes you really need to see the action movies on a big screen to fully appreciate them.

steve wood said...

Mitch said:

I am a devout, knowledgeable movie buff who stopped going to the movies routinely about five years ago. In the Bay Area, at least, it hasn't been simple. You can't go at the last minute, because the theaters are packed.

Going to the movies was one of my favorite activities for over twenty years, and I miss the pleasurable experience it was. But long before Avatar, it's something that had to be planned.


But doesn't it depend on when you go? Here in suburban Philadelphia, the multiplexes are packed on weekend nights (including Sunday, to some extent). They are variably busy for weekend matinees - it depends on the weather and what's playing. They are easily accessible, with plenty of close parking and short, if any, lines during week.

Darwin's Sh*tlist's (great name, btw) suggestions are good ones, although I can't resist seeing a horror movie or thriller on the opening weekend, even if I have to wait in line.

Anyway, long lines, long waits, and difficult parking are not new movie-going experiences. I remember waiting in long lines OUTDOORS to get into big movies in the '70s and early '80s. Back then, high-profile features opened first in city theaters (in DC, often the Uptown or the Avalon). Even if you got there an hour ahead of time, you would still have crawl the streets looking for scarce parking and wait to buy tickets, to get in, and to buy concessions to see something like Alien or The Exorcist unless you wanted to wait weeks to see it.

Nowadays, at the multiplexes I go to, the wait for tickets is usually quite short because the theaters have ATM-type machines selling them as well as the regular box office.

The real wait is for concessions. If you're like me and just want an overpriced soda and maybe some popcorn, you invariably end up behind a crowd of people who apparently haven't eaten for a month and can't make up their minds between the nachos, the pizza, the hot dogs, the popcorn, etc.

Anyway, I'm glad the theaters are busy. It proves that movie-going - something I love to do, whether alone or with friends - remains a popular pastime and isn't going away despite many other alternatives.

Larissa said...

I agree with you Steve, I hate choices, too.

Going to the movies is still an enjoyable experience (although the previews are too loud and fast paced). I still think it makes for the best thing to do on a date, just don't talk during the movie.

That appendix story was crazy. I can't even imagine.

One Reel said...

Three things did it for me.

First, movie theaters moved to two showings on weekday evenings, meaning you have a choice between 7 PM, just when I am getting home from work, and 10 PM, meaning I walk out of the theater sometime between 12:30 AM and 1 AM, not a good idea if I have work the next day, and pretty much too late to do anything else on a weekend night.

Second, I realized that after being cooped up in an office 40+ hours a week, and living in a small apartment, I just didn't want to spend my free time sitting in a dark room for three hours. I'd rather be outdoors, or if I'm indoors I'd rather not feel I have to just sit there for long. Why don't more people in southern California, of all places, feel this way?

Third, the quality of movies put out by Hollywood simply went down. Its not that there aren't good movies (in fact I've seen a few critically panned or ignored movies that I found very impressive), its that the chances of the movie you have gone to being a turkey are higher, and now you've just committed at least two hours of your time and at least ten dollars.

I don't have a home theater or home entertainment system. Of course, I've always been the sort of person who, when I've watched a movie, have been satisfied and have had no desire to see it again, so if I was typical consumer the movie industry would probably collapse.

Anonymous said...

One thing that seriously lowers the movie-going stress under discussion here is seat booking. I've live in Hong Kong for almost 20 years, and for all that time, you've been able to book your seats in advance for virtually any movie. This eliminates all the 'when should I get there' 'what door should I go in' stress. You can book in person, on the phone, or online. All cinemas here also provide websites showing real-time seating charts with already-booked seats marked out, so you can tell how fast a particular show is filling up.

The downsides? You're stuck sitting next to whoever booked next to you, and the cinemas here shamelessly levy a surcharge for online booking, even though you're doing them a favor by doing the admin work yourself. They must have picked up the idea from banks and their ATM charges.

CJA said...

Slightly off-topic, but am I the only one to connect the similarity of the title of Terry Gilliam's latest movie "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" to the "Mausoleum of Halicarnassus"?

Mugston said...

I'll say this. Watching movies with too many (loud)blacks is not very pleasant. This has been a problem for a LONG LONG time.

agnostic said...

AmericanGoy doesn't have much gray matter if he thinks today's games are more mentally demanding than the ones from the 8-bit or 16-bit days. Today's video games are just interactive movies -- if you can sit in front of the TV for long enough, you'll beat it. Hence no thinking or skill required.

It's the older games that tax your brain, which is why most people never beat most of their Nintendo or Super Nintendo games.

Today's video game market instead caters to pussies like you.

Anonymous said...

Graham - thanks for the mention of The Rex in Berkhampsted, it's new to me. I'll try and check that out, I'm only a few miles east of there, in WGC.

Anonymous said...

Babs Streisand: "The time has come....."

Every year the Oscars just turn more and more into a tribal lovefest for liberals.

-Vanilla Thunder

Anonymous said...

Hurt Locker wins and Sailer Rules! Take that Avatar.

PR

Kylie said...

Captain Jack Aubrey said: "If you're consuming their product you're consuming their message, and that's more consequential than the money you're giving them. It's amazing how readily even very conservative people adopt the attitudes and beliefs spread by Hollywood."

Not this conservative. I stopped going to the movies years ago. Before I'll watch any DVD, I vet it. I boycott movies by or with mouthy lefties (Penn, Sarandon, Robbins, Glover, et al.) and leftist propaganda (e.g., Children of Men). This leaves me with only a few new releases to watch each year. Even TCM, my long-time refuge from the worst excesses of Hollywood liberalism, has lurched leftward. So I watch carefully selected mainstream movies and innocuous older fare on cable or free online. Gene Autry, anyone?

It's not always easy to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Anonymous said...

Arclight Cinemas, Steve. You live in L.A. For like three bucks more you get reserved seating, no previews, 21 and up screenings (no texting teenagers or parents taking small children to R-rated movies), and they let you take your drink in with you. Totally worth the modest premium they charge.

Glaivester said...

Nintendo Entertainment System?

What about the good ol' Atari 2600?

Seriously, I bought a Playstation 2 a few years back, and there have only been 3 discs I have played on it. Two of them are anthologies of Taito arcade games from 1978-1997 (I originally bought the system in order to play Rastan, which is on the first anthology), the third is an anthology of Activision games originally made for the Atari 2600.

I bought Viewtiful Joe or Viewtiful Joe 2, I forget which) and an NRA shooting game, but I have not yet played either one.

Whiskey said...

Steve -- how many times can you be the FIRST big 3-D movie? Heck there's tons of 3-d movies planned. I suspect that they'll be mostly flops.

Instead, what is big, really big, is Redbox. Warners gave up, and allowed Redbox to buy wholesale from Warners. Meanwhile in Europe and parts of the US, VOD is basically same-day as DVD releases.

You can rent a movie from Redbox, conveniently at your local supermarket, for $1.

Yes, $1.

Netflix, Amazon, the rest offer streaming video, video on demand, or DVDs for not much more. YouTube is getting into the act with $4 views for selected Sundance movies. Tribeca is offering the same thing for its movies.

Moreover, as I've blogged, what REALLY is making money now, is ancillary revenue: toys, licensing, games, and so on. Think characters like say, the Ewoks or Doug the talking dog in UP.

George Lucas is estimated to be worth a net $3 billion. Yes, $3 billion. Why? All those toy and licensing revenues. Cameron's net worth is "only" $200 million or so.

Cameron is neither hack nor genius. He invented NOTHING, rather paid people to do it for him (good for him, to have the vision, money, but not the skills). His movies don't hold up much. Titanic is already dated, ridiculous, and really only Terminator (the original) holds up. Cardboard characters (and characterization), paper-thin and nonsensical plots (that stand out because the characters are thin lacking depth), and reflexive leftism.

Take Titanic. What's the most amazing thing? That men sacrificed themselves for women and kids. Not a stupid love story that ignores the amazing sacrifice. [Cameron clearly catered to his female audience.]

Where are the current Die Hards, the Lethal Weapons, the Ghostbusters, the Stripes, the Caddyshacks, the Groundhog Days, heck the Commandos? Like the music biz (who will pay for Lady Gaga or Adam Lambert?) the movie business relies on habit of kids, and that's going away. Already kids are using streaming free music, I expect commercial served streaming video is coming soon.

Anonymous said...

If you're consuming their product you're consuming their message, and that's more consequential than the money you're giving them. It's amazing how readily even very conservative people adopt the attitudes and beliefs spread by Hollywood.

No kidding.

I've so isolated myself from the MSM [to include Hollyweird] that I'm starting to feel like an outcast from the 19th Century.

MacSweeney said...

I'll have to agree with Agnostic here. The main thing I dislike about modern video games is that they take too damn long to beat. I hardly buy any new games because I know it's too big of a time investment. That's fine if it's an RPG, which have always been long, but my backlog of games to play grows ever larger now that every game is like that.

You could beat an old NES game in 10 minutes if you were good. To compensate for that, they made the games really hard so you had to play for weeks to get skilled enough to get past the levels. Even then you often couldn't win, no matter how much you tried. Beating a game was a huge accomplishment, it was something you bragged about to all the other kids. A lot of times they wouldn't believe you, that game was too hard.

Nowadays, every game is easy, ANYBODY can beat them given enough time. Especially if you use a guide that tells you exactly what to do. With old games, strategy guides would help, but ultimately you had to rely on your own skill and reflexes.

green mamba said...

My solution is to avoid overhyped, overblown Hollywood pap and to see more modest, interesting films in theaters that program for quality. Last night, for example, I saw Werner Herzog's crazy, inspired "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" with an enthusiastic but civilized crowd at the New Beverly in Hollywood for $7 and was mightily entertained.

Simon said...

Luckily here in the UK filmgoing is obscenely expensive, so I generally don't bother.

coldequation said...

That must be a disadvantage of living in LA. I go to the dollar house for less than the cost of a new release movie rental. Parking is free.

I could go the home theater route, but I don't have room for a 50' screen in my house.

Since you can write from anywhere, what's the upside to living in an unaffordable family formation city like LA in a high-tax state like California, Steve? Maybe VDARE should outsource your job to a writer in Bangalore.

Carolyn said...

Lady Gaga is the new Madonna and I was in college when Like a Virgin came out. I download Lady Gaga all the time for music for the gym.

Redbox is pretty awesome. We cancelled our Blockbuster.com subscription because of it.

Billare said...

Avatar was one of the worst movies I've ever seen, dialogue-wise. I just came back from it and am feeling incensed we are promoting this sort of weak sauce.

Anonymous said...

"So, I sat there wondering, 'Should I get laser eye surgery so I don't have to wear two sets of glasses to see 3D movies?...'"

Disposable contact lenses are cheaper and safer than surgery. Surgeons are guaranteed to have off days, and what is done to your cornea can't be undone. No doubt if James Cameron got lasix there would be redundant surgeons in the operating theater, with lots of double checks and plenty of discussion before every flick of the scalpel. On the other hand, you or I would probably get Nick Riviera, the quack doctor on the Simpson's.

Billare said...

By the way, aren't the Na'vi just blue-colored Maasai endowed with a shamanistic Native-Americanish philosophy along with a dash of New Age techno-mumbo-jumbo? That's what it seemed to me.

Jim O said...

Get the eye surgery, Steve. Worked for me, and I was almost as blind as David Paterson.

Maybe then you'll spot typos like "had to took out ...."

Like I should talk. My obscure blog is a minefield of typos.

Anonymous said...

"No doubt if James Cameron got lasix "

I meant Lasik. Lasix is a diuretic.

Jake P. said...

Don't get Lasik, get ICLs, which are reversible if need be. My wife loves 'em.

Anonymous said...

The Oscars were better than usual. Steve Martin and Alec(Mean Dad)Baldwin were very good. What ws up with Neal Patrick Harris? Everyone knows that he is gay. Now they know that he is untalented as well.Perhaps he should go to med school for real.Sean Penn should be banned from all award shows forever. I believe his poorly ad libed remarks were designed to show his anger that George Clooney did not get an Oscar this year or last. Right. Sean Penn got the Oscar which gave him the forum to be rude and embarassing. I personally only saw two movies. Avatartar (Movie Tartar) Raw meat and I don't mean filet mignon. The King of the World forgot all the delicious condiments. Sour cream(acting). Raw onion and chives (true excitement and suspense). and the all important caviar (a script that makes sense isn't a worn out cliche'....Noble Savage against what passes for civilization, how novel how Joseph Conrad. The true extintions in that movie are wit, intelligence and dialog. It seems odd that Cameron didn't know that Pandora isn't a country but a BOX and a troubling one at that. I did see It's Complicated but only because Alec the Mean Daddy was in it. The only complication that I could notice was that even though their parents were big boned if not actually fat the children didn't weigh more than 80 lbs combined. So odd when their mother owns a posh bakery and is always cooking lavish family meals in her tiny kitchen. Anyone who ate that much would be a big a Precious. Where is Rex Reed when we need him
LPG

Anonymous said...

I just take the movies out of the library. There hasn't been a movie that I wanted to see at the theater in at least 15 years, so I just wait. I take out a lot of foreign film also.

Some of the movies I watch to the end and some I don't.When you are not paying $10 and also buying food, you can just hit stop and put another one in if you are bored.
There are very few good comedies and most of the other films are mediocre at best with a few very good ones, but when it's free, what the heck.

Truth said...

"I personally only saw two movies. Avatartar (Movie Tartar) Raw meat and I don't mean filet mignon. The King of the World forgot all the delicious condiments. Sour cream(acting). Raw onion and chives (true excitement and suspense). and the all important caviar (a script that makes sense isn't a worn out cliche'....Noble Savage against what passes for civilization, how novel how Joseph Conrad. The true extintions in that movie are wit, intelligence and dialog. It seems odd that Cameron didn't know that Pandora isn't a country but a BOX and a troubling one at that. I did see It's..."

Maybe, but they got $10 out of you for watching that steaming pile of donkey-dung, so fuck you.

Truth said...

PS:

I've never seen Titanic or Avalon.

Anonymous said...

"It's the older games that tax your brain, which is why most people never beat most of their Nintendo or Super Nintendo games."

Agnostic, you're turning into an old fogey. That's not normally a bad thing, but it's a catastrophe for a almost-30yo guy who's trying to date 16yo girls. Face it, dude, it's the end.

Udolpho.com said...

sorry, but I find anyone who sticks the line "we're not in kansas anymore" in a character's mouth, who regurgitates tired cliches and uses two dimensional characters and consistently appeals to the lowest common denominator to be a hack

this is separate from the question of whether you get off on military porn, or think that cameron and michael bay bring something vital to moviemaking...that's evidence of your poor taste, not cameron's directorial talent

write back when cameron makes a non-special effects movie of any kind that is worth a damn...until then just admit that you like to see things blow up real good on a 100 foot screen

Kylie said...

Anonymous said: "I've so isolated myself from the MSM [to include Hollyweird] that I'm starting to feel like an outcast from the 19th Century."

Same here. I didn't realize how out there I was until I heard myself telling someone that Housman was my favorite modern poet.

Dahinda said...

Unless my wife forces me to go, I don't even go to the theater any more. There are only three or four major plots to movies anyway. The guy who is a pig or a dork who meets the girl of his dreams then has to struggle to realize that he is a pig or a dork and changes his ways in the end and all live happily ever after (The 40 year old Virgin or Somethings Gotta Give for example) is one major theme. The white guy who saves the minority group from the evil white conquerers (Avitar). The black guy and the white guy crime fighting action duo is another. There are several more plots that also seem to be used over and over.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe, but they got $10 out of you for watching that steaming pile of donkey-dung, so fuck you."


Thanks, Truth. Ever wise, ever loving, ever practicing the finest points of Socratic discourse...

Anonymous said...

Dear Truth, How rude! I didn't know that illiterate Sean Penn could blogg...obviously not very well except when using my lines. Perhaps the movies should go truly Commie and be free just as the artwork that you probably paint on walls. Anyway doesn't all the money from Hollywood go to Haiti or at least to Obama to spread around. LPG

Truth said...

"Thanks, Truth. Ever wise, ever loving, ever practicing the finest points of Socratic discourse.."

"Dear Truth, How rude!"

Why so Serious?

Be informed; I'm going to end this post with three readings; a Zen koan, a personal anecdote and a quote, that relate to today's lesson. First prize to the one who discerns the connection is an all-expense paid trip to the next Vdare conference courtesy of Peter Brimlow.

First, you write a scathing review on a movie that you know was shit before you saw it, and made James Cameron richer for making a movie that both of you knew was shit halfway through the first trailer. Highly excusable. Then, you laud your intellect, breeding and class over said filmmaker. Totally inexcusable.

Answer me one question, fool, who ended up $10 richer at the conclusion of this transaction.

That sting you felt, that backhanded slap that I delivered was just to remind you that you are a living, breathing sentient human being. Oh, it feels good now doesn't it? That trickle of blood dripping into your lip, the watering eyes, the rapidly swelling cheek. Get angry. PLEASE GET ANGRY. This is what it feels like to be alive, and you've forgotten, Neo. They've robbed you of your humanity with their Hegelian tricks!

Now for your treats:

1) A PHD Theologian travels from Scotland to Japan to study Zen, he is somewhat haughty and unimpressed with the barefoot, impoverished Monks so he contentedly asks the head Seju; "So, Ero, what is the difference between heaven and hell."

The Monk takes a minute before he answers and then dismissively says; well George, I would like to answer that question, but I do not think you have the intellect, experience or depth to understand such complex issues, so if I were you I would not concern myself.

This ENRAGES the Theologian who launches into a tirade; YOU POOR, ILLITERATE HEATHEN, I HAVE BEEN EDUCATED AT THE FINEST SCHOOLS IN EUROPE, TAKEN PERSONAL GREETING FROM THE POPE AND ATTENDED DOZENS OF 15TH CENTURY CHAPELS.YOU CAN BARELY READ JAPANESE AND YOU DARE TO TELL ME THAT I CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE ZEN CONCEPT OF HEAVEN AND HELL?!?!

To which the monk calmly replies:

That, my friend, was hell.

The Theologian instantly understands, relaxes, and and softens having suddenly gained the great insight into Zen he has traveled so many miles for.

And the monk says:

And that, my friend is Heaven.

2)My best friend is a hulking 6'3 250lb. African-American Ex college football player turned lawyer. He is very dark and physically imposing, although he is straight as an arrow and has never committed a crime or even been in a street fight.

Occasionally, "Manny" notices a white woman cross the street, clutch her purse extra tightly, or lock her car door as she sees him approach this causes him great anger to these fine caucasoid persons. He told me about this, and I said to him, "well Manny, would it be more productive to direct your ire toward the women (speciously?) in fear of their safety, or the "gentlemen" who help to make them that way?

3)"Yeah, I know; and such small portions."