Saturday, September 01, 2007

Private and Public Viewing Spaces

It's been a while since I've done much here; Only one review throughout all of August, and being more of a personal essay than a "review," per se, is surely disappointing to some readers. I apologize; starting in mid-June (which marks the decline of my rate of posting) I started working full time hours after having no hours or limited part time hours up until that point, so I lost a lot of the time I had formerly had available. But that's just an excuse, I suppose.

In reality, the truth is that I've only watched three movies in almost three weeks. And, something remarkably different than my normal circumstances, two out of three of them were in large movie theaters. The two movies that I saw (Rob Zombie's re-imagining of Halloween and the High School comedy Superbad) are largely inconsequential to this post, but rather, seeing these two dichotically opposed films in the same "environment" has gotten me thinking.

Ninety-five percent of my film viewing experiences occur in a private space; namely, by myself in my bedroom where I have control over the lighting, the volume, outside distractions (to an extent; there is still ambient noise that filters in from the open window to the outside world), and the actual duration of the viewing experience (meaning, of course, whether I watch the film straight through, pause to take a break, finish over a two day period, etc.). Inside of a movie theater, in what is an ostensibly public space, I have no control over any of these factors.

Shocking news, of course, but what I find interesting is that with my own personal viewing habits, a fuller immersion is always more easily accomplished in the public space (there are exceptions to this, however, that will be touched upon later). When I have control over all of the factors in my film viewing, I tend to take advantage of that, and take breaks, pause the film to take a short nap if I'm tired, or space the film out to many different sittings (which helps when I'm busy). This is, however, an obviously totally different way of viewing a film; fragmented instead of a whole, which is what creates the divide between an "immersive" viewing and an analytical viewing.

This also explains why it is generally more difficult for me to sit down and write about something I've watched in a single sitting in a cinemaplex instead of something that I've watched for intentionally analytical purposes in the isolation of my room. In fact, with virtually every film I review, if it's a film that I can really emotionally connect to, it's more or less impossible for me to write anything from an initial viewing. Any sort of intense emotional connection sees me viewing the film in a sort of vicarious escapism mode, which I absolutely love. The escapism aspect is what attracted me to cinema in the first place, and the chance to revisit the feelings that launched my current, well, life is always a pleasure.

Obviously when I'm watching a film that I know ahead of time is going to be difficult (Duelle, for instance) or without subtitles (La Gemella Erotica) or both (Slow Slidings of Pleasure) I set myself up as an analytical viewer. If I am in the mind frame to be very attentive and an active viewer of the film, anything that I end up writing undoubtedly comes fairly easy. I have to note, however, that I really enjoy this method of viewing films as well. I really just love watching films in general, so the avenue of viewing that I'm taking is irrelevant to the pleasure I can get.

I will admit, since I am a human being who is prone to opinions and mood swings, there are many times when I really only feel like watching movies for one avenue of viewing. I go through phases where I'm at the video store every day (despite owning an intense amount of flicks that I still haven't watched) renting videos just as a way to kill time and be entertained. During these phases it's doubtful that I'll get much pleasure out of watching something analytically, so I save that route for another day. There are other times when I can only derive viewing pleasure from the analytical viewing, when I have no interest in the escapism or simple catharsis.

I really didn't expect to come to any sort of main point in this thread other than to expand upon the way I approach the film viewing experience. For the record, if you're wondering what I thought about the two films I saw in the theaters my opinions are as follows: Halloween was interesting in it's completely objective/distanced display of casual violence (by a kid no less), but over all was neither remarkable nor a disappointment. Nothing that I could get worked up to write anything in depth on.

Superbad was interesting to me because I'm not generally a fan of comedy films; in fact I normally avoid them. I saw this on a whim and wasn't disappointed. I think the main reason it works is because the film recognizes that at the end of the day, life isn't actually funny. Of course, that is only slightly built into the film, there is still plenty of ridiculous juvenilia that occasionally distracts from any sort of enjoyment.

All in all, I just wanted to break the blog's silence and say something at least. I'm currently, in fragments, reviewing David Lynch's Inland Empire for the first time since I saw it in theaters back in January (?). I can assure that I already have plenty say about that and I've still got quite a bit to go.


Blogger Dr. Insermini said...

You have to see this one:

Don't know if there are english subs anywhere.


4:43 AM  
Blogger magick mike said...

Oh! I've actually got that but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. It's actually currently in my stack of films that I've labeled "To Watch and Review." I've seen two of Zulueata's short films and they've been pretty brilliant, so I'm looking forward to watching the feature.

9:58 AM  

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