Friday, December 30, 2005

The end of the movies

(Click for Tabloid Baby’s 2005 Person of the Year!)

We’ve gone to the movies here and there over these holidays. And we’re sad to report it’s over. Movies, that is. The whole movie-going, movie theatre experience.

And King Kong proves it.

We don’t get out to the movies very often anymore. This holiday season, there were two movies that looked cinematic enough to warrant a trip to the theatre. Big enough to head beyond the multiplex to one of those new palaces in Hollywood, the ones with assigned seating, crisp focus and good popcorn.

King Kong was one of those movies. But tellingly, when they ran the first teaser trailer on television, the one that outlined the entire plot, it just looked okay. A period piece with Jack Black and Adrien Brody’s nose. It was only after we saw the trailer on the office computer, on the Apple movie trailer site , in its high definition digital glory, that King Kong promised to be something spectacular. The Tabloid Baby staff gathered round the desktop, marveling at the craft, the almost seamless blend of computer animation and real life.

So we saw King Kong at the theatre. It was more than three hours long. Three hours of Jack Black and Adrien Brody’s nose. Dinosaur chases and more dinosaur chases. Lots of goo-goo eyes between the beauty and the beast. Way over-the-top hints of bestiality. It was a lot and too much, with a projectionist providing occasional soft focus and glitches between reels.

In the end, it was only a movie. We can’t wait til it comes out on DVD, so we can see it on the new big flat panel TV with the home entertainment sound system, and dig it in all its meticulous digital glory and be able to freeze it between sections so everyone can get a bathroom break.

The second movie that seemed worth seeing was a tossup between Munich and Syriana. We saw the fat Clooney movie. There were three other people in the theatre. This movie was more than two hours long, and looked and felt like those serious European TV series that make their way over here (like the one they ripped off Traffic from). The movie made a lot of sense after we got home and hit the Internet to read all the reviews and figured out what had happened. And it’s pretty obvious that whether it’s directed by George Clooney or Stephen Gaghan, Steven Soderbergh is pulling the strings.

When we weren’t at the movies, we watched the original King Kong and Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young and hours of documentary footage on DVD on the big flat panel TV with the great sound. Sat up real close so we were enveloped like in the movies in the old days.

Tonight we’ll see Cinderfella, at home, in digital color.

On Tuesday, our movie comes out. Cloud 9. On DVD. Twentieth Century Fox decided to skip the theatres and send it straight to the big flat panel TVs. We hope everyone buys a copy of Cloud 9.

And though King Kong was supposed to be the moviehouse saviour, we think Hollywood realizes that King Kong marks the end of the moviegoing era. Peter Jackson not only made a movie that does away with the need for real locations or real actors, but along the way he created the ultimate $200 million digital masterwork that's suited perfectly for DVD and bigscreen home entertainment.

It’s too bad. There’s nothing like sitting in a theatre for two hours, getting lost in a picture, and then walking out into the evening air, imagining yourself as the star of the movie you just saw. It just doesn’t work that way at home.

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