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Filmism.net Dispatch May 3, 2011

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A very interesting story emerged through the Hollywood Reporter this week, when producer and exec Joe Roth said the movie industry has the chance to roll with the challenges of video on demand by buying movie theatres (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tribeca-joe-roth-suggests-movie-182710).

Any student of film industry history will know about the late 40s antitrust laws that banned the studios from owning distributors or theatres. There's a wealth of information on how the landmark 1948 ruling still affects a trip to the cinema. Block booking is just one action exhibitors (theatre owners) have often considered to be a standover tactic.

I noticed the silence when the studios started buying up and rebranding the distributors in their own image about five years ago (and wrote about it here), but surely it would raise eyebrows if they started buying theatres for the first time in 80 years.

I also watched the DVD release of TRON: Legacy this week and it got me thinking about how far computer-aided effects in movies have come. On the surface it would seem effects simply get better as the technology allows, but if that's the case why does a film like Star Wars still stand up after 34 years when the CGI in Stephen Sommers' Van Helsing (2004) already looks shoddy?

I decided it's because effects aren't just a product of the technology available, they're viewed (and remembered) through a prism of our experience of the world at the time. And sometimes, like in one of my favourite movies ever (The Last Starfighter), the effects suit the movie perfectly through the cultural impact, not just how many megabytes went into creating them. I explore the subject a little deeper here.

And after all that high and mighty film theory, I was glad to settle back and watch the worst and most unintentionally hilarious romantic drama ever unleashed, The Room.

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