Space Jam

Jason Klorfein

Just like any other male aged 4 to 25, or any other, geeky, pop-culture minded chick, I really wanted to watch Spider-Man 3 last weekend. There was no reason why I should have been surprised the film was sold out opening night, 15 minutes before the 9:15p.m. showing. But not being able to get in made me feel more warm, satisfied and excited than the actual film would have. It reaffirmed that a space-time continuum exists, something I’ve been immune to for the past two years. Living in CRC and taking classes at Louis or Kresge, I can go back-and-forth, place-to-place without consequence. This makes life beyond convenient and a bit surreal. Yet living in such a limited space has not only anesthetized me from the pleasure of going to the movies, but has probably dulled my critical appreciation, and respect for movies I’ve spent so much time fine-tuning as an RTVF major.

Movies, as we’re told by sentimental AFI clip shows, have the power to “transport us” to places we’ve never been. That’s a narrow definition that’s biased towards Hollywood blockbusters, but it could apply to any intimate drama like Distant or a great comedy like Talladega Nights. This kind of transportation isn’t just spatial, it’s temporal. Enclosed in one theater space, movies make me more conscious of time – like how five minutes in the screen-time of The New World can make me feel as though years have passed for the characters. In some ways, sitting down to a movie takes an implicit agreement from the viewer: I’ll put aside everything I’m doing to watch this movie for two hours.

Yet when it takes me five minutes to walk to Century, buy a ticket and sit down, I’m literally not being transported. I’m not experiencing a movie, I’m consuming it in slightly more than the same time it takes to drink a latte. I don’t have a nostalgic view of going to the movies – I worked at a Regal for a summer – but at least in high school I had to drive 20 minutes to see the latest Ridley Scott. So, it’s understandable that a movie loses its power to connect or draw me in to a different world.

Still, the physical convenience of getting to a movie may only be a part of that trite question: “what does cinema mean in the age of YouTube?” Perhaps an analogy can be made between theatrically exhibited movies and gallery art. An artwork’s isolation from everyday, non-performance spaces makes it easier to criticize and interpret them on pure aesthetic alone. Instead, since moving images can now inhabit our dormrooms or living rooms, that is the place where they’ll be the most psychologically and emotionally affecting. This doesn’t work with the DVD of a feature film, because it’s not built for the medium. TV shows, though, are constructed to be more intimate, less aesthetically complicated. With hand-held cameras and low-key lighting, shows like Battlestar Galactica initially seem like they’re bridging the gap between the two. But, if anything, this aesthetic creates more intimacy and interaction with the media in the home than in a theater. Television is more emotionally haunting because I view it in my regular home space. Perhaps that’s why I can remember a TV episode better than a movie. There is no separation from my “real life;” the memory of a show is directly intertwined with my life at the moment. Perhaps that’s why The Rules of the Game will never, ever move me or influence my life in the same way that an Ally McBeal episode could.

Communication sophomore Jason Klorfein is a PLAY film columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]