PolySciFi Blog

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I'm Spartacus! (or: Why I Can't Leave Los Angeles)

Just got out from seeing Spartacus at the Arclight. It's a magnificent movie; this was the first time I'd ever seen it. And I think I can honestly say that I had the best possible viewing experience (short of seeing a movie with Alanis Morrisette, if you see what I'm saying). They showed the restored version of the movie, in a pristine print sent over from Universal; I don't think the print they used had ever been projected before. I didn't see a single scratch (although some of the reel changes seemed to be spliced with a few missing frames--they were using a 70mm print, so I don't know if they have an actual switchover with film that big or if they still splice it all together--if it was switchover, that's to be expected).

Anyway, there's a Criterion DVD of the restored movie, and I recommend that. I also recommend that if you're in Los Angeles, you catch a movie at the Arclight. You pay for what you get there; my ticket tonight was $10, but a weekend night ticket is $14. But what you get:
Anyway. Over christmas, I saw The Life Acquatic at a local theater in Missouri. And not only was one reel completely out of focus, the projectionist had masked the film wrong, so the left and lower part of the frame was obscured. Which was obvious when there were dates and places superimposed on that part of the frame, and the letters were cut off. If that weren't bad enough, the movie was self-indulgent and boring. And I can't help but think the projectionist was somehow involved.

The larger point here is that this is an example of the market working, I guess; but most people won't pay for a better movie experience. Or at least won't do it consistently enough to have a multiplex that does it right. Which means, even if I weren't trying to write screenplays, I'd still want to live in Los Angeles, because there are enough people to support a place like the Arclight. And I don't mean support like the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville or other places that people give money to, like art museums. This theater makes money hand over fist. I'd love to think it's a business model that could be supported elsewhere on a smaller scale. So I put it to you guys: would you pay more for a perfect projection, print, sound system, &c, &c. All the time? For some movies? (my roommate will see epic things there but not smaller scale stuff) Never? Inquiring minds want to know.


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