March 17, 2007
NYT on online viewing.The present: "A screen is a screen is a screen - isn't it?" asks Manohla Dargis. "Certainly the idea of downloading sounds irresistible: you scroll through the delectable offerings - in the video store in my head, Abbott and Costello and Béla Tarr are both just clicks away - hit a few buttons, and voilà: cinema! The reality, as I recently discovered, is messier." The Very Near Future: A "slew of gadgets, like the coming Apple TV, promise to erase the divide between the Internet and your home entertainment center by easily transporting a movie file sitting on the computer to the 52-inch plasma television in the living room, or magically giving the set Internet access," notes Noah Robischon. "If that transition becomes seamless, digital film distribution might just make celebrities out of a new crop of talented unknowns, just as the advent of home video in the 1980s jump-started the careers of filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh, Spike Lee and John Sayles." Updated through 3/22. The Hopefully Near Future: "Perhaps the most intriguing promise these [video-on-demand] sites hold, at least for those whose interest in film extends beyond the new, the recent and the aggressively hyped, is of a kind of virtual cinematheque," writes AO Scott. "It is now possible to imagine - to expect - that before too long the entire surviving history of movies will be open for browsing and sampling at the click of a mouse for a few PayPal dollars." Update, 3/18: "There's a spirited conversation going over at Twitch about whether or not small companies now releasing cult films on DVD should shift to a 'download-to-burn' distribution model," notes Scott Macaulay at Filmmaker. "The conversation centers around genre and catalog titles, but it's applicable to our current independent cinema too." Update, 3/21: Dave Kehr comments: "The digital library that Manohla dreams of, where she could log in and download anything from Abbott and Costello to Bela Tarr, does in fact already exist; unfortunately, it is largely illegal.... The situation reminds me of the 60s and 70s, when 16mm film collectors were effectively forced underground by the studios and the FBI. Then as now, it's dangerous to like movies too much." Update, 3/22: Kristin comments at the SpoutBlog.
Posted by dwhudson at March 17, 2007 12:44 PM