They’re Twittering! They’re Blogging!

But apparently, they don’t want to go to the movies anymore. At least, that’s what everyone keeps saying in Andrew O’Hehir’s “State of the Indies” article in Salon (wait through the ad). O’Hehir’s article reintroduces the usual villains, such as “crappy” theaters, shorter attention spans, and especially–as Karina notes–those socially-networked, hyperactive kids.

I think Karina’s right to be skeptical here. It’s not an either-or proposition. Sometimes we’re Twittering about that three-hour movie we happened to see at the theater the other night (not that I’m a kid). It is fair to say that we shouldn’t expect indie filmmakers to rely upon DVD distribution forever, but many of the assumptions here about entertainment (I won’t say movie or film) audiences here seem rather reductive to me.

Update: Mike Everleth of Bad Lit also has some interesting comments on the O’Hehir article.  Like him, I’m skeptical of the ritual in articles about the future of independent cinema of predicting the demise of indie films.

9 Comments »

  1. idlepanda Said,

    December 20, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

    I wasn’t really sure what you were getting until I read Bachar’s comment at the end. I share his opinion of movie theatres, and I’ve experienced my share of chiding from fellow film buffs as a result. His notion of a “social networking mentality” did leave me cold, but I can understand how someone on the outside looking in would draw those conclusions.

    Predictions aside it should be interesting to see where distribution is going to go. The vast majority of the independent films that I saw this year were on DVD. I usually reserve the movie theatre for major releases because that’s all we typically get where I’m living. What bothers me about these kinds of discussions is the negativity surrounding the idea of watching movies on a computer monitor. Even though I have the option to watch DVDs on my TV, I occasionally choose to watch them on my computer instead, and this isn’t unusual, particular among those who engage in file sharing.

  2. Chuck Said,

    December 21, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

    Thanks for these observations. I was probably a little too quick to respond to O’Hehir’s article, mostly because my internet access is pretty fleeting this week. I think you’re right about how the “social networking mentality” looks from the outside, so I’m not sure I fault the perception so much as I’d like to correct it.

    Fayetteville (NC) is similar in that we get a limited number of art house films, and on visiting my parents in Atlanta this time, I’m finding myself wanting to hit the movie theaters far more often to catch up on art house and indie films. I’m also finding myself watching more indies on DVD or on demand, again because the films aren’t making it to Fayetteville.

    I haven’t written about this as often here, but like you, I do watch movies on my computer occasionally, and one of the arguments of my book is that it is the computer (and not the TV screen, as many scholars argue) that is now the “primary” means by which film culture is mediated. And, yes, I’m also skeptical of the “negativity” expressed regarding watching movies on computer (or even iPod) screens.

  3. G Said,

    December 21, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

    I think part of why kids aren’t going to movies is because the indies are so bad. I don’t know how to speak about the “taste” of a big population of kids I don’t know, but I’m really frustrated with the indie films that are coming out — they’re as conventional and mediocre as the Hollywood films. I was stunned at how bad and thoughtless both “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Margot at the Wedding” were. I also disagree with you on “Away from Her” which I thought was surprisingly bad. I was hoping that there would be some meditation on questions of existence and perception, but really the audience just watched Christie’s character fade away with a lot of bad music in the background. It was schlock and had the potential to be more. These three, besides most of what I end up seeing when I will myself to go to the theater, were absolute wastes of time. I’ve basically quit going to the movies. I’d rather watch Bresson at home.

  4. Chuck Said,

    December 22, 2007 @ 10:58 am

    Yeah, I was disappointed by Darjeeling and if I do a “worsts” list for 2K7, it would possibly belong there just for its annoying orientalism and cheap metaphors. I may have been taken in a bit by Julie Christie’s performance in Away from Her, though I will agree that the music could have been better. But after sitting through quite a bit of Hollywood fare in recent months, Darjeeling does feel at least a little less conventional than that.

    I’m starting to have the opposite experience of wanting to get out to a theater more often, but moviegoing has become identified with leisure time (at least to some extent for me) while my apartment is almost completely identified with work, which makes me want to go out, so I’d have to guess that many of my attitudes about moviegoing may be personal.

  5. idlepanda Said,

    December 22, 2007 @ 3:14 pm

    I thought Away from Her was more about Grant than Fiona. His guilt over his numerous affairs and his feelings of abandonment had a much bigger impact on my response to the film than anything else. I thought the mediation on questions of existence were addressed by focusing on those that were left behind, first with Grant and then with Marian. As for the music, the only tracks I remember are Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, which is excellent, and some Bach.

  6. badMike Said,

    December 23, 2007 @ 1:01 am

    Hey Chuck,

    Thanks for the plug. While I can’t say I particularly “enjoy” watching movies on my computer monitor, I’m extremely glad that I have the option to do so now. Especially for all the underground movies that filmmakers send me on DVD that I would have no other way of watching. Sometimes I watch them on my TV, but the computer is just as fine since my computer is in my bedroom and I can lay in bed while viewing.

    I also had one experience in the past year in which a filmmaker wanted me to review a short, which happened to be available on iTunes. I was able to watch it the same day he wanted a review AND got the review up on the same day. It was a very interesting process and, given the film’s great visuals, looked just fine on an iTunes screen.

  7. Underground’s Future in Digital? » Bad Lit Said,

    December 23, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

    [...] Update: Chuck agrees with me (sort of). Posted By: Mike Everleth @ 11:07 pm Meta: Email to a Friend | Printable View | Comments [...]

  8. Chuck Said,

    December 23, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

    idlepanda: In many ways, Away From Her is Grant’s film, but I don’t think it would have worked without Julie Christie. You’re right about the heavy dose of Neil Young, which isn’t a personal fave but seemed to fit the movie well enough.

    badMike: In general, I think we’re on the same page. There are more viewing options than ever before (in a similar context, I was at a friend’s ultra-indie premiere last night and he told me he’d be putting the movie on YouTube today to promote it).

  9. idlepanda Said,

    December 24, 2007 @ 11:17 pm

    I agree that the film wouldn’t have worked without Julie Christie. I was just responding to G’s comment that “the audience just watched Christie’s character fade away.” I thought the film was more complex than that.

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