Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A New Age For Movies

Irving Wladawsky-Berger at IBM has recently posted a couple of eloquent blogs about how the Internet has made movie-watching just that much more enjoyable. First of all, there are all of the reviews and the commentary--such as as IMDB. Like Irving, I find Roger Ebert's reviews on target (alomost all the time). In fact, though it would probably horrify many in the "Ivory Tower," I think Roger Ebert may well be one of the best essayists writing today. There's something nice about, not only getting input on which movies to see, but after watching a film that really connected having a virtual "discussion" on various aspects of the film. What did such and such mean? How did other people react? It doesn't even require active participation.

Then there's Irving's discussion about Netflix. Walmart is out of the game as I wrote about earlier. The latest buzz is that, although Amazon has a movie rental business in the UK, they won't be following up with a US version. In any case, Netflix provides a great way to invite almost every available DVD into my house, without fuss and without muss. It's partly about eliminating "stuff" from my things-to-do list. (II'll be posting on Getting Things Done one of these days. Don't worry: I'm not evangelical about it.)

But it's also about being able to easily depart from mass market tastes and indulge an exploration or an oddball interest. It's The Long Tail if you want to be jargonny about it. But it's ultimately "On Demand"--when you want, what you want. (Which, perhaps, is why Irving is so fascainated by it.)


Anonymous said...

Gordon, I really like your explanation that what we are really enjoying here is our ability to explore and follow our personal tastes, e.g, the "Long Tail" phenomenon.

For example, a couple of years ago I saw and really enjoyed Lost in Translation. One of the reviewers on imdb.com said that some of the "style" in Lost in Translation reminded him of In the Mood for Love, a film by Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai. I had never heard of either the film or the director, so I went to imdb, did some research, found out that the film had gotten great reviews and Wong Kar Wai is a highly respected director, so I got the film from Netflix, watched it, loved it, then went back to see what else has Wong Kar Wai done that I should watch . . . and so on. There is an unprecedented freedom to follow our personal tastes that is just incredible.

Gordon Haff said...

Hi Irving,
Thanks for the recommendation. Although I've never been to Japan, I've spent some time in the Far East and have done the whole translation thing many times--which was just one of the elements that made Lost in Translation ring just so *true* for me. I really enjoyed it, so looking forward to trying out the In the Mood For Love. (Even if your tastes do seem generally more esoteric than mine. I really tried to get through the Decalogue but didn't succeed.)