How Tivo Is Making Films Suck More

8 04 2008

I had an interesting experience this past Saturday as I was watching Martin Scorsese’s unfortunately tedious Rolling Stones film, SHINE A LIGHT.

At one point, as the film was heading into yet another song of Mick Jagger energetically strutting across the apron of the stage (the man has an awesome physique for someone his age, but I was completely over the Stones about 25 years ago), I arrived at the time when I would attempt to look at my watch to see if the film was really in its fifteenth hour.

However, instead of that, I got focussed on the editing — as I am wont to do when something is boring me to tears (I’ve done that innumerable times during HBO’s JOHN ADAMS, a show I am completely ready to stop watching for the rest of my life).  I began to look for the moments when cuts worked and when they didn’t.  And, as I am also wont to do when I’m watching a tedious film on my DVR (not a Tivo actually, since I have the version that the Dish Network allegedly stole from them), I reached for the DVR remote so I could rewind the film by a few seconds to re-look at the cut.

Let me repeat that — I went to reach for my remote.  In the Cinerama Dome Theatre in the middle of Hollywood.  Now, the Dome theater has a lot of cool amenities in it, ever since the Arclight took it over.  I can reserve my seats.  I can lean back and put my drink in a nifty cup holder at the side.  I can even sit back and listen to the desperately amusing ushers, who give a standup-style patter before the film runs.

But what I cannot do is to stop the film and go back three seconds using a Tivo-like remote.

My point is this.  I realized then that I am now beginning to look at media differently.  I assume that I have control over how I watch it.  I assume that I can rewind, fast forward and pause my media.

And if I’m doing that, I can only assume that others have that desire also.  Does that mean that movie theaters are at a disadvantage over the television/DVR experience?  And what does that mean for us as filmmakers?




5 responses

9 04 2008

I watch a lot of DVDs on my computer (bigger screen than my little TV), and now I don’t like watching movies on my TV because the remote is less wieldly than my computer tablet. So, I like control.

However, if I’m not bored with the movie, I am happy to just let it run. While watching “300” in the theater, I was happy letting it rock before me. So, I think the question is: Is what we are watching an experience for us (“300”), or an activity for us (a boring flick or something we’re studying)? That’s my thought at the moment.


9 04 2008

Don’t feel bad. I have done the EXACT samething. More than that, I have had my wife sitting next to me and as a joke asked her to run that back real fast and watched her look for the remote 🙂

9 04 2008
Matthew Abel

I do that all the time. The last few movies I saw in the theater invoked that reaction in me.

10 04 2008
Shane Ross

I had a dream once that in the middle of a movie…in the theatre…I grabbed the remote and hit PAUSE as I ran off to the bathroom. There were shouts of protest in the theater so I went to hit PLAY, only I hit FAST FORWARD instead…because it was dark. Then I frantically looked for the rewind button, pressed it, rewound back to just before I hit pause, and then hit play. People were GLARING at me.

This was based on my experiences with VCRs…I had this dream in the early nineties, before DVD…and WELL before DVRs…came out. So it isn’t only DVRs, it is the medium in general.

And I will find myself wanting to grab the remote if I miss a line, or yes, if I want to see a sequence of shots again.

RUIN? No. Although you are out of the movie “moment” the instant you hit REWIND. I used to watch movies twice if I liked them…once to enjoy, and once to study. Now I just rewind…oh. So yeah, I guess that is ruining it.

10 04 2008

The sad thing I sometimes do is to rewind, then turn on the subtitles so that I can understand the line I just missed. I haven’t yet missed that in the cinema, but I’m sure one day I will.

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