In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Kubrick re-redux | Main | Pixelvision redux »

July 12, 2002

Moviegoing: "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones"

Friedrich --

Did I mention that I dragged the wife to the latest "Star Wars"? Showing at the Ziegfeld, digitally projected. What a turkey, as bad as the last one even if more richly produced. As David Ansen put it in Newsweek, by this point you either buy into the "Star Wars" world almost religiously, or you shake your head and say, basically, go figure. But it was bad, bad, I can't tell you how bad -- as bad as any Ed Wood movie, and considerably less fun. (To paraphrase one reviewer on Amazon, I defy anyone to tell me what the movie's story was.) At least the Ziegfeld's air conditioning was first-class.

All that said, I was there to see what the movie looked like, digitally projected. (The world of moviegoing has come to a sorry pass when perfectly good and willing movie buffs go to a movie just to see what the computers have been up to.) And the answer is.... not bad. After about a month of use, the image was eerily perfect. Not a scratch to be seen, not a dust fleck, not a shimmer or a shiver. And the colors were perfectly consistent all through the movie.

But the image was also dilute and flat -- I muttered to the wife at one point, "If a good celluloid movie image is like snappy fresh-squeezed orange juice, this is like watered-down Tang." It's a decent facsimile of a movie image, but it's sterile, and missing that je ne sais quoi. I think of it, for some reason, as chi -- that Chinese word for something like (so I gather) the life force. Maybe I should just say zing.

For one thing, the digital image just isn't dense enough yet. We moved up to the front-ish part of the theater at one point, and there you really register that the image simply needs more pixels. Darks are especially bad -- things get lost in a kind of dim, apricot-jam murk.

But judging digital projection from a Lucas movie is an odd challenge, because Lucas doesn't ever aim for poetry or even glamor or sex. He wants his imagery to be clean and functional, no matter how spectacular. ("Gladiator," which I didn't enjoy, did have a very juicy look, at least by comparison to the new "Star Wars.") And the digitally-projected image is certainly at this point a perfectly clean and functional image. But that's its problem, too. Watching it is like watching a PowerPoint presentation that happens to move.

I wonder if these problems will be solved as the computers and projectors get better. In other words, are more pixels all that's needed to solve the missing-chi problem? But I can't help worrying that when art gets sliced and diced into discrete digital bits, something falls away -- the connective tissue, the flow, maybe the poetry.

But maybe I'm being sentimental.

Your thoughts?



posted by Michael at July 12, 2002


Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?