Internet Movie Big Deal
Issue #1 - September 9, 2019
Let's call this the first issue, and call last week's missive the zeroeth issue. I still don't know what this weekly newsletter is going to be, but I'm ready to dive in and start figuring things out. And this feels like the first real attempt at that. I also hope this isn't a one-sided conversation. Feel free to reply, and let me know what you think. And please let me know if you end up launching a newsletter of your own!
I back a few writers on Patreon, because I want to help support them between bigger writing projects. They'll occasionally send dispatches to their backers, and I was struck by this gem by Drew McWeeny from a recent mailing:
Right now, we’re in the middle of an incurious phase in our moviegoing diet, collectively speaking. People pay for sensation when you’re talking about the theatrical experience now, and there’s little wonder in that. We’ve increasingly turned theaters into almost weaponized Experience Delivery Systems. Can you imagine if we installed Dolby Atmos and an IMAX screen into every church in America? The pressure to make those sermons special would increase exponentially. I make that comparison because movie theaters have been my church for my entire adult life, and the way I interact with movies is very much part of the fabric of my life. I think we’ve erred on the side of sensation over sustenance, and we’re going to pay for it if we’re not careful.
I think I agree with Drew on most of this, but I also think it gives some clues as to where the artistic pushback will come. One one hand, artists will start trying to figure out how to use these technological marvels to do things that were previously impossible. When we were awarded a fellowship from Dolby for BLINDSPOTTING, we were delighted to be able to afford a Dolby Atmos mix for the movie. We used this to immerse the audience deeper into the PTSD of a black man on probation in Oakland, police cars swirling like sharks on a city street. When we were developing an animated movie with Don Hertzfeldt, my first thought was to try to involve IMAX in the process (they rebuffed our advances).
One the other hand, I think we're seeing artists reject the technical polish and scope of mainstream filmmaking. The bigger the blockbusters get, the more it leaves a gap of opportunity to explore inward. I think the trend of 4x3 aspect ratio movies are playing with this notion. It's not a trend I love, but I feel like I understand where it's coming from. 2.35:1 is an aspect ratio for snakes and landscapes, and artists are stretching the frame to capture something more human. I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see this ground being pushed even further. Shooting on the cheapest formats. Mixing in stereo or mono. Finding creative inspiration in the elimination of technological marvel.
Maybe I'm just an optimist, but I think sustenance is coming.
🍴 majordōmo – David Chang's first restaurant in Los Angeles combines Italian, Korean, and other Changian flavors. Dish prices range from moderately expensive to very expensive, but it's worth a trip for the boneless chuck short-rib smothered with melty raclette cheese. I made the mistake of ordering this for myself, although it clearly is designed to serve four people. Go with some hungry friends.
🎬 "The Boys" – The first season recently hit Amazon Prime, and I loved it. I know there are a lot of dark superhero takes making their way through the various media empires, but this one is definitely worth checking out.
You just read issue #1 of
The Snoot Letter.
You can also browse the full archives
of this newsletter.