Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Eve, Eve, Eve...Little Miss Eeeeevil..."

Side by Side and These Amazing Shadows

I am not sure how I decided to watch these two documentaries about film in the same week, but I am happy that I did.
Happy, because 'Side by Side' distressed me almost to depression but 'These Amazing Shadows' brought me back hope.

I use the word depression with a serious and true meaning-
Because when I think of film- and along with film, music- so much of my darkest times have been lightened by both of these mediums.
Music without question- but film- film can pull me from the depths whereas music is more necessary like water.  Film is coffee, film is a perfect cocktail, I could live without it- but I don't want too.

I find it a bit odd caring about subjects that so few others seem to care about.
I couldn't get a reaction from any person when I was harping on about movie theatres replacing their projectors with digital.  I felt so old thinking of 
'Cinema Paradiso' juxtaposed against people watching films on their phones.

I couldn't express why the loss of video stores was so alarming when I was clearly presented with the immediacy of digital film; in torrents, in streaming, in 'on demand' formats.  But I was, and I still am- distressed.  Losing video stores especially great ones like Scarecrow in Seattle or Rocket Video in L.A. for me was akin to losing library access.  I did not need to own films, to clutter the world with my personal debris, because I could always go to the store and film a film to borrow.   But then I moved to Bellingham and started using Netflix- at least I was getting actual dvds.  But then I moved to Australia, and the video stores were the worst- but they had a version of Netflix, but it wasn't very good either it was just better than nothing.  Then came torrents and a devil may care attitude to picking up dvds as often as I could.  I have a huge wishlist of missing films, and I can almost not deny any film I like at all if it is under $5 in price.  Every new apocalyptic portrayal of the future spurs me on (until of course I realize that power will be a problem...running a projector via a bike sure...the dvd player or computer? not so much...).

But why should I care- with these intangible formats?  That should be better no solid item to take up space.  Only of course digital does take up space but I shan't go on here about servers or cables on the ocean floor.  'Side by Side' showed me that there is actual NO preservation of digital.  Many directors and studio people mentioned having a 'back up' but no way left to view that 'back up'.  People mentioned the 'irony' of the fact that creating a copy onto film is the best means of storing a copy of even the most modern film (think Avatar). On the other side of this was film advocates saying (and I am paraphrasing) "Well at least with film all you need is light." Which is true, of course film has all its complications especially the flammable format.  The commonality of 'Side by Side' and 'These Amazing Shadows' is regardless of format- for the most part a film is forgotten after its monetary "product" aspect has waned. 
This is why I was so pleased to realize the U.S.  government repairs, saves, and keeps safe copies of film through the library of congress.  Not just first run films but also commercials, music videos, home videos documenting the time and life of its period.  I love old films for this reason- films that were "modern" especially like 'Marty' or films by Truffaut- where the set dressings are as they really were for the time period, not the stylization of a film like Argo.  Not that I do not like a period film, I just think so much was captured that was normal in its time but lost to our time.  


Cara Mia said...

I haven't seen Side By Side, and now I'm not sure that I want to. I have seen These Amazing Shadows on PBS, though...a good one. Peter Golub, who runs the Film Music Program at Sundance, did the music for it. He's such a talented composer (and was a wonderful boss to work with).

Colleen said...

Sundance-! This is another issue for me- all the independent films that may not make it to distribution that I might be missing. I try to scour film festival websites and grab the guides when possible, and I go back and search for the movies. Sigh.