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Questioning The Digital Age

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This started as a plug for the iTunes exclusive “Rain of Madness” but opened some wacky doors… then became bigger than I had expected… and finally took the typical Henning turn into meandering essay territory. So you should totally read on! Still, the question of cinematic accessibility is one that interests me quite a bit – call it a passion project – and I’d like to write more. Best left to the pros? You be the judge.

I’ve recently become the worst type of movie-goer, namely one who doesn’t actually go to see movies. According to my ticket stubs (yes, I save them), the last two I caught were Pineapple Express and Step Brothers – neither anything to write home about, but more importantly neither premiering past the second week of August. What’s happened to me? Have the shackles of pseudo-employment kept me away from the theater? I can partly forgive myself knowing that the last weeks of summer are typically a dumping ground for second-tier comedies and Nicholas Cage action movies (this one’s called BANGKOK DANGEROUS… actually, that’s kind of awesome), but the guilt remains – I’ve got to get back on the movie wagon. With fall’s numerous prestige pics approaching, the options are plentiful. Toronto Film Festival? Venice? Pssshh. Why book a flight when the whole world is online?

On Friday I downloaded Rain of Madness, the behind the scenes mockumentary of the already meta Tropic Thunder. Which I think makes it real. Maybe. Authentic or not, it’s available free from iTunes and serves as worthy additional viewing to the film currently in theaters. At least I think it does. Truth is, I have yet to actually see it. I’ve heard good reviews and plan to see it JUST AS SOON AS I CAN… but the fact remains that I so far have yet to do so. An embarrassment to cinema purists everywhere, I skipped the main course and went straight to dessert. That’s not good – I need to repent. But maybe the problem extends far beyond the confines of my own computer station. Maybe it’s a global epidemic.

As someone who has watched Cinema Paradiso too many times and with too many tears, I’m concerned about the denigration of the movie-going experience; worried that with all the alternative modes of exhibition, we’re beginning to lose the specialness of a weekend night at the movie theater. Whether out of busyness or laziness, people today seem more inclined to take their entertainment at home on the couch (or in their computer chair). Factor in the rising cost of gas and even matinee tickets, and you’ve got ample reason to avoid the box office.

No, I wasn’t forced to watch Rain of Madness. I could have easily said, “Good God, Henning, just wait,” the way my parents would on Christmas morning or in line at Old Navy. The digital information bombarding us at every turn, though, is nearly impossible to ignore. Production diaries. Interviews. “Red Band” trailers. By the time we hit the theater – if we hit the theater – we’ve already basically seen the movie in its entirety. We’re corrupted. AND SPOILER TOM CRUISE END SPOILER IS RUINED FOR US!

Sigh. It’s good and it’s bad. Like any film geek, I’m addicted to this kind of dangerous knowledge – feeling like a part of something long before (or even moments before) it takes off and hits the “masses.” Whether it could potentially ruin the movie (or TV show… or book… or whatever) or not, I can’t get enough of that feeling of connection. That’s my high. This very blog, with its links and videos and analysis and yada yada yada, is incontrovertible proof of such. Not much I can do. Don’t worry, Tropic Thunder will be seen in theaters (and reviewed… well, here). Watered down or not, I think that one deserves the big screen. What YOU deserve, dear readers, is faithful and thoughtful reporting that tackles stories from the source. Experience. Reaction. In this digital era, Lifting Fog promotes a head-on approach to entertainment-related posts. We’re keeping things fresh.

I know this post is far from exhausted, but I’m exhausted and need to cut the thread short. Any thoughts? Have you too been bent over by your browser? Sodomized by your surfing? Consider the comments section below as a safe place to talk it out.

BONUS: Related only by its iTunes pedigree, here’s last week’s (free) Single of the Week – Black Kids’ “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You.” You might recall I pimped this last month. Remember the source, people…

DOUBLE BONUS: We’re expanding! Please welcome my good friends Steve “DJ Steve” Page and Rob “Robby” Glenn to the self-indulgent ranks of Lifting Fog. Both are great writers (Rob once turned down a six-figure deal with Teletubbies) and will provide this little blog with some much-needed outside perspective. Look to read plenty more about them – and from them – in the coming weeks. Meantime, I hope I still, well… meet your needs. It’s not all bad, right? See you tomorrow!

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