Watching Movies on Airplanes

July 17, 2008

…over other people’s shoulders, flying in a cramped multiplex, one of these Airbus flights with personal viewers for the lowly coach folk. Me with no sound, no remote, just lots of choices.

Craning my neck, I can’t follow the stories. Characters becomes actors in light and rhythm, cutting patterns, composition. And in movie’s I’d never otherwise see, greats like Some Martin Lawrence Movie In Which They Cared So Little That They Cut Repeatedly in the Middle of Dolly Shots Before the Dolly Finished Moving, or a half-dozen Playstation-FX movies, like that Hulk movie. The pixels have no weight, so skim. I’ve come to prefer watching computer effects this way: scattered and smothered, like surfing the Internet with ten tabs in Firefox and those asinine Snap! previews.

Case in point: Charlotte’s Web. Not the classic, but the newer one, with barnyard animals more real than real. An animator’s toolkit is now a Pandora’s box, as in an early scene of the spider on a pig’s snout. Though in shallow focus, every snout hair is visible. It’s disgusting, like the pores and sweat of a Brobdingnagian. Better the abstract, gentle sweep of a hand-drawn line.

Or a projector: that day, turbulence bumped me around, so the LCD image went half-negative. More recently, I scuttered a trip for the cost of fuel.  Hence the older examples.  And I doubt I’ll replace them with newer ones, as airlines will soon scutter movies & their equipment to save money with sky-high fuel. Not that it will save them from bankruptcy. Or that the particular pleasures of watching Tom Cruise the Scientologist samurai, riding a raging horse in a seemingly endless loop on twenty screens all around my head, should be eulogized so much as treated with some kind of drug, perhaps one found in the Amazonian mycelium, flown in at great expense.

So I guess the next time I travel I’ll read a book.

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