Saturday, November 2, 2013

SPECIAL FEATURES AND THE DISTRACTED VIEWER

This post amounts to a bit of a confession, but I bet many of you can identify with some of my activities.

Are you a victim of multi tasking? Multi tasking is a modern pandemic. Too many options and an inability to be satisfied as long as you think something else might be more satisfying.

Do you love reading books? watching movies?  surfing the net? eating? music? sports?  Do you have obligations such as chores?  How about all the hassles of making a living?  So many things you want to do and so many others expected of you.  How can you squeeze it all in?

In a previous blog I noted that it really is impossible to do two things at the same time to a high quality. I used the example of eating and playing music.  I stick to the basic idea that you cannot appreciate eating and listening to music to the ideal maximum at the same time.  But they go well together.  Anyway heard someone suggest the multi tasking helps you get through a lot of boring tasks easier so I am using that as a rationale.

The addiction is hard to give up even when you realize for each task you attempt you are missing something.  I love watching movies and sometimes do so when I am doing household chores or writing blogs, or surfing the net or even working and to be honest I know I am missing something.

Can movies be confusing?--sometimes deliberately and sometimes not.  Have you ever had trouble sorting out the characters?  Or figuring out the plot?  Are we watching a flashback or a flashback of a flashback? Or an imaginary projection?  Or how come so many people think this is an exceptional movie?  If so, we are on the same page which may not be  the page we are supposed to be on.

As a parent of young children I remember having to wait with my young son before going to school.  I got into the habit of watching a movie with him on tape, stopping it as we had to leave for school and continuing the next day.  It is true you get more out of something if you finish it before taking on another task, but it is better to make use of little bits of time the world provides.  In order to watch as many movies as I do, I watch many of them in snatches and often while doing something else.  Along the way I developed the habits I live with today.

I had heard about special features, but for awhile thought of them as gimmicks to increase sales.  At a family function talking with my cousin Linda and her husband Derek I explored the idea of special features.  I got inspired to check them out and came to appreciate some of the benefits.

Director commentaries can clear up a lot of confusion.  Also help you to appreciate some details that otherwise would get overlooked.  Featuring details helps you understand.  Some details I never appreciated were with costumes and makeup, but nevertheless felt the effects of efforts made.  A friend of mine, Shawn Hagerman took a film course in university and loved to tell about mistakes his university prof  pointed out in class. One I remember was from "The Graduate" where the characters drive over a bridge in actuality the opposite direction to the supposed--it wasn't the truth, but it wasn't a mistake either.  Lots of movies change details and make all sorts of alterations so that the story will be more understandable or more enjoyable.

Casting is often discussed.  The world is becoming more intertwined with actors crossing national and even linguistic boundaries every day.  Mads Mikkleson, Marion Cotillard, Anupam Kher, Kristen Scott Thomas, Bruno Ganz have been spotted speaking several languages.  I watched Jodie Foster in a French movie.

Music is a feature that adds to my movie enjoyment.  Composers have the problem of having to follow the visual presentation and help set the mood.  One feature on the Three Colors series really demonstrated how music can be very integral to a film.  Another feature showed a composer who collected a variety of sounds to use in movies as a sort of special effect. I watch a lot of Bollywood movies on DVD and have found many have a feature just devoted to song, sometimes following them in sequence reminds me of the movie.  More interesting are features devoted to the making of a song or a general discussion by the composers--I watched my favorites, Shankar Ehsaan Loy on a number of their movie projects.

I should add that I don't like a movie to be overwhelming with special effects, but obviously they can enhance your enjoyment.  I realize that most of what you watch is not what it seems, but the illusion makes the movie better.  Its the overwhelming exaggerations that can get tiring.

Watching the special features is not a short cut, but they can help deepen your understanding.  Hopefully you don't get too distracted.

No comments:

Post a Comment