This is why I enjoy reading him (bold letters are mine):
“Tower Heist” might nonetheless become a footnote in the history of cinema, as might Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” another new release. The two works have almost nothing in common, except that both show clumps of unlikable people behaving implausibly in confined spaces. More important, both are enmeshed in the squabble over video on demand, or VOD, which allows customers to view a new, or barely used, film in the nest of their own home. On October 5th, Universal Pictures announced a trial project, whereby “Tower Heist” would be available to half a million households in Atlanta and Portland, Oregon, three weeks after its appearance in movie theatres, at a cost of $59.99.ME TOO, Anthony! Here is the clincher:
One’s immediate reaction to this news was: sixty bucks! For a Brett Ratner movie! It’s like one of those cafés in Weimar Germany where a glass of beer cost you four billion marks. The stakes were raised considerably by reports that NATO was incensed by this latest move in the battle of VOD. For one heady morning, I was under the impression that air strikes would be launched on Universal. Only then was it explained to me that NATO stands for the National Association of Theatre Owners, who regard the “Tower Heist” experiment, and similar ventures, as the thin end of a deadening wedge... Moviegoers will still watch movies; they just won’t go.
“Can you blame us?” they will cry. “Who wants to pay for a sitter, drive twenty miles in the rain, and sit in a fug of vaporized popcorn butter next to people who are either auditioning for ‘Contagion 2’ or texting the Mahabharata to their second-best friends?” And the answer is: me.
There’s only one problem with home cinema: it doesn’t exist. The very phrase is an oxymoron. As you pause your film to answer the door or fetch a Coke, the experience ceases to be cinema. ...One thing that has nourished the theatrical experience, from the Athens of Aeschylus to the multiplex, is the element of compulsion. Someone else decides when the show will start; we may decide whether to attend, but, once we take our seats, we join the ride and surrender our will. The same goes for the folks around us, whom we do not know, and whom we resemble only in our private desire to know more of what will unfold in public, on the stage or screen. We are strangers in communion, and, once that pact of the intimate and the populous is snapped, the charm is gone.