Archive for the ‘Complaints’ Category

Film Tickets

February 14, 2008

Waiting on line for Star Wars a few years ago
Waiting on line for Star Wars a few years ago.

The opportunity to purchase advance film tickets online is in my opinion the worst development of the modern movie going experience (that and really bad artificially flavored popcorn).

Seeing a film is not supposed to be like going to the theater or a live concert. Seeing a film should be as easy and accessible as walking into a church and catching a sermon. Seeing a film is supposed to be fun and spontaneous (quite unlike a sermon). I’d prefer to wait in line for an hour before the film than have to purchase tickets in advance online. It seems that you have to wait in line anyway before the movie starts just to get a decent seat. I’d even prefer it if you had to go to the theater earlier in the day to purchase tickets in advance than have to buy them online.

The hardest part about buying movie tickets in advance is gaging whether it’s actually necessary to do so. Even when I know exactly when and where I’m planning to watch a particular film, I rarely make the online commitment to buy the ticket in advance unless it’s a Friday or Saturday night screening or I’m seeing some really hyped up movie (which I really shouldn’t be seeing on opening weekend unless it’s a Friday matinee screening). With new releases it’s understandable that a film can and will sell out, but since the majority of films I see are repertory screenings of old films, I’m usually in the habit of assuming the best possible situation.

The thought process usually goes something like this:

I check the film schedules for the day. I see Tarkovsky’s Mirror is playing Wednesday at Lincoln Center with an early 6:30pm screening time. It won’t be crowded, since the majority of people are still at work. I know it’s raining but how many people are going to trek out in the rain to see an abstract albeit beautiful non-narrative film from 1974? Yeah, but it’s Tarkovsky’s Mirror, one of his masterpieces showing at Lincoln Center (one of the best movie theaters in Manhattan). But it’s Wednesday night, I really don’t need to buy advance tickets.

I go about the day as usual and head to the theater around 6:15 hoping to quickly buy a ticket and get in right before the film starts.

Coming up the escalator, I can already see that I made a big mistake. The line is long, long enough to give birth to a second line, aka the standby line. I wait as the clock ticks by. All the people on the first ticket line have computer print-outs signifying their online ticket purchase. Many of them speak in Russian or have a foreign accent which I assume is Russian. Somehow I get lucky as a woman loudly asks if anyone needs a single ticket. Like an instant reflex I quickly respond and grab it. Inside, the theater is super crowded but I still find an empty seat in a good position. I sit down and the film starts. Shit, I really got lucky.

I wish I knew how to predict with absolute certainty which films will bring out the people and sell out a screening. My radar is pretty good for that but the one thing I tend to underestimate is what I’ll call (for lack of a better term) the “minority group draw.” That’s when you go to see a film from Russia and all the Russians come out to see it. Or when you go to see a film from Israel and all the Israeli’s come out to see it. Or when you go see I’m Not There and all the Dylan fans come out to see it (little do they even know what they are really in for). You get my point. To tell you the truth, I never understood that reason for seeing anything. I’m half Israeli and I speak hebrew but I’ll never automatically see anything just because it came from Israel.

I know I’m stubborn and there’s no solution to the movie ticket conundrum except to give in and buy more advance tickets online, but I’m going to keep making predictions and take the risk. It seems like more fun that way.

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Tourism Is A Privilege Not An Entitlement

November 29, 2007

ferry.jpg

According to the MTA, it is their primary focus to:

“…decrease the hazardous behaviors of tourists and to mitigate the inherent dangers that stem from the tourism trade. Enforcement of the plan will be increased in midtown Manhattan and in other key areas of the city. All tourists, visitors and gypsies are urged to follow the foregoing cooperation initiatives (collectively, the “Tourist Cooperation Initiatives”) wherever and whenever possible.”

Technically Speaking or Speaking Technically

November 12, 2007

Do your photographs look like this at close range?
Do your photographs look like this at close range?

Relating to the recent post over at Conscientious I want to ask people how they approach a photograph hanging on a wall? Do you stand at a distance and stare or do you come up real close to inspect the details?

My method usually involves a bit of both and then I get right up in there. I can’t help myself. When I look at a photograph, I want to see the whole photograph and every detail in that photograph. Half the time I’m disappointed with what I see when I get there and with the other half I’m just shocked out how blurry, grainy, and downright shitty many photographs are in terms of technique. Digital printing is partially to blame as there are a lot of unqualified people doing the scanning and printing. Camera technique is equally to blame since just as much can go wrong in the taking of a picture as in the printing of one.

I go to a photography exhibition hoping to see beautifully resolved prints hanging on the wall. This is especially the case when I’ve only seen the work on the web. Online everything always looks so good and perfect, like tiny little gems. I naturally assume that the prints will look just as good if not better in person than on the screen. Of course some work doesn’t call for print perfection but then those prints are also offering a different kind of photographic experience. But what about work that’s supposed to be sharp and beautifully printed but isn’t?

Gurksy’s work is a good example of this problem. I happen to be a big fan of his images but I get so disappointed when I see most of the prints. A big part of the appeal in a Gursky photograph is the micro/macro view of the world, and when you can’t see the details up close, the micro part gets thrown in the garbage.

All I read about is how amazingly detailed and sharp his photographs are. Yes that’s true for some of his smaller photographs and when you stand back from the larger ones. His photographs are HUGE but I wouldn’t call them sharp. The most recent show at Matthew Marks was the perfect place to explore this problem. If you bothered to get up close and personal with Gursky’s Beelitz, 2007 or Kamiokande, 2007 or May Day V, 2007 you would have seen what I mean. He has gone so far in adding color saturation, sharpness and contrast that he has actually erased the detail present beforehand. I don’t understand the point of it all if you’re going to do that to the print. I’ve heard theories that he does it on purpose or he doesn’t care but to me those are just bad reasons. I see no reason why he couldn’t make humungous and beautifully detailed pictures at the same time. Granted I only have experience printing my 4×5 and 8×10 negatives at the largest size of 50×60 inches, but I can guarantee that at Gursky scale, they would look pretty good. I’d say the same for Stephen Shore’s photographs if printed that large or Joel Sternfeld’s. Gregory Crewdson doesn’t print much larger than 50×60 inches but his prints suffer from the same problem, big time. He goes too far with the sharpness and over saturation, it actually ruins the image to the point of distraction.

The basic point is that if you are going to print big, you should really give a shit about what you are doing and make it good. If you don’t know what you are doing, get help!

Disclaimer: This post does not refer to all you Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Ryan McGinley style big printers, I guess in your case grain+blur=good.

San Francisco Sunlight

October 26, 2007

still from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, 1958
still from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, 1958

I’ve been driving around San Francisco for the past two days now and I have to say that the sun here is just goddamn blinding and sometimes painful for my eyes to handle. Maybe it’s because I’m pale as hell, redheaded and have blue eyes that makes me so sensitive to light but even wearing sunglasses doesn’t help.

I think I’m ready for a few clouds and cooler weather.

Traffic

August 14, 2007

Rush Hour Traffic in NYC
Rush Hour Traffic in New York City

According to a New York Times report, the US Department of Transportation has allocated $354 million to help Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg finance traffic reduction and congestion pricing in Manhattan.

All I can say is, it’s about time something was done to repair the car situation in this city. I understand that it isn’t fair to everyone who lives here but we have to take the necessary steps to fix the problem. The buses and taxicabs are moving at a snails pace or don’t move at all, the air quality stinks, and people just don’t need to be driving into the city. If it was up to me I’d re-instate the post-September 11th traffic rules about entering Manhattan during morning rush hour: two people per car unless you drive a commercial vehicle. It was a great solution to our traffic problems at the time and should never have been abandoned. It gave the streets back to our public transportation system as well as to the people who live here.

Chickeny Chicken and Leftovers

August 1, 2007

Anatomy of a Chicken, 1939 By Frederick Sommer
Frederick Sommer, Anatomy of a Chicken, 1939

Have you ever been served a bad chicken dish? I’m not really sure how to describe the taste. The texture can be somewhat rubbery and the flavor can be hard to chew. I think I’ve discovered what causes these chicken eating disasters. It stems from pre-cooking the meat, then cooling it off in the fridge until it needs to be re-heated and served. I realized this when I reheated some left over grilled chicken from two days ago. I don’t eat left-overs that often as I enjoy cooking just enough to eat and not leave anything left behind. Plus most things taste dead when they’ve been re-heated.