Media I've just watched 'Waking Life', Richard Linklater's animated opus. I'm still in glorious shock at how anything so artistically perfect was made let alone released, but I'll review it when I've had some perspective (although I am already storing up key phrases like 'The 'Fantasia' of Philosophy').

The film has only recently been released at cinemas in the UK and I think there are only a few prints -- paper reviews were a few weeks ago, but it's only just turned up at nearest art house venue to Liverpool, The Cornerhouse in Manchester. I saw it at home, lying on my bed (kind of apt) on DVD. The fact that I could watch this extra-ordinary piece domestically when a theatre is showing it at the same time, demonstrates the artificiality which now exists within media distribution circles. They are limiting our exposure to creativity people. The communicator has a hand over his mouth until they let him speak. My question is -- why should we in the UK wait around until someone else dictates when we can see something? Let's look at two examples:

'Waking Life' was officially released theatrically in the US last October. Many of the weblogs and sites I consult on a regular basis posted reviews and comments about the film. But of course I couldn't see it, so I could participate within the shared experience. The film was eventually slated for release in February (note six month delay) and was reviewed in all the monthly film magazines... put it was pulled for some reason and eventually spluttered out last month. My chance to talk about it freshly with people from the country which originated has evaporated.

Example two: Star Wars: Episode II is released tomorrow throughout the world. Everyone will get to see it together and to talk about it on the same level at the same time.

But both are released by 20th Century Fox. Both are valid pieces of creativity within their own right. So why is one treated differently the other?

I know the answer. Economics. Star Wars will have a much larger audience than a cartoon about philosophy (although both sort of fit that description depending on how much you buy into 'The Force'). The UK only got 'Waking Life' after it had finished it's US run because we've doubtless got some cast off second hand prints.


Which leads to my other open-ended question. Why is it economically not safe to release a film theatrically and on sell-thru disc media at the same time? Why not give the consumer the choice of seeing film at home or in the theatre? That way I could have seen 'Waking Life' at the same time as my US cousins without having to wait around for Fox to grudgingly out it out into the market place (with skant advertising I might add). Economics again. To relase a film on sell-thru as well as theatrically would naturally circumvent the rental market (by the time a film goes to rental all the interested parties would have bought it after seeing it ar the cinema anyway). 'Blockbuster' would go under (they couldn't surely survive on Direct-to-tape films), the selling life of the bigger films would shorten.

The sporty-types on the playground stepping on the toes of the intelligent ones again. In 'Waking Life' Steven Soderbergh tells a story which proves my point (if I ever had one). I'm paraphrasing:
"Billy Wilder met Louis Malle, who had just completed his most expensive film, which cost two and a half million dollars, and asked him what his film was about. Malle told him it was about a dream within a dream. Wilder told him he had just lost two and a half million dollars."
I'll still be happy to pay for this stuff. I can only hope that when broadband becomes more widespread and the ability to watch computer files on a quality screen becomes easier -- and the quality of those files is stronger. some bright spark will see there is money in a global pay-per-view company which everyone, no matter the country can use ...

I'm off to watch the film again ... the joys of having it on shiny disc ...

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