December 6, 2019

Will Streaming Kill the Art of Cinema or Grant It New Life?

A.O. Scott, Cinephile Only subscription fees, which can add up in a hurry if you want that — highly theoretical — full menu of cinematic delicacies. The subscription model undermines that fantasy of universality. Imagine a video store that allowed you to rent only Warner Brothers movies. Imagine having to enroll in a corporate loyalty program, pledging allegiance to Disney or Sony or Netflix, and being forced to limit your choices accordingly.

The emerging streaming regime both restricts and expands access. Matt Zoller Seitz recently published a troubling article in Vulture about how Disney, newly in possession of the 20th Century Fox catalog, won’t allow Fox titles to be screened in public. But why, as a simple economic matter, should companies in the streaming business undercut the value of their assets by letting nonsubscribers see them?

If that practice became the norm, if Netflix, Amazon and the studio-owned streamers kept their movies locked up on their platforms, what would happen to college film societies, museum film departments and repertory houses? This may seem like a minor issue, but revivals and retrospectives are part of how tastes are formed and history is made and revised.

A.O. Scott, Cinephile What encourages them? Streaming is built on the power of the algorithm, which inhibits risk and serendipity and creates an illusion of ease and comprehensiveness.

A.O. Scott, Couch Potato Why call it an illusion? It’s surely the case that more movies are now available to more people in more places than before, at any time of day or night. You don’t need to live near a campus or a museum or even an art house. You can queue up the complete works of your favorite auteur at six in the morning if you want to.

A.O. Scott, Cinephile Will you, though? Abundance can be its own kind of scarcity. Without a sense of occasion, without the idea that a given experience is special, even rare, all experiences become equivalent, and our attention follows the path of least resistance.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/15/movies/streaming-cinema-debate.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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