As usual in the midst of awards season, my cinematic viewings lately have been pretty heavy. And now it’s time for something completely different.
Girl Walk // All Day is one of my favorite films I’ve seen lately, except that I’m not sure it’s a film at all. It used to be that movies came in pretty much one format — you went to the theater and watched them all in one go. If it was a super long movie, maybe you’d get an intermission, but that was it.
But times have changed, my friends, and so has cinema. What separates the stuff we watch on YouTube from the stuff we’d watch in a theater? Quality and budget, mostly — but not necessarily. Girl Walk // All Day is feature-length with pretty good production value; it takes place all over New York City and is quite competently shot and edited, which is more than you can say about the majority of stuff currently floating around the internet. And yet, content-wise, it has more in common with the flash mob videos your mom still posts on your Facebook wall than it does with Zero Dark Thirty.
There are numerous reasons to lament the way cinema is heading — inflated ticket prices, needless 3D, the death of film projection, all leading to all sorts of problems that affect the quality of Hollywood’s output.
But let’s put that aside for now and focus on the positive changes. One of the great advantages of the advent of streaming video is that it makes small, little-seen movies as readily available as blockbusters. There are many films I would likely never have gotten around to if doing so weren’t so simple as clicking a button — The Arbor and Poetry are prime examples. These are the movies that benefit from being available when you’re “in the mood” for a rambling Korean film about an old woman taking poetry classes, or a pseudo-documentary about a foul-mouthed playwright. (Which, admittedly, is not always.) It’s less of an investment to begin a film with the option of turning it off and selecting another if it doesn’t captivate you. (Though I dislike this practice as a rule; many great films aren’t so obviously great within the first five minutes.)