It should be lights out for devices

The Gripe

September 23, 2005|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

If you're wondering where "a thousand points of light" went, I can tell you: America's movie theaters. Sit in any cinema these days and you witness a mysterious, distracting flickering as soon as the lights go down. And it's not coming from the screen. It's coming from the hands of people in the audience who keep their Palm Pilots and BlackBerries and cell phones armed and ready for any precious sports scores, news breaks, text messages and e-mails that come in while they're purportedly watching the film.

The visual chaos can make you feel as if you're watching the final sequence of Close Encounters of the Third Kind even if you're actually seeing, oh, Ladies in Lavender.

If you love movies, you reflexively drink in each visual detail. So having random visual intrusions war with a film's imagery becomes as agitating and less forgivable than sneezing and coughing jags erupting at a concert. Even the most ardent movie fan will find his or her pleasures strained by the need to concentrate and filter out all that visual static.

And what's the saddest part of this exploding phenomenon?

It suggests that a wired population may be increasingly unable to surrender its workaday view of the world and give in to emotional or imaginative visions deeper than a flat-screen monitor.

An occasional feature in which Sun writers and critics sound off about the movies.

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