What's Baltimore, chopped liver?



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

Audiences already are talking about the visual poetry of Terence Malick's The New World, about Felicity Huffman's amazing turn as a man in the last stages of a sex-change operation in Transamerica, about the ribald charm and wit of Lasse Hallstrom's Casanova, about Woody Allen's resurgence as a director of the Hitchcockian Match Point.

Unfortunately, none of those audiences are in Baltimore, because none of those films has opened here yet.

That's really not fair, to the filmgoers, or to the films. It used to be that staggered openings - all the movies mentioned above are playing in New York and Los Angeles, as well as some other larger markets - were used to build anticipation for a film, and maybe give marketers a chance to refine ad campaigns as the films opened throughout the country. Plus, opening a film in L.A. by Dec. 31 makes it eligible for Oscar consideration for the year just ending.

But in these days of instant access to information, via the Internet, cable television and other media, anticipation stops within a day or two of a film's opening, regardless of how limited the release is. Bloggers and amateur critics post their impressions online almost immediately, and a film's success or failure can be gauged almost immediately.

Which leaves moviegoers in places like Baltimore feeling neglected and unappreciated. When the movies do open here - Casanova is set for Jan. 6, The New World and Match Point for Jan. 20, Transamerica has yet to be scheduled - the feeling is akin to reading yesterday's newspapers. The thrill of discovery is gone, and how does that help anybody?


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