Eric’s Sack of Mail: ‘Click,’ Ask Eric Stuff, video vs. film

Ahoy! It’s time for Eric’s Sack of Mail, where I respond to e-mails I’ve gotten that were neither stupid nor angry. (Don’t worry; we have some stupid/angry letters to respond to tomorrow.)

First up is Steve, who has this response to my review of Adam Sandler’s latest opus, “Click”:

I just read your Click review and I think you got it wrong. I really enjoyed the film. Yes, it rips off many films, but I think you underestimate the feelings of 30ish guys who feel like they don’t get enough time with thier family. Films like this will touch them.

Also, you said: “Why, if Michael can skip ahead a few chapters, he can’t also skip BACK a few chapters if he fears he’s gone too far is not explained.”

It is explained, I think you weren’t paying attention. He DOES go back many times in the film (you even comment about going back to 1976). If he FF’s or SKIP’s a chapter, he is still “living” it on “auto-pilot” … so going BACK would allow him to SEE himself, but not “re-do” the moment. He does this many times in the film, how could you miss it?

Regarding the first paragraph: I understand those feelings. I just also understand that the same idea (workaholic dad comes to realize family is most important) has been done — and done better — in 1,000,000,000,000,000 other movies already. But yeah, if a viewer hasn’t seen any of them, I suppose “Click” will do the job.

Regarding the rest: Yes, I saw those scenes, and their existence strengthens my point. I wasn’t suggesting he go back and re-do the scenes he slept-walked through. I was suggesting he go back and at least re-watch them, partly to learn information he needed, and partly to at least WATCH his kids grow up, if not actually interact with them. I mean, if he really feels like he missed out on his kids’ childhood, why not get out the home movies, as it were, and watch ’em?

Now that we’ve discussed the metaphysics of the Adam Sandler movie, let’s see what “Snide Remarks” reader Tina has to say:

I have a complaint. I hesitate to mention it because in general, I’m a huge fan of all things Snider. [This is the right way to begin an e-mail, by the way.] I commend you Eric for your exceptionally entertaining and informative movie reviews, and your usually-high-quality columns. I say usually because I find the “ask Eric” installments to be a distinct drop on the humor scale from the standard columns. I understand that I am only one reader, and it is possible that there is a large segment of readers who look forward to the “Ask Eric” columns. It is my hope however, that my comment will join a throng of similiar comments and together they will have the power to enact the change I wish to see in the world. Thank you for your time.

Well, I respect Tina’s desire to change the world for good. The “Ask Eric Stuff” columns (sort of a parody of Dear Abby, where people write in with questions and I give unhelpful answers) were hugely popular when I first started doing them in 2001. But it’s true, I haven’t heard much about them lately.

What do you say, “Snide Remarks” subscribers? You likey? No likey? Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, for I have none.

Finally, Alisha writes in with a question that actually required a bit of research to answer. For that I am bitter and angry.

The other day I was reading some article that referred to a movie as being made on video rather than on film, or something to that effect. I can’t remember where I read the article, so I can’t reference it for you–I don’t even remember the film the article discussed. My question is, what’s the difference?

Good question. The technological differences between video and film are complicated, but the key thing is the way the finished products look.

When something is shot on film, it’s really taking 24 still pictures of the subject every second. When those pictures are viewed quickly one after another, it gives the appearance of movement.

Video, on the other hand, records 30 images per second. Plus, each image is divided into two separate fields that interlace to form a complete image — in other words, 60 separate half-resolution images are recorded every second. You get a lot less blurring with 60 images per second as opposed to 24. This is closer to the way human vision works, which is why video looks more “real” than film.

And that’s the chief difference: Video looks more real. For comparison, look at a soap opera (they’re shot on video) and a show like “CSI” (which is shot on film). The soap opera will look more immediate and natural, like it could be happening there in your well-appointed living room. “CSI” looks more like a movie: slightly grainy, slightly detached from what real life looks like. (There are other differences, too, such as lighting and photo-developing techniques, but the video/film difference is the main one.)

Theatrical movies are almost never shot on video. Video looks cheaper than film (which it is), and so shot-on-video movies tend to look amateurish and homemade. You see them a lot at film festivals, but they rarely make it beyond that.

Of course, now we’re starting to see digital video, which is a much higher-quality video that doesn’t look homemade and which has been embraced by major directors such as George Lucas and Robert Rodriguez. Some argue it’s the way of the future; some, like Steven Spielberg, vow they’ll never stop shooting on good old-fashioned film.

Whew! Someone with more technological expertise than myself might have a better, more succinct answer to the video-vs-film question, but I think that basically sums it up. If any brainy readers do have a better one, or if I’ve gotten something wrong, please let me know. And in the meantime, thanks to everyone who contributed to this edition of Eric’s Sack of Mail!