Thursday, 2 July 2009

Collateral Best Served Large

Anyone following this blog knows I am stuck on an island in a remote corner of NW Scotland and unable to see Public Enemies. Well, like all good Mann movies, life has its peculiar convergencies. One particular irony in my life, well lets make that two actually, are worth mentioning. The first I had in mind was the fact that I live a moderately stressed life, working hard to pay a reasonably high mortgage paid on a suburban semi-detached 1930's house at the height of the market value (which plummeted during the current recession). So high that for all my years I have never been able to justify converting my uncool, almost antique status 21" cathode TV for a LCD flat screen, super size HD TV. All my Mann DVD's are played exclusively within a 21" square. Religiously, I make sure it is in widescreen aspect - which makes the real estate even smaller. Now true, the resolution is lovely and saturated. I can't tell you how I have been tempted to stick a new TV on the credit card, or add a new monthly payment plan on top of the sofa I bought. However, the irony is this. That I am castaway on a remote island, but what my moans don't reveal, is that I am in a self-catering place that is set on a private beach with unseemly tourqoise waters lapping serenely across them, housing nothing less than a 50" monster Sony Bravia TV (in this sentence my voice elevated excitedly when I got to 50"). In my home I don't even have satellite. Can't afford it. Here I do. And 5 minutes ago, Collateral finished. For some reason, even if you have it on DVD, you always want to watch a Mann movie if it is on TV - I have no idea why.

You may ask, "why are you telling me this?" Well, seeing it on a 50" screen opened my eyes once again to how Mann most wanted it seen. The incredible visceral nature of those really dark night time shots, with light ebbing in and out, like an ocean reflecting moonlight. And the hugely stunning conpositions that suddenly stand out even more when the details present themselves in the larger format. I had no idea just how much I was missing. It just made me marvel even more at just how big a pay off we get from Mann's relentless need for detail. I was revelling in this movie afresh tonight. The moral of this story is, if you want to watch a Mann movie as he intended it to be seen, watch it 50" wide or larger. Any smaller, and you miss half the craft. The irony? Well, I had to travel to a remote island to miss the opening of Public Enemies, but be thrilled by Collateral in a completely new way. It's kind of destiny. I did see it at the cinema, but as anyone knows... you can't take all of a Mann movie in a single viewing. So, it was a real treat tonight.

If you got this far reading you may be wondering about my second point of irony for the day. Well, I was for a time a professional nature photographer, specializing in the 5x4" large format. Like Mann, I am bent on quality. But I also believe in technological advancement if it serves a purpose. The irony is, that despite being reasonably accomplished in landscape photography I cannot afford to buy a digital SLR - or at least the large CMOS sensor version and lenses required to ensure the highest possible resolution and sharpness - unlike the scattering of tourists that dot this island in their flourescent cycling tops. The male tourists brandish their cameras like a fallic symbol. As for me, I had to borrow my fathers D90 with a 18-200 zoom lens that is as sharp as Mr. Bean. The lens barrel slides if you try to tripod mount it and point it to the floor. But with two children in tow, who has time for dark cloths, dark slides, spotmeters and camera movements? And there are tourists with full frame sensor cameras that don't know their apertures from their flipflops. Such is the irony of life. Imagine Vincent (from Collateral) trying to do his job with a water pistol, and you will suddenly know how I feel in this stunning scenery I am in.

Just to reassure you all. I am having a very relaxed time on holiday! But it will be hard going back home... back to 21". But as a comedian once observed in the context of those with small wage packets that spend their benefits on huge TV's, if your house is 90% plasma, you need to work for a bigger house.