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Watching movies on cellphones

From Rodney Welch, Elgin, SC:

Is watching a movie on a cellphone an artistic crime?

Probably, and I've never done it -- but then I remember that as a budding movie-lover I grew up watching classic cinema on a small portable black and white TV. That's where I fell in love with Citizen Kane, Sergeant York, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Casablanca and all the other Hollywood classics. I was 10 or 11, and I couldn't have cared less about aspect ratio or poor lighting. All I cared about was decent reception and sound -- and if I had that, then I have to say that at that time and that age I had as fine an artistic experience as I could have hoped for. The story, the performances, the script, the allure -- all those most important elements can very definitely come through a tiny screen if you're an alert and interested viewer who yearns for a good story. Didn't Scorsese grow up the same way -- watching afternoon movies on the tube? Didn't we all?

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Watching a movie on your cellphone, with stereophonic sound (if you use headphones) is actually probably a step up from what I had then. If you handed me an iPhone and a Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription in 1974 -- I would have thought I had died and done to heaven! (Especially if you grew up in the rural South, and you knew that you would be forever denied any chance at all of seeing a movie by this guy Bunuel that Pauline Kael raved about unless you moved to a big city.)

By all means I think you should see a movie on a big screen with a fantastic print and superior sound -- that's the ultimate experience -- but if a cellphone is all you have to work with, go for it.

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