How to be a better snob, part 1

Reported on 22nd of December, 2013

Having been a teetotaler my entire life, I decided for no particular reason to take up drinking wine about five years ago. 


Since wine is purely about pleasure, aesthetics, and getting drunk, I did what any me would do: I read about it.  I learned how important it was 1) to hate Robert Parker, 2) to make fun of anything Australian (which I was already doing anyway), and 3) that anything can taste good.  This last one is actually a transferable skill to films.  And snack foods.  Just ask my stomach about the Builder’s Breakfast potato chips.  Doritos

They weren’t disgusting.  I just didn’t understand them.  No, really, I didn’t understand them.

Now I have no trouble sounding like I know what I’m talking about, which anyone who knows what they’re talking about knows is actually the same as knowing what you’re talking about.  Or would tell you, but only a person who didn’t know what they were talking about would do that.  And so being a snob – which I am, and a damn good one – is not so much about seeing or understanding or tasting things that others don’t, but being able to quickly made up some important detail about the subject at hand, and then, a millisecond later, believe that it’s true.  I mean look at the xhtml protocols of Oracle’s ribonucleic cascade encodes!  No wonder the 7th district of the 1952 Republican run-off ended in a hovercraft!   Thusly, I intend to impart the important details of being a film snob onto you.  After I talk about how details ruin everything, that is.

Paying the extra ten bucks to see it in IMAX follows the same unspoken and idiotic contract we have with advertising: the committed belief in the people who have the most to gain by lying to you.

This article has proved elusive, but I think it boils down to my confusion that filmmakers, of all people, don’t understand the difference between film and digital, digital and IMAX, and worse still, IMAX and IMAX.  And no, for once, I’m not being clever (watch it, smart ass) by comparing two identical things.  There actually is a difference.  And, like any good nineteenth century educators, my intent is less to help than to make you think like me and complain.

The advantage that I have, and maybe I left this out of the snob stuff above, is that actual knowledge is very simple.  That’s why it’s so important to make up all the other stuff, so people will continue to believe that you’re an expert.  This could be no more true than photography, which functions on two principles, both of which you already know.  The first has to do with light.  When there’s more light, it looks like this:



When there’s less light, it looks like this:



That’s it.

Let’s back up.  No, really, I mean that literally.  If this is a single pixel, and we back up, it looks like this:


Each dot of light added together makes an image.  In fact, if we back up far enough, it looks like this:


Farther back!  Go farther back!


Whew!  Photography is attempting to trick our eye into thinking it’s seeing something.  The eye has a bunch of sensors that go from light to dark, and there are X number of those.  If you looked it up on the internet, you would know what it is, and then you would say, it’s like this number, and we would say, ‘oh’. It’s like a lot, and it’s not going to mean anything to you anyway, and then you’re going to forget it. Let the internet worry about it. Okay? Wouldn’t you rather have pictures? Of course!  And so if your eye is this,

Yer eye.

Yer eye.

IMAX is this



35mm is this


and HiDef is this:


If you’ve seen a movie in the last five years, it was probably shot in HiDef.

In other words, IMAX has more dots than film, which has more dots than HiDef.  This is not a nerd’s eye view, so to speak.  My non-filmmaker friends (who are weirdly the only ones who see movies with me) noticed the difference, in one case, with an actual gasp.  IMAX, real IMAX, provokes is the non-ironic wow.

So…uh, hooray?  See everything in IMAX?  Pay the extra ten bucks, and never ask why?

There are two problems with this.  The first is that I’m lying.  Though it’s true HiDef has a lot less resolution than IMAX, it doesn’t look like giant square chunks.  I wish it looked that good.  I mean, Daphne looks adorable, like a little mario!  The second is that IMAX is lying.  Paying the extra ten bucks to see it in IMAX follows the same unspoken and idiotic contract we have with advertising: the committed trust in the people who have the most to gain by lying to you.  I wasn’t being snarky when I said that IMAX isn’t always IMAX.  In fact, it almost never is.  Why?  Well, I’m not going to tell you.  Why?  Because I’m not going to tell, oh, right, supposed to be answering the second ‘why?’, got a little rhetorically confused.  Why, and this is to the second statement?  Because I’ve been working on this article for nearly two years now, and it’s dying a slow death, and the only way I can get it out is by the false pressure of a part 2.  So, as thrilling as the end of The Hobbit 0.333:

To be continued…

(Editor’s Note: in a week or so, this TBC will have a link.  Right, it’s just kind of sad.)

(Editor’s Note to Editor’s Note: it only took me ten months to add a link.  The internet is lightning fast!)

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