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Trailers, advertisements and freedom

Dennis Piszkiewicz

There was a time when movies were preceded only by trailers -- the

previews of coming attractions. Nobody seems to mind them, and I

suspect most people enjoy them, because they are almost always

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entertaining. They have to be. Their sole purpose is to convince us

that the movie they are promoting is the greatest piece of art or

entertainment to light up the silver screen since “Citizen Kane.”

Times have changed. Trailers are being crowded for space on the

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screen by advertisements, and at least one of them has been

criticized because of its content.

On a recent visit to one of our local theaters, I timed the

presentations that preceded the feature: 10 minutes of advertisements

followed by 10 minutes of trailers. While people were finding their

seats or running back to the lobby for a tub of popcorn, those who

sat in the dark got a face full of big-screen commercials touting

Coca Cola, something called “Fandango,” TV programs, the Los Angeles

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Times and the U.S. military.

You read that right. The Defense Department paid $1.2 million to

produce a four-minute 48-second film tilted “Enduring Freedom,” which

it distributed to theaters in digital format via a satellite

download. Regal Cinemas ran the film for more than a month.

Regal received complaints that “Enduring Freedom” was militaristic

propaganda and inappropriate for viewing by children, according to

The Times. It recently stopped showing the short film, but denied

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that the decision had anything to do with the complaints.

Regal Cinemas said that it downloaded and screened “Enduring

Freedom” to test its new equipment for distributing digital films

directly to its theaters and projecting them. Regal said specifically

that it wanted to use the technology to distribute trailers and

advertisements. Its motive was to develop a new way of adding a buck

to the bottom line.

I have seen “Enduring Freedom” at least three times. It is, as I

recall, about planes, ships, armored vehicles and people in uniform.

Beyond that, its content is pitifully unmemorable. If it is a

propaganda piece, as some critics have said, it is a pathetic

failure. It has less propaganda value than those Army recruiting

commercials that told us to “Be all that you can be in the Army.”

Those recruiting commercials at least gave us a catchy tune that

stuck in our heads.

I do not fear, as some do, an onslaught of military propaganda

promoting a war in Iraq -- although the possibility of a war troubles

me. Americans tend to gag when propaganda is shoved down their

throats.

I am annoyed, though, that a flood of obnoxious TV-style

commercials is rising in our theaters. They occupy my time and senses

when I have no “mute” or “fast forward” buttons, and they threaten to

erode the time theaters spend showing the trailers I love.

* DENNIS PISZKIEWICZ is a Laguna Beach resident.

‘The Ring’ falls flat

Nothing in “The Ring” was more harrowing than the teaser trailers.

As for the rest of the movie, it was a consummate failure.

“The Ring” phlegmatically plodded through, making suspense and

fear appear to be afterthoughts, as boredom and tedium championed

this travesty of a film.

“The Ring,” prudently named because of its lack of any direct or

discernible plot from beginning to end, invites the patron into an

infinite maze of convoluted, inexplicable and unnecessary twists that

all lead back to one uneventful conclusion. The cast bails enough

water to keep this ship from capsizing completely, but the average

person will be left displeased at best. At worst they will be

requesting a refund and a sincere apology.

Purporting commensurate thrills and chills to better horror films,

this film dooms itself to audience dissatisfaction and comparisons at

every turn. Does this film live up to the legacy of and standard set

by “The Exorcist”? The answer is a resounding no! For those of you

who abhor a cheap imitation, avoid this film like the plague. If your

friends, or curiosity, coax you into watching this abomination of a

film, then be comforted that you can wait for the video for a

fraction of the cost.

* EVAN MARMOL is a Laguna Beach resident. He graduated from UC

Irvine with a degree in psychology and social behavior.


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