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October 23, 2005 1:25 AM   Subscribe

The Use of Computers in Movies. High-tech computers, such as those used by NASA, the CIA, or some such governmental institution, will have easy to understand graphical interfaces. Those that don't, have incredibly powerful text-based command shells that can correctly understand and execute commands typed in plain English.
posted by KevinSkomsvold (61 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Powerful computers beep whenever you press a key or whenever the screen changes. Some computers also slow down the output on the screen so that it doesn't go faster than you can read.

That one right there keeps me from watching a lot of TV shows (24 was the most recent that I can specifically remember turning off in the first 5 minutes because the computers beeped.)

Memo to Hollywood: Most of your audience has one of these new-fangled computation machines. Maybe you should try them out.

(Now I suppose the doctors, lawyers, police officers, etc. in the audience will chime in about how stupid ER/Law & Order/CSI/The Shield/etc. are...)
posted by nmiell at 1:31 AM on October 23, 2005


In fact, what's most interesting about the use of computers in movies is not the myriad ways in which Hollywood gets it wrong, but the small list of movies that actually gets it right. The only example that comes to mind thus far is the scene in The Matrix Reloaded when Trinity types honest-to-goodness Unix commands into a terminal window, but I'm sure there are others... right?
posted by chrominance at 1:45 AM on October 23, 2005


What about the amazing ability of movie computer to enhance pixellated, fuzzy long-distance photographs so that you can read the car's licence plate or count the number of rings on the guy's finger? They should have that as a Photoshop plugin.
posted by Jimbob at 1:51 AM on October 23, 2005


see also : Computing Science According to Hollywood
posted by dhruva at 1:53 AM on October 23, 2005


Jimbob: Dang, you mean it isn't already in there somewhere? With all the time I've spent looking for it...
posted by Skeptic at 1:57 AM on October 23, 2005


lol Jim Bob - the "zooming" into photos or simply saying "computer enhance 10times" or summin - even on cctv captures.

I like how 9/10 the computers in movies are apple macs and these then seem really quick, easy to use and easy to connect to everything.

(sits back, screams at my iBook - "connect to my windows network you slow, awkward, -pretty looking- peice of ....)
posted by 13twelve at 1:57 AM on October 23, 2005


No Way Out had realistic computers as a key plot element. Took them two whole acts to apply a photoshop filter.
posted by fleacircus at 2:07 AM on October 23, 2005


HELP GAMES
posted by Space Coyote at 2:33 AM on October 23, 2005


but I'm sure there are others... right?

Sneakers was more accurate than most, except for Dan Akroyd having access to a DWIM 'enhance' key in his video editor.
posted by Ryvar at 3:59 AM on October 23, 2005


Zeami (1363–1443) developed Noh theatre. He tells of his experience creating a scene of peasants harvesting grain, where he researched the tools and methods actually used.

But he ultimately decided that it was more dramatic to have them unauthentically swinging scythes in the stereotypical manner.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:08 AM on October 23, 2005


I was always partial to Scotty 2-finger-typing a couple dozen characters into an Apple to bring up a nice detailed schematic for transparent aluminum. Didn't know what a mouse was, but had that CAD program down cold.
posted by RavinDave at 5:09 AM on October 23, 2005


But it's just not computers that get abused in movies.

There is physics, and then there is Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics!

I'm a pervy kinda guy, so I like to read movie reviews, looking for movies that are rated XP ("XP, Obviously physics from an unknown universe").
posted by Mutant at 5:30 AM on October 23, 2005


Sneakers was more accurate than most

Sneakers has one of the goofier scenes in it regarding computers that I can remember: The crew uses all of this rather technical equipment, and when they need to connect up to a government network? Why, just put that phones handset over there in the modem cradle.

Yea, I'm betting they were getting a whole 120bps on that thing.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:56 AM on October 23, 2005


Jimbob - haven't you seen Google Earth yet?
posted by skylar at 6:05 AM on October 23, 2005


I always liked the ability to look round corners in photos, as portrayed by the computer that sounded like it had cogs in it in 'Blade Runner'.

And there's an endearing, prosaic but significant use of a laptop right at the end of 'Wonder Boys' - after hilariously losing his entire typewritten manuscript earlier, Michael Douglas's character clicks "Save". Although he still does the actor equivalent of typing: fluttering his fingers uselessly over one line of keys.
posted by paperpete at 6:13 AM on October 23, 2005


I can't believe no one's mentioned the worst use of computers (and everything else) in movies...Independence Day.

For a low monthly fee, dial-up-modem-user Jeff Goldblum get access to the Web, USENET, exclusive AOL content...and root access to the severs on the alien mothership.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:39 AM on October 23, 2005


PlusDistance writes 'the worst use of computers'

Or the Best.Use.Evar.
posted by signal at 8:01 AM on October 23, 2005


I believe the best use of computers in movies was in Supertroopers.

"Enhance!" *taptaptaptap* "Enhance!" *taptaptap*
posted by Mach5 at 8:04 AM on October 23, 2005


The only example that comes to mind thus far is the scene in The Matrix Reloaded when Trinity types honest-to-goodness Unix commands into a terminal window, but I'm sure there are others... right?

It wasn't just typing real commands into the shell, Trinity actually used nmap and a real SSH exploit to get into a vulnerable machine, possibly making it the most realistic use of a computer in the movies...


posted by cmonkey at 8:38 AM on October 23, 2005


Zeami (1363–1443) developed Noh theatre. He tells of his experience creating a scene of peasants harvesting grain, where he researched the tools and methods actually used.

But he ultimately decided that it was more dramatic to have them unauthentically swinging scythes in the stereotypical manner.


Not a valid analogy. Noh is a stylized form of theatre in which sacrificing realism for dramatics or symbolism is expected, while most Hollywood filmmakers strive to depict as "realistic" a world as possible.
posted by soiled cowboy at 9:18 AM on October 23, 2005


soiled cowboy writes 'while most Hollywood filmmakers strive to depict as "realistic" a world as possible.'
Not buying it. Narrative film takes all kinds of artistic licenses with everything, it's just the topics you know about that jump out at you.
posted by signal at 9:22 AM on October 23, 2005


soiled cowboy : "most Hollywood filmmakers strive to depict as 'realistic' a world as possible."

I'm going to have to say that I pretty much absolutely don't agree that that is true. Look, for example, at the way people hang up the phone in movies: they almost never say "goodbye". It's not because scriptwriters and directors have no experience with using phones, but because they value flow/pace/convention/trope over realism.

The telephone thing bugs the hell out of me, but that's neither here nor there.
posted by Bugbread at 9:42 AM on October 23, 2005


The "infinite image resolution" thing always annoys me, but Enemy of the State takes the cake. They took a video feed, somehow converted it to a 3D wireframe model, and then rotated it 180 degrees to see what was behind a shopping bag.
posted by Sibrax at 9:46 AM on October 23, 2005


My college roommate and I always wanted to start a website called "fakemoviesoftware.com" where we would make available for download programs that emulated software in popular movies. I'm glad we're not the only ones who sat up late at night watching cheesy (lo-budget and hi-budget) sci-fi and just laughing any time a computer was shown.
posted by Eideteker at 9:54 AM on October 23, 2005


What annoys me are the technologies that *should* exist, but nobody has gotten around to making, yet. For example:

1) IBM and Nuance (Dragon), have had some pretty impressive speech-to-text software for years. Text-to-speech is also really good these days. AI is still mediocre, but keeps getting better. Why don't they combine the three? You talk to the computer, it converts it to text, it tries to understand the text, then it talks back to you, or does what you tell it to. What's the problem? They should have had v1.0 ten years ago.

2) Distributed computing is great. Why don't they have a distributed computing program for just a single network? Instead of a dozen independent PCs, you have something a fraction as powerful as a supercomputer. That could really breathe some life into Linux.

3) Hierarchical computing. This would be mostly for robotics. The physical robot's "reptilian brain" is just for basic functions, saving lots of space and power in the robot itself. Its "midbrain" is a powerful, dedicated, nearby PC, that does "smarter" things for the robot via WIFI. Its "higher" brain is linked via Internet, for things like judgement and paradox resolution, through the midbrain to the robot.
posted by kablam at 10:04 AM on October 23, 2005


Jurassic Park featured authentic Connection Machines in the "computer center" scenes.
posted by escabeche at 10:05 AM on October 23, 2005


most Hollywood filmmakers strive to depict as 'realistic' a world as possible

Yeah, which is why always they have car chases take place in eleventeen different parts of the city, switching locations randomly from shot to shot.
posted by kindall at 10:05 AM on October 23, 2005


Okay, I shouldn't have said "as 'realistic' as possible". Obviously there are elements of movies that are pure fantasy. Soundtracks, for example, bear little relation to reality.

But my point still stands. The typical convention as seen in most of the films referred to in this thread is a representation of many aspects of our worldly context that appears "real" to the average viewer. Which is why consultants are hired to check for anachronisms in historical films like Glory. This is the concept that drives this whole thread: for whatever reason the filmmakers fudged the reality of the way in which computers work while in other aspects of the film they led us to expect realism.

I'm saying that it's not right to compare a symbolic movement from Noh theater to a misrepresentation in 24. That's like watching a Broadway musical and complaining that real people rarely break out in song: we accept that in some art forms the rules of reality don't apply.
posted by soiled cowboy at 10:19 AM on October 23, 2005


aspects of our worldly context that appears "real" to the average viewer.

Guess I just missed those movies. For facts, take a look at any Hollywood biography. For style take a look at how doors are opened, phones are answered, apartments are decorated, etc. When was the last time you saw someone throw back their head when taking a shot of whisky? When has that not happen in a movie?
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:24 AM on October 23, 2005


For facts, take a look at any Hollywood biography. For style take a look at how doors are opened, phones are answered, apartments are decorated, etc. When was the last time you saw someone throw back their head when taking a shot of whisky?

But in those same movies you'll note that doors open and close, phones connect with other phones, and apartments have floors and ceilings. Like I said, some aspects of the world depicted in those movies are fantasy, while some are designed to look real. In Noh, almost nothing is designed to look real.
posted by soiled cowboy at 10:34 AM on October 23, 2005


I think the comparison between Noh and movie directing is valid, though, because, in my opinion, both try to stylize what they do as much as possible if they think it's aesthetically better, within the boundaries presented by the audience. That is, a Noh play may have stylized scything, but only to the agree that Noh audiences are generally OK with the stylization. If the Noh playwright decided to have scything indicated by farmers pointing at their navels and saying "swoosh", it wouldn't go down with the audience well. If they tried to make everything perfect, it wouldn't look as good to the audience. Instead, a middleground was found where it was aesthetically pleasing to the audience but not so divorced from reality that the audience balked.

In the same way, mainstream movies do the same thing (cutting "goodbye" off phone-calls, eliminating all traffic from 24, having infinite machineguns) because they provide an aesthetic advantage (usually in the sense of flow, not of direct visual appearance), while not being out-of-bounds (having people talk to photographs instead of cell-phones, having someone drive from LA to San Francisco during a 5 minute commercial break, having conventional machineguns bullets that cause people to blow up like grenades on contact).

Of course, Noh and mainstream cinema are miles apart, but I don't think there's a fundamental difference, just a difference in where the line is drawn. Which makes the analogy valid: i.e. Hollywood sacrifices realism for aesthetics to the degree that it flies with the audience, and Noh sacrifices realism for aesthetics to the degree that it flies with the audience. The difference is the audience. And, of course, the audience is affected by the medium, so an increase in realism can lead to a more realism-expecting audience, leading to more realism, et al, and vice versa.
posted by Bugbread at 10:37 AM on October 23, 2005


2) Distributed computing is great. Why don't they have a distributed computing program for just a single network? Instead of a dozen independent PCs, you have something a fraction as powerful as a supercomputer.

They do. This is how rendering gets done at many computer animation studios.
posted by dersins at 10:45 AM on October 23, 2005


What I find funny, is everything everything i can do to reprogram almost every network node at work you use ssh/telnet. Couple commands you can down or reroute any nodes. 2 minutes tops.
So while movies might not have it right, if you know the commands it doesnt take long to get in and do the deed.
posted by IronWolve at 11:12 AM on October 23, 2005


apartments have floors and ceilings

Apartments almost never have ceilings in movies.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:16 AM on October 23, 2005


metafilter: pointing at their navels and saying "swoosh"
posted by leetsi at 11:31 AM on October 23, 2005


1) IBM and Nuance (Dragon), have had some pretty impressive speech-to-text software for years. Text-to-speech is also really good these days. AI is still mediocre, but keeps getting better. Why don't they combine the three? You talk to the computer, it converts it to text, it tries to understand the text, then it talks back to you, or does what you tell it to. What's the problem? They should have had v1.0 ten years ago.

Maybe I'm misreading you, but Apple has had this for a decade or so. The AI part is pretty much crap, but between Speakable Items and AppleScript, you can do a lot with speech commands. I've never found it any better than a novelty; every time I speak commands to a computer I feel like a complete tool, unless I'm yelling commands to a computer.
posted by aaronetc at 11:31 AM on October 23, 2005


Apartments almost never have ceilings in movies.

Yeah, I thought of that as soon as I hit the post comment button. But I think you get my point.
posted by soiled cowboy at 11:33 AM on October 23, 2005


I think the comparison between Noh and movie directing is valid, though, because...

Okay, I'll accept that the comparison is not totally invalid. It's just very weak.

You're simply pointing out that Noh and mainstream cinema have to work within a similar framework of rules when choosing how to present the "world". But these similarities are a given because both are sub-genres of the performing arts; they have common rules because they have a common root.

But each sub-genre also has a unique set of conventions which its artists are expected to obey and this thread is about how the conventions of mainstream cinema were violated. In the films referenced the sacrifices of realism for aesthetics seem silly to us because the filmmakers HAVE gone outside our boundaries to the point where we ARE balking. We're mocking the beeping screen because so much about 24 is supposed to seem real to us. But would a Japanese farmer balk at the unlikely scythery in a Zeami production?

(Umm... Actually, I don't know for certain, but I doubt it.)
posted by soiled cowboy at 11:51 AM on October 23, 2005


soiled cowboy: what you're talking about is called the "Reality Effect", a series of conventions defined within a artistic genre which makes it's audience percieve it as 'real'.
Film montage, for example, has no resemblance to actual human experience, but we accept it as a 'real' way of telling a story. When was the last time your perception stopped in the middle of a sentence and then picked up 2 hours later and 5 Km away? When was the last time you watched two people talking or having sex from constantly changing viewpoints, from less than 2m away, and they weren't aware of your presence? It's all convention, and it's not 'natural' or 'real', but rather a consciiously developed signifying system created mostly during the first half of the 20th century.
Film and Noh both have their conventions, and the analogy is certainly valid.
posted by signal at 11:52 AM on October 23, 2005


When was the last time you watched two people talking or having sex from constantly changing viewpoints, from less than 2m away, and they weren't aware of your presence?

Do you really want us to answer this question?
posted by falconred at 12:01 PM on October 23, 2005


soiled cowboy : "But would a Japanese farmer balk at the unlikely scythery in a Zeami production? "

Your average Japanese farmer? Probably not.

In fact, that example kinda gave me more perspective about what you're talking about, and now I'm more likely to agree. That is, Noh is so abstracted from reality that it probably wouldn't even occur to someone to balk, because it would seem self-obvious that Noh is all "about" abstraction. However, when it comes to film, people do often realize that film flaunts reality, yet that realization isn't so absolute that they don't go and write sites detailing stuff that's wrong. A scientist watching a sci-fi film might point out bad science to a friend, but a farmer watching a Noh play wouldn't point out bad agriculture to a friend. I don't think that difference is due to national character (after all, there are Bad Science books in Japan about how Godzilla should actually be shaped more like a giant pyramid due to weight vs. foot surface area), so it's probably inherent in the media. (Can't find the right word here...By media I mean "mainstream film" and "Noh", but I don't know what word to use)

I guess it comes down to what the analogy was trying to say. If it was pointing out that the same action (sacrificing reality for aesthetics) happens in Noh as in mainstream film, and thereby that this is fairly common, then that's true. If it was pointing out that Noh itself is analogous to mainstream film because that sacrificing of reality for aeshetics takes place, then perhaps it isn't so true.
posted by Bugbread at 12:19 PM on October 23, 2005


One of my favorite computers-in-movies memories is Blade Runner; with such a beautiful and futuristic cinematic landscape to feast your eyes upon, the fact that all the computer screens are represented by awkward Atari 800-generated graphics always makes me inexplicably happy.
posted by davejay at 12:24 PM on October 23, 2005


So, bugbread, you're saying I had you, then I lost you? Damn, that's why I have to babysit the threads I comment on.

Two points: The scything is not one of the ongoing highly stylized conventions of Noh, just something to be expressed at more or less face value in an easily digestible form that does not hijack the thread of the drama; Movie conventions similarly act to streamline the extraneous plot points.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:53 PM on October 23, 2005


A scientist watching a sci-fi film might point out bad science to a friend, but a farmer watching a Noh play wouldn't point out bad agriculture to a friend.

Err... why would that be so? Seems to me that some might. Some might not. Just as some of us, being computer dorks ourselves, might get our panties in a bunch over computer mistakes.

(btw, My favorite movie computers are the ones with the magnifiers in Brazil)
posted by brundlefly at 1:23 PM on October 23, 2005


StickyCarpet: You had me, then I lost myself and wasn't sure what you were saying. This: "Movie conventions similarly act to streamline the extraneous plot points" returned me to a "had" state.

brundlefly : "Err... why would that be so? Seems to me that some might. Some might not. Just as some of us, being computer dorks ourselves, might get our panties in a bunch over computer mistakes."

Right. That was why I used "might" instead of "would". That passage was to contrast with the Noh farmer, who wouldn't. Or, rather, would be far less likely. A farmer is an agriculture dork, but I'd be surprised if farmers pointed out that Noh farming was inaccurate. Some farmers may point it out, but I suspect the percentage is very, very low. A programmer is a computer dork, but I wouldn't be surprised if a programmer pointed out that movie computing is inaccurate. Not all programmers would point it out, but I suspect the percentage is much higher than for the Noh watching farmer.
posted by Bugbread at 1:32 PM on October 23, 2005


I guess I'm not understanding the distinction you're making between farmers and programmers as social groups. Do you think the two groups would really act so differently under similar circumstances? Why would this be?
posted by brundlefly at 1:43 PM on October 23, 2005


I think the groups react differently, not because of inherent differences in the group, but because of inherent differences in the media/genre/whatever-you-use-to-signify-the-group-which-includes-Noh-and-mainstream-film. That is, show a farmer (familiar with mainstream film) an unrealistic farming scene in conventional cinema, and he will probably be more likely to point out the bad ag. Show a programmer (familiar with Noh) an unrealistic computer scene in a modern Noh play, and he will be less likely to point out the bad comp sci. This perhaps points out a difference in the approach to Noh and to conventional movies: even though we treat both as being essentially non-realistic, and understand that there are stylized choices made in both, we nonetheless expect realism from film enough that we sometimes point out inaccuracies, but view Noh through a lens that falls on the other side: not pointing out inaccuracies.
posted by Bugbread at 1:56 PM on October 23, 2005


I'm as computer geeky as anyone here but I also value narrative and flow of action. There's a lot that I'll forgive in that end. I forgive characters not having awkward staccato bits at the beginning and end of telephone conversations, I forgive characters not wearing seat belts or having rear-view mirrors on their cars, I forgive everyone on television looking better than the average person except for the one character who has to deal with looking below average and who is to that end portrayed as exceptionally below average.

I mainly ask that computer scenes not be excessively stupid. I forgive sound effects like the "beep" in 24 because they help define the action for the viewer, and of course you want the text to be readable. (I've worked help desk, I know how boring it is to read over someone's shoulder.) In the context of STIV I didn't mind Scotty's leet Mac skillz. I certainly do not expect every movie to have "real Unix commands" -- heck, maybe they're using a custom script they've given their own name, or a new 22nd-century OS, just maybe. I hate it when they take too-obvious easy ways out, like the hacker in one movie I saw who controlled a computer by typing successive lines into Lotus Symphony.

I didn't especially mind the Blade Runner photo enhancement -- IIRC the "around the corner" bit was made possible by enhancing the reflected image in a mirror -- because NASA and the NSA do something similar with their imagery. It isn't as effective, of course, but I could deal with it being more effective with the right software. Of course it's harder to get away with that dodge today now that everyone has their own digital cameras and photo-editing software -- but then maybe that means that such scenes will become more realistic by default. (At least once have them apply the wrong filter and undo!)

Similarly I think the use of the Jacob's Ladder as a requirement for a science lab has declined a great deal. A lot of the cheesier movies that used such devices, e.g. Back to the Future, were riffing ripping off old movies anyway.

One fairly good sequence I can recall was the movie Eraser, which began with Vanessa Williams burning a copy of network computer data to a DVD-R (one of the first ever seen in the movies, I think). There was an impressive bit of drama as she waited for it to finish as the discovery of her actions seemed ever imminent. [I always prefer when drama draws from the characters' own actions rather than random external events.] It was unrealistic, though, in the way there was only this one terminal that could access the data inside a special security room. I have no memory of the command interface used. Six one, half a dozen the other.

Has any movie ever shown anyone typing HTML ... to make a web page?
posted by dhartung at 2:00 PM on October 23, 2005


The scything is not one of the ongoing highly stylized conventions of Noh, just something to be expressed at more or less face value in an easily digestible form that does not hijack the thread of the drama; Movie conventions similarly act to streamline the extraneous plot points.

But the comparison doesn't work within the context of this thread. Stylized scything fits the abstract style of Noh drama, so no harm done. But the beeping screen doesn't fit with the conventions of 24, and thus snarky websites are born.
posted by soiled cowboy at 2:06 PM on October 23, 2005


bugbread: Ah, I see what you mean. However, I think technical inaccuracy is perfectly forgivable in movies... depending on the tone/subject matter/etc of the specific movie.

If one were making a movie about the history of Linux, say, or even a straight-laced thriller, then having keyboards that go "BOOP!" or typing "LOAD VIRUS" just doesn't play. But an over the top action movie? Or a TV show where the main character jumps around from location to location all over the world within one day?

In those cases, a booping keyboard, like the red LED countdown on a bomb, is just as much a stylistic convention as Noh scything.

Cinema is simply more varied in convention that Noh is. Yes, there are some "realist" films, where a break from reality would be disconcerting. But if we're talking about Independence Day or Eraser, there's an entirely different aesthetic. Seems to me that you either settle down into that aesthetic or you nit-pick it.

One thing that's always bothered me is when someone complains that Ash doesn't reload his shotgun enough in Army of Darkness. For that matter, how does he do it with only one hand? If those questions are bothering you, you're watching the wrong movie. :)
posted by brundlefly at 3:15 PM on October 23, 2005


Office Space has the most accurate portrayal of computers in a movie, ever. Seriously. The wacked-out hybrid MacOS/Windows interface makes it even better.
posted by zsazsa at 3:32 PM on October 23, 2005


i rather like how in old films the one-sided telephone conversation allows nowhere near enough time for the other party to give the appropriate responses!

but really--and i felt this way about the overcriticized star wars movies as well--if details like this arouse more than a passing notice, you've pretty much misplaced the point of watching it in the first place.
posted by troybob at 4:06 PM on October 23, 2005


by the way, Stephen Merchant as the agent in Extras does an amazing job of portraying someone who is clueless about using his computer. just the way he handles the mouse echoes which you've seen time and again when you deal with someone who is not sure of what to do, and that perfect imitation itself merits an emmy.
posted by troybob at 4:13 PM on October 23, 2005


Well, troybob, I share your love of old one-sided telephone conversations. Especially ones where the person we can hear repeats what was just said so we can tell what's going on.

That said, I didn't enjoy the new Star Wars movies, not because of little details, but because I found them uninvolving. The first trilogy was big and dumb and fun. The prequels were just the first two.
posted by brundlefly at 4:22 PM on October 23, 2005


Hollywood is all about enteraining story telling, it is not about accurate depiction of reality. Many members of the audience immediately; ok maybe not so immediately after the commercials and radio show and previews that they sit through while eating their ginormous tub of fake buttered popcorn; after purchasing their tickets "suspend their disbelief." I personally enjoy this practice as I sit down in the dark for two hours and hope only to be entertained. I do this despite having spent several years "owning our world" "on the day".

Those people dancing in nightclubs, they are dancing to silence. The music is put in afterwards.

The light is always perfect for the main characters because the entire crew spends several hours making it so, before the actor steps on and, in best case situations, breathes life into the character, despite the fact that the person they are "talking to" was filmed having that conversation last week.

You know that movie Phonebooth with Collin Farrell? there hasn't been a phone box like that in midtown manhattan for at least twenty years, but that does not stop the 'idea' or 'concept' from being expressed.

Hollywood does do some things wrong, they also get some things right. They ignore physics in some movies and in others seem to exist in the same world as the rest of us. We go to movies as escapist entertainment. Generally speaking, as a way to spend two hours, or three if it involves Kevin Costner, it'ss not such a bad way to go. You know compared to parts of the world where, ah nevermind about all that stuff anyway, it'ss much more fun to be snarky about how just because you are able to link seven monitors together does not actually mean that you are going to have a better platform to hack into a Bank's website, which happens to be located within a branch office, and happens to be one of the twelve mainframes that is part of the backbone of the internet (Project Swordfish).

That all said, I don't know that I actually put forth and sort of arguement whatso ever, but if we are suggesting that Hollywood always depict what is real and only what is real, then either the movies are going to get really, really dull because there will be large amounts of time where the only action is internal, in which case it's better to read a book, or somebody owes me a lightsaber!
posted by N8k99 at 5:08 PM on October 23, 2005


I always liked the ability to look round corners in photos, as portrayed by the computer that sounded like it had cogs in it in 'Blade Runner'.

Pedantic: If you watch that scene, you'll notice that the only "unbelievable" thing about the scene is the resolution of the image. The "looking around corners" thing is done by zooming in to a mirror on the wall. If there weren't a mirror, it wouldn't have been possible. And, the super-resolution thing isn't really so unbelievable, if you consider we already have, what, 10megapixel consumer cameras? If you applied Moore's law, you could easily approach something beyond what film could capture in the year in which the movie is set.
posted by odinsdream at 5:32 PM on October 23, 2005


odinsdream: I think the problem with the "super-resolution" thing is not so much the idea of a video signal being that high-rez. It's that the original video signal is obviously not high-rez, and the magic computer is able to look at the blurry mess of a low-rez signal and (with the operator saying, "Enhance") is able to make sense of it.

But, again, this is as much a stylistic convention as the bomb countdown example.
posted by brundlefly at 6:13 PM on October 23, 2005


it's fantasy, make believe, a fairy tale that is dancing before your very eyes!! It seems to me that either you believe it and enjoy the experience or you don't believe it and well, go home adn for weeks and weeks and months and months and years and years later are stiill upset to find out that it's not really real.

Flying used to be a fantasy, for millenia, and now it's pretty much routine right down to the remove your shoes ritual.
posted by N8k99 at 7:00 PM on October 23, 2005


Arnold browsed 6502 assembly language listings in his mind in Terminator!
posted by rfs at 7:54 PM on October 23, 2005


Antitrust was a pretty mediocre movie, but as I recall it was for the most part pretty accurate, at least in certain parts.
posted by Target Practice at 2:27 AM on October 24, 2005


kablam: 1-800-555-TELL.
posted by jscott at 5:05 PM on October 25, 2005


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