May 8, 2009

The Amazon (girlfriend) HD experience

Spoiler alert – this post contains some general remarks about a forthcoming movie, The Girlfriend Experience.  If you might see this movie, please return to this post after you’ve seen it.





Last night, I experienced multiple layers of simulacara – I downloaded a movie from Amazon that has not yet been released; a movie that is all about artificial experiences. 

The movie, Steven Soderbergh’s, The Girlfriend Experience, has attracted note for giving a star role to Sasha Grey, an apparently well-known pornographic actress.  (I had not seen Sasha Grey before this movie, although I had heard of her.)  In the movie, she plays an escort who temporarily pretends to be a girlfriend – showing “true” affection, attention, and emotional involvement with her clients; only then to leave them in the morning.  There was no sex in the film (although there are some brief nude scenes, and this is not a film appropriate for children.)  I won’t go further in my description except to say that the irony builds in the film, which sharply questions the foundations of interpersonal relationships.

This film has attracted a great deal of buzz, and Soderbergh, who has experimented with different models of film distribution in the past, is apparently eager to capture the buzz by offering the film before its theatrical release as an Amazon download in two versions:  standard and HD.  I downloaded the HD version, which was not very HD – it was a mere 3.008GB (about the size as a single-sided, single-layer DVD).  I started downloading the movie yesterday morning; I’m not sure how long it took but it was ready by the time I returned.

Now, to me, this very medium – a pre-theatrical Amazon download – is an ironic comment on the subject of the movie itself; here is a “release-level” download, replacing the experience of seeing a premiere movie in a cinema house; the film itself discussing the difference between real experiences and those designed to imitate them.

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