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posted: 10/31/2013 6:00 AM

Stop defacing screeners for the press to review

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  • Shia LaBeouf stars as "Charlie Countryman," except this scene doesn't have Dann's name and a running digital clock at the bottom of the frame.

    Shia LaBeouf stars as "Charlie Countryman," except this scene doesn't have Dann's name and a running digital clock at the bottom of the frame.

  • Video: "Rudy" trailer


Excuse my tirade
I sat down at my computer screen to watch a press digital download for the movie "Broadway Idiot" opening this weekend at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago. Suddenly on the left side of the screen, a large digital clock popped up, racing through its counted seconds with fervid alacrity.

Seriously? I'm supposed to actually review a movie with a large moving clock over the picture? I'm sure director Doug Hamilton put in all those hours creating this documentary with the intent that someone would plaster a distracting chronology-keeping device over it.

So I abandoned "Broadway Idiot" and went on to "Charlie Countryman," a Millennium Entertainment release scheduled for Nov. 15. Guess what? Yep. Another running clock, this one across the lower third of the screen with my name and publication above it.

This wasn't just an irritating distraction. The movie, shot in Chicago and Romania, used English subtitles. And they were covered up by my name and the clock.

I don't want to go off on a rant here, but how many artists plaster numbers and words on their paintings before showcasing them to critics or buyers? (I don't have the data, but I'm guessing not many.)

This practice of corrupting movie images is a bit like musicians putting out sample songs with somebody in the background constantly shouting a reporter's name and media outlet.

Hey, Millennium! Cinema is an art form. What part of that declarative sentence do you not understand? Defacing (would "desecrating" be too strong a verb?) this art form for the press demonstrates how little respect you have for the visual aspects of a visual medium.

Shame on you and all the other shortsighted, indifferent corporate entities that treat motion pictures with so little regard for their worth.

I am also amazed that America's movie critics haven't risen up en masse to protest this condemnable practice, which has been going on for several years.

We already say nothing about how cable and network TV devalue movies by using them as cheap backdrops for animated promos and station logos permanently fixed in the corners of the screens.

I contend that forcing critics to review visually altered versions of movies that the public will not see is first, unethical, and second, injurious to the art form.

And I will not be a party to that.

So, Millennium Entertainment and other distributors guilty of this ill-conceived practice, if you want an honest critique from the Daily Herald, send an honest, unadulterated version of your movie exactly as the public will see it.

Anything else is unacceptable.

Of course, as Dennis Miller used to say, I could be wrong.

But I'm not.

Film notes:
• The After Hours Film Society presents Ziad Doueiri's "The Attack," 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, at the Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. A Tel-Aviv surgeon's world collapses when he finds out that his wife has been killed in a terrorist bombing. And she detonated the explosion! He seeks out those who recruited her for the mission. General admission $9.

• The Midwest Independent Film Festival presents "Sole Survivor" at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Century Centre Theater, 2828 N. Clark St., Chicago. Director Ky Dickens will be there in person to discuss the movie, about the survivors of commercial airline disasters. Go to

• The Chicago Film Critics Association presents the doc "American Movie" as part of the "Film With a View" program, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Studio Movie Grill Theater, 301 Rice Lake Square, Wheaton. Admission costs $1. CFCA member and filmmaker Collin Souter will host the event. Go to for tickets.

• Palatine's Blue Whiskey Cinema series continues with a screening of David Anspaugh's fact-based sports underdog drama "Rudy," 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Emmett's Tavern & Brewing Company, 110 N. Brockway St., Palatine. Admission is free, but make reservations at

• Are you a sci-fi guy? Join me and film historian Raymond Benson as Dann & Raymond's Movie Club presents Part 2 of "Watch the Skies! The Greatest Science-Fiction Movies," 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Schaumburg Township District Library, 130 S. Roselle Road, Schaumburg. Clips from such classics as "Blade Runner," "Star Wars," "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," "Inception," "WALL-E" and others. Free admission!

• Belated congratulations to Northwest suburban student winners of the 14th annual ARTimation Digital Arts Festival announced last week at the South Barrington Theatres. Presented by Schaumburg's Illinois Institute of Art, the festival showcased 57 works consisting of games, websites, photography and films.

Zach Carnes of West Chicago won Best Digital Filmmaking and Video Production, plus Best Demo.

Egan Fernandez of South Elgin won for Best 2-D Animation. Bartosz Plonka of Buffalo Grove won for Best 3-D Animation.

Alexander Ozawa of Arlington Heights won Best Photography. Jose Castaneda of Woodstock won Best Interface Design. For more details go to

• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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