Iris Out: a new column about film

Tom Pilcher

For an Arts & Entertainment section, I feel that The Lawrentian has not covered enough off-campus films or film events in these two pages. Sure, we cover the student film festivals on campus, but what about the slew of new releases and old re-releases returning to our attention every week?
In our culture today, film stands out as one of the strongest mediums for communication available, largely because of its combination of music, narrative and image. But I don’t really need to tell you this, because if James Cameron’s box office titan “Avatar” has taught us anything, it’s that film remains one of the most relevant and potentially exciting mediums out there.
However, films like “Avatar” will not be the only ones that grace this new column. In the hopes of expanding your cinematic tastes, I’ll revisit older films you might have missed the first time around, or films that you weren’t even around for at the time of their release. I will not be the only one writing this column, either, to keep it interesting. And finally, as writers, we will tell you what we actually think of movies, because not every in the movie out there can appeal to everyone.
So, in the spirit of all of the above goals, I’m calling this column “Iris Out.” “Iris out” is a technical film term that refers to when the screen turns black around the edges to create a shrinking circle of focus on a small area of the screen – think Looney Tunes or those old James Bond openings where Bond shoots the camera.
Among other uses, older silent films employed this technique to visually convey that the next shots would be subjective and from a certain character’s point of view. However, the word “out” also implies looking at something outside of what one normally sees, so “Iris Out” refers to the process of examining at films not usually covered and also examining those films in detail.
In the spirit of community, I would like to encourage you, the readers, to send feedback to me and the other writers, which you can do easily through email. Let us know what films or events you want to see covered in this column, so that the column doesn’t get too one-sided. There’s nothing better than having a dialogue between readers and writers.
Until the end of the year, I’ll alternate between this column and Beth’s TV column, but look for more film columns next year.
So, start the projector, VCR, DVD player, YouTube video or whatever, and let’s watch some movies. For the next column, I’ll be covering Tommy Wiseau’s new cult hit “The Room,” which Wiseau himself describes as having “the passion of Tennessee Williams,” but also as being a “quirky new comedy.” Other critics have called it “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of bad movies,” so it will definitely be entertaining.