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Last time I watched a movie on a plane, I pictured the people (the actors, the cast, the characters, the true-story folks, since it was Stockholm) as tiny. Their world of sound was mono or something worse. To be honest, I don’t know what mono sound is. Right/left speakers? Simple dead-on, at-you sound? More realistic in terms of how our ears pick it all out? I don’t know.

At times, I thought I disliked stereo sound. Maybe that’s true. Mono is my preference.

On the plane, I’m saying you’re limited and not receiving what the sound mixer worked out through his/her receiver. The actors’ voices and the ambient sound their words live in is muffled. Or the opposite, it comes through a tin can.

Headphones. Closed caption. Someone watching something next to you. Or maybe a kid’s poking his screen, playing games. The one sleeping through a paused picture for hours, and you find yourself constantly glancing at Robert Downy Jr.’s goatee, frozen in movie space.

I’ve decided I don’t like watching movies on small screens. I wasn’t sure, but the plane has been the perfect way to look back at my viewings for comparison. Because in a theater (which is making its way toward an experience only found in history books) or on a television, the actors are life size. Often their heads fill your eye world (in that stadium-seated auditorium). Or the TV will project many shots of those actors close to the size of your own face.

On a plane’s seat screen, or phone, or mini-DVD player (another contraption for the history books), the picture rarely matches any real life dimensions. Ethan Hawke was good in Stockholm, but he was so small. Like an action figure acting on its own (with closed captioning and bad mics).

I don’t have an answer for how director Ken Loach bypasses this, but I, Daniel Blake overcame this bite-sized picture problem. I first saw it on a plane and felt I was walking the streets beside Mr. Blake.

Could it be because of Loach’s style, playing his stuff straight with no glorification and hardly any music? He’s not handheld gritty, but capturing simple life cutouts with easy grace. And his cast is always as authentic as a cast can be.

This was an anomaly, a movie that broke the little movie madness, and is matched by another, since Loach once again graced me with his easy direction and brought comfort to my flight home with Sorry We Missed You.

Bloody brilliant. (The non-Loach film Stockholm was good, too.)

Dan Jones

Author Dan Jones

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