Home movies, redefined

Not even that plush "stadium seating" can lure me - or a number of other grown-ups I know - into the shopping-mall multiplex anymore.

The silver screen has become animated wallpaper for many moviegoers. There's endless coming and going, copious munching, and full-bore conversation.

It's not merely a youth-culture phenomenon, though at least one practice of modern-day teen-dom probably serves as a training ground for cinema incivility: At home, kids often pop in a DVD and then dive into unrelated activities while it plays, unwatched.

The fact is, if you're someone who likes to watch movies for great dialogue, lush cinematography, and directorial deftness, then you've probably long been in the hunt for alternative viewing options.

One of them: those old-style, one-screen theaters near which some of us are fortunate enough to live. It takes some periodic weight-shifting to endure the seats, but go on a Monday night and you'll be one of 20 people in the house.

Another route: Carry the whole experience home. Entire magazines are devoted to the home-theater trend. Five-speaker audio systems with TV inputs cost little more than a standard stereo system, and have been selling well for years.

And now, large-screen, high- definition sets creep toward "affordability" for more households. Yes, it's still a major luxury purchase. And yes, a new wood stove might arguably feed the spirit better.

But if home-shown movies really move you - and assuming that your partner doesn't get his or her rabbit ears in a twist over TV's rising role in your house - then there may be a big, flat set in your future. Not even the shortage of high-definition broadcasts should faze you.

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