Jesse Jarnow

our stories fit into phones.

In two recent movies I’ve seen for review — Jeffrey Blitz’s just-about-to-be-out Rocket Science and John Turturro’s forthcoming Romance and Cigarettes — the telephone plays a typically minor role as a plot device/prop, in much the same way it has for decades. That is, some element of the story is forwarded/revealed by a third party picking up a shared landline. Though plenty of people still have landlines, of course, the sight of them on screen becomes increasingly anachronistic with each usage. To be sure, cell phone use in movies is way up, too, perhaps the single most convenient prop ever invented, but such is the power of the landline, which won’t easily surrender itself to the present.