To older critics, who grew up with what now seems a methodical and plodding style of film storytelling, it seems as if we are engaged in a vast psychology experiment conceived by a sadistic professor who assaults the subjects with visual images at a rate up to and beyond the limits of perception. A generation ago, the word subliminal came into vogue, as in "subliminal advertising," with a fear that images could flash by so fast that we might see them, and come under their sway, without quite seeing them. Now we're used to subliminal imagery. We don't get scared when a commercial for Nike or Pepsi goes off on our screen like a string of firecrackers, but still, how much do we comprehend? How do we feel afterward? What will we want next?