Random Factoid #535

14 01 2011

At the end of 2010, we heard plenty of prominent members of the filmmaking industry weighing in on the future of 3D.  I think James Cameron put it best when he said something along the lines of “it’s going to be a tool in the arsenal of filmmakers, much like color and sound.”  In my opinion, the sooner it becomes a serious filmmaking tool, the sooner it becomes eradicated as a marketing gimmick. And I think we are all ready for the 3D-conversion phase of Hollywood money-grubbing to end.

So, to quote Steven Zeitchick of The Los Angeles Times‘ title, “Why is everyone so on Baz Luhrmann for a 3D ‘Great Gatsby?’”  Here’s some of what he said:

“As the Aussie provocateur said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — at a panel moderated by our colleague Geoff Boucher; you can watch a video clip here — the director is debating shooting his F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation using that Z-axis. The logic, as recalled by Boucher (who spoke to Luhrmann at length about the issue), is that when we see a drama on the stage, we’re able to observe various levels of detail through the use of foreground and background. The 3-D format simply allows for the same experience on the screen.

Luhrmann is always shaking up the status quo, so it shouldn’t surprise us that he might try to marry a classic 20th century story with a 21st century format. He also seems to thrive on the negative reaction (which makes the irate, can-he-be-stopped reactions more than a little funny.)

And he clearly loves the grandiose; when we interviewed him about this project a few years ago he said (with appropriate grandiosity) that his ambition was nothing less than a movie that spoke for our gilded age. (‘People will need an explanation of where we are and where we’ve been, and “The Great Gatsby” can provide that explanation,’ he said.) What better way to make that kind of grand statement than to have Nick Carraway and Daisy Buchanan in three dimensions?”

Luhrmann is the perfect director to give the 3D tool on a movie that doesn’t particularly need the tweaking a trial run.  Audiences can see it done in his zany style and decide through their money whether or not it should continue to be done.  It’s pretty hypocritical for people to go crazy when Luhrmann suggested shooting “The Great Gatsby” in 3D because a similar risk was taken by James Cameron with “Avatar.”  3D was for animation and corny movies to throw things at an audience; it was not for serious filmmaking.  Now, thanks to his lead, directors like Martin Scorsese are shooting movies in 3D.

Filmmaking is about advancing the craft, and if we remain stagnant, it will die out and wind up like pottery.  I don’t want our great form of art and entertainment to become irrelevant, so YES, I am behind Baz Luhrmann.  (If he fails, we still have Fitzgerald’s book and the 1970s movie.)

Random Factoid #517

27 12 2010

In Random Factoid #464, I talked about an article that quoted James Cameron as saying that we are 8-10 years away from glasses-free 3D.  Today, I bring good news that we could be even closer.

Apple has reportedly patented glasses-free 3D technology that “will actually only produce ‘pseudo-holographic’ images, but according to the company’s newly granted patent for the technology, those images will be ‘virtually indistinguishable from viewing a true hologram.'”  So, in other words, it’s a new dimension in computers that will make the iPod and iPad’s cultural impact look like absolutely nothing.

The obvious first impact will come from Apple’s programs, like maps, weather, and all the stuff you can’t delete from your iPhone.  Then, the app developers will go wild with it.  Soon enough, filmmakers will rush to make the first holographic movie, a race that will probably be filled with James Cameron wannabes.

So, did we just hear the first shot of a revolution?  Or is this just another cool Apple innovation?

Random Factoid #464

4 11 2010

Whatever you say, James Cameron.

According to 3D’s biggest cheerleader, “Once we get to auto-stereoscopic, that’s watching 3D without glasses, it is going to be the way we watch all of our media. That’s probably eight to 10 years away.”  Apparently two dimensions haven’t been enough to satisfy moviegoers for over a century, so now we have to watch everything in an extra dimension from now on?

He predicts that just like color made black-and-white movies obsolete, the third dimension will make the second go the way of the dinosaur.  At the moment, I don’t think I’m ready to have every movie in 3D, mainly because I don’t feel like every movie needs it.  Even when the technology becomes available, it’s going to take several more decades for the technology to trickle down into the price ranges of independent filmmakers.

But until then, can you imagine a time when your movie theater is all 3D?  When there isn’t a 2D Best Picture nominee?  When you show your kids a 2D movie and tell them that all movies used to look like this?

So I’m calling it: as soon as everything is in 3D, James Cameron will be making “Avatar 4D,” a revolutionary experience in adding yet another dimension to your moviegoing experience.

Random Factoid #452

23 10 2010

If you really knew me (to steal a conversation starter from MTV), you’d know that I’m not big on fashion.  Especially at the movies.

Excuse me for not caring what I wear in front of a room full of strangers when we are going to be sitting in the dark for two hours staring at a screen.  I don’t think it’s an uncommon feeling; the only time I’ve ever heard of people dressing up to go see a movie is for “Sex and the City” when the women all get in some snazzy dresses (which is a HUGE waste).

Oakley is apparently convinced that everyone is like the hip “Sex and the City” crowd and has unveiled a special pair of 3D glasses to tie-in with the release of “Tron: Legacy.”  Priced at $150, the glasses are a perfect buy for all those who care about looking fashionable in the dark.  I’m sorry, but I’ll take the free pair of Wayfarers over these overpriced stylish shades any day.  Considering that I paid $50 less for a really nice pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses last year that give me infinitely more utility, there’s no way in hell you would catch me buying these things.

Now, if Oakley came out with 3D glasses that could transport me to Pandora or something for the release of “Avatar 2,” then I’d be more interested…

Random Factoid #439

10 10 2010

The score now stands at: moviegoers – 1, 3D – still too many conversions.

On Friday, Warner Bros. announced that they would abandon plans to release “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” in 3D because the conversion was not satisfactory.  All I can say is where was this logic when “Clash of the Titans” was being converted?  Here is the studio’s exact statement:

“Despite everyone’s best efforts, we were unable to convert the film in its entirety and meet the highest standards of quality.  We do not want to disappoint fans who have long-anticipated the conclusion of this extraordinary journey.”

There aren’t very many times that a studio makes me feel like I, the moviegoer, matter that much.  But with this kind of news, I definitely feel important.  Along with many other dedicated fans, I have protested being ripped off by these hasty conversions for four unwarranted dollars.  However, by acknowledging that a bad conversion isn’t worth the alienation of fans, I certainly feel like I count for something.

All those complaining 3D factoids really weren’t for nothing then, I guess.

UPDATE 10/11: /Film has the whole story.  Check it out.

Random Factoid #427

28 09 2010

WARNING: Today’s factoid is pretty much a rant in the style of “Really?” from SNL’s Weekend Update.

My opening statement comes from some wonderfully sardonic writer at Cinematical:

You may recall that many ‘Star Wars’ fans were unhappy with the prequels, and that as a consequence of the fans’ anger, Episodes I, II, and III are only the 7th, 30th, and 12th highest-grossing films of all time, with a combined worldwide gross of just $2.4 billion. Duly chastened by this catastrophic failure, George Lucas announced Tuesday that those prequels, along with the three original films, will be re-released in 3D. This will fix everything, since the main thing people didn’t like about the prequels was that watching them didn’t require special glasses.

Really, George Lucas?  You are rereleasing the “Star Wars” movies in 3D?  Your estimated worth is over $3 billion; isn’t it time to stop trying to make money off the “Star Wars” trilogies and just move on?  You haven’t directed anything other than that series since 1973, so maybe a new project could do you good!  When you are that rich, you aren’t allowed to shamelessly money grub like this!

And really, 3D conversions?  We still have to put up with you?  I thought you were going to DIE with M. Night Shamalamadingdong’s reputation.  I’m sorry, but I’m not so desperate to see a movie in 3D to see a movie that gets a cheap-o conversion, nor am I so desperate to see the original “Star Wars” movies like my parents saw them in a theater.

I don’t have the incredible wit and biting humor of Seth Meyers, but that’s my best stab at the ridiculous news emerging today.

REVIEW: The Final Destination

8 08 2010

It’s not easy to make death laughable, but “The Final Destination” does it with ease.  Never has death been so fun or bizarrely hilarious.  The movie doesn’t deliver on horror or thrills, largely because we know the end result: everyone is going to die, and the fact that the set-ups are so ridiculous doesn’t help to build any suspense.

The movie is another glorious entry into the “so bad it’s good” collection, all because it can successfully make entertainment out of the morbid.  I’m not sure if they intended it to be so comedic, but it’s not like these people are dying of heart attacks or cancer.  They die from being sucked into the bottom of a pool and being nailed by a rock ejected from a lawnmower. These are bloody, gruesome deaths being displayed in front of our eyes for amusement, which is actually kind of sick.  It’s able to bring out the sadist in all of us, a fairly impressive feat.

The deaths keep coming and coming for 75 minutes, which is probably what you want if you decided to watch “The Final Destination.”  You might be better off watching one of the first three entries in the series, which apparently have a little more originality on top of the predictable plot.  But if you’re looking for shameless, unabashed joy in watching people die and nothing else, the plotless fourth installment is the best bet.  C /