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 #520

30 12 2010

With 2011 in our sights, many of 2010’s finest moments and achievements are being recapped (see my “10 for ’10” series).  The year’s reigning box office champ was not even a 2010 release but rather James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which made more this calendar year than “Toy Story 3” did in its entire run.

There are probably plenty of other milestones that “Avatar” piled up this year, but shockingly, one it didn’t receive was the biggest selling on-demand movie.  In case you hadn’t guessed it by looking at the picture, it was fellow Best Picture nominee (gag) “The Blind Side!”

Perhaps it might have emerged victorious had it been available on demand the day of its video release.  Comcast stated that “movies available the same day as DVD release are consistently among the top-performing content On Demand.”  And, as Cinematical pointed out, “Folks who loved it couldn’t wait to own it, even in a stripped-down edition, which explains the broken sales records for DVD and Blu-ray.”

In too many factoids to link back to, I have championed streaming and on-demand as the new frontier of movie rentals.  I’ve totally embraced it as I have 70+ movies in my Netflix instant queue and 3 movies waiting to watch on iTunes.  I always love it when movies are available day and date because I’m not too eager to leave my couch/bed to rent a movie.  If I hear that a movie is coming out on video (which I always do), I get upset when I can’t just hit a button and have it ready to watch on my Apple TV.

Lesson learned, Fox?  You couldn’t do much to keep “Avatar” from losing Best Picture, but you could have helped it win this award to add to a superfluous stack.





Random Factoid #511

21 12 2010

This is a big post.  A huge post.  So big it had to involve “Avatar.”

IT’S MY THOUSANDTH POST!!!

It’s been a fun 489 serious posts and 511 days blogging for/with you, so let’s keep the good times rolling.

Now, for those of you not looking to read about a milestone, here’s the “Avatar” part of the factoid.  The Hollywood Reporter released a list of 2010’s most pirated movies, and by far and away the winner was James Cameron’s “Avatar.”  It was downloaded a whopping 16.5 million times.  If each of those pirates saw the movie in 3D, the highest grossing movie ever would have added another $190 million to its $2.7 billion dollar worldwide haul.

While I understand that since it was such a massive hit, it makes sense that it would be the most pirated.  But “Avatar” was such a true cinematic experience so enhanced by theatrical viewing that it seems strange all those people would pirate it.  I’m not into the whole pirated movie gig because I respect filmmakers’ right to earn money off their creative products, but I just don’t think that “Avatar” is a movie worth watching on a small screen.

I’ve probably talked about the value of the theatrical experience too many times to count, yet I find myself with a renewed vigor to defend it after hearing this report.  Theaters are where movies were born, and it’s the community that makes them feel exciting.  I’m sorry that technology has brought us to this point where it becomes so individual.





Random Factoid #508

18 12 2010

Eek, I’m really scrounging for factoids … and not finding much.  Honestly, a part of me just wants to say that I caught a really strange pop culture reference in “How Do You Know” today.  On Reese Witherspoon’s mirror, there are all sorts of inspirational quotes about courage and other virtues.  Then, there’s a quote from KeKe Palmer’s song “Bottoms Up.”  You got some swagger, better let ’em know; you got some swagger, better let ’em show.  It belongs right next to Shakespeare and Biblical passages.

(If you want to listen to the line, it’s around 2:10 in the video.)

Yet another part of me wants to tell you that my family’s Christmas tree was dubbed “The Avatar Tree” by me today after these horrific white orb lights we bought from Target make it look like those little dandelion spirits of the forest.  My mom and I were going to dismantle the tree and replace them with new lights, but we decided to live with “The Avatar Tree” rather than waste two hours of our life for a tree that would like pretty for a week.

Or perhaps I’ll just complain about how peeved I am with the ticket-taker at AMC Studio 30, who won’t stop eyeing me as if I’m a 13-year-old trying to sneak into an R-rated movie.  I showed you my ID once, I’M 18 YEARS OLD!

Maybe I’ll just cop out and post this funny cartoon I found thanks to /Film:

Speaking of WikiLeaks, has anyone noticed the resemblance???  It seems pretty obvious who’s going to play Julian Assange in the WikiLeaks movie.  Future Oscar-winning performance right here.

NPH Assange

I’m dog-beat, and this running around in circles trying to entertain you with a new factoid is about the best I can muster right now.  I’ve come up with stories, opinions, and all sorts of other stuff for 507 straight days – today is a sort of reprieve where I just use this post for an open page to express all the stuff running around in my mind.





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 #434

5 10 2010

So apparently James Cameron wants our money again for “Avatar.”  As if he didn’t make enough on the rerelease in theaters, the first DVD release, and the record-shattering first release. Now, there is “Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition.”  This time, Cameron is so nice he’s even going to include bonus features!

Here’s what NPR‘s Linda Holmes wants to see included:

1. Alternate audio track in which the humans speak Latin and the Na’vi speak Klingon

2. Deleted cameo by Steve Martin as shorts-wearing waiter who serves wine on Jake and Neytiri’s first date

3. “Behind The Making Of 17 Featurettes” featurette

4. Locker-sized Jake Sully poster with “AVATAR” spelled out in pink bubble letters

5. Bonus video: “How To Make Your Own Motion-Capture Feature Film Using A Disposable Camera, A Utility Knife, A Car Battery And 400 Ping-Pong Balls”

6. Blooper reel, including embarrassing love-scene moment where hair braid is accidentally inserted into ear

7. Secrets Of The Flying Horsey Thing

8. Feature-length commentary by James Cameron comparing every scene to similar but slightly inferior sequence in The Hurt Locker.

9. Alternate audio track in which every long and thoughtful pause is accompanied by “The Syncopated Clock.”

10. Teaser trailer for Avatar 2: The Day The Giant Magic Trees Turned.

While all those things are worthy of a good laugh and worthy of my money, I don’t plan on buying “Avatar” on DVD until it comes with a program to turn yourself into a Na’Vi with the full body suit and I can add myself into the background of every scene.  The movie will be on HBO in the next month or so, and the special features will pop up on YouTube soon enough.





Random Factoid #416

17 09 2010

What happened to bonus features?  Seriously.

They used to be my favorite part of buying DVDs when I was eight or nine.  I would shell out $20 for Disney classics I didn’t really want to see that much just so I could watch the special features.  Mini-documentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes – I loved it all.  It was only about four or five years ago when I realized that all I actually wanted to see was the movie itself.

That transition in thought apparently came just in time because most studios don’t even include them on the discs anymore.  Anybody notice how even “Avatar,” the biggest movie of our time, didn’t even have a trailer?

Why is it that no one wants bonus features anymore?  I miss having them as an option when I want something more than a movie.  I don’t need a documentary as long as the movie itself like the Criterion Collection of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” but something would be nice!

Is anybody else up in arms about this new development?  Anybody with any insights on why they are gradually disappearing?