Quote of the day--one eye tied behind yer back edition

>> Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The question of 3-D is a very straightforward one. I never meet anybody who actually likes the format, and it’s always a source of great concern to me when you’re charging a higher price for something that nobody seems to really say they have any great love for.
- Christopher Nolan, as quoted by David Germain,
"No 'Dark Knight' 3D",
Associated Press, July 17th, 2012.

Gods bless Christopher Nolan for saying it. Gods bless somebody in Hollywood saying it. I think I've seen two movies where 3D was worth the bloated ticket price, and only one of them was any good (that would have been Martin Scorsese's Hugo; the other was pretty much a near-total piece of shit).

I actually was grateful when I recently learned that one of the friends I see movies with is made nauseous by 3D, since he and his wife were the only reasons I ever went to see an upconverted "3D" film. Otherwise, I just don't want to see a 3D film unless it was shot in 3D, and I'd really prefer it if directors didn't bother with 3D unless they're going to do something remotely interesting with it.

I mean, credit to Scorsese for using the technology to try to convey the kind of thrill Georges Méliès' audiences might have felt seeing his multilayered, dioramic, effects-laden films back in the first decade of the 20th Century; Scorsese even went to the trouble of re-creating several of Méliès most-iconic scenes and images in 3D, that we might re-see those images anew, images we've seen so many times the familiarity inevitably bred contempt (it's easy to forget there was ever a time when nobody had ever seen the man in the moon get shot in the eye with a spaceship, you know). So this is maybe the one example I've seen where a director used 3D in a way that was not merely a gimmick, but rather an aesthetically sophisticated gimmick.

But there's the rub, right? I think Scorsese's use of 3D in Hugo is pretty damn cool and adds something to the experience of the movie and enhances one's appreciation for Georges Méliès, who is a major character in the film and whose work is a major point of the film, and whose work Hugo pays homage and tribute to. But it's still essentially a gimmick. It isn't like you can't enjoy the story and acting in Hugo if you see it downconverted into a flat field-of-view. This sort of brings us to that other movie I alluded to with pretty 3D, Prometheus, which looks utterly spectacular when viewed the way it was meant to be viewed, but isn't really worth viewing at all because it's an insipid, stupid--ironically enough, shallow--film in any number of dimensions. (I can't help singing a Sex Pistols chorus as I write that: "We're so pretty, oh so pretty--we're vaaaa-cant", Prometheus being, indeed, just that.)

Having written all that about 3D, I have to ask myself if IMAX--the cinematic technology Nolan used for several scenes in The Dark Knight and to an even greater degree in The Dark Knight Rises isn't just as much a gimmick. And he is charging extra for it, of course. And I have to concede that it might be a gimmick, but, if it is, I'd suggest it's much more of the Scorsesean gimmick than just a pretty gloss on a turd à la Ridley Scott's last film. An eighteen-wheeler flipping end over end towards you in high-res on a three-story screen is something else. It's actually a bit like the apocryphal scene Martin Scorsese recreates in Hugo where early film audiences were supposedly frightened into trying to jump out of the way of an "oncoming" train projected onto a movie screen (this probably didn't happen in fact, but then nobody tried to get away from the tumbling tractor-trailer when I saw Dark Knight in the theatre, either).

Anyway, the point was that I hope Nolan is planting a seed of some sort, and people will stop making these 3D movies unless the technology is somehow helping the film instead of just being stuck in there as a replacement reason-for-watching. I'm not opposed to the technology per se anymore than I'm opposed to Technicolor, I'm just sick of this being The Next Big Thing, is all, especially when it isn't much of a thing to start with--pay extra to where uncomfortable extra glasses over my real glasses for ninety minutes so I can see a diorama and feel vaguely nauseous sometimes, gee, sign me up.


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