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Posts Tagged ‘3D’

If you take a look at the top ten grossing movies of the year so far there are seven sequels (Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Monsters University, Fast & Furious 6, Oz The Great and Powerful, Star Trek Into Darkness) and a reboot (Man of Steel). World War Z (based on a book) will probably be knocked out of the top ten by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smug leaving Gravity as the only original property to bother the top ten. Do audiences only go in large numbers to see sequels of franchise movies or do studios only commit large amounts of money to existing properties that a ready made audience? The $825million taken by Christopher Nolan’s Inception proved that a totally original movie could make money, however it would probably never been given the green light if not for the $1billion The Dark Knight took. As cinema prices creep up and audiences become ever more selective, studios become more cautious making it a self fulfilling prophesy relegating most original ideas to smaller films. With this in mind, here are my top five original movies of the year. Original movies, not a sequel, prequel, remake, re-imagining or reboot. Also, not based on a book, comic book or true story.

Stoker: In the year that the remake of Chan-wook Park’s masterpiece Oldboy limped onto cinema screens Stoker proved to be Park’s best film since Oldboy. The original screenplay was written by actor Wentworth Miller. A weird, beautiful and sublime blend of melodrama, psychological thriller and coming of age drama. Budget: $12,000,000 (estimated)stoker

Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón’s space adventure about a pair of astronauts trying to find a way home after a collision in space is a truly stunning film and the first film that should be seen in 3D preferably IMAX 3D. Budget: $100,000,000 (estimated)GRAVITY

Prisoners: Great acting from ensemble cast and stunning photography from Roger Deakins combine with taught direction French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve making his English-language debut elevate this from a genre movie with an overt subtext to a really good film. Budget: $46,000,000 (estimated)Prisoners

The East: An original story of the murky world of private intelligence firms and an environmental anarchist collective. Written by director Zal Batmanglij and star Brit Marling. It is notable for great acting and its dark melancholic tone. Budget: $6,500,000 (estimated)The East

Pacific Rim: To call Guillermo del Toro’s monsters vs. robot movie original would be a stretch as it appears to be based on every other monster movie/comic book to have gone before it, however it isn’t directly based on any other previously produced work. It makes the list ads it is just great fun, pure and simple. Budget: $190,000,000 (estimated)PACIFIC RIM

Mud – the continuing renascence of Matthew McConaughey.
The Counsellor – Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay is far better than has been reported
About Time – Charming and funny time travel comedy from Richard Curtis.
Blue Jasmine – Cate Blanchett, deserves an Oscar.
Elysium – Neill Blomkamp’s Sci-Fi action drama lacks subtlety but is still good

Check back at the end of the month to see how many of these movies make my top ten of the year.

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In the past I have been vocal about my hatred of 3D, but I may have come to accept its place in cinema. The reason I have seen it working twice in recent years.Jaws 3d

When I was a kid 3D meant red and green lensed glasses with cardboard frames. My first experience of what was then branded Real D was in 2007 with the motion capture Beowulf. To the best of my memory I didn’t see another 3D movie until the end of 2009, that was James Cameron’s giant Smurfs epic Avatar, this again was a largely animated movie. From there things went downhill fast. The biggest problem comes when movies are retrofitted with 3D purely for profit. Apologists for 3D will tell you it is immersive and gives depth to the image and that it has moved a long way from the pointy gimmick of 3D horror movies. The truth the gimmicks are what worked and 3D movies have no depth, just foreground, background and a void in the middle. The low points came with movies like Alice in Wonderland (2010) where the best thing I can say about them is that I forgot they were in 3D. Or Drive Angry (2011) and the last two Resident Evil movies (2010 and 2012) that did not have a 2D option. The odd example of 3D being effective involved a hatched, bucket and a bolt flying out of the screen towards the audience.Hugo

After boycotting 3D for a year, this time last year I went to see Hugo. Fully intending to go for the 2D option I had a last minute change of heart. I’m not sure exactly what my thought process was at the time but remember thinking that if Martin Scorsese had made a movie in 3D he had earned the right for me to see it in 3D. One of very few directors who have earned the right to do whatever the fuck they like, I’m glad I went on the journey with Scorsese. Not only was Hugo my favourite film of 2011 but also demonstrated that 3D can work. Many 3D movies, especially retrofitted ones have foreground and background split by a gaping void. Hugo has real depth.Life Of Pi

Since seeing Hugo I have seen a few more 3D movies, they have renewed my prejudice towards the medium. Until now! Life of Pi is not only stunning to look at but like Hugo it has real depth in its 3D images. It is also so bright and vibrant that I never thought about 30% light loss. I have come to accept 3D but not to love it. I accept that in exception circumstances in the hands of true artists and auteurs it can work and can add to the cinema experience. It doesn’t mean I will be rushing to see the next 3D movie but I will be less likely to dismiss it as a pointless gimmick.

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My local cinema has recently moved over almost totally to digital projection. The images are brighter, more clear and in focus (thanks to auto focus). However I still miss something, the warmth and magic of celluloid. The truth is celluloid in its true sense has not been in regular use for a long time. Safer alternatives were developed in the mid twentieth century and most film prints have used polyester film stock for over a decade, however the term celluloid is still often used in relation to all types of film stock. Celluloid is a thermoplastic first developed in the nineteenth century, its great advantage and the reason it was used for film stock is the ease with which it can be moulded and shaped. The downside, it is highly flammable and prone to decomposition. This is why safer alternatives were developed.

Cinema isn’t an art form, it is the coming together of many of the art forms that went before; combining the writing and performance of literature and theatre with the composition of painting and the sound and emotion of music. Beyond the invention of synchronised sound in the 20’s things haven’t really change much in over a hundred years. Sure, colour took over from black and white and gimmicks like 3D come and go but it all boils down to a thin strip of film passing through a projector at 24 frames a second. As the film runs through the projector, thanks to a lenses, a bright light, an optical illusion and the magic and imagination of cinema we forget that we are watching a series of still images. We are captivated by the glorious colour of The Red Shoes or the stark monochrome of The Third Man and get lost in the images and the stories they tell.

I have always felt that monochrome and three strip Technicolor films from the thirties through to the sixties look better than modern movies, both on film and digital. But it goes deeper than a preference for how things look, it is a matter of detachment. Before I ever stopped to think about how the image we see is reconstituted from a series of ones and zeros in a computer I knew there was something alienating about them. It first hit me when I saw Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (2009), the modern clinical look is in stark contrast to the period setting of the movie, It just didn’t fit. Made more than thirty years after it is set, Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967) is far from contemporary but it feels so much more authentic than Mann‘s film. This has nothing to do with the subject matter or when they were made, it is just the medium with which they are projected. Bonnie and Clyde uses the same principles of projection that was used at the time both it and Public Enemies were set, this is reassuring an immersive, no in a conscious way, as soon as you think about it the illusion is broken and that’s what I get with digitally projected movies. There will be a time in the near future when a whole generation of moviegoers will know no difference just like the kids today who can’t remember a time before mobile phones and the internet.

It isn’t just about how the film is projected, it is also how the films are being shot. I had a thought after seeing Supper 8 last summer. The kids in the film are making a super 8 movie; when the have finished a take they have to wait days for the film to be processed, not knowing how it has worked out. Similar minded kids in the present day could shoot a movie (of better quality) on their mobile phone and edit it on a PC or Mac or even on the phone itself and upload it to the net. More importantly they get an instant replay allowing them to know if they should re-shoot the scene. This you would think would be a good thing from an artistic point of view, but is it? Visionary directors from previous generations have had to strive to make the most of the limitations of the medium and with this have learnt their trade and created not just movies but art. Limitations and the imagination required to overcome them is what makes great art. Having the technology and budget that mean you are only limited by your imagination can result in tedious rubbish, look at the work of Michael Bay, James Cameron and George Lucas this century for evidence of that! As what is new becomes the norm new limitations will always challenge film makers and this is a good thing but as with all things in life, embracing the future is always more positive if it is done without forgetting what has gone before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total Luddite, the advantages of digital projection make up for a lot of the deficiencies and artists will be artists regardless of the medium. The problem, I just miss Celluloid.

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I read the book A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs many years ago when I was at school although I enjoyed it at the time hadn’t given it a second thought until the trailers for the movie John Carter appeared a few months ago. Judging from the trailer it is a lose adaptation at best taking characters and ideas but not the plot from the novel originally published nearly a century ago (1917). Given the number of versions Edgar Rice Burroughs other creation, Tarzan it surprising to learn this is the first big screen outing for John Carter and “Barsoom” series of novels. Tomorrows releases got me thinking about other books I have read that will be hitting the cinema this year:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: From a novel I read a long time ago to one I have only just read. I saw the box set of the three Hunger Games novels while Christmas shopping last year, having seen the movie trailer I purchased the books and read them over Christmas. Although it loses its way in the third book and isn’t as good as Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale with which it will be forever compared (despite Suzanne Collins insistence that she was unaware of the Japanese novel) it is still worth reading. The casting looks to be perfect most notably Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, a character with clear parallels with Ree Dolly, her Oscar nominated role in Winter’s Bone. Release date: 23rd March.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac: The adaptation of this seminal novel of the Beat Generation is a bittersweet one for me, I have often thought it could make an excellent movie but my anticipation is tempered by fear that it will never live up to the book. It is in short, one of my all time favourite novels. Fortunately producer Francis Ford Coppola (who has owned the rights for many years) has chosen a perfect director in the shape of Walter Salles who did a fantastic job with The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and has assembled a talented young cast. Release date: 21st September. 

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2: The startling revelation, I have read the Twilight books. As for the movies, the first and third actually aren’t bad. Depending on your point of view, spitting Breaking Dawn into two movies is the only way to do justice to the epic final novel or a cynical attempt to extort the maximum amount of cash from the franchises loyal following. I’m going for the latter. Still as with the final part of Harry potter, Part two promises to better than the dull part one. Release date: 16th November

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: With four adaptations to date do we need another? The 1974 version staring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow is a good film but is somehow lacking, it fails to capture the mood and the magic of the novel that is as important to “The Lost Generation” as On the Road is to the “Beat Generation“. I was a little dubious of the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire but actually think it could work. It is a novel that deserves a great adaptation, Baz Luhrmann could be the visionary director to give it to us, but why does he have to make it in 3D? UK release TBA, USA: 25th December

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