DID YOU READ

The 3D movie revival (2009-2011)

The 3D movie revival (2009-2011) (photo)

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Slate has an article this morning every 3D fan — or 3D hater — should read. It’s called “Who Killed 3D?” by Daniel Engber, and it accuses four main suspects: greedy theater chains, greedy film studios, shrewd consumers, and hack filmmakers. The entire piece, which includes eye-opening graphs on the decline in revenue generated by 3D movies in recent months, is worth reading, but here is one brief excerpt on the subject of moviegoers’ perception of the format:

“While the early movies in the 3D revival relied on outrageous stunts — pickaxes flying off the screen and all that — recent films have tended to use the technology for atmosphere, rarely breaking out of the stereo window. Restraint carries its own risks, however. In June, A. O. Scott called this ‘one of the pitfalls of that format, which is that if the 3D is unobtrusive enough that you don’t really notice it, you may as well forego the disposable glasses and the surcharge that comes with them.’ The vice- chairman of Paramount summed up the case when he told the Times that consumers are ‘tired of sitting in a theater thinking, ‘Wait is this movie in 3D or not?”
It’s a damned-if-you-do problem: 3D effects are either too blatant or too subtle, a novelty or a trifle.”

I’m not sure that there’s one clear assailant here — in the final analysis, the solution to this mystery may be like a game of “Clue” where someone accidentally shoved both Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum’s cards into the little envelope. There may also be one more suspect that Slate missed, one that combines elements of greedy studios, shrewd consumers, and hack filmmakers: let’s call it “glutting the market.”

The 3D revival began with “Avatar,” which became more than a movie, even more than the all-time highest grossing movie in history. It became an event. People who rarely go to the movies — not just “3D movies,” but movies in general — went to see it. Thanks to its association with the “Avatar” brand, 3D felt special, not just some gimmick dredged up to enliven tired genre formula, but an entire new filmic dimension ready to be explored. For a very brief period, it seemed like 3D was the future. That’s how you were going to see the biggest and most important films from now on.

Of course in “Avatar”‘s wake came many, many 3D movies. Even movies that weren’t shot in 3D were converted to 3D in post-production to cash in. At that point, the quality of 3D films was almost irrelevant; it was quantity that mattered. Some have compared the surcharge on 3D movies to the ticket prices at Broadway shows or sporting events. That’s ludicrous; live theater and sports are once-a-year indulgences (if you’re lucky). Perhaps if there was one 3D movie of the year on par with “Avatar,” people would embrace the idea of a surcharge. But we’ve reached a point this summer where there are sometimes one or two new 3D movies every week. Now there’s nothing inherently special about a 3D movie.

“Avatar” and a few other high-end 3D movies suggested that there could be. But I suspect Slate’s article will soon be proven correct: those in charge of the format sacrificed long-term viability for short-term profits, which is too bad. I remain convinced that there are still interesting artistic opportunities in three dimensions. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg both seem to think so; their upcoming movies “Hugo” and “The Adventures of Tintin” are both in 3D. But even if they explore new dimensional terrain, will anyone notice? As far as most theatergoers are concerned, they’ve already seen enough.

Do you still like going to 3D movies? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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