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Eye Poppers

10 3D Movies That Don’t Suck

Catch Jaws 3-D this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk/©Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

These days it seems like everything from the latest comic book blockbuster to the umpteenth Chipmunks squeak-quel is being released in eye-popping 3-D. What used to be a fun gimmick is now a cheap tactic to jack up ticket prices. But there was a time, like back in the days of Jaws 3D (airing this month on IFC), when stuff coming out of the screen at you was actually fun. Here are ten movies that were not just great, but better for being in three dimensions.

10. Spooks!

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Movie theaters may be flooded with 3D pictures these days, but there’s no denying that the 1950s were the format’s golden age. With the advent of TV, studios were pulling out all the stops to keep audiences coming to the theaters. Gimmicks like Smell-O-Vision, Cinerama and Stereoscopic 3D were all the rage, and no one was immune to their charms. Not even The Three Stooges, limping along decades after their heyday, who turned a Jekyll and Hyde spoof into a 3D experience. All of a sudden Moe wasn’t the only one with fingers poking at his face. A novelty for sure, but one that helps sum up an era.


9. Friday the 13th Part III

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

The 1980s saw a resurgence of the 3D format, with movies like Amityville 3D and the aforementioned Jaws 3-D trying to ring some life out of the retired gimmick. And while they all have their fun moments, none approached the format with more ridiculous zeal than Friday the 13th Part III. Treating brutal murders like slapstick hijinks, the filmmakers knew that they could get a shriek AND a laugh out of you at the same time. Or do you not want to watch an arrow shot through a victim’s head, popping his eye out and into your lap? We thought so.


8. The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D

Buena Vista
Buena Vista

There are two ways to make a 3D movie. You can shoot the film with a special camera, or you can convert it after it’s been shot. Many of today’s blockbusters use the latter technique, and it shows. Instead of a visual mastery of the potentials of 3D filmmaking, random elements from 2D footage are just snipped out and shifted into the foreground. It can look cheap and confusing. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with the conversion of this Tim Burton holiday classic. With love and craft, the 3D effects here only heighten the gorgeous world building, creating musical numbers that explode off the screen with terrifying cheer.


7. Kiss Me Kate

MGM
MGM

The gold standard of the 1950s 3D experience, this beloved musical was turned into an theatrical event by employing the format. In place of the era’s typical gimmicks, the 3D here is employed to make you feel like you’re at a Broadway play, creating a depth that helps the show-stopping songs, full of wit and heart, explode off the screen. You can see why this classic has stood the test of time.


6. Hugo

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Martin Scorsese ditched mobsters and murder with this love letter to the early days of cinema. The story of a boy, his automaton and a search for dreams, Scorsese creates an impressive world of wonder here, and then uses 3D to pull us into it. From ridiculous chase sequences through a Parisian train station, to a recreation of Georges Méliès’ seminal A Trip to the Moon, the format is used to create wonder, instead of gimmicks, and was duly honored with multiple Academy Awards, including for Best Effects.


5. Ghosts of the Abyss

Buena Vista
Buena Vista

James Cameron was never satisfied with simply being a director. Over the years he’s added engineer, philanthropist and deep sea explorer to his resume. After helming the biggest hit in the history of cinema, Titanic, Cameron stepped away from narrative film for a bit and focused his energy on exploring the world’s oceans. This documentary film, in which he piloted a submarine through the wreckage of the Titanic itself, was the result of this new passion. The subsequent documentary, Ghosts of the Abyss, uses 3D technology along with visual effects to make the sunken ship come to life again. A truly unique experience from a master, this film takes you to another world right here on our own.


4. Life of Pi

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Ang Lee’s masterful adaption of Yann Martel’s 2001 fantasy novel was a remarkable achievement in visual effects and 3D filmmaking. Using technology as a tool of storytelling, the film builds a massive world full of high adventure, wild animals and never ending oceans that would have been impossible to create just a few years ago. A beautiful movie from a beautiful book, this film was dominated by visual effects, and yet they never took you out of the story.


3. Avatar

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Avatar, the current highest grossing movie of all time, really kicked the blockbuster 3D craze into high gear. Granted, this isn’t a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, more an action-adventure take of Dances With Wolves than an original piece of art. And yet director James Cameron builds an entire planet, and civilization, from the ground up with nothing but a few computers and a dream. Basically everyone you’ve ever met turned out in 2009 to be transported to another world, thanks to Cameron’s mastery of the technical side of filmmaking. And with four planned sequels, who knows how many more worlds he has in the offing for us.


2. House of Wax

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Director Andre de Toth helmed this bananas 3D classic, despite the fact that he couldn’t see the format himself, having lost an eye at a young age. The progenitor of the 3D jump scare, de Toth employed his effects sparingly to get the most out of the audience’s reactions. Whether it was a brutal murder, or a three-dimensional performance by a group of scantily clad can-can girls, this movie knew what its audience wanted and wasn’t shy about giving it to them.


1. Gravity

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Here is the movie that boldly went where 3D has never gone before. A simple idea with extraordinary execution, all of the visual effects here add up to scare the living hell out of you. There’s no jokey stuff flying at you. No dancing girls or goofy aliens. There’s jut one woman, flung through space, alone and terrified. Instead of building an immersive world, the technology is utilized to make the audience feel what it would be like if there was no world at all.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend-Series-Image

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend_About-Image

IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

SistersWeekend_102_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

via GIPHY

IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

via GIPHY

IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

E.coli-class-

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

ecoli-computer

IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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