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Enough with the color correction!

Enough with the color correction! (photo)

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As humans, we’re blessed with the ability to see a lot of colors and hues, which makes the world a better and brighter place. Dogs, on the other hand, have a more restricted range of options — they basically see the world as blue, yellow and gray. So I have no choice but to conclude that most movies now being made are created with a canine audience in mind.

Take a look at the trailer for the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” The colors are natural, even flat: shadows aren’t overwhelming, whites can be glaring and the whole thing generally looks naturalistic. (Which actually has a small advantage: it’s hard to tell when people are awake and when they’re asleep, which means the scares are more likely to come out of nowhere.)

Now look at the trailer for the upcoming remake. Lurid greens, blues and oranges predominate, even when there isn’t really a reason. The shadows are overwhelming, and even normal indoor settings have this unnatural glow and sheen to them.

04072010_brother.jpgDamn near every Hollywood release seems to be color-corrected to death of late. Digital technology has enabled this kind of abuse with great frequency. The first film to be digitally tweaked from first to last was “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” There was a point to it — the Coens came up with a rough equivalent to sepia entirely appropriate for a film set during the Great Depression. Having done that, they knocked it off. Their subsequent films, like “Burn After Reading,” don’t have the same fine-tweaked sensibility. Ditto for Martin Scorsese, who turned “The Aviator” into a super-fun color palette test and then subsequently knocked it off to an extent (“Shutter Island” mostly uses the tweaks to approximate the lurid Technicolor Scorsese likes so much).

With a lot of other major releases, color tweaks are more annoying — it’s as if studios think that audiences can’t possibly focus on more than one color at a time. Horror movies are especially guilty of turning the world monochromatic for no reason at all. It nearly always looks like an assault, and it’s kind of an eye-strain — after a while, I almost always want to see a real, untweaked color. It’s especially there in the smeary tones of so many summer blockbusters, a trickle-down legacy from “Lord of the Rings.” (I suspect part of the reason people dug “Iron Man” was because of how relatively unfussy it was).

Unmotivated color correction — for no other reason than to give your movie the sheen of a commercial — is a pest, just as much as overlighting an entire movie (the way Spielberg’s collaboration with DP Janusz Kaminski means nearly all of his movies have ridiculous amounts of flare now). When it stops being a mood-setter and becomes a distraction, it needs to stop.

[Photos: “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” New Line Cinema, 2010; “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, Touchstone Home Video, 2000]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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