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Has 3D jumped the shark?

Has 3D jumped the shark? (photo)

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Okay, first of all, I have no idea whether it’s “3D” or “3-D.” The article I’m going to quote in a minute from The New York Times uses “3-D,” but movie posters like this, this or this all say “3D.” I’m a man of the people, so I put the question to Twitter: 3-D or 3D? Two out of every three responses I got ignored the question completely and replied “2D!”

In other words: who cares, we hate it either way.

Not a good sign for the movie studios who have invested so much money in the format, which is the point of that Times piece by Brooks Barnes. Apparently “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” director Michael Bay is working overtime to encourage people to see his movie in 3(-)D rather than 2(-)D, despite the increasing public perception that the format is a ripoff. Bay notes that the film was shot in 3D by James Cameron’s “Avatar” crew, and that he adjusted his signature run-and-gun visual style to suit the technical demands of shooting in three dimensions. He told the Times “If this was having my name on it, I was determined to make it technically perfect… we’ve spent an enormous amount of time making sure the eye is transitioned from shot to shot.” According to the article, Paramount spent an extra $30 million shooting “Transformers” in 3D.

I like 3D in theory (yeah, I’m going without the dash, it’s just easier to type). As a single tool in a filmmaker’s toolkit, I think it has a lot of potential. But a lot of things work better in theory than in reality — time travel, supply-side economics, “Star Wars” prequels — and so far 3D is one of them. I’ve enjoyed some of the films shot in 3D, but like most of the people on my Twitter feed, I’ve been burned over and over by movies shot in 2D and then hastily converted to 3D in post production. Since I live in New York City, where a 3D ticket can set you back $18, I’ve been burned more than most.

From the start of the recent 3D craze, there’s been a debate over what a modern 3D movie should be. Should modern 3D have dimensional gimmicks, like the old paddleball in the lens gag? Or should it just present a more immersive experience? To me, if I’m paying extra for something, I want to feel the difference. Maybe the most interesting quote in today’s Times piece comes from Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore.

“The consumer has had a reaction to bad 3D and subtle 3D,” Moore says. “They’re tired of sitting in a theater thinking, ‘Wait, is this movie in 3-D or not?’ Well, with ‘Transformers’ people are going to leave saying, ‘You absolutely must see this in 3-D.'”

“Subtle 3D?” Who wants to pay five dollars for subtlety? By diminishing if not completely rejecting the very thing that made 3D special, the format may have jumped the shark.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was “Thor,” which I saw in such dimly projected 3D that I could barely make out what was going on throughout the extended opening action sequence and many of the night scenes. Subtle is one thing; invisible is another. When I saw “Green Lantern” last week to discuss it on The /Filmcast, I did something I had never done before: I actively sought out a 2D screening. I was glad I did; the movie looked clear and bright. I didn’t miss the 3D for a single second.

I’ve heard from some friends that the “Green Lantern” 3D was better than the average post-production conversion job. But I’ve also heard from others that it was just as bad as the rest. Which is part of the problem: there’s so little consistency from theater to theater with these 3D movies. Sometimes you pay extra and get an extra dimension; other times you pay extra for a movie projected blurry and a pair of glasses that bring it into focus. What we need is some sort of consumer guide website devoted to cataloguing the 3D experience at movie theaters, pointing out which ones are doing it correctly and which ones aren’t so that you know where to go to spend your money. For seventeen bucks, you deserve at least three dimensions.

If you’re going to see “Transformers” are you going in 2D or 3D? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Give Back

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

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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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: 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.


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: 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.


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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