Thursday, September 30, 2010


This post gathers together a range of resources - and viewpoints - on the issue of 3D. This is a key development for cinema in the UK and worldwide; for the time being at least, notwithstanding the first batch of 3D TVs being released and the growing number of 3D broadcasts and channels, this remains one area in which cinema offers an experience 'home cinema' cannot match.
Cinemas routinely charge 2-3 times normal ticket prices for the privilege of getting 3D, which is actually most often a 'retrofitting' of a 2D movie, rendered into 3D via a computer process rather than planned and shot in 3D.
Its a key issue to consider not just for your AS exam, but also your coursework!
Speaking of which, with the A2 task in mind, I wonder when we'll start getting music videos in 3D? Surely somebody has thought of this by now?! If you find the article which considers director Wim Wenders' opinion that 3D transforms dance-based movies, surely the same applies to the average performance-based music video?

The Guardian gathers together articles on 3D at:

Here's a good, opinionated article to get you started. The user comments are typically robust, featuring some strong language, but a goldmine too, eg this from 'Gelion':
At present putting a film out in 3D must be synonymous with the audience knowing that that film is going to be poorly rated.
Some weeks ago on another thread I looked at the scores for films in 3D out to date on Rotten Tomatoes.
The average score was 30% (you could argue the only one holding it up was Avatar - but take the special effects out of that film, and in my view you have very little left.)
The Last Airbender with 6% and Cats and Dogs, The Revenge of Kitty Galore 3D! at 13% were the bottom of a very bad pile.
So at the moment, 3D remains a gimmick used to entice film goers to pay their money to view poorly rated films.
It must be a haunting fact for the producers of these films that 3D might soon be common place. 
 The article (
 Blurred vision on the 3D bandwagon
With Star Wars and Inception returning in stereoscopic vision – and three-dimensional HBO due to launch – is 2D dead?
Jar Jar Binks, Star Wars So much prettier in 3D ... a two-dimensional Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Photograph: AFP The intriguing thing about 3D is that even after the enormous success of Avatar nobody knows yet how extensive its use will become in modern film. Might 2D eventually become the exclusive preserve of low budget or independent film-making, with virtually all mainstream fare pushed into stereoscopic vision? Or, once all the fuss and hype dies down, will we see 3D only where its use is sensible: in features with the kind of content that lends itself to the experience?
Up until recently, most observers have seen the second outcome as the more likely one. But there appears to be a rabid frenzy going on in Hollywood right now, with every project under the sun seemingly being green-lit in 3D. Today, the US trades confirmed the rumours that George Lucas is to bring his entire six-film Star Wars saga back to the big screen in stereoscopic vision, starting with 1999's The Phantom Menace (because blooming Jar Jar Binks' fizzog will naturally be infinitely less irritating in three dimensions than it was in two) in 2012. And, in a separate report, I read that Warner Bros is considering retro-fitting Christopher Nolan's Inception for a 3D re-release in cinemas and on the small screen, via US network HBO's soon-to-be-launched 3D TV channel.
Yes, that's right, 3D TVs are very much here. You can buy one now, though you may have to remortgage your house to do so. Naturally, however, as more people grab one the prices will come down. And before long you won't have to wear glasses in order to see that extra dimension: new technologies are already in place which use a different system to trick the eyes into picking up extra depth.
Whether we actually want all this extra gimmickry is a moot point, but it has to be a concern if's report is correct and a film-maker such as Nolan, who specifically chose not to make Inception a 3D project, is now being pushed into doing so retrospectively. Even worse, the article suggests that the film-maker's forthcoming sequel to the Dark Knight, the third in his excellent Batman series, will be shot in three dimensions – whether Nolan likes it or not.
Imagine that. In a few years' time, you sit down for an eight-hour Batman marathon, watching all three films back to back (I'm sad enough to have done this with Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, so I'm confident that this is a genuine potential scenario) and when it comes to the final movie everything suddenly goes all 3D. Or will Warner insist that the first two films are also refitted? What a bunch of jokers.

I'll add a few links here in due course, starting with this...from The Guardian. I can't recommend strongly enough that you browse/read the paper/site regularly, it is a real treasure trove.
With the market overall slipping 3% from the equivalent frame from 2009, when Slumdog Millionaire and Gran Torino led the field, cinemas are hotly anticipating the arrival of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland on Friday. All the big plex chains have now made their peace with Disney over the film's early DVD release date, presumably extracting more generous terms in the revenue split on box office. This means Alice will be limited only by the still insufficient number of 3D screens, where it will presumably lose the late-evening showtime to Avatar.

A Woman's Place is in...the Editor's Chair?

Great Guardian article here that reminds us of the many unlikely examples of macho directors whose trademark style, the hallmarks that earn them their auteur stripes, are often closely tied to a more feminine touch. Scorsese, Coppola, even Hitchcock; all worked closely with a crucial female collaborator. This article (read it at the Guardian site and you'll see embedded film clips to illustrate each paragraoh) focuses on Quentin Tarantino's muse...


Sally Menke: the quiet heroine of the Quentin Tarantino success story
Tarantino's trusted editor and 'number one collaborator', found dead yesterday, was partly to thank for his signature style

Read Sally Menke's obituary here
Quentin Tarantino and Sally Menke in 2007. A cut above ... Quentin Tarantino with editor Sally Menke in 2007. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Sally Menke died this week, aged 56, after going hiking near the Hollywood Hills on a day that was extremely hot even by Los Angeles standards. Her sad death brings to a close the longstanding collaboration with Quentin Tarantino – Menke was the only editor with whom the writer-director has ever worked – that yielded some of the most exhilarating and accomplished films of the past 20 years. He once described her as "hands-down my number one collaborator", noting in an interview for the Grindhouse DVD that "I write by myself but when it comes to the editing, I write with Sally. It's the true epitome, I guess, of a collaboration because I don't remember what was her idea, what was my idea. We're just right there together."
Menke was hiking when the collaboration began, too: she was standing in a phone booth on a remote Canadian mountainside when she learned Tarantino wanted her to cut Reservoir Dogs. Although Tarantino was an untried filmmaker, Menke – whose two previous credits included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – had loved his script, plus the fact that Harvey Keitel was on board, and was attracted by the possibility of working with a director whose interests seemed so ostensibly macho. She thought of Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker.
Tarantino later said (in the documentary The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing) that he had expected a female editor to be "more nurturing to the movie and to me. They wouldn't be trying to win their way just to win their way, all right? They wouldn't be trying to shove their agenda or win their battles with me. They would be nurturing me through this process." Menke, too, felt this dimension of the working relationship: "I think editors play a big role with directors in giving them support, making them feel like they can look at something that may have trouble or problems and be comfortable enough so that they can approach those problems."
She once described editors to the Observer as "the quiet heroes of movies", noting that "we have a very private relationship with our directors, most often conducted in dark rooms". It could be "so intense", she said in The Cutting Edge, that "I see [Tarantino] more than my husband". He in turn noted in mock-dudgeon that "sometimes I get annoyed with her for not reading my mind 100%. It's not good enough that she reads it 80% of the time."
Many aspects of the style Menke developed with Tarantino were already evident in Reservoir Dogs (1992), from long, dialogue-heavy takes shot with a restless camera to bursts of immersive violence. Another signature was the brilliant use of obscure music over material tellingly heightened through devices such as slow motion. Intriguingly, Menke revealed that "I don't cut to music. I just make the scene work emotionally and dramatically, and then Quentin will come in and lay the track over it and we'll tweak it to the beats." The opening sequence of the film remains a masterclass in the technique.
Their next project, Pulp Fiction (1994), was altogether more ambitious but developed familiar motifs. The scene in which Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) dance was shot to live playback of Chuck Berry's You Never Can Tell and plays out in sensuous continuous takes rather than the fast cutting that characterises the rest of their date – a sequence that played out almost in real time until Menke helped Tarantino boil it down. "Most editing is painstaking but this was an exciting scene to edit because it had momentum of its own and an obvious magic," she said of the dance scene itself.
Jackie Brown (1997) offered fewer obvious bravura set-pieces but still plays as effortlessly impressive. This clip shows not just a range of judiciously timed reaction shots but also, thanks to the show Chicks Who Love Guns on the TV, a taste of the outrageous and beat-perfect exploitation-genre pastiche that would play an ever-larger role in the Tarantino oeuvre.
This tendency was indulged to the full in Kill Bill: Vols 1 and 2 (2003 & 2004), a riotous two-volume collage of genre tropes for which appropriate editing was absolutely essential. Yet as the fight sequence from Vol 1 in which the Bride (Uma Thurman) faces down the Crazy 88 shows, Menke was adept both at emulating chop-socky style and interpolating other techniques, such as spaghetti-western-style extreme close-ups. As she told the Observer: "The thing with Tarantino is the mix-and-match ... Our style is to mimic, not homage, but it's all about recontextualising the film language to make it fresh within the new genre."
Death Proof – half of the Grindhouse double-bill that Tarantino made with Robert Rodriguez in 2007 – expanded the love of exploitation to the physical material of the film itself, involved distressing the celluloid to mimic ill-treated old prints. "We'd take a pen, a needle or some other implement and scratch the film," Menke told the Editors Guild Magazine, "thrash it against the bushes on the driveway". But the editing was no less important here – in fact, the meat of Death Proof is an extended car chase, a form in which montage is everything. As this clip shows, Menke knew exactly how to ratchet up the tension while maintaining character engagement.
By the time of last year's Inglourious Basterds, Menke reported, the implicit trust between her and Tarantino was such that "he gives me the dailies and I put 'em together and there's little interference". His confidence was amply rewarded. One of the film's most widely praised sequences was the introduction of the charming, sinister SS officer Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Thanks to Waltz's performance and Menke's editing, almost unbearable tension was wrung out of the most ostensibly banal subject matter. Menke told the Observer how she had learned from Scorsese and Schoonmaker's example how to "follow the emotional arc of a character through a scene, even if, as in the opening of Inglourious Basterds, they're just pouring a glass of milk or stuffing their pipe. We're very proud of that scene – it might be the best thing we've ever done."
It's worth noting that the nurturing aspect of Menke and Tarantino's relationship went both ways. Editing on Tarantino films would take place not at studio suites but in small, rented private houses – a more personal setup than the norm, but also perhaps a more isolated one. Tarantino thus got into the habit of asking cast and crew members to slip greetings into their work when the opportunity arose, to stop her feeling lonesome.
Every botched take became an opportunity for a goofy "Hi Sally!"
The farewells of the director and his team will surely be no less heartfelt.