Monday, September 13, 2010
Would "The Hours" have been a better movie in 3D?
Technology's not helping.
Back in the 80s there was a new technology called "colorization" that allowed studios to "paint" old black and white movies (like Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Psycho, and the first ten minutes of The Wizard of Oz) in vivid colors, as if the original filmmakers would've shot them that way if they'd had a choice. Colorization turned out to be the cinematic equivalent of painting marble statues "realistic" colors; something the ancient Romans apparently did. Nobody accused the ancient Romans of good taste, or the ancient colorizers of the 1980s. And many people, including me, thought the colorization of some classic films was an atrocity. But if a movie is a turd, painting it in bright colors doesn't cover up the smell.
Now, of course, the new visual technology is 3D, something they've been trying to poke at us for decades. Naturally it's supposed to be much better than the last time they tried this, back in the 70s, and before that, in the 50s. But it seems about the same to me; gives me the same headaches and eye-strain. And sitting there for almost three hours, like I had to do with Avatar, trying to fool my optic nerve that this was really 3D and not some moving pop-up-book, was just too much for my brain to swallow. I had flashes and "floaters" for a couple of days after. And, like colorization, 3D still didn't help the awful dialog.
But I have read that lately it's hard to get a movie produced unless it's in 3D--or about vampires.
So if 3D finally comes into its own, and all movies need to be shot in it; you know what's next. We've seen this before. Now comes the inevitable battle of format (remember Beta vs VHS?), and the inevitable throwing out of your own huge video library again to start anew (hopefully in the winning format), and the inevitable purchase of $10,000 TVs that can display 3D (for the single 3D movie that you own), and the inevitable choking of landfills with old 2D flat-panels and all of their toxic components. The whole prospect makes me tired.
Then there's HD. Not Hyperactivity Disorder, of course; High Definition. About the only use I can see for HD is watching sports. At least, then, you have a chance to see who actually has the ball and can read the numbers on the jerseys. But for everything else it's just TMI. Everybody looks awful in HD; much worse, somehow, than they do in real life. It seems to accentuate every blemish, rosaceal bloom, and ingrown hair. It's particularly unflattering to older actresses who would otherwise still look beautiful. Also HD just does something weird to the eyes. They're--I don't know--sparkly, villainous.
And here's another bit of visual technology that, while clever, is dumb: being able to watch a movie on your SmartPhone (or SmartFone or MeFone or Dwoid). Does anybody do this? Is it actually fun to watch a movie on a 3" screen and hear it through tinny earbuds? But just in case it is, you now can. You just can't watch it in 3D, yet. Or rely on your phone not to drop your calls.
The whole thing makes me bitter, of course, because while the entertainment and ad industry are spending heavily on new, dubious technologies, they aren't spending spit on writing.
Which means, on me.