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Toy Story 3D

Good story.  The 3D effect contributed a measure of  irrelevant novelty that didn’t ruinously intrude on the narrative experience.  I look forward to buying the DVD to complete the set of three engrossing, animated films, and to prospect for nuggets of curiosity and personal interest — BUT I won’t be looking for an archival copy on iTunes and I won’t seek the deluxe BlueRay edition, nor the 3DTV version, because I think that’s the SUV of storytelling.

One pass through the film in a theater last Sunday doesn’t give me the right to wax all philosophic upside it’s head, but I noticed that the 3D stuff that came before the 3D film began (trailers and logos and promotional crap) moved me.  The involuntary acts of flinching were due to owls and bowling pins flying out of the screen and right through the fourth wall of the theater experience, into my sacred domain.  Well…I thought it was mine and sacred, because for sixty years the movie industry has largely avoided acknowledging the fourth wall and my place on this side of the screen.  Robert Mongomery’s 1947  The Lady in the Lake, near as I can figure, returned the investment of capital so poorly that the sustained use of subjective-camera in movies is like the third rail in subway hitchhiking; movies (and studios) that want to live long and prosper have avoided that technique asiduously.  

I say that realizing that exceptions count for something, and from time to time, Hope and Crosby, Bugs, Lou Costello, for example, address the audience directly, and 3D experiments since ’47 (generally centered on horror-movie special effects) dot the recent history of cinema.  The kicker here is that 3D and subjective-camera technique are extremely compatible with one another…you can watch the pitcher brush back a slugger from your seat off the 3rd base line or you can see that event from the point of view of the batter…3D and subjective camera optimize visceral and involuntary responses in an audience (until the audience habituates to the phenomenon).  They’re also entirely compatible with the fashionable idea that audiences communicate virally, automatically massing in staggering numbers to have their strings pulled by special effects that can take the place of a stimulating and provocative story.  No, they can’t.

There’s a 3D fork in the road of cinema up yonder.  It marks the point in the marriage of commerce and art where a lousy relationship gets worse.  Compelling content and the profit motive separate when money invests in sure things (like the autonomic nervous system that always makes you flinch when a beanball’s coming — even if it’s virtual).  Artists may be able to incorporate fresh technology (like a wireless HD clip-on camera [or an absolutely insubstantial PIXAR camera]) into storytelling, but cretive artists are definitely not the kind of sure thing money prefers to depend upon.  Some studio coercion is probably inevitable.

It remains to be seen whether people want 3DTVs enough to invest in the hardware necessary to play the software that’s coming in the wake of the stream of first-run 3D features.  It also remains to be seen whether people will want 3D software archives that may help them replicate the autonomic, visceral responses that Hollywood and pornographers will insert in place of compelling stories from now on.

There are probably a number of intriguing parallels in Toy Story 3 that mirror the careers of outgrown toys bound for the attic, day care center or land fill; but I’ll probably have to get a DVD copy to fully appreciate them.  I think the natural compatibilty of hot 3D and long-disfavored subjective-camera technique forces film schools to teach subjective camera use from the library of existing experiments like The Lady in the Lake, Dark Passage and With the Angels.  And eventually the studios will realize that content is king, while gimmick is only temporarily novel; so, in time, audiences and greenlights will demand meaningful, provocative stories (again).

The aim ‘is to be the only horror movie coming out that is not in 3-D.’
The producer of the coming film The Cabin in the Woods.

‘When you put the glasses on, everything gets dim.’
The director of Star Trek, which was a 2-D hit last year.

03 Aug 10 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments