Tuesday, March 30, 2010

With apologies to Smokey, only you can stop the 3-D plague

Actually, if I can start with a movie you all should go see ('cause I do try to keep a positive outlook on things from time to time), if you live in one of our major cities, go see Jacques Audiard's "Un Prophete" while you still have the chance.

One thing people should learn early in life is to believe at least almost everything their parents say, and this is one case that proves that solidly. When my parents compared Audiard's movie to "The Godfather" in terms of both story and quality, I was sure they had to be exaggerating, but thankfully not.

Indeed, the journey that's undergone by the titular character (Tahar Rahim) does in a way mirror the development of Michael Corleone, and it's simply mesmerising to watch (and I promise you won't even notice until the very end that it's nearly three hours long.) The movie is about what he has to do to survive a six-year term in prison, but there's a whole lot going on in that deceptively simple story arc, and the flick is packed with little moments that are magical as stand-alone nuggets but just devastating when you pile them all together (my favorite would have to be when he sticks out his tongue while going through airport security because that's the only way he knows to get searched. Priceless.)

I had never heard of Audiard until last weekend, but now at the top of my Netflix queue to be watched this weekend are his last two movies, "The Beat My Heart Skipped" and "Read My Lips." And I really can't recommend a movie much higher at all than I can "Un Prophete," so please go see it while you still have the chance.

OK, after that today, it's not quite so sunny (until the grand finale, which will thankfully feature the blissfully silly trailer for Jean Pierre Jeunet's "Micmacs," shortened, I believe, from "Micmacs Tire a Larigot.")

Now, I'm usually not one to tell people not to see movies in any form, being a firm believer in the right of people to make up their own damn minds, even if that means you go see Miley Cyrus' new movie this week. When it comes to the 3-D virus, however, a stand has to be taken, and this is indeed the week to do it (though, in case you're wondering, yes, I am well aware that I don't have to power to lead it ... nonetheless ...).

And yes, I do concede that (very rarely) the 3-D gimmick does have merit. I saw "Avatar" two times and loved it more the second one, and I thought the 3-D was used to even better effect in Henry Selick's thoroughly charming "Coraline." But, as far as I know (and I only have doubts about the latter), those were two movies conceived and shot in 3-D, rather than simply "converted" to it afterward (which is when it's outed as the complete gimmick it is.)

I would be willing to just dismiss the 3-D phenomenon as a passing fad and continue to see all my movies in glorious 2-D ("Alice in Wonderland," by the way, was fantastic when viewed the old-fashioned way, and cheaper too!), but it's of course gone well beyond that stage already. When you have studios like Warner Bros. (and possibly others already too) announcing all their "tentpole" movies from now on will be released in 3-D (exaggerate much?), it's time to learn to just say no, because clearly they can't.

So, what prompted this screed? Well, two things. First up comes the rather welcome news that in the wake of the disappointing opening of "How to Train Your Dragon" (is $44 million really disappointing? Apparently so), stock in Dreamworks dropped 8 percent on Monday. Now, I haven't seen the movie (as already established, this arthouse snob spent Saturday afternoon watching "Un Prophete" instead), but every war has to start somewhere, and if this 3-D flick has to be the first fatality, so be it.

The second thing that set me off is that Louis Leterrier's remake of "Clash of the Titans" opens this week, and as tempting as it is pop for those goofy glasses to see the Kraken in 3-D, this man at least is gonna see it in good, old-fashioned 2-D, and I'm enlisting you to do so too (if you see it all.) After all, Regal and AMC, at least, have already raised 3-D ticket prices across the board, with other companies sure to follow suit and, if no one squawks (as I'm trying to do now), more increases sure to come.

And it obviously doesn't stop with "Clash of the Titans." Other upcoming movies for which you can make the rational choice of 2-D over 3-D include Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," "Shrek Forever After," "Toy Story 3," and since seemingly every other movie is at least now "converted" to 3-D, a whole lot more I'm surely overlooking here.

But you get my point. As soon as they started raising prices arbitrarily, the 3-D bug morphed from a trick into a cancer, and there's no way to stop it than just saying no, starting right now.

Whew. That's a whole lot of bile for a Tuesday morning, and I can't think of anything better to sweeten it up than this fantastic trailer for Jean Pierre Jeunet's "Micmacs." I thought the American release window for Jeunet's latest had already come and gone, but this is one case in which I'd be thrilled to be wrong. It indeed just played the SXSW festival, and gets another U.S. release on May 28, when I'll surely be there to see it. As you'll see from the trailer, "Micmacs" is about a band of misfits who join together to take on an arms manufacturer, and it definitely looks like its filled with plenty of Jeunet spirit. Enjoy, and have a perfectly passable Tuesday. Peace out.

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