Monday, March 15, 2010

Auteurism....In 3-D!!!!!!!

Those exclamation points are meant to indicate the big voice announcer guy. Imagine the "IN SPAAAAACE!!!" voice and that's exactly what I'm going for.

Two delightful bits of...almost news came out this weekend. First, word came that Robert Downey, Jr. is in negotiations to star in Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, a space epic of sorts, but besides the joy those two working together promises, the Deadline article also noted that the film will be shot in 3-D. Then, today, on Ain't it Cool News, I see that "[Jean-Pierre] Jeunet is actually quite anxious to make a 3D film."

Now, I'm not wild about Jeunet's work - recently saw Amelie all the way through for the first time and was quite put off, but when I saw A Very Long Engagement way back in 2004 I was quite taken with it (I was 18 at the time, and still a young cinephile; Lord knows what I'd think of it now). And I'm mixed on Cuaron - love Children of Men, could take or leave Prisoner of Azkaban, hated Great Expectations, and have still yet to see Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is the same point I've been trying to make every time a 3-D film gets reviewed and inevitably the word "gimmick" comes up - we've yet to see the format really put to test. After all, widescreen was called a gimmick, as was color. I guess I take issue with the idea that 3-D can't be as important a component to cinema. Coraline put it to brilliant use, but I want to see more perspectives, more visions, and whatever my problems with Cuaron and Jeunet, there's no doubt that they're visually-minded directors with vision to spare. I'm excited as all hell that directors like these two are either diving right into it or eager to do so, as I really think we could use it.

Not that I think every film should be made in 3-D, but then again, I wish more films were made in full frame and (especially) black & white, so I have a feeling we may see more bold visions in 3-D whether we like it or not.

Tangentially related question - what was the last great use of full frame? Of monochrome? I guess the latter's a little obvious with The White Ribbon having just came out. But the former...the last I can think of is Van Sant's Elephant, or even Last Days, which I don't remember very specifically.


Anonymous said...

James Cameron is an auteur.

Fish Tank is 1.33:1.

Scott Nye said...

I saw Fish Tank, and while I admired the use of the frame, I didn't think the film really needed it in the way Elephant did.

Scott Nye said...

And I was speaking more in terms of artists; Avatar aside, I love James Cameron, but the man is no artist.

Anonymous said...

No, James Cameron is an artist. He's a filmmaker. He's made Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Abyss, True Lies, Titanic, and Avatar. He also made Piranha 2, during the production of which he famously made insects dance. He writes his own films, and those films are expressions of a personal vision, hence, he's also an auteur.

You mean he's a populist, that his films are shallow and/or superficial, and that his films don't plumb the depths of the human condition. To which I say, de gustibus non est disputandum. I also refer you to popular criticisms against Jeunet and Cuaron that make the same accusations against them.

Scott Nye said...

No, I have no problem with popular artists (in fact, nothing I said indicated that), I just don't see a lot of art in what Cameron does. Tremendous craft, but not art in the way I see art. Certainly not Avatar.

Also, I don't think simply working in an artistic medium makes one an artist - I don't believe Rock of Love to be art, for example, even though it's a moving picture.

Or, if you want a cinematic example, I don't think Shawn Levy, director of Cheaper by the Dozen, is an artist.

Anonymous said...

Whimsical semantics and willful naivety. In a world in which I love boredom and being bored I'd ask you to even attempt to broaden or illuminate your point of view instead of bickering with me. Certainly in that world of boredom I'd love to hear you justify Children of Men as art as compared to any work of James Cameron.

Alas, I hope you find your way.

Scott Nye said...

I'm sorry if you saw it as bickering; I was only trying to further explain myself, though it's possible I didn't do a very good job of it.

In the end, you have your point of view, I have mine. That's fine. Neither of us has to be "right."

I'm glad you love the movies you do, regardless of what they are; I wish I could love Avatar as much as its supporters do.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. First I shall concede that I betray my curious nature by continuing to follow this, and second I shall point out that the focus of the conversation is not in the efficacy of Avatar in regards to your personal experience.

You first implied that Cameron is not an auteur, which he mostly certainly is, by the very definition, and then when I casually asserted this fact you remarked that he is not an artist. I replied that he is. You will find as well in that second reply that I very clearly stated this is not a matter of taste, although in your next reply you sadly reduced it to such (the Internet! perhaps should be cried out). Why were you talking about Rock of Love and Cheaper by the Dozen?

I simply find it blindingly ironic and hypocritical that you should attempt to use as leverage against the artistic merits of Cameron two decidedly aesthetically driven filmmakers, who owe every bit as much of their success to their craftsmanship as Cameron does. That you hold them in higher regard is to me simply a testament to your underdeveloped exposure to the dimensions of art within filmmaking, or a more general partiality that I attribute to popular and contemporary conventionalism.

But you insist on extrapolating nothing and only toss around several other statements of generality and supposedly denigrating remarks (as in, "I wish I could love Avatar as much as its supporters do," as if your failure to be moved by the picture is tantamount to the complete failure of Cameron as an artist).

And what's so burdensome about this conversation is your use of semantic and social buffers rather than any serious confrontation with the question of Cameron's artistic merits (which are, if I need to reiterate, severely copious...not even necessarily as a director, but also as a writer [what clever inventiveness in Strange Days], an editor, and a producer [ahh, Soderbergh's Solaris])!