Wednesday Links

I don’t have anything to say about Sundance or the Oscars that hasn’t already been said.  I liked The King’s Speech way more than I expected, so I’m happy to see it get multiple nominations.  Exit through the Gift Shop was fun and inventive, and I’d imagine that a Banksy Oscar reaction would be sort of fun.  It’s not terribly surprising that no women were nominated for director, I guess, now that Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar win has brought us to Hollywood gender utopia.  Otherwise I’ll be watching Oscar for the jokes.  So instead, here are some links:

  • Roger Ebert recently revived the talk about why 3-D will never work by posting a letter by Walter Murch.  The short version is that our eyes would have to eolve to accept current 3-D projection as natural.
  • Kristin Thomposon covers similar territory in a two-part series talking about some of the challenges of 3-D.  Thompson correctly highlights audience disaffection at the higher prices and the sloppiness of most 3-D conversions.  But the meat of her second post draws from James Cameron’s discussion of his plans to convert Titanic into 3-D, where he describes the process as a craft (and a highly subjective one at that).
  • Of course, domestic audience response to 3-D is only a small part of the equation.  As Patrick Goldstein points out, many films that fizzle in the U.S., including the Jack Black adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels, rake in the money overseas, thanks in part to the use of 3-D.  Goldstein adds that this overseas market may partially explain why studios have less interest in making dramas.
  • Google is buying Fflick, a tool that makes movie recommendations based on information in people’s Twitter feeds, illustrating the degree to which “content discovery” will be based upon targeted, individualized recommendation algorithms that draw drom data compiled from social media networks.  It’s tempting to read something like this as further evidence of the degree to which media conglomerates are involved a “programming of the self,” but I think these privacy dynamics are a bit more complicated (Jeff Rice has an engaging post on the complaints about Facebook’s privacy policies).
  • CNET has a brief discussion of Netflix’s plans to buy streaming rights to Warner Brothers films when their agreement with HBO expires in 2014.  Given the corporate ties between Warner and HBO, it seems unlikely to happen, but it’s a story worth watching none the less.
  • Ted Hope points out that Lance Weiler has infected Sundance with a Pandemic.
  • Some of the loudest buzz coming out of Sundance has been the reaction to Kevin Smith’s 26-minute discussion of his distribution plans for Red State.  Smith is planning to distribute the film on his own, a plan that may include a national screening tour.  Matt Singer at IFC praises Smith for his candid discussion of Hollywood economics while Patrick Goldstein suggests that Smith’s comments will make too many enemies, making it difficult for him to sustain an indie film career (at least within the indie industry).  Smith, of course, saves a little venom for the critics who have negatively reviewed many of his films.  Hoping to say more about Smith when I’ve had time to watch the video later this week.

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