Scorsese is Wrong Wrong Wrong About 3D: a Reflection by Steve

I greatly admire Martin Scorsese as a director. He is simply and undeniably one of the all time greats. But he is completely and utterly wrong when it comes to 3D. He recently spoke at a film convention and said that all his future films will be in 3D. Please, Martin, say it isn’t so! He said that 3D films transport fans into another world. That may be so, but it’s not a world where I want to go. I do want films to transport me and the good ones do, without the aid of 3D. He said that 3D allows the viewer to feel a stronger connection to the story and the actors on screen. I find the precise opposite to be true. I find 3D to look phoney and artificial. We do not experience the world in layers like we do when watching 3D. Rather than being drawn in to the story and feeling a closer connection to the actors, I feel repelled by 3D. Scorsese’s own Hugo is a perfect example. Seeing it in the theater in 3D, I was underwhelmed. I thought it was a decent movie, but nothing special. Sure, there were a few scenes where the 3D provided a cool effect, as is the case with most 3D movies, but at those moments I find myself thinking about the cool 3D effect, which actually serves to disconnect me from the story. The rest of the time I just find the 3D annoying. A few good moments do not make it worthwhile to have the movie in 3D. These days I find myself giving a little cheer when I see that a movie is being released in 2D. When I watched Hugo at home in wonderful 2D, I fell in love with it and it jumped into my top 5 for the year. So, please, Martin, and all you other directors out there, get over your misguided infatuation with 3D!

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Steve’s Oscar Predictions: Part Three – Director and Picture

It’s been a good year at the movies. Although nothing really stands out as an all-time great movie, there certainly was a good variety of things to see, as represented by the Best Picture nominees. There were certainly fine movies and directors who failed to get nominated, but those that were have given us plenty to ponder. So, with no further ado, we’re on to the big two.

Best Director

Seen: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), Martin Scorsese (Hugo)

Will Win: Martin Scorsese – The field is tightly packed. A strong case could be made for any of these five. Four of these films are in my top five for the year. Hugo didn’t even make my top ten, yet I think Scorsese will win this Oscar. Many critics have applauded his wonderful use of 3D, but I think it is the 3D that caused its low placement in my rankings. I do not like 3D! I’m looking forward to seeing Hugo again soon at home in 2D. I think Scorsese will win because, even though he won the Oscar for The Departed, the Academy still feels that it owes him for letting so much of his great work go unrewarded. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Hugo is a love song to movie-making. Of course, The Artist is also such a love song, but I think Hazanavicius will lose out as a both an outsider and a newcomer. Although, I wouldn’t be surprized if he does win.

Should Win: Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life was an incredible feat of movie-making. It had a grand vision. True, it is not for everyone, mostly because Malick was too caught up in his vision, but nonetheless I would like to see such a bold and personal effort be rewarded.

Best Picture

Seen: The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life

Haven’t Seen: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, War Horse

Will Win: The Artist – This movie was charming, but is that enough to win Best Picture? I think it will be. The story wasn’t particularly deep, but it was effective. Will the Academy vote for a silent film shot in black and white? Again, I think it will. In its own way, this was a bold piece of film-making so I think we will see a dog on stage Sunday evening.

Should Win: The Tree of Life – This was the best film of the year, despite its flaws. Some found parts of it to be boring (and I’ll agree that the creation scene went on a little too long), but I found parts of The Artist to be dull, too. Overall, The Tree of Life is epic work, as close to great as anything came this year. It was deep. It was profound. I can’t wait to see it again and again. I love movies because of movies like this!

Hugo is Not Quite Magical: a Recommendation from Steve

Hugo, the new movie from Martin Scorsese, is a strange concoction. It is an homage to movie-making that will turn off many movie-goers. It is a family film that will bore many kids. Yet, in many ways it is quite enjoyable. Hugo, a young orphan who lives in the clockworks of a train station in Paris, is played by Asa Butterfield. His performance is solid, but not spectacular. Chloe Moretz plays Isabelle, a young girl who befriends Hugo. She has great screen presence and is an actress to keep an eye on. The main adult actors have an intensity about them that at times seems overdone. Even so, Ben Kingsley is fairly effective as Papa Georges. I’m not a big Sacha Baron Cohen fan and his portrayal of the station investigator irritated me at first, too slapstick, but he did grow on me. Christopher Lee as the book seller was a bit of a head scratcher. When he first encounters Hugo in the movie he seems to recognize Hugo’s name, which makes him disturbed or angry. Later, he is quite kind to Hugo with no explanation for the change. There were a number of such instances in the movie. Since the main plot is a mystery, these could have been red herrings, but I don’t think so. They seemed to be examples of sloppy writing.

The mystery that forms the framework of the film involves an automaton that Hugo’s father was trying to repair before he died. Now Hugo is trying to complete the job while he and Isabelle seek to discover the origin of the automaton. While the mystery is the framework, it seems that Scorsese’s purpose in making Hugo was to celebrate the early days of film-making and to promote the preservation of those early films, a cause that he is actively involved in. A good portion of the second half of the movie works as a documentary on movie-making. I found these sequences t0 be delightful, but I can imagine many people finding them less than exhilarating. Indeed, it is ironic that a movie that seeks to celebrate the magic of movies lacks a feeling of magic itself. A line from Hugo himself illustrates the problem. When asked about repairing the automaton, he says that he likes machines because every piece has its function. There are no extra pieces. He says he likes to think of the world as a machine because then he knows that he has a function, a reason for being there. It is nice to think about everyone having a purpose, but the problem with machines is that they are impersonal. In Hugo, Scorsese has arranged all the pieces and it works (although it wasn’t clear what the function of all the pieces were), but it never really drew me in. Again though, enough of it worked for it to land fairly high in my rankings. It may have been even higher if it hadn’t been filmed in 3D. I still hate 3D! Many reviews say that Scorsese got the 3D right. I’m not sure that is humanly possible. 3D looks artificial, which may be another reason the movie didn’t draw me in. Sure, there were a few shots that looked great in 3D. There were other scenes that were enhanced by the format. That still leaves you with 80% of the movie where the 3D is simply irritating. Please, please, please, stop with the 3D already!

Steve’s 100 Movies

Check out the new page on our blog.  I’ve added a list of 100 of my favorite movies.  Simply click on the “Steve’s 100” tab at the top of the page.  Happy viewing!