3D is dead. It’s over. Or, at least, it should be if Mark Kermode had his way. This evening with the BBC’s flagship film reviewer begins with a 40 minute talk from Kermode in which he sums up the arguments he made in his recent book The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex. He takes us through the problems with modern cinema, the death of the projectionist, the rise and (hopefully) fall of 3D movies and the possibilities of a new dawn in which cinemas are returned to film lovers, his solution to this? Multi-platform day and date releasing.
Kermode takes us on a similar journey to that he outlines in his book, and here with a partisan crowd, is preaching to the converted. Kermode brings his theories bang up to date, talking about the failings of John Carter (of Mars), the challenge of seeing Prometheus in 2D and the fact that 3D was seen as an easier option than making films ‘good’.
Kermode clearly revels in preaching to his crowd and his confidence is obvious, not just from his experience on his radio show (with contributor Simon Mayo) but from his academic background. Kermode’s film knowledge is clearly strong, but it is stronger in the areas in which his crowd are interested. He has knowledge of world cinema, independent cinema and avant-garde cinema but where his passion really lies is in 70′s and 80′s horror, it is when these films are discussed that he really comes alive and enjoys the conversation the most.
Kermode’s theory that any film can be a success if it has a) a news-worthy budget, b) big special effects and c) a star, is hard to disagree with, it is his assertion that these factors do not mean that the film has to be ‘dumb’ that he seems keenest to impress on the crowd. He also finds an energy when talking about projectionists, and his passion here is infectious, leading the crowd to agree with him on almost every point as he builds to the crescendo that multiplexes are now ‘sweet shops with a video player’.
The final point of Kermode’s lecture is that multi-platform, day and date releasing will bring the future for film and will liberate the multiplexes for film-lovers (although he did suggest that multiplexes will probably have to give way to smaller independents). The concept that films becoming available on download, DVD, Blu-ray and in cinemas on the same day means that people will then be able to choose how they watch them will mean that the only people who will go to cinemas will be those who choose to pay for, as Ray Winstone would say with a cockney shrug, experience. It is a strong theory and apart from the cinema offering a relatively cheap babysitting service for parents and somewhere dark for teenagers to feel each other up, he may well be on to something. What is certainly true is that for the music industry, allowing people to download music legally had a sizeable impact on piracy, and film could certainly benefit from this.
The second half of the show sees Kermode take questions from the floor. The inevitable 3D debate dominates most of this section and Kermode is reasoned and eloquent in his loathing for the format and the way it is forced upon the cinema going public, a duel with one guest on how he may have enjoyed films in 3D but they were better in 2D is mercifully short for the audience member in question (one feels Kermode would happily explain to this man why he is wrong for several hours). He also deals with questions on blockbusters, the expectation placed on certain movies, becoming a film maker (he makes no apology for having no idea how you do this), and the attempts to re-open a classic cinema in Lichfield. His answer on plastic effects vs CGI is his most inspired and his knowledge of body horror shows itself here to great effect.
Following the show Kermode takes time to meet with fans and sign numerous copies of his book, despite needing to be on a train forcing him out of the door. The hour, or so, of his show demonstrates the voice of the silent majority, film lovers in the UK who are marginalised, badly treated, assumed to be brain-dead and patronised by the conglomerates who take our money to provide a sub standard product. In Kermode this group has a leader, a man whose knowledge backs up his anger and who can hopefully use his influence, and the support of his followers, to force through a change in the UK cinema experience. Just don’t ask him to do it wearing 3D glasses.
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- Mark Kermode threatens to quit over Bride Wars (steadydietoffilm.typepad.com)
- Exorcising The Past: A Retrospective Chat With William Friedkin (thequietus.com)