Weekly Roundup is a feature posted each weekend on I Wonder if You Wonder. It gives me a chance to react to the week’s industry news and to provide some quick thoughts about the films and TV shows I’ve been watching. (Plus it’ll give you some idea of the sheer amount of stuff I watch!) Let’s dive right in.
A new feature this week: some tone-setting music to listen to as you read the article, selected from one of this week’s new TV episodes. This week’s song: Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” from tonight’s episode of Girls.
This past week was pretty light on news, but here are a few things of note.
CinemaCon: The biggest news of the week comes from CinemaCon, and it could very well shape how we’ll all be watching movies in the future. CinemaCon, formerly known as ShoWest, in the annual trade convention of theater owners, and Hollywood studios and filmmakers use it to showcase their latest films and stump for whatever changes they’d like to see in the film industry. This year, several big name directors came out to support 3D technology, which they see as the future of cinema. Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, and James Cameron were among the more notable attendees encouraging theater owners to upgrade to 3D-capable projection systems. While some theater owners were reportedly skeptical of the ability of 3D to lead to greater long-term profits, an acceptance of 3D as the new normal would likely lead to several massive changes in film production and exhibition practices. Perhaps most importantly, the era of physical film would likely come to an end, as more directors would choose to shoot movies digitally. Since more movies would be stored on hard drives, this would require theater owners to purchase expensive digital projection equipment, which is already in wide use at large multiplexes but would be a massive financial burden for independent and art house theaters. Additionally, directors like Peter Jackson and James Cameron have stated their support for the use of higher frame rates in future 3D films, as they believe that this will solve some of the problems that theatergoers have with the look of 3D films at present, namely that the pictures are too dim and the image isn’t sharp enough. For most of the history of cinema, films have been projected at 24 frames per second. Jackson’s upcoming The Hobbit, however, is intended to be shown at 48 frames per second, and it appears that it will be just the first of many such films over the next several years.
Whether or not you like 3D, these are fascinating developments for the film industry. They hearken back to the days of the introduction of widescreen formats in the 1950s, as the movie industry tried to fight off the growing threat of television. Today, there are even more competitors vying for the consumer’s entertainment dollar: smart phones, the internet, video games, and much more. It remains to be seen, however, if 3D will actually be able to prove itself as a useful tool for filmmakers rather than as a ploy to increase the price of movie tickets. And even if this sea change is ultimately viewed as a positive evolutionary step, it may come at the expense of smaller theaters and their owners.
Will Ferrell Hosting SNL: In equally earth-shattering news (obv!), Will Ferrell will be returning to Saturday Night Live in two weeks for his third stint as host. My kingdom for a new Robert Goulet sketch. (Let’s just collectively decide to ignore the fact that the real Mr. Goulet has unfortunately passed on, alright?)
Viewings & Reactions:
Veep: Through two episodes of Veep, I’m not as enthusiastic about the show as most reviewers have been so far. It’s not that it’s bad – far from – but I’m not entirely sure that the show knows what it wants to be just yet. The jokes are funny, but not that funny, and while there’s enough inside-the-Beltway talk to give the show a D.C. insider quality, there’s not enough that you would ever mistake it for a show with the quality and insight of The West Wing (which obviously isn’t its intent). Comedically, the show seems to exist in some sort of grey area in between dark comedy and broad comedy; its style, with all of its handheld camerawork and a willingness to take its time with jokes when appropriate, seems like an unusual amalgam of Parks and Recreation and Enlightened, while its broader, cheaper (but nonetheless effective) gags owe more to the Judd Apatow school. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is, as always, completely fabulous in her role as the Vice-President, and to the extent that the show’s unusual comedic sensibility works it’s because of her otherworldly talents. I’m going to keep watching, but I don’t know what to make of Veep just yet.
Community: This past Thursday’s NBC lineup between the hours of 8:00 and 9:00 may have represented by single favorite hour of TV comedy ever. It kicked off with a Law and Order-themed episode of Community, which proved to be one of the show’s strongest parodies. The episode, which was given the brilliant title Basic Lupine Urology (the guy who created Law and Order is named Dick Wolf… get it?), was most similar to Community’s first season mob movie parody Contemporary American Poultry in that it required the viewer to suspend her disbelief even more than a usual episode of the show. With the full cooperation of Wolf and NBC, though, this particular parody was near-perfect: the familiar “chung-chung” sound effect, a Law and Order-ized version of the Community opening credits, and story beats that match those of a typical L&O episode to a T. It was, in short, 22 minutes of televised glory.
30 Rock: This week represented 30 Rock’s second live episode, with separate performances being broadcast to the East Coast and the West Coast. Both versions of the episode were stunningly brilliant, with several star cameos adding to the spectacle: Jon Hamm (whose role was slightly greater in the East Coast version), NBC News anchor Brian Williams (who stepped in for Hamm as part of a hilariously sexist flashback in the West Coast version), Paul McCartney (East Coast version only), Kim Kardashian (West Coast only), Community’s Donald Glover (who used to be a writer on 30 Rock) and several of Tina Fey’s former SNL castmates. If you have the time, check out both versions back-to-back; they’re mostly the same, but the different cameos will have you laughing and you’ll feel smart when you pick up on the minor differences in some of the (seemingly improvised) lines.
Previewing features and articles I’m working on for I Wonder if You Wonder, some of which will be posted this week, some in weeks ahead, and others that’ll be abandoned due to laziness or frustration. (Hey, at least I’m up front about it.)
- More articles in the “30 Days of Alien” series (which will actually take about 40 or 45 days to complete, but so be it)! After a bit of a break, I’m recharged and ready to tackle the remaining articles. Look for the next one to be posted late Monday or early Tuesday.
And credit to my single favorite tumblr of all time, Fuck Yeah Alison Brie, for the animated GIF.