As pertaining to motion pictures, describes any film that exploits, in its marketing or promotion, the use of stereoscopic (3-dimensional) filmmaking techniques.

This blog is my notepad as I research a nonfiction book spotlighting 3-D genre films of the last century. While the book will focus primarily on films from the 60's, 70's and 80's this blog has no restrictions.

All articles on this blog are copyright 2010-13 of its author,
Jason Pichonsky, unless otherwise stated.

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Re-inventing the past

I've been following the reinvention of a little 80's 3-D film called Comin' at Ya! for a few years now. It's a little Spaghetti Western that is widely acknowledged as leading the revival of 3-D in the 1980's. I've been planning to get a feature of it up. Looks like I should get to it soon.

After a successful screening at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, Comin' at Ya! had its North American premiere this weekend at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. Ain't It Cool posted an interview with Tony Anthony and I'm re-posting it hear. The producer and star of Comin' at Ya!, Anthony dropped out of the public eye shortly after his follow up 3-D film Treasure of the Four Crowns came out at the tail of the 80's 3-D wave, so it is an extreme pleasure to see his face again after all these years. I hope this reinvention gets a healthy North American release because I'm dying to see it on a big screen. Anthony and his new partner Tom Stern have spent almost as much money restoring this release of Comin' at Ya! as Anthony and the film's Italian director Ferdinando Baldi spent shooting it in Spain in the late seventies, devoting much of that to the Noir 3D effects (essentially a Black and White image with rotoscoped objects in full colour). Noir 3D is directly inspired by the Sin City aesthetic.  Anthony and Stern are going after the youth market with all this glitzy packaging and I personally they feel they could have left well enough alone. I would love to see it as it was originally made with the pristine projection of modern day digital 3D cinema.

As for the film itself. It's not one of Anthony's best, Comin' at Ya!'s plot being a lesser reworking of an earlier Anthony western Blindman, but Anthony knows this. It is a movie that is all about its 3-D, a spectacle event film and was never meant to be more. That is the reason Comin' at Ya! has never been released in a 2D flat version.


The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is in full swing and like last year the festival is presenting a new 3-D feature, the third in three years.

In 2009 TIFF presented Joe Dante's family horror film The Hole. It the first 3-D film ever to play the festival. At its premiere screening the fire alarm went off and audiences missed the last 20 minutes (myself among them). It did take quite a bit of effort to clear the theatre as many audience members continued to watch the film as they were ushered out of the auditorium.

Last year TIFF screened Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary and meditation on the oldest cave known to feature drawings and artwork on its walls. Again a screening mishap occurred as the newly inaugurated Bell Lightbox suffered a power failure mid screening and the theatre went black. The staff quickly fixed the problem and the audience was able to enjoy the entire film.

This year another German cinema master, Wim Wenders, is screening his flirtation with 3-D technology, a documentary/performance dance film entitled Pina, featuring the choreography of the late Pina Bausch. I'm unaware of any mishaps yet. The film opened on the 8th of September and will screen again on the 17th.

Wenders was in Toronto in mid June of this year, the keynote at the Toronto International Stereoscopic 3D Convention, to discuss the production of the film at length and show a few featured clips. The 3-D was spectacular, and like Herzog, Wenders managed to utilize the technology not simply as an exploitive gimmick but to further explore the film's subject, dance. By capturing Bausch's choreography in three dimensions, Wenders is better able to recreate a live performance venue and emulate the immediacy of the art form. A key discussion point during the TIS3DC came directly from Wenders talk and his belief that the stereoscopic 3D camera captured a sense of the “embodiment” of his subjects, the dancers in his film. This discovery came to Wenders late in the shooting of Pina during the filming of his “portraits” material (individual shots of the dancers looking directly into camera, which in the film are accompanied by voice-over interviews). Wenders asked the dancer on camera to turn to look into the lens as if it were their best friend. During the shooting Wenders would look down at his hand-held 3-D monitor and was struck by a sense of holding the individual in his hand. It was this sense of the 3-D image capturing the essence of a person (perhaps an element of their soul) that created a magical moment for Wenders, one that had not occurred before in the shooting of Pina.

Unfortunately I'm not in Toronto this year to see the film in its entirety, but I have a writer in the wings who has promised me a review and I plan to be posting that as soon as I can. However if anyone out there has seen the film I'd love to hear your impressions of it. Please leave a comment.