Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Girl and Her Blog are Eventually Reunited

Promotion for the first
Hobbit instalment assuming
Stalinesque dimensions in
Wellington, early in 2013.
Yes, lest anyone have thought that the wholly moribund appearance of A Little Lie Down was indicative of a retreat on the author's part from the world of cinema (or even from the “sundry other matters” which this blog's header purports the reader may also find addressed here), I've deemed it necessary to return to the Blogger coalface to chisel out an account of the year in film culture that was mine in 2013.

Indeed, it's been so long since the previous, Hobbit-heavy post here that a second fucking instalment of The Hobbit has already arrived in Melbourne cinemas. (Thankfully, it's a darned sight better than the first, and all credit to the wise heads who determined it'd be at 24 rather than at 48 fps that the media preview last week would be projected. That said, my criticisms in my last post regarding Jackson's vainglorious adoption of High Frame Rate technologies – and, by extension, shooting a film in this one, particular flawed format only to ultimately present it in multiple others, each unavoidably compromised by trickle-down shortcomings in the translation, and with, perforce, a corresponding diminution in cinematic vocabulary imposed upon all, especially with respect to any play with depth of field – still, vehemently, stand!)

But, look. I am already digressing.

What now follows will be a link-filled, media-rich reckoning of what I got up to in the year very shortly now to have been 2013.

I'll begin with work accomplished which had been harbinged here previously.

The fabulous Bright Lights Film Journal ran my review of Alexandra Heller-Nicholas' Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study in its 79th issue in February. It was a long time coming, my getting it to them and up to snuff, but I'm very glad that I did. It's a fine book, detailing thoroughly an often unpleasant, yet ethically complex realm of cinema which had never been given a tenth so comprehensive an account of before.

I alluded in my only other post here this year to ensuring there'd shortly be more on ALLD, and in Senses of Cinema, on legendary Czech animator Jiří Trnka. I came good on this promise in Senses rather sooner than on my blog; please refer “The Passion of the Peasant Poet: Jiří Trnka, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Hand” in February's issue 66 of a gal's longtime favourite film journal.

The context for my writing on Trnka is important, and is in fact key to my being so very busy this year that, till now, I had failed to blog even once since Thursday, January 3's “Less is more: If 3D is more 2D than 2D (and 48fps is even less truth per second than Godard's 24) then how much more 2D will 4D be than 3D?

Less is more, indeed?

My Trnka piece appeared in Senses of Cinema under “Cinémathèque Annotations on Film”, indicative of its having been written to provide contextualising accompaniment to Melbourne Cinémathèque screenings of certain of Trnka's sublime puppet animation films. Moreover, I had made it a personal mission to get those films over here in the first place, through becoming a Cinémathèque committee member after enjoying many a long year as a dedicated regular at the Cinémathèque's Wednesday nightly screenings, and as she whose task it had been for many of those years to prepare the annotations for publication in Senses of Cinema in my role as that journal's tireless, seldom-complaining Web Designer.

Trnka's sublime A Midsummer Night's Dream (1959), which screened at the 1st CaSFFA,
presented in conjunction with the Melbourne Cinémathèque

But rather more key still to acquiring those films for screening in Melbourne was the launch of the inaugural Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia (or “CaSFFA”) in May and June of this year, with me appointed as its first Artistic Director, who sought a partnership with the Cinémathèque in order to present these very rare films in sunny Melbourne on glorious 35mm, care of the National Film Archive in Prague and with no small amount of help from the Consulate of the Czech Republic in Sydney.

CaSFFA also presented an accompanying exhibition, “Jiří Trnka - Serving Imagination”, prepared by the Czech Centres, with other highlights of our debut festival including the presentation of a 50th anniversary digital restoration of Štefan Uher's brilliant The Sun in a Net and our restoring some utility to the still beautiful, but overlong neglected RMIT Capitol Theatre, by presenting the bulk of our other screenings there, along with two memorable absinth- and Becherovka-soaked parties!

The Sun in a Net also appeared at the 1st CaSFFA, co-presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque
and with large thanks due to the enthusiastic co-operation of the Slovak Film Institute

Here's a taste of what you missed/a further reminder of all the fun you had, at the 2013 CaSFFA:

I'll pause here also to hail once again Alesh Macak's superb CaSFFA trailer, inspired by Linda Studená's super leggy designs, as seen all over all of our festival literature and collateral in promotion of our inaugural event!

A 2nd CaSFFA – bigger! bolder! even betterer! – will be staged in 2014 in Melbourne and, I will carelessly not hesitate to rumour, elsewhere too. Really wonderful things are in store, folks – watch this space!

And, in other developments

As anyone who knows me might tell you, after they've weighed up what's at stake in compromising my privacy, I'm very fond of hotfooting it abroad to attend film festivals, whether as a member of the media corps, providing coverage for Senses of Cinema; representing CaSFFA; attending in a more participatory capacity, or a mixture of all three. One such multi-purpose trip I took mid-year, escaping Melbourne's winter for a preferable European summer, took in major festivals in the Czech Republic and Ukraine. And hence, September's 68th issue of Senses of Cinema ran a report of mine entitled “Post-Soviet Bloc Partying West of the East and East of the West, Into and Out of the Past: The 48th Karlovy Vary and the 4th Odessa International Film Festival”. The smart money would have to be on some of the films mentioned within this piece making it to the 2nd CaSFFA in 2014 – but which?

Excerpt from the June 30 edition of the
Karlovy Vary Festival Daily
Whilst in Karlovy Vary, I managed, wearing my CaSFFA hat (not depicted at right), to find my way into the KVIFF's daily paper. And in Odessa – where my film geekdom may have come close to reaching its apotheosis in catching a screening of Murnau's Sunrise, at sundown, with live symphony orchestral accompaniment, on none other than the Potemkin Stairs – I wound up giving an informal lecture-cum-Q&A to the festival's Summer Film School students entitled “Film Criticism Sans Frontières: The roles that critiquing and staging international and transnational film festivals can play in furthering critical practice and professional opportunities in the Internet age”. No, really. I believe it went quite well, if falteringly at first, with hopefully not too much lost (and maybe a little gained?) in the translation into Russian. Personally, I can't bring myself to watch it (not least for my mortification upon realising I'm wearing the same top in both the KV Festival Daily pic as in the clip from Odessa, below). While I'll concede that this post could come across as something of a trumpeting of one's own 'orn, truth be told, I'm actually not over-enamoured of the sound of my own voice...

Enter Guy Maddin

What would a year of Little Lies Down be (even if numbering in posts only two) without a guernsey for my favourite Winnipeger?

Early in the year, Slovenian print journal Kino! surprised me by commissioning me to contribute to a dossier it was compiling on zombie movies. In turn, I provided Kino! with probably the very piece of writing of mine on cinema of which I am most proud, “Guy Maddin, Zombie Master”.

To whet your appetite for something you'll, at least for the time being, only be able to obtain in, or from, Slovenia (or, I suppose from me directly, if you play your cards right (which is to say, ply me with liquor or with film festival accreditation)), here's the abstract for my essay, from Kino! no. 19/20:

Guy Maddin is a filmmaker almost invariably overlooked in the consideration of zombie films. This essay aims to right that wrong, not only by dredging up multiple clear instances where Maddin has explicitly employed the tropes of zombie films in his work, but also in demonstrating that, in fact, the entire cinematic corpus of Winnipeg's most celebrated filmmaker is predicated upon exhumation, on and off the screen. Maddin is forever resurrecting long dead film aesthetics, language, genres, performance styles and even entire lost films, whilst ever privileging an aesthetic of impossible material agedness and decomposition. His is a cinema full of somnambulists, amnesiacs and entranced obsessives whose actions resurrect elements of Maddin's often traumatic autobiography. It is a cinema absolutely bursting at the seams with zombie-ism and undeath. Maddin himself will be positioned both as zombie and zombie master, à la Bela Lugosi's 'Murder' Legendre in White Zombie (Victor Halperin, 1932). Moreover, his cinephilic audience, extensible to all cinephile audiences, will be implicated in zombie-ism as well. Ultimately at stake in this essay is nothing less than an argument for cinephilia as an entirely zombie fascination, with Maddin, one of the most cinephilic of all filmmakers, providing the perfect springboard for this argument. Along the way, analogues for Maddin's zombie film practices will be explored variously in the limitations of method acting, in the writing of Laura Mulvey and in the vexing matter of film canons.

Wheeee! 'Tis a fortunate thing indeed that I conquered some time ago my fear of overreaching. And another that such folk exist as my wonderful friend Maša Peče to incite me to write such things as this, as would likely otherwise never get written, in the first place, especially given my lamentable track record on my own blog. Consider here also my (admittedly scarcely trumpeted) desire to write a definitive critical history of orchids in cinema. Will not someone one day dangle before me money/liquor/film festival accreditation in order to goad me into actually writing it?

Closer to home

On many Thursday mornings fortnightly throughout 2013 I could be heard in my usual slot on 3RRR joining Richard Watts on “SmartArts” for the segment “A Fistful of Celluloid”, which would oftentimes begin with Richard noting that this several-year-old segment is increasingly conducted under the pall of a dreadful misnomer, as celluloid is surely not long for this world, followed by me mule-headedly insisting that there's plenty of life in the old girl yet, and more even than there ever will be in the inert digital image which, anyhow, isn't proven to be long for this world at all, quite the contrary in fact, given the dire problems yet to be surmounted in reliably preserving it... (Discuss.)

Shirley Clarke
I also made some other appearances (so to speak) on the 3RRR airwaves this year, joining a crack couple of Plato's Cavers in Tara Judah and Josh Nelson for a couple of "Max Headroom" specials, both of which are still accessible online, “on demand”, as follows:

From Thursday, October 24: Tara, Josh and I wax lyrical about the cinema of Shirley Clarke, in celebration of ACMI's splendid season “Uptown Girl: The Cinema of Shirley Clarke”.

And lastly, much as was vaunted in ALLD at pretty well this same time last year, I'll have a contribution to Senses of Cinema's annual World Poll published any day now.

And that will about do for now, barring my customary pledge not to forsake this blog in the year to come... Well, let us wait and see.

Lawks! I almost forgot! Sundry other matters, matter to me...

Yes, it was a year when certain sundry other matters came into their own. I'll give a quick shout-out to the fab folk at Black Hole Theatre for inviting my lovely carny-lounge sometime trio, nowadays more oftentimes quartet Dirty Nicola and the Spud Hussies to tap into the musics of Jacques Brel, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter in accompanying some top-notch live puppetry at “Puppetry Slam Noir: How I Wish The Wish I Wish” at this year's Castlemaine State Festival. Fun!

The Spud Hussies – myself on bass, Katrina Wilson O'Brien on keys, David O'Brien on guitar and Nicola Bell on drums, with all keen and handy when it comes to contributing foley – may even have just landed a prize slot at the annual Great Trentham Spudfest in 2014 for our troubles – hurrah!


I spent two weeks in November ensconced in the fabulous Footscray Community Arts Centre BRINGING IT with a fab bunch of magnificent lady folk working towards the realisation of something grandly theatrical which I'm not sure I can much speak about yet. But! As and when I can, you might hear about it here first.

But for now, till 2014, ahoj!

x Cerise

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Less is more: If 3D is more 2D than 2D (and 48fps is even less truth per second than Godard's 24) then how much more 2D will 4D be than 3D?

Being a post occasioned by a scarcely coherent ad for “4D Dynamic cinema” stumbled upon in the Melbourne CBD, opposite that city's sole remaining Brutalist multiplex fleapit, albeit one still offering 35mm projection, to Greater Union's credit. And becoming in part a reflection upon one gal's cinephilia, as cultivated in a Wellington backwater, home once also to a certain Peter Jackson, whose early works she remains greatly enamoured of, at odds with her attitudes towards the latter-day Tolkien trilogies.

Melbourne's Russell Street has taken quite the turn for the Pythonesque of late. On the north side of the unglamorous Bourke Street intersection, any number of fringe-dwelling Chinatown restaurants' menus, atop their already literally hundreds-of-items-strong offerings, now tout a wide range of Spam dishes. As in, “I'll have the Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam in black bean sauce, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam”.

Ad for 4D Dynamic cinema
And now, a few doors up, just along the south side of that same unlovely crossroads, the impish forces behind that same Flying Circus episode's celebrated “Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook” sketch seem to have tried their hand at pitching the charms of 4D cinema to undoubtedly bemused passers-by.

A few choice excerpts from the text in the image to the right:

“The elderly people are prohibited from watching.”

“Please be prudent before purchasing a ticket for timorous people.”

“So close as if it was tangible.”

And then there's the agreeably equivocal “Based on 3D films, 4D films could bring audiences personally to scenes by adding physical stimulations...:”

I'm not, however, convinced I'd especially like to experience “falling down” during a film, to pick on just one other of this technology's ill-pitched attractions.

I couldn't in fact discern whether this ad was trying to solicit my custom of the technology as a whole, or rather, just a film or two presented in demonstration of it – but if the latter, why not pitch them as well, and by name? Ah, were that I were not myself so timorous and prudent the day I wandered past (New Year's Eve), to find out for myself!

And were that the address promoted on this banner – found perched on the steps outside this very location – wasn't the same as that of the Melbourne Theosophical Society (along, natch, with the Theosophical Society Bookshop). Alas, keeping such company doesn't exactly inspire (in me, at least) a very great deal of confidence in the wares being flouted within (presumably within – but surely there's not really been a cinema constructed somewhere in that building just recently – has there?)

Now, I gather the resurgence of so-called 4D cinema has already taken audiences in certain other parts of the world by storm – or perhaps that ought instead to read “has already submitted audiences in certain other parts of the world to 'smoking, storming, thunder, snowing and bubble-blowing'” (on top, of course, of the already vaunted heady thrills of falling down). The Sydney Morning Herald, as far back as July 12 of last year, ran with a story from Richard Verrier, “Are 4D movies the next big thing?”, noting that cinemas in South Korea, Thailand and Mexico were packing them in by tacking onto blockbuster titles an array of 4D sensations,  which is to say that audience members there were subjected to various sorts of bodily interference at key points during The Avengers, Prometheus, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and other major box office attractions. Things shook, foul smells wafted through auditoria, and thems as might (only might!) otherwise have enjoyed watching Prometheus got additionally to enjoy having goop flung at them in the dark by strangers.

William Castle has surely risen from the grave! (Perhaps following 4D Disney theme park attraction, and Michael Jackson vehicle, Captain EO's lead (director a certain Francis Ford Coppola, no less!, ca. 1986)). *
* Actually, the exhumed Captain EO is being presented in a mere three dimensions.

Hopefully Peter Jackson, champion of all that is (old that is) new (again), will not catch wind of this with his next Hobbit instalments. For it'd be an ill wind then that'd blow indeed, mark my words, one awaft with the meady, meaty smells of beardy, leathery dwarven goings-on, and worse...

A segue, if inelegant: Onto the question Jackson!

Well, here we are at the outset of 2013, still trying to come to terms with another putatively brand spanking new technological development slated to change cinema and cinema-going as we know it. Only, it, just like 4D, has been tried and tested before (and by no less a luminary in the industry as 2001's special FX whiz Douglas Trumbull, even!) I refer – no surprises, here – to Peter Jackson's box office record-breaking The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first (third of a) film to be shot at, and projected (in some cinemas) in 48fps, a frame rate double the long-time standard of 24fps, presumably selected on that neat, readily digestible and saleable numerical basis alone (rather than, say, 40fps. Or 36. Or 42.578142 recurring.)

For mine, a big screen presentation of The Hobbit in 48fps often resembles nothing so much as an outsize HDTV Blu-Ray shop demo playing Lord of the Rings easter eggs. It's all same same, only different. Everything is crystal clear, hyper-real – or, should I say, hyper-unreal? For as much as 48fps bestows upon everything within the frame an extraordinary steely crispness, it is also extremely unforgiving and betraying of flaws and seams. It's not so very much a worry during action scenes – indeed, it is then even something of an asset, ensuring a liquid, judder-free smoothness to the marriage of a soaring camera (whether real or virtual) with a screen teeming with flailing bodies (likewise real and/or virtual). But when the camera is relatively still, and the action more pared back, everything takes on the sickly hue of a glossy reality TV show, and all that is artificial, but which is purpose-built to look real, instead looks as fake as it really, truly is. That can even extend to principal characters' make-up and costuming, which rather impinges upon one's ability to take those characters, and the film as a whole, seriously.

The Hobbit - in 'RealD 3D', HFR 3D and IMAX 3D
So many flavours of 3D:
"RealD 3D", HFR 3D and IMAX 3D.
We don't know how lucky we are...
And then there's the matter of Jackson having adopted 3D as well, an apparently necessary tagalong to the adoption of 48fps to reinforce An Unexpected Journey's position in the marketplace as being at the very forefront of the contemporary motion picture-going experience. Yet it too deceives to flatter, and its effect is reductive more than it is expansive; rather than adding another dimension to the film it is gracing, it in fact takes one away.

There seems to have been decreed an unwritten law that for anything in a 21st century film to jump off the screen towards the audience is tacky and gimmicky in the extreme; yet, without utilising the (suggestion of) space off-screen, of the space between the screen and the audience, then why really even bother with 3D? 2D has always been abundantly effective in suggesting depth within an image and, furthermore, allows for play with depth of field within the filmed image that 3D simply doesn't

3D, to make sense as 3D, demands that everything on screen presents just as if we were negotiating our own off-screen, real world environment. Binocular vision is the order of the day, and utilising it, we expect things to be in focus as soon as we cast our eyes upon them. When filmmakers forget this – whether wilfully, or otherwise – and present to us only part of any given 3D image in focus, they are making a fundamental mistake. Never mind when they start racking the focus, to bring into focus, for example, an object in the foreground when only just previously something in the background had been in focus instead, thus “pulling” focus from it. This happens on one especially egregious occasion in An Unexpected Journey, which manoeuvre alone may have been responsible for the unpleasant headache I had when I wearily emerged from the cinema at film's end, my perceptual faculties scrambled.

Will seeing An Unexpected Journey in 2D – and at 24fps – make for a better experience? Possibly, but probably not dramatically better a one. For to have shot in 48fps, and especially in 3D, in the first place, is to unavoidably transmit most of those approaches' shortcomings to a 2D projection. The resultant 2D experience simply cannot, of course, be enlivened or enriched by play with the depth of field which wasn't a part of the original captured image. The sins of the parent image are communicated to the children.

And oh that bloaty narrative!

There has already been plenty of carping about the decision to make a trilogy out of The Hobbit, which, on the evidence of the first instalment, will feature three films each too long in isolation, let alone as part of a whole.

That said, I have to say I didn't find part one of The Hobbit any more overlong than any one instalment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I did, however, find it much more narratively preposterous. More cartoonish, even.

And it's not all the exposition and backgrounding, the tying in of the Hobbit and LOTR universes, that some say needlessly occupies the first half of the film, that troubles me, like it has so many impatient others. It's in fact the action-packed second half I take exception to.


Because An Unexpected Journey in no way throughout its second half conveys any sense of the passage of time. How long is the party questing for? How much time passes between one fight scene and the next?

Because it in no way throughout that second half conveys any sense of the party's passage through space. How much ground does the party cover between one chase sequence and the next? What distance did those bloody giant birds cover when they retrieved all the do-gooders from those perilous cliff-hanging treetops? (And why didn't Jackson have the good sense to treat that cliff-hanging scene as an actual cliffhanger and end the fucking film there, for fuck's sake!)

All the good guys appear to be invulnerable. They can all of them fall and tumble any distance – or even be squashed en masse by a corpulent plummeting Goblin King – and obtain nary even a mild contusion or concussion for their troubles.

The bad guys get what's coming to them, but without any blood shed. What the fuck's with this? The Hobbit, like The Lord of the Rings, obtained, and presumably was produced aforethought for, an M rating, surely voiding any concerns about on-screen violence in the adaptation of a book considered, I'm told by Tolkien aficionadi, as much more a “children's book'” than its sequel. So where then is all the blood and ichor one would expect in a film from the director who made, in the form of the magnificent Braindead (1992), far and away the (fake, but not CG) bloodiest film of all time! The absence of bodily fluids from An Unexpected Journey is just perverse.

And because, just when the good guys are poised to get a good, sound, lethal drubbing, Gandalf can evidently simply cast a deus ex machina spell in order to miraculously appear and save the day FFS.

Of technological advancements that ain't necessarily so, and a gal's first auteur love

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is doing colossal box office. I guess the greater film-going public couldn't give a tinker's cuss for arguments raging in the critosphere, about the harm done to it by its adoption of technological albatrosses in 48fps and 3D, before they've seen it for themselves.

Much as I would love to give Peter Jackson the benefit of the doubt, and declare 48fps' betrayal of his film's artifice knowingly Brechtian, and that particularly egregious racking of focus in 3D mentioned above as some sort of deconstructive avant-garde manoeuvre, and thus make a claim for An Unexpected Journey as the most expensive – and remunerative – experimental film ever made, I, of course, cannot. Oh, I wish I could understand why Jackson has become such an evangelist for technologies which I wish could have been experimented with and honed first elsewhere, over several years even, rather than having him unleashing them wholesale on The Hobbit. It smacks of hubris, and, why, lookee here – is this not another sad case of a man becoming one of his own satirical (co-)creations – is not Jackson becoming none other than Colin McKenzie? At this rate, will not an overgrown Hobbiton one day be un(Middle)earthed by a mockumentary film crew of the future, who'll marvel that the wilds of Matamata could ever have housed a film set on the Griffithian order of the Salome set of Colin McKenzie's that Jackson uncovered in Forgotten Silver (1995)?

Hobbiton today...
The Salome set discovered in Forgotten Silver
The Salome set discovered in Forgotten Silver. Or is this Hobbiton in 75 years' time?

It hurts; Jackson was my first director crush. Back in the late '80s, when I was of late high school-going age, I, like PJ, lived in the outlying hicksville seaside Wellington 'burb of Pukerua Bay (2006 population: 1722), where I became fascinated that someone local had actually done something interesting. A man, name of Peter Jackson, had apparently made a film, name of Bad Taste (1987), which concerned an invading alien horde looking to make human beings the next intergalactic taste sensation, on a shoestring over three or four years of Sundays. It screened late on Friday nights at Wellington's not-yet glorious-again Embassy Theatre, and I, hard-pressed to find anyone game enough to come along to see it with me (A New Zealand film? Worth seeing? As if!), headed there alone several times to marvel at it, to tentatively, at first, join in in the communal crying out of “Get the chainsaw, Derek!” at the appropriate moment, to relish the scene in which Derek (Jackson) somersaults down the cliffs at my local beach, to land in a bloody heap upon the rocks far below, there to have seagulls peck out his brains. And thus, ingloriously but joyously, was my cinephilia born!

Clipping on Peter Jackson from the Kapiti Observer, 1987
A clipping I took from the local paper, the Kapiti Observer,
some time in 1987, it must have been.
(The Embassy these days still has a strong connection with Jackson; refurbished for the 2003 world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, it's where An Unexpected Journey premiered too.)

Not terribly long after, I moved to Melbourne. Jackson's next two flicks, the gleefully offensive “spluppet” film Meet the Feebles (1989) and the zombie comedy splatterfest, by-way-of satire on the stuffy mores of '50s New Zealand, Braindead, both won a theatrical season at Melbourne's bygone Carlton Moviehouse. I adored them both and saw them multiple times too, firstly at the cinema and later on VHS.

Chase those down with the revelation that was 1994's Heavenly Creatures – still his best film – and the brilliant, made-for-TV mocko Forgotten Silver (co-director: Costa Botes, through whom you can acquire a DVD), and Jackson seemed like he could do no wrong. My admiration for him, even as I started to become more learned and worldly about this thing called “cinema”, was in the ascendancy.

Still, I had to forgive him for The Frighteners (1996) and, rather than dwell on it overlong – and, let's be clear, it wasn't terrible by any stretch, just a bit... Hollywood – I instead looked forward to a King Kong that rumour had it he would shoot in Auckland, an agreeably absurd proposition that was doing the rounds in the mid- to late '90s...

And even though nothing surfaced of his Kong project in any hurry, I remained one of his staunchest fans, and followed, upon its announcement, the development of his LOTR trilogy with great interest, applauding his canniness in engaging online with those books' millions of hardcore fans throughout the trilogy's production. When finally the films emerged to be seen, I was as amazed as any other. The sheer bloodymindedness and ingenuity he'd tapped all those years prior in making Bad Taste against all odds, including well-documented widespread domestic industry indifference, he'd now harnessed to make these awesome epic spectacles, on his own terms and in his own backyard. Which is to say, in my own old backyard too. I was awestruck by these De Millean achievements, albeit principally, it must be said, in an industrial sense. I have to confess the films – the stories being told by the films – really didn't much connect with me. But I nonetheless thought them Herculean accomplishments.

His return to a more personal order of filmmaking, The Lovely Bones (2009), unfortunately didn't do much for me, although I feel it has some very strong sequences.

But here we are now in 2013 with another bloaty great behemothic Tolkien trilogy hitting our screens, only, it's one where the films have become far more in thrall to the technology, rather than the other way around, as was the case with, and even part of the pitch for the production of, LOTR. Jackson had been able, back then, to get the go-ahead to produce that first trilogy because he could persuasively argue that the technology had developed to the point where a cinematic adaptation, using his own cost-cutting proprietary hardware and software, and his own backyard locations, could do the beloved books justice. With that point long proven, through the production and great critical and commercial reception of the first trilogy, he's now gone and got that whole equation completely arse-about with the second.

A real test for 48fps will be whether the second Hobbit instalment will match the first's takings when it hits cinemas in just under a year's time. I'm far from convinced folks catching An Unexpected Journey in 48fps will necessarily want to see The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again at that frame rate as well. (Let alone at 60! Back off, James Cameron, you've done enough damage already with Avatar and its concomitant fostering of a cult of 3D, you smug bastard, you.)

My serious misgivings about 48fps, as introduced to us in An Unexpected Journey, aside, I'm prepared nonetheless to assert that there is a future for it. My feeling is that rather than 48, or another number there or thereabouts arbitrarily arrived at, becoming a new standard for frames per second, variable frame rate projection will be the way of the future. Variable, that is, within the course of any given single projection. Now that would seem much more sensible than trying to push any one frame rate to rule them all...