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Super Bowl Tag

In which we look at once common curiosities of pop culture that don’t exist anymore, be it because of changing tastes, the fragmentation of culture, or merely the fickle nature of fads. [youtube width="602" height="350" video_id="YTWzI66jGOE"] “This week our regular programming will be pre-empted so that we

It’s as if every person you encounter is pleasantly stoned.

Everyone has a little smile. Everyone nods knowingly.

Welcome to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where the folks are blissed out because the Green Bay Packers are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday.

This is a big deal, of course, but not epic.

Epic was 1996, when the Packers — who had not been to the Super Bowl in 29 years, not since the days of Vince Lombardi — revived the Glory Years. Back in 1996, to anyone under 30, the Packers had always been losers. Anyone over 50, well, they could die happy. The Packers had made it back to the Super Bowl in their lifetime.

There’s no such drama, no such pent-up emotion this time around. It’s been only 14 years since the Packers last made it to the Super Bowl, barely a generation. For most of those 14 years, the Packers have been a decent team.

That said, Packers fans are still getting blissed out.

Butch Vig is one. Yes, that Butch Vig. The much-in-demand producer. The guy from Garbage. He’s from Wisconsin and a passionate Packers fan. He wrote a Packers song and recorded it with two pals. They call themselves the 6 Packers. Really.

Vig wrote “Go Pack Go!” in 2006, the last time the Packers made a run at the Super Bowl. He revised it this year, and now it’s all over the radio in Wisconsin.

With Super Bowl Sunday coming up, I figured it was time to pop in my DVD of Black Sunday (1977) once again.

Six years before author Thomas Harris unleashed Hannibal Lecter on the world, there was his first novel, Black Sunday, a 1975 thriller about the Palestinian Black September movement and a terrorist plot to kill thousands of innocent people at the Super Bowl. It would turn out to be his only novel (to date) not featuring Dr. Lecter, and the first of his books to be adapted for the big screen. For a novelist, Harris has an impressive record of film adaptations: all five of his books have been adapted into a total of six movies — 1981’s Red Dragon was filmed by director Michael Mann in ’86 and released as Manhunter, and in 2002 Rush Hour‘s Brett Ratner adapted it again, this time keeping the book’s title intact and staying (mostly) faithful to the source material.

John Frankenheimer was the perfect director to take on Black Sunday, having made many excellent thrillers in the ’60s, including The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), and Seconds (1966). But in my opinion Black Sunday turned out to be his last great film. The quality of his films declined over the next two decades, with such mediocre offerings as 1979’s Prophecy (“The monster movie,” according to the poster) and the sleazy 52 Pick-Up (1986). Frankenheimer’s 1998 film Ronin was considered by some to be a return to form, but it still paled in comparison to his earlier work.

The screenplay for Black Sunday was written by Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest), Kenneth Ross (The Day of the Jackal), and Ivan Moffat (Giant) — a powerful trio of screenwriters, for sure, particularly Lehman, who in 2001 became the first screenwriter to receive an honorary Oscar for his work.

200407955-001It is a time of economic turmoil. The markets are going berserk; reacting like the headless chickens we already knew them to be. Our nation faces numerous crises both domestically and overseas. And all the while, Hollywood is experimenting with a “new” trend to attract viewers, involving a pair of goggles that were only futuristic looking when Leave It To Beaver was considered edgy.

Remarkably, I took in my first 3D movie last weekend when I went to a late-morning showing of Coraline. 3D has been around my whole life in various other instances, but those glasses really haven’t changed much at all. Hey, it’s cool to be retro.

I recall getting those glasses with coloring books when I was very young. Even then I remember being very unimpressed. I always wondered if I was doing something wrong, sort of like those posters you have to squint at to see the poorly defined sailboat.

Flash forward to the beginning of February. 3D glasses we being given away in grocery stores for Dreamworks’ Super Bowl promotion of Monsters Vs. Aliens. I got my pair and headed down to a party thrown by a bunch of geeks who work for Dreamworks Animation. What better group of guys to be with to experience such a gimmick?

The second half ended and we all donned our dorky glasses and gazed into the screen. Ooh!  They started off with a paddleball flying into your eyeballs. The whole room reacted. Not a bad start. After this initial excitement, the air slowly seemed to be sucked from the room. The promo ended and the comments began. The general consensus was that it was unimpressive, and these were the guys who were actively involved in it. They all told me that the trailer didn’t use the technology as well as the feature will and that part of this was due to the cheap quality of the glasses. Then we heard another “Ooh!” as the TiVo in the other room finally caught up to the paddleball shot.

A few weeks later, I was sitting in the theater waiting for Coraline to start. The glasses were much fancier than the ones I had gotten from the grocery store, but these ones had the fingerprints of the previous viewers on them. I wondered if the experience would be any better than DreamWorks’ Super Bowl experiment. I looked around me to see the theater filling up with children and my hopes for a better experience were dashed. I like kids, but theaters filled with them never are enjoyable.

My other main concern for this new 3D push is that filmmakers will rely too much on the technology. This is a common problem any time new technologies are pushed. Remember how overused the rotating slow-mo camera of The Matrix became? The problem is that many films will likely use the 3D technology simply as a distraction. The paddleball flying out of the screen is cool and all, but somewhat shallow if it’s only done to impress the audience.