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Short Cuts

Spongebob and the Lips converge on Austin Studios, and the local IMAX pumps up its technology for 'The Polar Express'

By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 22, 2004

Warping Your Kids' Minds One Giant Hamster Bubble at a Time: While you were busy holding forth at the Driskill bar and once again reaping the cinematic benefits of living in the River City this past Austin Film Festival weekend (which, by the way, went smashingly, thanks for asking), Okie Noodling director Brad Beesley was hunkered down over at Austin Studios with Wayne Coyne and his irrepressibly wiggy Flaming Lips, directing the band in their new video "SpongeBob and Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy" from Nickelodeon/Paramount Pictures' forthcoming The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Short Cuts was over at the Paramount having our mind blown by Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy (and then sucked by a disastrously off-kilter performance from Cary Elwes in Saw), so we missed the spongy hoopla, but South by Southwest's filmlord Matt Dentler was on hand in our stead and reports that Coyne and company broke out the props, costumes, and gigantic plastic hamster balls in earnest for the weekend shoot. The Lips, as you recall, did the soundtrack to Beesley's Noodling, and the director is currently in postproduction on a documentary on the band (which should be done in time to show up at SXSW 2005). "Everything from pirate costumes," says Dentler of the shoot, "to giant ham-and-cheese costumes the band wore" were on hand for the green-screen-heavy shoot, which incorporates the band performing with the animated Mr. Bob. For more on the shoot, see "TCB," p.69.

More Bigger, Better, Hanks-ier: The IMAX theatre at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is gearing up to screen Robert Zemeckis' animated adaptation of author Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express (with Tom Hanks) in 3-D, which makes it "one of a very few theatres in the world" to be able to do so. The nuts and bolts of the already impressive upgrade – which involves multiple Quick-Turn Reel Units and other breakthroughs too complex for us to grasp at this early hour – are less important to you and me than the fact that the theatre will now be able to show 120-minute 3-D films should the need arise (and when does it not?). Those IMAX film reels, by the way, are 5 feet in diameter and weigh roughly the same as that blue whale in the Smithsonian you loved so much as a kid, so this is big news in more ways than one. The film opens Wednesday, Nov. 10.

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