A Sneak Peek at 'U23D'

I have seen the future of movie-going, and it is in three dimensions! Finally emerging from the shadows of cheap gimmickry, where it has resided virtually since 3-D movies started popping up in the 1920s, I think it's instead becoming a artistic choice -- like anamorphic widescreen and black-and-white -- that can seriously enhance the movie-going experience. There are an increasing number of movies you can see in 3-D now, though they're still mostly relegated to the 60-or-so IMAX theaters around the country, though Beowulf was a recent exception. (In fact, Beowulf director Robert Zemeckis is among an increasing minority of filmmakers who are pledging to release upcoming films in both 2- and 3-D. James Cameron's epic Avatar will be another one to watch for.)

I probably would've liked Beowulf in 2-D just fine -- it's a big fun popcorn movie, not high art, either way you slice it -- but I caught an advance screening of U23D last night (a friend produced it), and honestly, it blew Beowulf out of the 3-D water. It's nothing more than a well-done concert film, shot during the South American leg of U2's "Vertigo" tour, but in 3-D on the big screen, it became a really unique movie experience. It's not even that I'm huge U2 fan (don't get me wrong, I like 'em as much as the next person), but the three-dimensionality of the film evoked the experience of being in a huge 70,000-person arena, filled to capacity and rockin', like nothing else short of being there. Honestly, I'd rather watch U2 in 3-D than actually have been there, getting sweat on by a thousand strangers in the nosebleeds, and probably watching most of the event on the Jumbo-Tron anyway. U23D premieres at Sundance this weekend, comes out in IMAX theaters soon after, and by the end of the month will hit 500 screens across the country -- so catch it if you can, and let us know what you thought!

Here's a trailer for the film (in 2-D ... laaaaame).

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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