Ben Fountain’s Long, Long Walk

A prize-winning first novel. Now a film by director Ang Lee. And it took him until his fifties to write it.

By Jerome WeeksNovember 4, 2016 10:50 am, ,

From KERA’s Art&Seek

Dallas author Ben Fountain wasn’t even directly involved with the film adaptation of his bestselling novel, ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.’ Didn’t write the screenplay. Wasn’t hired as a consultant.

But there he was on the red carpet at the splashy New York Film Festival premiere in October – trailing such Hollywood luminaries as Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker and director Ang Lee.

“Sony was great,” says Fountain. “They trotted me out, and I did the whole Justin Bieber thing where you stand there and have your picture taken a million times — which typically doesn’t happen in my universe.”

Or almost any author’s universe. Generally, authors are not invited to film openings unless they helped with the screenplay. Or executive produced the film.

But perhaps Sony Features, which is distributing ‘Billy Lynn,’ feels it’s going to need the promotional help. That’s because this is the first movie shot in a new 3D, super high-def format using 120 frames per second. For eons, the typical film has rolled past your eyes at 24 frames per second, the fewest possible frames before we begin to see image stutter. This new format — with its many more frames, its much larger resolution, all its 3D immersion — is meant to mimic more closely how the human eye actually sees things.

The result, reportedly, is a hyper-real look that may well be the future of film-making.

Or not. At the premiere, many critics complained it looked fake. Or just not like a movie. They even called it “soap opera-looking” and, simply, a disaster. Others defended the film, calling it everything from an “evolutionary leap” to stunning. Ang Lee — who has pushed technical boundaries before with such movies as ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ — ended up asking people just to give the new format a chance.

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