Friday, September 19, 2008

A Brief History of Time


Standard business models usually have something to recommend them otherwise they would never have become standard. When models of doing business intersect with art it becomes trickier but still the two can work together. The movies have always been a combination of the two, business and art. In the days when the studio moguls reigned supreme business often took the upper hand, forcing the artist to find more creative ways to get their art to show through, and more often than not, they succeeded. Some of the greatest works of film art were made at a time when the Louis B. Mayers, Jack Warners and Sam Goldwyns were wielding unrivalled power and final say over the films they financed.

The studios still have power over the in-house product but much more often than used to be the case, they spend their time working out distribution deals with independent producers to circulate product that didn't originate with the studio. And so their business models have changed. Everything is pumped into the opening weekend and successive DVD and foreign distribution deals. Why? Many, many reasons. Too many to go into here. But one factor that plays a part, the part that currently concerns this piece, is time. Running time, that is.

There was a time when showings per day was all important. Get 'em in and get 'em out. But then the studio lost control over the final product and the films got longer. Multiplexes became necessary because to get the same amount of showings per day for a given film, what with its extended running time, previews and twenty minutes of commercials, it had to be shown on more screens. And all of this started circulating in my head because Fox, of Tractor Facts, made a comment in a recent post about the two hour and fifteen minute running time of Speed Racer. Whatever the merits of that film may be, my immediate question was, "Why? Why two hours and fifteen minutes?"

Allow me to bitch for just a moment. Citizen Kane managed to weave one of the most cinematically adventurous tales in film history, covering the life of its protagonist from childhood to death, in 119 minutes, just one shy of two hours. Frankenstein gave the Gothic tale of Mary Shelley new life in 71 minutes. Its superb sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, did even more and added just four more minutes to the running time. Decades later Hammer Studios reinvented Gothic horror with The Curse of Frankenstein and did it all in 82 minutes. Bicycle Thieves and Rome, Open City introduced the world to Italian Neo-Realism in 93 and 100 minutes respectively. And it took Jean-Luc Godard just 90 minutes to blast the French New Wave onto the International Scene with Breathless.

But Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End? Well, naturally, that story couldn't be told in less than ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY EIGHT MINUTES! And the two Jack Sparrow tales that preceded it? 143 minutes for the first and 150 minutes for the second. Holy cow!

And now we've hit upon the problem. I am not bothered by long running times if the story demands it. Certain stories are sweeping enough in scope and peopled enough in characters that more time is required to tell the story: The Godfather films, The Right Stuff, Lawrence of Arabia, Gone With the Wind, etc. I'm not saying those films are good because of that or that they're good at all, I don't even like all of them, just that I understand why the story takes a bit longer to get across. But for me personally, I have always believed that the most effective method of successfully delivering a good Action/Adventure story is brevity. It's the soul of wit and as it turns out, the soul of a well turned thriller.

And that's what perplexes me about the long running times of modern day action/adventure movies. My wife and I saw the Pirates of the Caribbean, the first one, with our son who was in his early teens when it came out. He was the target audience. He was seeing it for the second time, we for the first. He loved it and wanted us to watch it with him. Not being Ogres, we agreed. It wasn't long after the hour and a half mark that both my wife and I felt, "This movie needs to end now!" Not because we hated it, although unlike some cinephiles who did like the Pirate movies I was not and am not a fan, but because as an adventure movie that's the point when one starts running out of good will. Give me a complicated character like Guido Anselmi in 8 1/2, played by Marcello Mastroianni, and I'll gladly watch him and discover his inner workings for 138 minutes. But Jack Sparrow has nothing to offer me after the requisite 90 minutes of adventure time. *(see "P.S" below)

Our son noticed the squirming and that's when the remarkable occurred. He said, "Yeah, it is really long."

That's when I thought, "Boy the people who make these movies are remarkably stupid. Their own target audiences realize the films are too long. If they would just check their ego at the door and let the editor do his job not only would the result be a better, tighter film but they'd make so much more money from all the extra showings per day they'd get. Wow. I mean, WOW! They're dumb."

Okay, that's a little harsh but you get the point. At least I hope so. I'll reiterate just in case. Long running times: no problem. But you've got to know when a long running time FITS YOUR STORY. And that's what many action/adventure directors just DON'T GET ANYMORE. I love action/adventure. But with few exceptions I don't want my action/adventures to be epic. It's action! There's just so much I want to see before the lack of character depth makes me start looking at my watch. I want them to be visceral and emotional and thrilling and long running times don't mesh with that experience. Action/Adventure, along with Sci-Fi and Horror, can be some of the most emotionally engaging movies out there (yes that's right, emotionally engaging) but they create those emotions using visceral and primal means and after a certain point that can become draining.

One of the best adventure/fantasy films out there is King Kong from 1933. I adore the original, really, absolutely adore it. I've seen it enough times that I lost count of how many times years ago. If it's on TCM I'll watch it. Doesn't matter what else is on or how recently I've seen it. I'm happy to spend 100 minutes with that movie any day. And 100 minutes is just about right for the story of a maverick filmmaker going to a hidden island to capture a forty foot tall ape. I mean really, who could take that simple, engaging fun-filled setup and let it linger for 187 minutes until all the life was drained out of it? Who? And why? Why would someone do such a thing? I mean, I feel like I'm in Barton Fink - "it's a wrestling picture!" - and I'm saying to the director, "Okay, let's go to the island, get the gorilla, have some fun with him in the big city before we shed a tear for the big lug when he falls to his death. Roll credits. Time: Hour and forty minutes. Let's do it."

But 187? Sorry, I know the remake has many fans, and there was much I liked in it, but if the remake were Dan Quayle and the original was John Kennedy and I was Lloyd Bentsen (I'm not by the way, he's dead) I'd be telling it right now, "You're no Jack Kennedy." And to quote Frank Wilson from a 96 minute drama about rugby I happen to like very much, "They'll still be saying that in a hundred years!"

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P.S. - Just so we're all clear, I'm not saying an action-adventure movie can't have complex characters, but that the emotional reactions elicited by those characters come from the action, not dialogue or dramatic conflict. That being the case, the impact is more immediate, and thus, requires less running time.

44 comments:

ARBOGAST said...

Years ago I knocked out a peevish letter to The New York Times noting that the then-recent crime films (The Hot Spot, The Two Jakes) were all unconscionably long, some of them triple the running time of the 40s noirs they were trying to repurpose. I suggested we were witnessing the birth of a new genre... film bore.

Jonathan Lapper said...

I sometimes think the beauty of the tightly wound, fast paced thriller, adventure or noir is lost forever. I watched Pickup on South Street again last month and was captivated from beginning to end. Thematically it covers loyalty, patriotism, and self-sacrifice all played against corruption, self-interest and evil with an enigmatic protagonist who may or may not be conflicted about what he's doing, the audience not sure as Fuller and Widmark never give any winks to let us know. And they do it all in 80 minutes. When it was over I didn't feel the story was rushed or that I'd been cheated. A part of the reason was the artistic efficiency of those earlier filmmakers.

In those Pirates movies the action sequences are interminably long. A simple sword fight (not a climactic end-of-movie swordfight mind you but an early throwaway one as we're introduced to the characters) runs three times as long as the fight that closes out Curtiz' The Adventures of Robin Hood! Repetitive action may intrigue a toddler but an adult processes it very quickly and it becomes both unnecessary and undesirable to have it go on too long.

bill r. said...

I'm not sure where I fall on this. The running time of, for instance, the King Kong remake didn't bother me one bit. Other things about that film bugged me (though I ultimately liked it), but not the length.

I know what you mean about action scenes going on too long, especially those in the middle of a light film like the Pirates of the Carribean films; you know, given the tone of the film and the placement of the action scene that the stakes can't be that high, and therefore the suspense is drained out of it.

But otherwise, if the movie works for you, as the King Kong remake ultimately did for me, then it works. I don't think there is any hard or fast rule. If you'd really enjoyed the Pirates movies, then would you have noticed how long they were?

bill r. said...

For instance: what did you think of Heat?

Jonathan Lapper said...

If you'd really enjoyed the Pirates movies, then would you have noticed how long they were? No, but that's the point. As I said in the piece, running times don't bother me if they fit the story. Thus if I had enjoyed the two and a half hour Pirates of the Caribbean movie, it would probably mean the action scenes were less drawn out and there was more focus on Jack Sparrow's character than action driven plot propulsion. I wouldn't have noticed its running time had they made a movie that fit a two and a half hour running time. But they didn't. They made a movie that fit an hour and a half running time and padded it with an hour of filler.

To make things even more complicated, I can enjoy a movie and still feel it is too long. The first half of the King Kong remake that takes place in New York and on the cargo ship - I really enjoyed that section of the movie. But even enjoying it, even as I watched it, I thought (and said to my wife) this is unnecessary. We don't need to keep seeing these little vignettes, as entertaining as they may be, aboard this ship. Why is this going on so long?

Other parts annoyed me. The fight with the T-Rexes as Kong and Ann and the dinos fight and fight and go over the cliff and fall down and down and down (looks at watch) then they fight some more and start jumping across the vines to each other (looks at watch again) then Kong keeps getting distracted because he's also trying to save Ann ( continues looking at watch, becoming angry) then one dino dies and Kong is injured (contemplating long angry letter to Jackson)... and, well, you get the point.

I don't have a problem with long running times. I have a problem with padding and directors who don't know when they're overdoing it. So often in art, a painter or a writer or a filmmaker can become so enamored of their work that they want to keep adding to it. This is understandable and it happens to my wife and I often but eventually you have to learn to reign that impulse in and recognize when you have finished your work.

Jonathan Lapper said...

And that is why I specifically pointed out in the piece that I don't mind long running times. It's not length, it's whether it fits the story. I wanted to make that clear so that there would not be a lot of "well what about Lord of the Rings" or "well what about There Will Be Blood" and so on.

I'm not saying a long movie is a bad movie. It's whether or not the length fits.

As for Heat I liked it okay when I saw it when it was released but I honestly don't remember much about it now. If I recall correctly I felt the drama was fairly boring and the extended shootout scene was more interesting so in that case I feel Mann didn't have interesting enough characters to justify the length but, except for the shootout, his overlong scenes were not overextended action scenes but tepid dramatic scenes.

I'd have to see it again but I'd say it would have worked much better as a tight hour and 45 minute crime drama.

bill r. said...

Okay, but my point is that there is no hard and fast rule, as you seem to imply. The T-Rex fight in the Kong remake I found absolutely breathtaking, and I didn't care how long it lasted.

Obviously, the quest for that kind of reaction is why the Pirates movies are as long as they are (and I enjoyed the first two well enough, though I haven't seen the third and feel no great urge to do so). My only argument is that you seem to be saying that action films, by their nature, need to be short and to the point, and I don't agree. If I mention an action film that is longer than that which you happened to like, then obviously the rule can't be that rigid.

bill r. said...

And that is why I specifically pointed out in the piece that I don't mind long running times. It's not length, it's whether it fits the story. I wanted to make that clear so that there would not be a lot of "well what about Lord of the Rings" or "well what about There Will Be Blood" and so on.

But none of your examples were action films, which is the whole point of this post, it seems. That's what I'm focusing on.

Jonathan Lapper said...

You've lost me. My examples in the post were the Pirates movies and King Kong which I consider action/adventure movies. And the rule may not be rigid but few things are set in stone. As a general rule I believe brevity is the soul wit but I don't think that means one cannot write a very witty and insightful essay that is lengthy.

As for Action/Adventure I think it works better with shorter running times than longer. That's all.

Jonathan Lapper said...

The T-Rex fight in the Kong remake I found absolutely breathtaking, and I didn't care how long it lasted.

I definitely disagree here, not just on this specific scene but on the artistic merit of taking something too far.

Let's take the breakfast table scene from Citizen Kane. I find that scene breathtaking as we go through years of a marriage in decline in a couple of minutes. Where I differ from you is that I do care how long something goes on. Had Welles decided to extend that scene giving us subtle changes on a week to week basis instead of larger changes on a year to year basis, then breathtaking or not, I would care how long it lasted. Of course, at that point I would probably no longer find it breathtaking because it would have overstayed its welcome.

bill r. said...

Here's the mix-up we're having (I think): The main point of your post seems to be that action movies work better when they're short. Yes, you used action films as examples, but only as negative examples. The films you used as examples of films that needed to be longer to tell their particular story (The Right Stuff, etc.) were not of that genre.

So you seem to be saying that action films should not be over a certain length if they're going to work. That's what I'm taking issue with.

Adam Ross said...

I've thought about this topic a lot in recent years as well, and it's interesting to note how quickly things have changed. For instance, in 1984 Universal set a strict 120-minute limit for David Lynch's "Dune," and it resulted in a heavily-truncated movie that felt like just a series of montages (Lynch's original cut was almost twice that running time). Is there any doubt that if a Sci-Fi epic like "Dune" was being made now, a studio wouldn't think twice about a 3 hour run time?

I was also gravely disappointed in the new Kong's run-time, since Peter Jackson is obviously a huge admirer of the original and for the most part his movie reflects that. He should know better than anyone that a Kong remake shouldn't have felt that bloated.

Jonathan Lapper said...

So you seem to be saying that action films should not be over a certain length if they're going to work. That's what I'm taking issue with.

I am saying that so I don't think we have any confusion. An action/adventure film, as a pure form of the genre, where the screenplay is not concerned with fully fleshing out the characters, shouldn't be too long. If a film combines the elements of fleshed out character drama with action/adventure than it is not an action/adventure singularly, in the pure sense of action/adventure drama and thus my personal feelings on running time would not apply.

With The Right Stuff there are plenty of action/adventure elements, but plenty of character drama as well and so its running time feels justified.

In the end that's all I'm saying. If your movie is primarily concerned with action and adventure elements, from Enter the Dragon(98 minutes) to Raiders of the Lost Ark (115 minutes) then I think you're doing your film a disservice by making it too long. If you want to do more, there's always sequels.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Adam - I think you're right about Dune were it released today. Sci-fi of the thought provoking variety (Blade Runner, 2001) is essentially great drama that often profits from longer running times. Sci-fi of the action/adventure type (War of the Worlds for example) is what Universal was probably confusing Dune with, or with those straight up adventure movies of the Star Wars series and didn't realize that fans of the book would want to see the story fully presented with all the attendent character conflicts and motivations.

bill r. said...

Okay. I don't necessarily agree, but okay (I think if I kept going we'd be getting into another one of those long "limits of the genre" conversations). And I know you don't hate long movies, you just hate movies in general.

bill r. said...

Dune actually is going to come out "today". It's being remade. Again. By Peter Berg.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Did anyone ever see the miniseries? I think it was done for the Sci-Fi channel. I missed it. Just curious if it was any good.

Oh yeah, and blah, blah, blah, I hate movies, blah, blah, blah.

And thanks for the great comment interchange Bill. I was thinking of the kind of exchange we had when I was reading Filmbrain's take on the Cineaste article (he took part in the discussion) and it was pointed out that the older print critics came off worse by generally making sweeping pronouncements that couldn't be supported whereas the bloggers more carefully parsed their language. For instance, Richard Corliss declared that except for Agee, film criticism before 1960 was a joke, apparently ignoring everyone from Bazin to Farber.

Bloggers on the other hand have become accustomed to having to defend their opinions (and not just against some letter to the editor that shows up three weeks after you wrote the piece) on a daily basis and thus are, in my opinion, much better at seeing an idea from multiple angles, often because their readers force them to look at it in different ways.

bill r. said...

I'm not sure I made my point very well, but thank you. The back-and-forth quality of blogs is why I like them, and why I tend to get frustrated with traditional film criticism: those guys can make their point as though it was set in stone, and no matter how ludicrous I may find it, I can't yell at them.

I never saw the Dune mini-series, but my brother(s) weren't too keen on it, as I remember. But I don't really have a dog in that fight, as I've twice tried to read the novel, only to give up about a fifth of the way through each time.

Marilyn said...

I think there might actually be some pushback going on. Grindhouse was a big flop at the box office, and there are now separate DVDs for each film (though I think this was planned). Why? Length. The films were worth seeing, just not as a double feature. In fact, nobody shows double features anymore - the only people willing to watch films back to back in a theatre are cinephiles, usually at film festivals.

I think one of the reasons films have gotten longer is the same reason novels have gotten longer - price. People want to think they got their $11 per ticket worth of film. Or at least, studios think they do. If they don't satisfy that demand, what's to stop their audiences from renting the film at a very cheap price.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Marilyn, you may be on to something. Kind of a backwards way of thinking for the studios where they assume longer is preferred. There's no way to prove them wrong either as my own children can attest to the fact that teenagers will see whatever is targeted towards them no matter what the length. Since they won't refuse (generally speaking that is, not the same for every teen, certainly not me when I was one or any cinephile teen out there now) to see something that is bloated and belabored the studios and filmmakers don't see the problem.

bill r. said...

Why don't you like long movies, Jonathan?

Jonathan Lapper said...

Mmmmm... my lunch is good.

bill r. said...

Mine was good, too. I don't know about you, but I never get tired of roast beef sandwiches.

Rick Olson said...

Jonathan, why do you hate movies?

Seriously though, folks, somewhere in this bloated, overlong comment chain you said something about filmmakers becoming enamored of their own stuff so much they were reluctant to cut it. I think that's huge.

After Jackson made LOTR, he could do no wrong. Nobody could, nor did they want to, tell him not to make a bloated, one-hour-too-long adaptation of a film that never needed to be remade in the first place, so he did.

I call it the Stephen King effect, after the guy whose novels started out being swift, economical, scary little things and grew to bloated, overbearing, behemoths. His stuff got so long he hit upon the idea of breaking them up again into short "serials" so he could make more money. (Brilliant.) But King got so big, nobody could edit him anymore.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Rick, it's true this happens a lot with directors who have made a name for themselves in one way or another. And as far as King goes, I'm sure at this point, and for a long while now, no one in any editing capacity has done anything but make grammatical corrections. I'm sure it is expected that their job is to catch any errors of grammar and nothing else. No suggestions, no cuts, no rearrangements or fiddling with structure in any way.

I'd like to be assigned an editor for King just so I could make ridiculous suggestions.

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Mr. King,

Re: Dark Tower. Change title to "Sunny Easy Chair."

Make goal of Protagonist to find said Easy Chair, sit in it and throw fun-filled slumber party with many teenage girls.

86 dark stuff in book. Very depressing. Reach out to "Travelling Pants" target audience by making Man in Black more bouncy, and in lavender instead of black.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Mr. King,

RE: The Shining.

Make Danny's imaginary friend Tony real, somewhat chubby and with a penchant for sardonic wisecracks and potato chips.

Danny and Tony play spy games at hotel. Imaginations run wild, assume Jack Torrance going crazy and will kill family. Revealed at end all a ruse so Tony would not suspect they were planning best birthday party ever for him.

End novel with Tony pumping fist and exclaiming, "YES!"

Rick Olson said...

King actually edited "The Stand" and made it longer for a subsequent edition. Sounds like he's the Peter Jackson of the horror novel.

I just went to King's website ... you can see "Stephen's Picks" (updated June 17. 2008) where you can check out "what Stephen is into right now."

It says: "Stephen has been watching: Once. Stephen enjoyed the movie Once"

I love to see a fellow cinema lover.

Jonathan Lapper said...

Jonathan has been watching his Netvibes Blog subscriptions.

Jonathan enjoys his Netvibes Blog subscriptions.

bill r. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bill r. said...

I enjoy soup. Some kinds of soup. The thick, creamy kinds. I'm not really into broth that much, though.

Also, it doesn't seem to matter if King's novels are ridiculously long or reasonably short anymore. Any of you guys read Cell? Good Christ, what a disappointment. Another problem King has these days, apart from rampant verboseness, is the apparent desire to assure his readers that he finished the book they're reading mere days before they purchased it. Cell contained a reference to March fo the Penguins, which, I swear, I don't even think was out on DVD when that book was published.

bill r. said...

Goddamnit. I already deleted one comment due to typos, and now I just found another. Screw this noise. You guys can keep your lousy comments!

Adam Ross said...

To: Stephen King (kingme122@yahoo.com)

Re: Carrie

Tampons?!?

LOLZ

Why don't you just write about like, uhhhhh, a car that's like ... alive.

Rick Olson said...

That's it, Bill ... blame the equipment.

I haven't read anything from King since, oh, about "The Stand." Actually, he lost me at about "Pet Semetary" (I know he misspelled it in the title, I just can't remember how).

Rick Olson said...

And Jonathan, I use Google Reader. I'm just a Google whore.

I love my feed-reader, although sometimes I ignore her shamelessly.

Kimberly said...

I don't have a lot to add except that these days when I go to see a new film you will often find me uttering the phrase . . .

"Film editing has become a lost art."

I think one of the reasons Cloverfield worked so well for me personally was because at 85min it felt like an old monster movie.

Jonathan Lapper said...

I was going to mention Cloverfield and it's running time but I didn't want to get too many genres mixed up. But yes! I agree, that's what I think, "Why isn't someone editing these damn things?"

Peter Nellhaus said...

While DePalma's remake is the film most people think of, I prefer Hawks' Scarface, half the length, plus it has Boris Karloff bowling.

I still have to see Death Takes a Holiday, but I have to also admit being one of the few who actually liked Meet Joe Black.

Also, the longer version of The Big Red One worked much better than the theatrical version.

No consistency on my part. Some filmmakers work better taking their time while others are better keeping things brief. As for Peter Jackson, I like his earlier, shorter films better, when he crammed a lot of craziness in less than two hours.

Jonathan Lapper said...

I haven't seen the longer version of The Big Red One just the version that circulated on cable and VHS in the eighties. I still loved it so I should see the longer version.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

I think I'm somewhere in the middle here too-- I feel like if I enjoy and appreciate a movie for what it is, then it's probably as long as it should be. And I have very few issues with how Peter Jackson approached King Kong. And all he did with the extended versions of the three Rings movies was make masterpieces out of movies that were already pretty goddamn great. However, the first two Pirates movies were clearly far too long (I didn't see the third)-- particularly with the second one, it seems thatthe operating rule was of the kitchen-sink variety, as well as why settle for one Kraken attack when you can have three?

But something like Pierrot le fou could be said to be rambling and perhaps in need of "tightening," whatever that might be for a free-associative movie like that one, so obviously the standard shifts not only from genre to genre, but movie to movie.

That said, I think about some of my favorite films-- the aforementioned Pickup on South Street, Dirty Harry or just about anything done by Don Siegel, Sansho the Bailiff, Carrie, Aguirre the Wrath of God-- are models of economic, eloquent editing, visual symmetry, and/or precise, purposeful pacing, while others, like 1941, Nashville, New York, New York and a zillion others are beautiful creatures that are not hampered in the least (in my eye, anyway) by what might be termed excessive length.

I guess I'm just not as willing to be so sweeping in my impatience for movies that take their time (and mine) as long as I feel like there's some justification that can be laid at the feet of genuine vision, or at least something other than pure spectacle or budgetary diarrhea.

(And by the way, I wouldn't cut a frame from Speed Racer!)

Jonathan Lapper said...

I guess I'm just not as willing to be so sweeping in my impatience for movies that take their time

I'm not either. I hope everyone understands that. I fear it's been lost in the translation. As I purposely pointed out in my piece to avoid any confusion, "Long running times, no problem."

It's when it runs against the grain of the movie where the problems arise. Nashville could be longer if it wanted to in my opinion and The Bridge on the River Kwai, which contains elements of action/adventure, feels perfect to me, 161 minutes and all.

My main argument is that a plot designed primarily around action/adventure, as opposed to dramatic character conflict (Kwai), needs to keep its running time down or it runs out of steam and becomes laborious.

And while I can see the good parts of Speed Racer that you speak of, I have to disagree and say that several frames could have and should have been cut, and unlike the Emperor in Amadeus I could tell you which ones. The races were far too long for what needed to be shown and the dazzling display of light and color in those races registered early on, not requiring 3 or 4 extra minutes for the viewer to get it or appreciate it. My point is when you overextend an action sequence it tends to lose its power unless, like anything else, including extended dialogue sequences, it changes, develops. If I'm watching a dramatic film and the characters keep talking about the same thing over and over and belaboring the same points it's just as bad. The races didn't develop, they didn't change. It was the same thing again and again and again. I'm not a five year old fascinated by bouncing the same red ball over and over and over.

But...

... even though it wasn't my bag of treats, I can see your and Chris Stangl's points on Speed Racer and it was much better than I would have ever thought it to be, but some cutting would have made it tighter and better, and probably more impactful message wise.

sarcastig said...

Wasn't it Ebert who said no good movie is long enough, and no bad movie short enough? That's basically my opinion on the matter, too, but I agree that too many films nowadays just go on and on and on... I recently saw [i]The Killing[/i], and it's amazing what Kubrick (who made such loooooong movies late) manages to accomplish in under 90 minutes.

Jonathan Lapper said...

I agree as well. The length fits the movie and the problem with so many action movies today is that the length doesn't fit, and the directors don't seem to notice.

I saw The Killing too, and I think Kubrick was amazing. Short or long running times, his movies always seemed to be the perfect length. For me at least.

Gloria said...

I haven't seen any of the Caribbean franchise films, so I can't really give my views about them (actually, I caughtv the first one on TV, but didn't feel like keep on watching it, so I switched channels).

But I have to say this:

- Jean Renoir's "une Partie de Campagne" lasts 40 minutes.

- Ernest B. Schoedsack's"The Most Dangerous Game" lasts 63 minutes.

- The classic Astaire-Rogers movies rarely lasted more than 90 minutes.

- "The Night of the Hunter" lasts 93 minutes

As you say, it's not a matter of short films being better than longer ones: heck, I re-visit "Spartacus" every then and now, and I'd give something to see the five-hour version of "Greed", but sometimes one wishes that the extra footage would be left just to be an extra in a Specal DVd edition for those who want more.

As we ladies tell our beaus to reassure them: "honey, it's not about the lenghth of the organ, it's about the performance I am concerned"

Jonathan Lapper said...

As we ladies tell our beaus to reassure them: "honey, it's not about the lenghth of the organ, it's about the performance I am concerned"

We never believe that, but keep saying it.

I love The Most Dangerous Game. I got the Criterion release a couple of years ago and it's just splendid. I think it's my love for thirties movies that tints my opinion on what the length of a movie should be. Because I've seen so many great movies of the 30s and 40s done in under two hours I wonder why everyone can't do that.