Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's [been] too long

I started the summer off with grandiose plans of writing piles and piles of fantastic movie/book reviews or thoughts that stemmed from them. The common human function of failure is beautifully displayed here. So I will ashamedly try and get back into things by transcribing a rant describing a pet peeve of mine being tested this weekend.

I love [good] movies. If there is thought put into a film and it shows on screen, that's beautiful. It speaks to humanity in ways other art mediums cannot. I even love a good summer blockbuster if it's done well (e.g. Dark Knight) although most of the time they're just put out there for the money (e.g. Hancock). One of my top frustrations I have with summer blockbusters, and really all films, is when they run too long. Here are my expectations with a few examples (and I feel they are at least moderately reasonable):

  • Cartoon/CGI Film: 80minutes-110minutes.
    • (WALL.E, 98minutes), (Kung Fu Panda, 92 minutes), (Aladdin, 90minutes)
  • Comic Book or Summer Blockbuster: 90minutes-140minutes.
    • (Spiderman, 121minutes), (X-men, 104minutes), (The Bourne Ultimatum, 115minutes)
    • I gave leniency here - case in point: The Dark Knight filled its 152 minutes very well.
  • Epic or Heavy Drama: 100minutes-180minutes.
    • (LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, 178minutes), (Saving Private Ryan, 170minutes), (No Country for Old Men, 122minutes)

OK, I may have gone into a little too much detail there but that's how I do. All that to say, when a movie largely steps outside of these time limits they better have good reason. I, in no way, want to stifle a director's artistic vision of making a film how they see fit but there's also an audience that has to watch. There's a happy medium that must be treaded upon by directors (and editors) in this time length arena (as well as a number of other aspects of film making).

Moving to this weekend: I am a sad and lonely person. Last night (Friday) I watched Schindler's List and tonight (Saturday) I watched Dances with Wolves. (I have the goal of watching all the movies nominated for Best Picture from 1990 to the present.) Now Schindler is 195minutes and Wolves is 224minutes. As I mentioned before, if you're going to stray so far outside your genres' typical time length, it better be for good reason. In my humble opinion, both films probably could have been shortened a bit although Schindler held my attention the entire time. The beautifully shot film kept me engaged the whole 3+ hours even when there wasn't a ton of dialogue. Wolves on the other hand, (granted I watched the director's cut on accident (although to my credit, the box didn't really make it clear that it was a longer cut)) could have used some definite reductions. Buffalo and Costner can only fill so much time.

It almost seems that if you made a movie over three hours long in the early 90's, your chances of nabbing a Best Pic award quadrupled. Maybe it was a different time or something (all 15 years ago...). You know how in the 60's and 70's, band's singles were often around 2 1/2 minutes (look at the Beatles' 1 album), where as now, you can get a 5+ minute song on the air? Anyways, it seems like a long time to be sitting in a movie theatre. Why, film editors/makers, can't you make a film that doesn't overtake an entire evening? I'm not just saying this for my own gratification. I really think that the correct time length (both long or short) is key in keeping the audience engaged and really, at making a good film. I'm glad films have shortened slightly.

That is my rant.

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