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« Interview: Kerry Washington on "Django" & Diversity | Main | The Deep Blue Link »
Thursday
Dec272012

Movies Are Too Long

I throw my back out all the time. It's not a matter of being old since I've been working that old man "my back!" drama since I was like 15. But can you throw your ass out? Maybe the movies are to blame for my back trouble? I'm always sitting. They shouldn't call a film's duration its "running time" but "sitting time". Yes, yes, it's my own fault for seeing Les Misérables and Zero Dark Thirty two & and a ½ times each in the past month (That's 787 minutes! What's wrong with me?). Take a look at the 12 movies most likely to find themselves with a Best Picture Nomination on January 10th from longest to shortest

Django Unchained - 165 minutes 
Zero Dark Thirty - 160 minutes 
Les Misérables - 157 minutes
Lincoln - 150 minutes
The Master - 144 minutes
Life of Pi - 127 minutes
Amour - 127 minutes
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - 124 minutes
Silver Linings Playbook - 122 minutes
Argo - 120 minutes
and the only contenders (both longshots) of non-abusive length!
Moonrise Kingdom - 94 minutes
Beasts of the Southern Wild - 93 minutes 

TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 26 HOURS & 23 MINUTES

That's just ass abuse!

Is it... a) auteur hubris? b) the cynical belief that long movies feel more "important" and are thus more popular with Oscar voters? c) rough draft & sub-plot preciousness or d)  the genuine length required to tell these particular stories?

You decide on a case by case in the comments but I'm sticking with "a, b & c" because there are relatively few movies in the modern era that aren't self-indulgent in one way or the other. Wouldn't it be fascinating to see what filmmakers would come up with if they were forced into 90 minute running sitting times across the board one year? Would they tighten their storytelling or tell one hour stories to allow for the extra padding?

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Reader Comments (54)

I don't think any of these directors, including Spielberg and John Madden, is cynical enough to lengthen a film for Oscars or for the sake of added gravitas. I'm fairly certain, in fact, that all of them spent many hundreds of hours in the editing room trying to find the best (and shortest) length to tell their stories. I know Tarantino did, and his was the longest of the group. The main problem, I think, is previous success. Success inflates your sense of self-worth. You begin to think that every little shot you've created is worth preserving for posterity and absolutely necessary to the plot because they sprang from your fertile loins. It's like attractive people who don't shower because they think their natural smell is so delightful to the world.

The shortest films of the group were done by a debut director and by Wes Anderson, whose self-worth may be healthy but who probably doesn't have the easiest time getting funding. Also, i can't imagine "Beasts" and "Moonrise" being any longer than they were. Both were so delicate and poetic. In fact, they were both structured as poems. The rest of the movies were structured more like stories or novels.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

I think it's a mix of everything...but there seems to be a request from audiences to have these super long movies and there must be a sequel nowadays. People complain when a big blockbuster or high profile film is 90 minutes long and they complain when its 3hours long, too. But my guess is that going to the movies can be expensive so people expect a "show", the closest to that is making really long movies that could, most likely, end up becoming a franchise.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I haven't done any definitive research on this but I'm guessing 1956 must hold some kind of overall Oscar length record. With The Ten Commandments clocking in at 220 mins followed by Giant at 201 followed by Around the World in Eighty Days at 183 mins followed by Friendly Persuasion at 137 mins followed by The King and I at 133 mins. At least within a field of 5 that must be a milestone.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLev Lewis`

I don't know the exact reason, but those lengths are just too much. I feel it's even worse with comedies. I mean, "This Is 40" is 134 min. How crazy is that? How can you keep up the rhythm?

I used to have a strong tolerance towards long movies, but since HBO and Mad Men I don't anymore. Get to the point people! Besides, when I am at home I never seem to find the blank for a three hours movie. I need to be sick and that's definitely not the best scenario to wish for.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

This is my biggest qualm with movies today. It's what has held me off from seeing Lincoln for the past two months. It's the reason I won't see This Is 40 in theaters (Judd Apatow needs an editor desperately for nearly all his self-indulgent movies). This is very likely an irrational irritation of mine as it keeps me from seeing worthwhile things until much too late in the game -- saw Argo and Flight (two movies I loved) on their last week in the theater in my area -- but setting aside the chunk of time and feeling the need to "prepare myself" for the length make the movie-going experience less fun or something.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

I agree it's a,b,c with the emphasis on first part of b (long movies feel more important). I'm, personally, losing my tolerance for movies longer than two hours.everything over that feels just like torture. i can tolerate three-hours movies only if they have a really long story to tell (like those classic epics like Gone With the Wind or Ben Hur)but that is not the case with contemporary movies.even biopics, like Lincoln, are not about the person's entire life but about one episode in that life and still they are long even though they don't need to be, imo.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrace

I feel like part of it is due to the constant fear Hollywood has of low theater attendance. They want to give you an epic experience. Inflated running time is the prestige picture equivalent of 3D.

Ironically I feel like it just makes it harder to wiggle a trip to the theater into a normal person's busy schedule. I'd see twice as many movies in the theater if they were all a pleasant 90 minute experience.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert A.

I think Amour and Silver Linings are the right length for their stories. I would edit one minute out of SLP with that last scene, but apart from that, any problems I have with it have nothing to do with focus or pace.
Argo and Lincoln could be squeezed a bit and a lot, respectively; a little rough-draft-subplot-itis on those.
The Master is a bit tougher, since it felt like the right length for the story it was telling, but as near as I can tell, The Master is the story of Paul Thomas Anderson's auteur hubris.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Also, WTH, Django is nearly 3 hours!? Do you really want to hurt me, QT?
(And does this mean Christoph Waltz gets twice as much screen time in his supporting actor vehicle than Marion, Naomi, Helen or JLaw do in their lead actress bids?)

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I don't think it's the running time so much as "does the film feel overlong?" Les Miz and The Hobbit (granted, I could shave about 20 min from this) had me enthralled from the get go. When I saw The Artist last year, I fell asleep. Lincoln could have used some trimming (actually I would have liked to have trimmed Spielberg entirely from the movie and replaced him with someone who could do justice to Tony Kushner's script).

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlejandro

anything over 150 minutes is pure hubris, and you could certainly make an argument at under 150 minutes (hey there judd apatow!). but hubris can be interesting.

movie length is really only a problem for me at home. i will happily sit through a 2.5 or 3 hour movie in a theater, and prefer to see them that way. at home, though, there are way too many easy distractions that start to edge in by the 90 minute mark.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Cronenberg has the right attitude towards running time length. His longest films always run five minutes short of two hours, including end credits.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

We just need intermissions in films again. Watching Les Mis, I could definitely feel the moment where a break would have been good. Same with Lincoln as well.

At least we aren't in the era where most movies are this long. Think back to the 50s and 60s, with all the sand and sword epics, musicals, and even some comedys (like it's a mad, mad, world) where the films are all over two hours long.But again, they had intermissions.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

To add to my previous comment: where length really gets me is with book adaptations, and its not so much that as the abdication on the part of the filmmakers to actually *adapt the books* that the overindulgent running time almost inevitably implies i've seen way too many movie versions of books that were just that - movie versions of the book. i know a lot of fans are happy about that, but it drives me nuts. some vanilla, corporate friendly reproduction, beat by beat, making sure to hit every little mark for the fans, of a beloved book is not what i want from a movie - i want filmmakers bringing a point of view to the material. like stoppard and joe wright did with anna karenina. like coppola did with the godfather, spielberg with jaws, that type of thing. not the bland, pre-approved mediocrities like the harry potters, davinci code's, dragon tattoo's, help's of the the world.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I was just going to say that I can understand the length when its an adaptation...cutting anything from Les Mis would have had the fans screaming! Same for something that is telling history. Books aren't meant to be read in one sitting, so it's understandable that the translation to film can end up too long. In any case, it's very indulgent, but I'm definitely less forgiving of something original -- You're writing it for film, find a way to tell your story in a way that doesn't require more than two hours. I'll be very curious to see how Tarantino fills the time (at least that's what I'm telling myself as the running time is very daunting). Is the plot that complicated?

Filmmakers have got to recognize that many in the audience are completely missing their last third of their movies because they are busy worrying their bladders will burst or they're being distracted by the people who decided to make a bathroom run!

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermikey67

Joe -- i second the intermission notion. Les Miz and Django (but maybe not Zero Dark) would have benefited from it.

I didn't mention it since it's not a best picture hopeful but i think the most egregious running time of the year has to be This is 40. It's nothing but filler (though some of the filler is amusing).

December 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Well, Les Miz comes in at 2.5 hours which is shorter than it runs on stage if I recall correctly. That show ran 3+ hours in the theater when I saw it.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlejandro

I hate intermissions. Even at the theater or the opera, I usually just sit in my seat and try to pretend like it's not happening. I love the unbroken immersion. I think I would have been great as one of the Calvinist extras in Breaking the Waves.

I really don't mind a three-hour running time, and I don't categorically prefer a shorter or a longer movie (though I agree that short ones are under-represented of late). I think Lincoln is exactly the right length and even though I don't love The Master, I don't think I found the length problematic. Eastern Promises and A History of Violence would have been better, I think, if they'd expanded on some of the material they truncate - for example, the Naomi Watts character. Warner Bros or Paramount or RKO could have made Silver Linings Playbook in 79 minutes with Cary Grant and Joan Blondell in 1932, and I'd have preferred that.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Thank you for writing this post. That's exactly my feeling this year, although anything around 120 mins is still tolerable for me. You still have not included those movies that were either at one point thought to be longshot or fanboys' wishful thinking though it never had a chance like Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit, Dark Knight Rises & Skyfall.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

While two hours is a little lengthy for a comedy (especially one as unsatisfying as Marigold Hotel), it's pretty standard stuff for a drama to be around 120 minutes, so I wouldn't identify Life of Pi and Argo as being abusers of time.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFree

I just think that especially since Avatar, filmmakers have rediscovered the possibilities that lie in making long movies - you can make stories more complex, and complex movies are "in", I guess.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMette

Actually, Les Miserables was too short. Even with shortening a lot of the songs, it still felt too cramped as a movie. More movement on the screen of carriages, crowds etc would have helped the exposition. It is still a magnificent translation from stage to screen, but all of the bellyaching about the closeups is because there simply isn't enough time. In the book you get 1600 pages. On stage, you get a Playbill to fill you in on the story with each act and songs within the act. In film you have to show what happens. What saves this film is Hugh Jackman giving a masters class in acting by telling the story with the lyrics and his emotions, physical condition, and age within those songs. Still should have been 3 1/2 to 4 hours with an intermission to truly do the show justice.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I remember when the 3 hours of Schindler's List were almost synonymous of quality, or when Branagh's Hamlet was shown with an intermission -that I found unnecessary, but felt more like a way to add grandeur (?) than anything else.

I use to find incredibly irritating artificially long movies when I was a smoker. Now I don't smoke, it's probably not length, but self-indulgence what I find most irritating. I find that a movie which is just ok, not bad, but not great, has to fight hard to get my love, if it's too long. I don't know, I think I'd love some movies more if they were more to the point or didn't have false endings.

About a compulsory length for movies, it already exists. In Spain, there is/used to be a 2 hour limitation. As far as I know (if there's any Spanish reader who works in the industry or has more information, please correct me) exhibitors wouldn't have Spanish movies longer than 2 hours, first because of the idea that local cinema is box office poison, and that they need to have 3 showtimes every evening to make a profit. I read about this years ago, so I don't know if it's still working. It'd be quite unfair to show more and more Hollywood movies longer than that, and not doing it with your own industry. However, unfair or not, i just checked the running time for The Impossible which could probably pass as a Hollywood movie, and it's 114' long. Just 6 minutes under the 2 hours :)

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Nick - Your attention span is miraculou. Not that I'm surprised ;)

I haven't seen Margaret's longer cut but people say it's even better that the shorter one.
Can anyone confirm? (It's of course subjective but whatever..)

August: Dysfunctional County might end up even longer than Django Unchained My Heart. (Why am I making fun of every title??)

Avatar was long and bad (outside of the visuals) but I did not get bored. The pacing was good.

Titanic felt spectacularly NOT too long. And it's also a great movie. Kate Rocknroll was lovely in it :p

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I'm not sure if it's a prestige thing, because it's not just the Oscar bait movies that are padding out their lengths. Most summer blockbusters run at least 135 minutes nowadays. The single worst offender I can think of has got to be the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, particularly the third one, which was actually 3 hours long if I remember correctly. I think it's a kind of "bigger is better" mentality that is held by the studios. I truly believe that most movies over 2 hours long do not warrant their length. Some do, but most don't. But since it's easier to promote a movie as an "event" when you give it an epic length. I don't know. All I know is that I hope I never have to sit through another 165-minute superhero movie again.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Great topic as this has bothered me for some time. Come on 2 hours is enough time to tell a story!

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersuzy

This is maybe my single biggest pet-peeve in modern filmmaking. And while I agree that it's a problem with Big Important Prestige Movies - <I>Argo</I> and <I>Lincoln especially have obvious padding, and I still haven't seen Django solely because blocking out the necessary 3 hours and 30 minutes (movie + trailers + travel time) has been impossible - I'm going to agree with Edwin: it's especially bad with popcorn movies. Just this year, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises could each have been a full hour shorter, and if you took out all the bullshit character nonsense from the Transformer movies, you'd have sleek little 80 minute "robots beating one another into paste" movies that might even be worth watching. Or consider the grim case of The Hobbit.

A while back, I re-watched Twister when it was on cable, and I found myself thinking that as bad as it was, I liked it more than just about any summer movie in the last several years, because at least it found way to get its whole story told in less than two hours. I can't tell you how much that two-hour cutoff makes me turn on a movie I'd otherwise want to see. Like Nick said, they used to make real adult movies at 80-90 minutes, and they were better movies.

Personally, I think it's all about creating a Big Event that makes the ticket price seem justified. Remember last year, how angry people got that Winnie the Pooh cost as much as everything else, at just 65 minutes? That despite being the best 65 minutes of family movie (in my opinion) of 2011.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

@Nat
When will you post your Les Miz review? I can't wait!

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSeisgrados

I remwmber the case of The Godfather. Coppola cut a 120 minute version that was rejected by producer Robert Evans:"you have an American epic in your hands!". And Coppola had to add an hour to the movie. And it's THE perfect movie.

Point: you all are not making any Godfather, damn! It's only a superhero movie, Nolan.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

seisgrados -- i'm already sick of talkign about it. LOL. I should've written one long ago (sigh)

December 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Me and my gal did a double feature on Xmas of Django Unchained and Les Miz, her idea. She wondered why her back hurt later that night.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbbats

"Lincoln" did not feel long- it was too enthralling neither did "Argo" which is about the right length. I can understand if one is trying to adapt a long and complex work to the screen but in the case of Tarantino and "The Hobbit" they both seem like cinematic self indulgent.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

The length of time you have to keep your ass glued to the seat is the principal reason I see far fewer movies in a moviehouse these days. Tarantino, Spielberg, Cameron -- all these guys are too self-important and their movies suffer from their overindulgence. I won't see Lincoln or Django or Les Mis or Life of Pi in the theatres principally because of their running times. This past week I saw Hitchcock, which ran well under two hours. I enjoyed it, though it was far from perfect. It was well acted and smart. Unlike Titanic, which ran more than three hours, most of which are devoted to a turgid melodrama.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRC

In general, I'd say it depends on the material. The Lord Of The Rings films needed to be as long as they were or else they couldn't do the story justice. The Transformers films, however, have not an ounce of substance and could have easily been reduced to 90 minute films (if that). This year, while not making me feel completely different, certainly challenged my view.

I thought TDKR needed to be as long as it was to completely wrap up the trilogy. The Avengers, however, just didn't have enough material for a movie past two hours. Lincoln, while a little slow in places, needed its running time to build tension. Although I enjoyed Zero Dark Thirty, and the same rationale applied to Lincoln could be applied to it as well, the plot and characters weren't compelling enough to have the film last that long .

I've seen Les Miz and Django Unchained over the last two days and they have left me the most confused. In the case of Les Miz, parts of it felt rushed and then other parts felt too drawn out. Overall, I thought the film was pretty good but I'm not sure if the running time was appropriate for the film or not. In the case of Django, there's a lot of fat that needed to be cut but it felt like a complete journey.

Ultimately, I still believe the material should dictate the length of a film but serious care should go into making the material as tightly paced as possible.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

I have absolutely no reason for believing this, but I think it also has something to do with television. TV, moreso than ever, is telling incredibly rich and compelling stories in serialized bursts for "free." How can movies compete? Stuff 'em with content, maybe?

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

It's all about the quality of the movie and how immersed you get in it. Once a year I watch "Gone With the Wind" from start to end, without taking any bathroom breaks, and by the time it's over I always say to myself "these felt like the shortest 4 hours of my life".

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJose

Drew -- but define rich and compelling? One of my biggest complaints abotu TV is the padding. so maybe tv is part of the problem too. Please seem to love watching the same episode (essentially) over and over again. Homeland is one of the few series where the plot actually moves quickly but it's still very repetitive in its beats. Don't get wrong i love a lot of the most acclaimed series but they seem to get a free pass on padding by all but the most critical fans.

December 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

And you still left off "Flight," "Skyfall," "Cloud Atlas," "The Hobbit," "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Anna Karenina." All are AT LEAST 130 minutes long.

2012... bringin' back long movies.

December 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

@Nate - do you really think the best TV shows suffer padding? I guess I might agree that network shows with 22 episodes rarely (if ever) make 22 compelling episodes every season, but the cable shows with 10 to 13 episodes feel the right length to me. I don't think Homeland or Mad Men could be accused of padding.

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Gow

Reading these comments is dispiriting. Not only have people (Americans? or people in general?) lost their attention span, but they're goddamn proud of it. Cinema is supposed to be a sort of escape from the real world, but now we're beginning to treat it as a sort of distraction before we can get back to our email/Facebook/Twitter. (Notice how many people in the theater immediately check their smartphones the second the credits begin to roll?)

Remember when A Night at the Movies often meant a double feature—the main attraction and the "B picture"—as well as a newsreel and a short subject and coming attractions and maybe a cartoon or serial? Okay, I don't remember those days either, but I understand that existed once. Bollywood movies are traditionally three hours in length because Indian audiences want to get their entertainment rupee's worth. But we're actually complaining about getting more bang for our buck.

Anyway, I seem to recall this was the case (even more so, now that I've compiled the list below) with a lot of 1999 Oscar contenders, too:

The Green Mile - 188 minutes
Magnolia - 188 minutes
Topsy-Turvy - 160 minutes
Eyes Wide Shut - 159 minutes (not really a contender but I'm putting it here anyway)
The Insider - 157 minutes
The Hurricane - 145 minutes
The Talented Mr. Ripley - 139 minutes
The Matrix - 136 minutes
Girl, Interrupted - 127 minutes
The Cider House Rules - 126 minutes
Music of the Heart - 123 minutes
American Beauty - 122 minutes

And that's not including the non-contenders in the year-end crush, many of which were conceived as Oscar bait positioned for awards season:
Sunshine (181 min.)
Any Given Sunday (162 min.)
The Emperor and the Assassin (162 min.)
Titus (162 min.)
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (158 min.)
Anna and the King (148 min.)
Angela's Ashes (145 min.)
Ride With the Devil (138 min.)
The Ninth Gate (133 min.)
Bicentennial Man (132 min.)
Cradle Will Rock (132 min.)
Dogma (128 min.)
The World Is Not Enough (128 min.)
Liberty Heights (127 min.)
Snow Falling on Cedars (127 min.)
A Map of the World (125 min.)
East/West (121 min.)

But you know what didn't feel like it was three hours long? CLOUD ATLAS. Yeah, yeah, I know—I can see myself to the door.

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

I don't have an issue with long runtimes that much, as long as I prepare myself for it in advance. Not all stories warrant the long treatment, but I can go with the idea that this is the time that the director felt was necessary to tell his/her story, so I mostly live with it. And frankly, if I'm being asked to pay $13 to see a damn movie in theaters, I want my money's worth! Sometimes I feel ripped off when I pay that price for a movie lasting 88 minutes, no matter how short and sweet the film ends up being.

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKieran

RC: Life of Pi is something you should experience in the theatre rather than at home, even though the movie's exposition, like most people said, it's clunky and non-inspiring for me. Visually, it's stunning, much better use of 3D than Hugo and Avatar.

It's not the length of the movie that counts, it's the pacing, editing, and the quality in the scenes and sequences that would let the movie flows seamlessly and have dramatic purpose to them.

Films I think should be shorter: Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miz, Rust and Bone (just have Cotillard handle the whole film)
A few scenes that need to be cut: Moonrise Kingdom (do we really need to see the little boy get hit by lightning?), Killing them Softly (no Gandolfini).

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLars

Whoops. Take Sunshine and East-West off that list of mine above. Their American release dates were in 2000.

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

J.P. -- i'm not complaining about getting more bang for the buck but the fact that the same bangs could be bangier at 90 minutes ;) but i hear your point. Short attention spans are a problem in a lot of ways but you know... what about bladders?

I think people wouldn't feel as angry about long running times if they didn't also have to sit through a long block of commercials in the movie theater (one of the worst sins ever committed against the cinema since for DECADES people always viewed that as *the* thing that was superior to seeing stuff at home. "no commercials!" To take away one of the cinema's great weapons against television is just so painful and self-defeating)

December 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel,

If people can't hold their bladders, then they shouldn't buy a drink. Plain and simple. My answer is the same for all those people who complain about concession prices. THEN DON'T BUY THEIR FOOD!

As for long running times, get the fuck over it. You've got a short attention span. Sure, there's an occasional movie here and there that could use a trim (Les Miz for sure, what a slog...), but overall most of these films have justified running times. You all are simply becoming too distracted by your other crap. You payed ten bucks, maybe more to watch the movie. I like to think of it as "more bang for the buck." What the fuck else do you have going on? That's right, probably nothing. Sit down, watch the movie, and shut up.

If the pacing is slow, well, that's another issue. But most of these films you list don't have pacing issues. It's people with attention span issues.

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthatone

thatone -- i heartily disagree with almost all of this. some bladders need a bathroom break even without buying food or drink and MOST films are padded these days. It's shocking sometimes to watch old movies which are so much tighter and often more satisfying. and you wonder 'god, this new movie has 40 more minutes to tell a story with and they can't decided which plot to focus on!'

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

I'm about halfway through watching all the Best Picture winners (not in any order) and it really does seem like the Academy has a penchant for honoring really long movies. I've had to watch many of them in two sittings. Sometimes it is more necessary and worthwhile (Lawrence of Arabia) than others (Around the World in 80 Days).

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Keith -- the cable shows not as much, no. But no one should ever try to approach me with a straight face and tell me that Dexter or Weeds needed 96+ episodes to tell their stories. I mean, Jesus. same thing over and over again. sometimes with new faces.

and i'd argue that Game of Thrones is 50% padding since the plot never goes anywhere -- haha -- but I realize I'm in the 1% on that but i just hate those books after the first one. MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT -- none of these plotlines will ever be resolved people and the separate characters will never again share storylines even though they'll be teased to do so for years on end - /SPOILER.

December 28, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Well, I definitely agree about Weeds and Dexter - but that's not so much about padding as ridiculous renewals. Showtime hates to let a good thing go, so they ruin it by keeping it on air forever. Both shows should have stopped after their fourth seasons. And then I gave up on both because they weren't the same anymore.

As for long films, I do feel like there is a bit of indulgence at work in Hollywood - whether it's about trying to give more bang for our buck, I'm not sure. But lots of movies, even ones that are 100 mins sometimes feel like they should be 90. Or 120 mins that should be 100. Hollywood seems to have forgotten that what you leave out is as important as what you put in.

But I'm not against long films if they work. Some films need to be three hours long. Or 3h 15min, which is the point at which Hollywood begins to get a bit nervous about how many screenings the films will get each day. I wouldn't say I prefer shorter tighter films, I just prefer films be the length they need to be; often they aren't, but I'm not going to crusade against long films just on the basis of their length.

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Gow

Lars - I would like to think you're right and that pacing is the problem with most of the new, overlong films. One of my absolute favorite films is Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. It was very long, but the pacing of that film was exquisite. I may very well see Life of Pi on your recommendation (though not in 3D), having been intrigued by the previews of the lifeboat sequences. And if I still don't care for it, I won't have much of an excuse. I've read (and pretty much disliked) the book.

And Nathan -- I agree with you 100% about the ads that run before films in the theatre. Not long ago, one of the real advantages of seeing movies in a theatre over watching them on tv was that you didn't get assaulted by commercials. The ads now frequently run well beyond the stated "start time" of the feature. And that doesn't even take into account the often endless trailers that precede the feature.

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRC

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