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David Poland

By David Poland

How Long?

I really like Dave Germain and I never know whether stories like this were forced assignments or a spin on answering a specific issue in a generic way, but today

27 Responses to “How Long?”

  1. TMJ says:

    “truth of the matter is that each movie has its own story.”
    Exactly. And at times, especially in ZODIAC, that story does not fit into the traditional three-act formula.
    The movie’s length made complete sense to me once I realized that the point of Fincher’s movie was not solving the case, but proving how long, frustrating and, at times, fruitless an investigation can be. There’s no way to properly convey that in 90 minutes. Even 120 would have been tight.
    The studio made the right call leaving ZODIAC as is. It’s a brilliant film.

  2. MarkVH says:

    One good example to view in the content vs. length argument is the theatrical vs. extended cuts of the LotR films. Quite a few people thought these were too long at their theatrical lengths – I didn’t. Fellowship felt tight and streamlined, Two Towers felt a bit choked and Return of the King felt long, but everything felt more or less necessary.
    But when the “extended” versions came out, fans of the films saw them as the “definitive” versions, completely ignoring the impact that the re-editing had on the original stories. The extended Fellowship to me feels its length, and kills the forward momentum of the theatrical cut. Two Towers feels like it’s finally a complete film. Return of the King feels ungodly long – there’s not a bit of that unused footage that I would’ve put back in.
    And for the record, King Kong was a bloated mess with a tight, 120-minute special effects thriller screaming to get out. I know Jackson put out the extended cut on DVD (why?) but I’d love to see some Internet whiz do a “Phantom Edit” – type exercise and trim it down to a reasonable length.
    So yeah – clearly content is king when deciding length. This should be obvious.

  3. Alan Cerny says:

    When it comes the the LOTR films, it’s difficult to separate my enthusiasm for the source material and judge them as films. Yes, ROTK Extended is too long, although I disagree that every additional scene is unnecessary. (I hate the reveal of the Army of the Dead in the Extended. Jackson ruins a perfectly good audience moment with that.)
    Can a movie be too long? Absolutely. But I still pay for my movies, for the most part, and I really appreciate it when a movie is longer than when it’s shorter. I’m picky about what I pay to see, and with very few exceptions, I’m satisfied. It’s rare that I’m blindsided by a movie that I hate. Most of the time, I know what I’m getting going in.

  4. Direwolf says:

    I’ve never attended Sundance and I’d like to reward my 16 year old daughter who loves independent film and has been having some personal struggles with a trip to next year’s festival.
    Since many of you have attended, I am hoping some of you will offer me ideas on how best to do it. From what I have read I think the second weekend will be easier for us as it will be less crowded. Any thoughts on that are welcome. I’d also love to get some lodging ideas at mid level places. Also, any advice on how best to get tickets to films, for example how does the festival pass thing work and is it worth it, would be greatly appreciated.
    So as not to clog up Dave’s blog, you could email me at steve at northlakecapital dotcom.

  5. Blackcloud says:

    FOTR short is tight around the collar, extended it’s like a perfectly-fitted bespoke suit. TT is a garbage truck short, a landfill long. ROTK is the long way short, like a scenic detour on a scenic detour on the long way in the extended version.

  6. David Poland says:

    Sundance, Dire? I think you need a time machine first…

  7. Cadavra says:

    While at Paramount, I reissued 1900 at its full five-hours-plus length. It was most instructive. No scenes had been eliminated for the four-hours version; everything was simply shortened. The differences were startling. The shorter cut feels like it runs a day-and-a-half; the uncut version simply flies by. It’s all in the pacing.
    And David: “great cutter?” Did you have a momentary brain fart? Thelma Schoonmaker, bitches!

  8. David Poland says:


  9. jeffmcm says:

    re: Sundance and Direwolf:
    “next year’s festival”

  10. David Poland says:

    Dire… you can get hotel space fairly easily after Tuesday, five days after opening. The second Sunday is an all-day showing of The Best of The Fest award winners. I have no idea how passes work.
    But if you want the path of least resistance and don’t care about the hype, second week Wed through Sun is the best way to get access to what’s available. You can even eat in a nice restaurant without paying a month in advance.

  11. Melquiades says:

    “to one of the few uses of an no-cut Steadicam sequence that actually has context in the film and wasn

  12. Direwolf says:

    Thanks for the Sundance stuff. And yes, I was talking aobut next year’s festival. I haven’t checked email yet but if anyone has a specific hotel recommendation let me know. I don’t even know if next year’s dates are set but I am willing to drop the deposit to book it now.

  13. Direwolf says:

    I don’t know if DP was taking a shot at CoM but your onging support for the film is quite admirable, Mel. Even those who found it less to their liking have to appreciate your faith. I happened to love it and saw it twice. I didn’t realize until the second time that Owen is in every single scene in the movie. Anybody got other examples of that?

  14. jeffmcm says:

    Chinatown, for one.

  15. Melquiades says:

    I didn’t realize my zeal was so obvious! It’s been awhile since a movie caused me to geek out quite this much. Though I must say I’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth (twice) in the past couple weeks and my love for that film just about equals my love for CoM.
    I believe Ben is in every scene of The Graduate. And is Guy Pearce in every scene of Memento?
    One exception in CoM is the scene where Michael Caine administers the Quietus to his wife. That’s just him and her and Ruby Tuesday (but Owen’s character has just left).

  16. crazycris says:

    Finding the right balance in length must be difficult for a movie, but I for one would prefer if they erred on the side of “a bit too long” instead of the opposite. When too much has been cut out or trimmed, it can ruin the tempo and feel of a movie, leaving you hungering for more! Although a movie that runs too long can be a bit of a drag through slow portions of the film, if it’s a good movie you’ll forget about them and enjoy the whol product without having “missed out” on anything!
    One movie I felt was too short: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban! Although one of my favourites in the series (Cuaron! Cuaron! Cuaron!!! ;o) ), and it might of been the right length for the director, but it just left me hungering for more!!! (so I hope he gets to film the 7th!)
    The Lord of the Rings trilogy are much better in extended version! Especially for the first one, which feels much more complete in its extended version! It’s not like these films had additional scenes shot for this purpose and then added in later (so breaking rythm and feeling a bit artificial); the way I see it they were filmed and conceived for the final product to be the extended versions, but then had to be cut down for theatrical release… But I’m a fanatic of the book, and would have been happy with 6 movies instead of 3! ;o)

  17. I do think some movies are too long (Dreamgirls was a recent one), while some could just keep going and I wouldn’t mind (The New World – can’t wait for that 3-hour one if and when it arrives).
    I actually found that I didn’t notice the extended length of the first two LOTR films (haven’t watch the third extended version). They fly by just as they did in the cinema.

  18. 555 says:

    I always thought it was interesting that the top five worldwide grossers of all time each come in over 150 minutes long.
    and in honor of Zodiac coming out tomorrow, i would like to point out that Ed Norton is in every scene in Fight Club.

  19. Mr. Gittes says:

    Does anyone know if there’s ever going to be a directors cut of Gangs of New York?? I liked the film but it did seem gutted. However, I remember reading somewhere that Marty said there’s no other version.

  20. Cadavra says:

    James Whitmore in GIVE ‘EM HELL, HARRY!
    David, I completely slid right by the GOODFELLAS possessive. My boo-boo; never mind.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    Bogart is probably in every scene of either/both The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, anyone know?

  22. Cadavra says:

    Been a while since I’ve seen either, but I think you’re close to right on FALCON–the only non-Bogie scene I can recall is the brief one of the firemen turning the hoses on the burning ship. SLEEP is more problematic, as two versions exist, and the earlier one has at least one non-Bogart scene that was refilmed with him, but he’s certainly in at least 95% of it.

  23. ployp says:

    RE: The New World – the two cuts
    I hasn’t the longer version. Can anyone be more specific about the differences? And also, is there a way I can see it?

  24. ployp says:

    RE: The Long Version of The New World
    Can anyone here please tell me how different the two cuts are? What was left out of the shorter cut? How did that affect the whole movie (I know Mr. Poland mentioned that the two versions are almost like two different films)? And lastly, is the longer version available on DVDs?
    I read the article and I remember a quote by possibly Fincher about the length of Rom-Com, specifically that it can’t be long. I totally disagree. What does he have against Rom-Com? I know that most critics generally do not give rave reviews of them, but really, this comment is uncalled for. Plenty of Rom-com are quite long, not three-hour long, but still lengthy. Of course some are ‘short’.
    It Happened One Night – 105 mins
    Amelie – 126 mins
    Notting Hill – 124 mins
    The Lady Eve – 97 mins
    Runaway Bride – 124 mins
    In my opinion, these are good to great Rom Coms and they don’t feel too long or too short at all. It makes me angry when people looks down upon Rom Com as a genre. They are probably not intellecual for these kinds of people.

  25. Chucky in Jersey says:

    A daily paper in my area ran that AP story at the weekend.
    “Movies Are Too Long” is a red herring. Hack writers latch on to red herrings — and David Germain is a hack writer.

  26. jeffmcm says:

    A red herring for what?

  27. Blackcloud says:

    Maybe he meant straw man?

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