Self-indulgence has reached epidemic proportions in the world of feature films and documentaries. I propose that filmmakers be required to get permission from a special committee for any film over 90 minutes, and that I get a seat on that committee.
Before you start screaming about censorship and artistic freedom, let’s just admit that 90 minutes is that sweet spot, which engenders snappy films that leave you wanting more. There is a case to be made for epic films like The Godfather (2 hours, 58 minutes), but they are surely the exception. The problem is that most filmmakers now consider their movies to be epics. Get over yourselves, will you?
I just saw American Hustle, which by today’s standards, came in at a “lean” 2 hours and 9 minutes; but I swear it needed shaving by 40 minutes. Those annoying inconsistencies—like why the Amy Adams character is always wearing plunging necklines at business meetings, especially the ones where her presence makes no sense, and no one asks the obvious Why are you here?—would conveniently disappear if the film were shorter.
In one scene, the Jennifer Lawrence character says something like, …That’s the reason I betrayed you, because I knew it would lead to you arriving at this fantastic solution to our problems. That’s why I did it. And then two minutes later, she says the exact same line all over again. If not proof of director David O. Russell’s self-indulgence it is unmasked indifference for the viewer, whose creaky knees must endure more egregious time in that movie-theater seat. Yet another reason to stay home and wait until the thing comes out on DVD.
When I saw the billboard for The Wolf of Wall Street, I thought for sure I would see it until I noticed something in the New York Times’ mostly positive review about “…scenes that drag on too long…” Desire to see the film seeped out like an insidious hiss from a hot air balloon, leaving me wilted and bummed out that I would probably skip it after all. Plus, do I really need to see 2 hours and 59 minutes of some Wall Street asshole’s exploits in excess? Nah.
And while I’m making the case for letting editors do their jobs, why don’t we all start editing ourselves. Am I wrong or has TMI (Too Much Information) become endemic?
Earth to Carine: Are you really asking that question in the Facebook era?
Right. In fact, I’ll tell you a story. I asked a friend of mine the other day if he’d read my blog on the very same subject we were discussing, and he replied: I read all your blogs. And by the way, could you do me a favor and make them shorter?
I wanted to channel philosopher Blaise Pascal and say, I would write shorter blogs if I had more time. Instead I said, “I do try, but I’ll work on it some more!” I invite you—filmmakers and all the overly verbose people of Earth—to join me.