Penetrating, penetrating stuff from Caryn James in the Times today (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/13/movies/13shor.html)
What I hoped would be a look inside the decision to re-cut The New World is actually a strange, condescending indictment of the brand new phenomenon of long movies. There are mixed messages about Malick’s choice (He got impatient at a screening and wanted it tighter BUT the DVD will be “his” version i.e. the longer cut.. huh? Which is it?)
James’s weirdest stance is that backstory, scene-setting and character development might as well be rushed through because today’s savvy moviegoers know everything before going in:
Films aren’t all about plot, of course, and artistically a work may need time to establish its characters and its pace. But viewers now walk into theaters already so crammed with information about the film that those establishing scenes almost take care of themselves.
Right! So filmmakers shouldn’t bother making self-contained movies because, after all, everyone going to see it probably just got off of Ain’t It Cool anyway and knows it inside and out! So might as well skip all that filler, unless of course they’re going for any of them “artistic” effects (blech!!) It’s as if James thinks that movies only exist for those few weeks that they’re in the theatre.
If the audience knows that the English settlers will land and the cowboys will turn out to be gay, the movies shouldn’t waste 15 minutes getting there.
And what if the audience knows pretty much the whole thrust of the plot going in? The movie shouldn’t even bother getting made I suppose. “God, I already knew T.E. Lawrence eventually died! Why’d I watch this thing?!”
as viewers’ attention spans seem to grow shorter, accustomed to fragmented computer screens and television sound bites…
Uggh, shut up. People have been saying this shit for two decades now.
She then goes on to say that the first hour of King Kong is the best part (uhhh no) and that Munich never brings its “philosophical and action halves” (lol) into a cohesive whole.