Wednesday, December 26, 2007


On Christmas Day, Ken and I went to meet his family for a potluck lunch. Knowing Ken's brother, I thought he might actually bring pot, but he brought fruit salad instead.

After that, there wasn't much to do. I shuffled through a few DVD's on loan from a friend, and chose to watch Casino Royale, the latest James Bond flick. I thought Daniel Craig was a decent Bond, but by the end the movie started losing me. It went on way too long.

I have noticed that movies since the mid-90's have gotten longer, and it hasn't made them any better. Once we've seen all the stages leading to the climax, I expect to cruise into the denouement. This is the story-telling sequence that's worked for humankind since the time of classical myths and legends. But North American culture got their hands on it and decided More Is Better! And thereby screwed it up.

So just when I'm getting ready for the happy ending and the closing credits, suddenly the director throws in a plot twist. Oh my gosh, look at that, the couple got into that car to drive off happily into the sunset, but now they're being chased by bad guys again! And we're back into conflict and action sequences for another X minutes. Sometimes there are 3 or more false endings tacked on to the plot, through double and triple crosses and other devices. And honestly, I'm just not into it.

Part of the enjoyment of a movie is that it ends! The problems are resolved, the questions are answered, and now we can all forget about it and go home. Obviously I'm talking about mainstream Hollywood flicks here. There are other types of movies that I'm willing to be uncomfortable for, like documentaries that reveal unsavory truths. If I've spent my time suspending my disbelief to invest myself in a dumbed down Hollywood blockbuster, I at least want to get the satisfaction of a neatly packaged ending.

Because the plot that convinces you that things are all OK and then produces another problem? That's the plot of my life on a bad day. A day that drags on and on with nasty surprises, sneak attacks by my own personal bad guys, and just when I think I've resolved it all and can put my feet up and relax, something else goes wrong. So what I'd really like is for Hollywood to go back to the simple endings and a 90 minute running time.

Other opinions on this? Shout'em out!


R.E.H. said...

The scripting format is the same as it has always been. The "new" part is the "twist endings" that have become so popular ever since 6th Sense. Now, they not only want a twist ending, but a continuation of story beyond that twist ending, which is an untried format (looking back through centuries of story telling). I think it will become an extinct format soon enough. Or... maybe they'll perfect it, and make it enjoyable at least.

jameil1922 said...

we are so HERE!!! i don't do the movies longer than 90 minutes unless under duress. i can always find at least 2 scenes to cut out. usually way more. sideways is a good movie so far but i'm an hour in and i can already think of 2 scenes that could go. that's why i don't need all those extra features. there's a reason these scenes were left on the cutting room floor. leave them there. forever.

Stewie said...

I thought Daniel Craig was a decent Bond, but by the end the movie started losing me. It went on way too long.

I couldn't agree more. I really liked the flick, but the ending really, really bothered me.


James Bond does not quit being Bond over a woman.


It goes against everything Bond is about!

Stewie said...

That should have been *seen* and not *scene*.

tamara said...

A 90 minute movie!? I would be all over that.

It's not an attention span thing tho, more the writers/producers need to "fill the time" with useless scenes ... and we rarely (if ever) watch the extra features that come on dvds or choose to watch "alternate ending" versions.


Kell said...

I come out of most movies saying "They needed a better editor--for the script." It's very frustrating. I don't want to have to look at my watch during a movie. Our attention spans aren't that long to begin with. What are they thinking?

Sparkling Red said...

It seems we are unanimous on this! I'm actually surprised that no one disagreed. If this is any indication of popular opinion, how could Hollywood not have figured out that their new formula doesn't work? They've been doing this since at least 1994 (True Lies).