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Monday, July 11, 2016

There is no such thing as a piece of entertainment that's too short



Good line from Alec Baldwin's "Here's The Thing" interview with former Disney boss Michael Eisner. Now that Eisner doesn't run a studio any more he can be a lot franker than he would have been back in the day. Talking about one former boss, he recalls hearing that he'd died and his partner saying "I hope it was painful". Pressed to name one of the movies he produced that he's particularly proud of, he can't get past the feelings he had at the time. "The first time you see a movie and it starts well, all you're hoping is it's going to end quickly."

Boy, I sympathise with that point of view. If something's going well, my instinct is to wrap it up as soon as possible, before it overstays its welcome. The minute you think, this is going OK, it's about to be not OK. If only rock stars and film directors were capable of recognising this feeling.

The recent death of Michael Cimino reminded me that his original cut of "Heaven't Gate" was five and a half hours long. He apologised, saying he could take fifteen minutes out of it. What was he thinking?

I was talking to an old friend last week and we agreed that as you get older you're more inclined to find that everything goes on too long and we decided there is literally no piece of entertainment about which you would say, "I could have done with another half an hour of that."

14 comments:

  1. I have been saying for four years now that the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics were fantastic. But imagine how even more fantastic they could have been if they had been half as long.

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  2. Couldn't agree more. Which is why I've stopped going to Springsteen concerts, even though I love him to bits.

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  3. Today's Springsteen concerts are fleeting compared to how long there were in the 80s. But all live gigs are too long now because the acts charge so much for a ticket they have to over-cater so that they can say they're offering VFM.

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  4. I've read a few books that would have made a good magazine article but have been padded out to 300 pages with endless anecdotes. Malcolm Gladwell springs to mind.

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  5. It's the boiled egg theory: it only takes 3 minutes to boil an egg. But it only takes 3 minutes to boil any number of eggs in the same pan.

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  6. Randy Newman songs...

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  7. Stevie Wonder - four hours at Hyde Park, inc interval.

    I can tell you that first half hour was terrific, and then it degenerated into meandering, self-indulgent twaddle, ending with him playing two Prince records - really.

    The man is a music colossus, but the stage act is an appalling waste of an incredible band which also involves ignoring a huge chunk of an awesome back catalogue.

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  9. I know what you mean about Randy Newman songs, Jon, but surely one of the reasons they are so good is that they are so pithy?Making "Rednecks" longer is not going to make it better, any more than extending an episode of Seinfeld beyond 22 minutes is going to make it more enjoyable.

    Re: Stevie Wonder, Ian. Musicians always overrate the appeal of the thing they've just leant to play and underestimate the appeal of the thing they can play in their sleep.

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  10. Yes, exactly my point about Rand David- he ad-libbed " how about that salmonella" ( touring during the Edwina Currie saga) to cover the interminable piano solo in "Simon Smith".

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  11. The trouble with a lot of TV these days, especially American but also Scandinavian, is that the story should run for say 6-8 episodes. But the network orders 16, then extends to 24.

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  12. Have to say I watched all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad over a couple of months and it didn't seem a minute too long. I guess being in 45 min (ish) chunks gives it a rhythm and natural pauses which prevent it getting stale and losing its way.

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  13. It’s what I call the Three Minute Single Syndrome.

    There was a time when three minute singles were (give or take) just that. For years now far too many recordings are three minutes crammed into (at least) five.

    Michael Cimino was often quoted as saying something to the effect that he owed his career to Clint (Mister Economy) Eastwood for giving him a chance to direct “Thunderbolt And Lightfoot”.

    That being so I have never been able to work out how, in no time at all, he went from that education to “Heaven’s Gate”.

    As for the Olympics, true enough. And it would have been much better/shorter without the sport(!).

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  14. I've only just picked this up, hence the delayed comment. I went to Mostly Jazz funk and soul last weekend in Mosely. 2 nod time I've Ben and it's great. Capacity capped at about 2000 but the best thing is two stages side by side. So each day, sets are about 45/50 minutes be per act with no more than about 5 mins between them. The whole thing's a joy. I could actually do with them not letting the top 2 or 3 acts each day have 60 to 90 mins but I am getting on a bit. I can remember seeing the Ramones at the Roundhouse

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