The word around the proverbial campfire grows increasingly dour
concerning the Weinstein Company. While they look to financial
consultants to restructure their debt, it seems they’re looking to
Quentin Tarantino to restructure the run time of Inglourious Basterds. We already knew that the cut of Basterds in the states would be significantly different than what was shown at Cannes, but Sharon Waxman claims that “Weinstein and coproducer Universal are both trying to convince Tarantino to cut it by 40 minutes.”
are a few things to keep in mind when processing this information-
first and foremost that it could very well be complete bullshit. Not
only is there no reliable source mentioned, there’s no source mentioned
at all. However, this news is by no means illogical as the Weinsteins
are looking for a hit. It’s quite reasonable to assume that
marketability will trump Tarantino’s indulgences this time around,
especially considering the tepid returns on Grindhouse, the biggest indulgence of them all. Taking Basterds
from nearly three hours, down to a less bladder-punishing two, could go
a long way towards audiences leaving with favorable opinions of the
film. Even though a longer film theoretically provides a higher value
for the ticket price, American audiences don’t typically appreciate
cinematic endurance tests (especially talky ones).
TIME took notice
of bloating runtimes back in 1984… Have we improved since then? A very
unscientific averaging of runtimes for this summer* shows that most of
the blockbusters will keep us in the theater for less than two hours.
Summer movies tend to be leaner than their prestige season
counterparts, but this year does look to be particularly snappy. Basterd’s current runtime of 2 hours and 40 minutes would certainly stand out in an otherwise brisk season.
I’m not typically in favor of constraining someone like Tarantino, a
40-minute trim would definitely entail a long, hard, but potentially rewarding look at a movie that
was certainly rushed to make the Cannes deadline. Perhaps the cut that
emerges will create a more enthusiastic response from audiences. I find
it more and more difficult to cry for excised footage in an age when a
director can present as many cuts as he wants on DVD with relative
ease. I’m all about the theatrical experience, but it would be
dishonest to say I wasn’t wishing for a fast-forward button during a
few of Death Proof’s
dialogue marathons. It’s great that Tarantino has the resources to
shoot as much as he likes and tune the story later, but it’s a fine
line between artistic exploration, and just plain jerking off**.
any case, if the rumors are true, let’s hope that Tarantino can use
this opportunity to craft a tight, mean, and enjoyable flick.
*Pehlam – 106, Hangover – 100, UP – 96, LOTL – 101, NATM – 105, Star Trek – 127, T4 – 115, Drag – 99, A&D – 138, Transformers – 147, Funny People – 136, GI Joe – 107, Public Enemies – 143, H2 – 103, AVERAGE = 116 MINUTES (runtimes weren’t available for some, such as Harry Potter or Bruno)
** A line he usually toes with impressive ease. But goddamn, Death Proof…