In these days of cinematic uniformity, there is still something rather special about a lengthy event movie such as Gangs Of Wasseypur.
There is often groaning and moaning among film critics when it comes to the prospect of a film that runs over the two-hour mark - in fact, I know one reviewer who happily adds a star when a film is under 90mins - but despite the realisation you are about to block out several hours of your life to one movie, in these days of sameness of cinema there is still something rather special about a lengthy event movie.
And often that excitement for the uniqueness of a really special cinema-going experience - forget about Imax or 3D, it is simply about the running time - can entrance and intrigue audiences who are used to dedicating several hours of their life to one cultural event, whether it be Homeland and The Killing on television or even a lengthy theatre production.
We’re used to seeing the director’s cut on DVD or Blu-ray that offer extended versions of the original theatrical release, and certainly in years gone by it was the ‘Road Show’ prints of films such as Lawrence Of Arabia and Around The World In 80 Days that offered the wow factor to the cinema experience.
The arthouse world has also never been shy about a lengthy movie, with titles such as Fanny And Alexander and Heimat delighting audiences. More recently, Christian Marclay’s The Clock (a 24-hour montage installation featuring thousands of film and television clips of clocks, watches and people saying what time it is) rightly got much attention, and became an art event in a similar way that Douglas Gordon’s installation 24 Hour Psycho (Hitchcock’s 1960 classic slowed down to run over a 24-hour period) did some years ago.
While not quite on the same page, in amid the awards at Cannes this year (where a version of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America showed with an extra 25 minutes added back into the film), one of the ‘badge of honour’ tickets was Anurag Kashyap’s sprawling 318-minute Indian gangster film Gangs Of Wasseypur.
Our own critic, Lee Marshall, wrote: “Though it runs at over five hours, there’s never a dull moment in this Indian gangland epic.” Admittedly the film was split into two parts, and can also be screened as separate films, but it still shows the power of the epic movie.
This was reflected at the recent Transilvania International Film Festival, where Sergei Loban’s engaging, funny and colourful Russian film Chapiteau-show (which has also screened at the Moscow and Rotterdam film festivals and runs to a hefty 207 minutes), captured the audience award.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but even movies are reflecting the stark fact that expensive hotels are beyond the reach of many, and camping or caravanning are other options. Camping was very much the thing in Cannes opener Moonrise Kingdom, where outdoor skills were needed by the escaping youngsters to survive their magical wilderness, while in Brit film Sightseers a couple’s caravan provided the getaway vehicle (and killing machine in one scene) for their murderous activities in the north of England. Mike Leigh’s Nuts In May may well be the archetypal film in terms of camping tales (sorry Carry On Camping), though in Julia Loktev’s 2011 film The Loneliest Planet the whole final scene is a lengthy shot of Gael Garcia Bernal and co-star Hani Furstenberg disassembling their tent.
Lionsgate very smartly amended its recent plans for the UK press screening of male stripper film Magic Mike at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square to include a projection of the England v France soccer match, part of the European Football Championship. As the invite read: “Join Lionsgate to watch real men play with balls”.
The ‘director’s cut’ concept for Blu-ray releases gets a fresh spin in November with a special edition of Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. This version features altered scenes, including the return of the Feds’ guns that were digitally replaced by walkie-talkies in the 20th anniversary edition.
The Soho House domination of media-orientated clubs worldwide continues, and festival-goers will be pleased a permanent Toronto base will be opened to coincide with this year’s festival. It is a 17th century three-storey building on Bishop’s Block in the Theatre District replete with a nifty roof terrace.