‘Ideal’ movie running time is 92 minutes, poll claims

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I know what people generally mean by self indulgence. Just like I know what they mean when they say pretentious. Doesn't mean there can't be validity to what they are trying to say in these criticisms, only that these words mean absolutely nothing when they are just bandied about in and of themselves as flaws.


I also have very, very clearly never said self indulgence doesn't exist. I have in fact clearly said the opposite. That most artist are, by definition, self indulgent. They indulge putting on screen what their obsessions are and the feelings and beliefs they hold inside of them they hope to express. This is the nature of art. So when someone says, that movie was flawed because it was self indulgent, what the **** does that even mean. If I am not a fan of historical romances, and I'm sitting through a bunch of scenes of French Renaissance twats in smelly wigs making out in candlelit corridors, I would be completely correct to call that self indulgent. Because it is. And I guess because it's an indulgence I'm not into, I can consider that a flaw....even though it clearly isn't. I just don't want that thing indulged. It wasn't for me. I don't need to make it sound like it is some character flaw of the creator, or artistic flaw in the film. To make those claims it gets a lot trickier.


Generally speaking, we all know what people mean when they say self indulgent. It is frequently a specific type of indulgence they are calling out, this being (most frequently) what we would call the artsy fartsier fare (movies that deal with heavy philosophical matters, or the avant garde, or films that don't adhere to narrative rules and that have running lengths well beyond the norm). It's never a Michael Bay movie which, by literally any definition, is extremely self indulgent in how it fetishizes action and violence. But because this is the kind of movie that indulges the masses, that gets an exemption.


And that's why it is a shit criticism, and why I'm skeptical of how it gets used. And thus far, has anyone who loves the term so much been able to actually explain what they mean by it when they sling it around? Or is it one of those 'I know it when I see it' kind of things, and we just accept that they don't have to explain anything that they are saying. That we should just consider the conversation pointless?


No need to answer that last question. The entirety of this thread has already supplied me with that.



The trick is not minding
I haven’t read through a lot of the posts simply because there’s too much so forgive me if someone has already touched upon this but, should the director make the film for his own self, without concern for his audience? Or should he keep his audience in mind? Should he try to reach both? Obviously, it’s up the director in how he wants to approach the film, but if he chooses to indulge in his own ego, he lives with the consequences, wether it’s good or bad.
Self indulgence, as Crumbs has already noted, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but yes, as he pointed out already, it can be a valid form of criticism, when applied correctly.

Now, does this mean we can criticize people who use the term pedantic as a form of criticism?



Trouble with a capital "T"
...should the director make the film for his own self, without concern for his audience?
Yes. If that's what he/she wants to do...And if the director is fully in charge of the film making process. Today it's more common to have a director fully at the helm, then years gone past, but there are still producers bankrolling movies, who depending on their contract with the director get to have a say in the final product.


Obviously, it’s up the director in how he wants to approach the film,
Not always, like I said there can be producers, studios, or film making companies financially partnering with the director and they are most likely looking to make a profit and would have legal say as to what the director can and can't do.

Self indulgence, as Crumbs has already noted, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but yes, as he pointed out already, it can be a valid form of criticism, when applied correctly.
What I read Crumb saying was that, negatively stated one word or phrases criticizing a film is "s*** reviewing". True if someone is writing up a professional critique of a film. But if it's just somebody who watched a movie and is trying to relay what they thought of the film, then 'over indulgent' is just as a good describer as 'up lifting'. We live in a 5 second sound bite world, that's just the way it is.



Ideál (1964) is 14 minutes.
Idéal (2022) is 2 minutes.
Idéal (2023) is 12 minutes.

The people in that poll were way off in their guesses. Not sure which one they were asking about.



I haven’t read through a lot of the posts simply because there’s too much so forgive me if someone has already touched upon this but, should the director make the film for his own self, without concern for his audience? Or should he keep his audience in mind? Should he try to reach both?
I'd say there's no universal "ought" here. But I would say that a lot of films are obviously made for some intended audience, and it's fine to factor that in. I think film criticism is generally better when it meets the film on its own terms and judges it based on how well it achieves its own goals, and that includes meta things like the assumption that it was made to please audiences and not purely as self-expression for its own sake.

A lot of arguments about the commercial side of things have turned on whether art must be concerned with an audience (clearly, no) rather than whether most of it is (clearly, yes).

Now, does this mean we can criticize people who use the term pedantic as a form of criticism?
Yes! The same way we can criticize people who say "pretentious" or accuse a film of having "plot holes" because they can't actually articulate what they dislike about it. But the fact that these terms are used carelessly does not mean no film is pretentious or that no films have plot holes.



For my part, I don't think I've used the term "self-indulgent" much before. Maybe not ever in the context of film criticism, though I'm not sure. But if I were to use it, what I would mean by it is a film uninterested in trying to communicate something to others. Exactly the same way I would call a person in a conversation "self-indulgent" if they only talked about themselves and didn't seem to care what the other person thought.



I haven’t read through a lot of the posts simply because there’s too much so forgive me if someone has already touched upon this but, should the director make the film for his own self, without concern for his audience? Or should he keep his audience in mind? Should he try to reach both? Obviously, it’s up the director in how he wants to approach the film, but if he chooses to indulge in his own ego, he lives with the consequences, wether it’s good or bad.
Self indulgence, as Crumbs has already noted, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but yes, as he pointed out already, it can be a valid form of criticism, when applied correctly.

Now, does this mean we can criticize people who use the term pedantic as a form of criticism?

If we are creating a recipe for a film that would suit me best, I think the proportional sweet spot would be 75 percent for the self, 25 for the audience.


The important stuff is probably usually in that 75 percent, but the 25 acts as a guardrail to keep it from total solipsism (which would usually be not very good, but occasionally could be a revelation....don't bank on it though)


I also feel the more we swing towards catering to audience expectations, the more the film can't help but be a lie of some kind. Creation all becomes about this speculation over what certain people might like to see, and I actually find that considerably more obnoxious than an artist being disproportionately self centered. Very few artist can survive that kind of pandering approach. Spielberg gets about as close to the line as you can without going over, and still consistently making deeply entertaining but yet still personal films. Basically you've got to be a master.


I might actually even give a probably somewhat surprising shoutout to Adrian Lyne in this regard. Total trash aimed at the lowest common denominator viewer, but almost always riveting and fairly decent stuff.



I also have very, very clearly never said self indulgence doesn't exist. I have in fact clearly said the opposite. That most artist are, by definition, self indulgent. They indulge putting on screen what their obsessions are and the feelings and beliefs they hold inside of them they hope to express. This is the nature of art. So when someone says, that movie was flawed because it was self indulgent, what the **** does that even mean. If I am not a fan of historical romances, and I'm sitting through a bunch of scenes of French Renaissance twats in smelly wigs making out in candlelit corridors, I would be completely correct to call that self indulgent. Because it is. And I guess because it's an indulgence I'm not into, I can consider that a flaw....even though it clearly isn't. I just don't want that thing indulged. It wasn't for me. I don't need to make it sound like it is some character flaw of the creator, or artistic flaw in the film. To make those claims it gets a lot trickier.
But what you're citing as an example of "self-indulgence" actually isn't - at least not to me (nor do I know anyone else who would use the term in such a way). You describe as an example a movie that happens to deal with a specific time and place and you say, "I am not a fan of historical romances". But that isn't "self-indulgent" in and of itself - it's just a specific choice of the setting of the movie. That doesn't mean the movie could still be a monumental piece of self-indulgence on the part of the filmmakers. It could be. But it isn't necessarily so, just on account of where and when it takes place and what kind of a story it is focusing on. Whether the movie is good or bad in the opinion of most people could have less to do with the particulars of the story and more with the execution of the story, the skill of storytelling involved, etc.

Generally speaking, we all know what people mean when they say self indulgent. It is frequently a specific type of indulgence they are calling out, this being (most frequently) what we would call the artsy fartsier fare (movies that deal with heavy philosophical matters, or the avant garde, or films that don't adhere to narrative rules and that have running lengths well beyond the norm). It's never a Michael Bay movie which, by literally any definition, is extremely self indulgent in how it fetishizes action and violence. But because this is the kind of movie that indulges the masses, that gets an exemption.
I don't think that's true at all, a movie doesn't have to be arthouse to be self-indulgent, and indeed, it's more likely that it would be something financed by a huge conglomerate.

A movie isn't necessarily self-indulgent just because it deals with heavy philosophical matters, because it is avant-garde, or because it doesn't adhere to narrative rules and/or has a very long running time. None of those things, in themselves, make something seem self-indulgent.

Why have I gone back more than once to Heaven's Gate and Killers of the Flower Moon as perfect examples of self-indulgent films? There's nothing in the source material for either one that absolutely dictated that they should have to be self-indulgent films. Yet in allowing a director with a fairly large ego and a reputation (in Cimino's case, at least at the time) to take on these projects and giving them humongous budgets to work with, the end result was self-indulgent (and overlong) films.

There's practically no way a young, up-and-coming director - or even someone who was nothing more than a hired hand - would have taken that material and delivered a self-indulgent movie - for one thing, they wouldn't have had the clout to do that. The material would have been shaped to a large extent by the producers.

Both of these movies had pretty compelling source material to work with - and it could have worked perfectly way as either a somewhat shorter movie, or an even longer mini-series. The material was definitely there for either approach.

Instead, you end up with big, bloated, soporific movies that don't quite do the material justice. (David Grann's book, while not perfect, was far more gripping than the movie it inspired). And in hindsight it becomes clear that the director's own ego was getting in the way of telling a good story.



Trouble with a capital "T"
I hadn't seen this post before FilmBuff just quoted it.
Originally Posted by crumbsroom
Generally speaking, we all know what people mean when they say self indulgent. It is frequently a specific type of indulgence they are calling out, this being (most frequently) what we would call the artsy fartsier fare (movies that deal with heavy philosophical matters, or the avant garde, or films that don't adhere to narrative rules and that have running lengths well beyond the norm).

It's never a Michael Bay movie which, by literally any definition, is extremely self indulgent in how it fetishizes action and violence. But because this is the kind of movie that indulges the masses, that gets an exemption.
I believe I have a handle of what Crumbsroom is saying, he believes an artist shouldn't be negatively criticized, yet it's OK to use the same criticism on a director that he disregards like Michael Bay. Isn't that an oxymoron? Either it's legit to call any movie self-indulgent or it's never legit, even if it's Michael Bay.



I hadn't seen this post before FilmBuff just quoted it.
I believe I have a handle of what Crumbsroom is saying, he believes an artist shouldn't be negatively criticized, yet it's OK to use the same criticism on a director that he disregards like Michael Bay. Isn't that an oxymoron? Either it's legit to call any movie self-indulgent or it's never legit, even if it's Michael Bay.

That's absolutely not what I said.



The trick is not minding
I hadn't seen this post before FilmBuff just quoted it.
I believe I have a handle of what Crumbsroom is saying, he believes an artist shouldn't be negatively criticized, yet it's OK to use the same criticism on a director that he disregards like Michael Bay. Isn't that an oxymoron? Either it's legit to call any movie self-indulgent or it's never legit, even if it's Michael Bay.
I think his argument is that it shouldn’t be used as a catch all phrase as criticism, especially in a glib manner.



I think his argument is that it shouldn’t be used as a catch all phrase as criticism, especially in a glib manner.
I would agree with that.

There are a lot of horribly bloated movies coming out of the studios these days. I wouldn't consider many of them to be truly self-indulgent. Part of it is just the studio process.



I found Babylon a little self indulgent, and in a bad way.
I think it may be a touch self-indulgent, but still enjoyed it - and maybe if I wasn't such a big fan of that period of Hollywood history, I wouldn't have had the patience to sit through it all.

It's a shame, too, because that movie landed Chazelle in director's jail.



Trouble with a capital "T"
That's absolutely not what I said.
I don't want to misquote you or misunderstand you, so please explain how you meant this:
It's never a Michael Bay movie which, by literally any definition, is extremely self indulgent in how it fetishizes action and violence.
That sounds to me like you are saying Micael Bay movies are self indulgent.



Trouble with a capital "T"
I think his argument is that it shouldn’t be used as a catch all phrase as criticism, especially in a glib manner.
Yeah I got that part of it and yet he used it as a catch all to describe Michael Bay movies and I'd say he did it in a glib manner, which once again is fine. Nothing wrong with being glib, flippant or dismissive of any movie or art form, if that's how one feels.



The trick is not minding
Yeah I got that part of it and yet he used it as a catch all to describe Michael Bay movies and I'd say he did it in a glib manner, which once again is fine. Nothing wrong with being glib, flippant or dismissive of any movie or art form, if that's how one feels.
He wasn’t using it as a form of criticism towards his films itself, but rather as an example of a film that seemingly gets a pass (although I’m not so sure this so true here) because it is aimed at the masses, where art house and Avant Garde films are unfairly criticized by such criticisms.



I would say the biggest problem with Michael Bay movies isn't self-indulgence, so much as just a matter of style. His style is trashy, and almost proudly so. But some people seem to like it, so...



@FilmBuff


Regarding your last sentence.


Your assumption is all Scorsese is doing is telling a story. But his approach is about immersing the viewer in the world that this story happened in. To do this he elongates scenes in order for us to settle into that communities customs, because the film is as much about this as it is the crimes committed against them.


Not rushing towards plot points is not a remotely uncommon thing for directors to do. Yes, if one wants the story told a specific way, to simply establish what the stakes are and move the characters from one essential moment to the next, this extra padding may seem unnecessary or INDULGENT. But that isn't how Scorsese wants his movie to be digested, in quick fulfilling bites. He wants us to slowly ruminate over the slow rot seeping into this community. And it's a completely understandable choice.


Now if you want to criticize that it doesn't work for your own reasons, go at it. I may even agree with you since it's far from my favorite Scorsese. But there are reams of critical writing out there that can illuminate you on why he did it this way, and it wasn't to fluff his ego. He had reaons for it, even if it may have left you cold.


And it's exactly you claiming that these choices he made about how he wanted his film to be are all about some pointless ego trip is what I'm protesting here. You are turning the artistic choices he used to make a film, and turning it into something that has to do with a flaw in his personality. His ego and how it is getting in the way of making the film you wanted or that you envisioned.



I would say the biggest problem with Michael Bay movies isn't self-indulgence, so much as just a matter of style. His style is trashy, and almost proudly so. But some people seem to like it, so...

where art house and Avant Garde films are unfairly criticized by such criticisms.
I don't see any examples of that anywhere.