Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Long & The Short Of It

Eric Satie - just right

I’ve had the sleeves to a new jacket altered – it’s not that I’ve got short arms and long pockets, you understand, the jacket was pricey by my standards. It got me thinking about tailor-made culture and the fact that most films, for instance, are too long. The 90-minute classic length is perfect, but few modern films adhere to it. Perhaps auteurism (a disease?) breeds self-indulgence whereby self-important directors think they’re offering the world such works of genius that 90mins won’t do. Every film today would probably be 90 hours long if they had their way. The bonus of editing for companies is that they can release an ‘uncut’ version later. The Bourne Identity Uncut...can’t wait. Apparently there’s a film called ‘Evolution Of A Filipino Family’ that’s 593mins long. I must see if Love Film have it.

Wagner - too long
   I’m all for brevity in music too, although Ornette Coleman’s ‘Free Jazz’ might not be as impressive cut to 2mins 30secs...then again. Miles Davis famously told John Coltrane, when the latter expressed his difficulty knowing when to stop playing, to ‘try taking the horn out of your mouth’. Good advice, except when offered to someone who was destined to go on a kind of spiritual quest in the form of tenor sax improvisation. The old time limitations of vinyl were a blessing, ultimately, because had digital technology existed in the 60s, the average Pharaoh Sanders track would be 70mins long. I’m no Pop purist, though, as you may have noticed, and it’s right and proper that Morton Subotnick’s ‘Silver Apples Of The Moon’ is over 30mins long, and Charles Mingus’s ‘Cumbia & Jazz Fusion’ reaches 27mins 58secs. Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’ consists of 15 hours playing time, by an orchestra, give or take variations in speed, and I know someone who has attended a performance of it. Mind you, that’s the same guy who was convinced that Woody Allen’s fictional Jazz guitarist, Emmet Ray, really existed, so I don’t know how reliable he is – he may have simply dreamt about Wagner riding a bike whilst ringing it’s bell. I went to The Proms with him (my friend, not Wagner) once, and believe me, that was too long a time to be standing. I’m plain lazy when it comes to listening to whole symphonies, which is why I prefer Eric Satie.
   Paintings often stun us with their size when we see them in a gallery – wot, it’s bigger than the postcard?! I recall the impression Pollock’s works made on me when I first saw them in The Tate – so much paint! Swedish artist David Aberg created one that was 86,000 square feet – mind you, it’s rubbish, but the advantage is it can only be viewed from a helicopter. Or a photo, which I wish I hadn’t seen.
   I written about lengthy books before, and talking of word counts, I’ll stop right here for fear of being accused of writing a post that’s too long.

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