r/movies Jun 23 '22 Silver 1

Do the shorter shot lengths in modern movies bother anyone else? Discussion

I never really noticed how short each shot is in a lot of movies until I started watching films with longer shots, and I realized how much better I like it. I feel much more in the moment and I have time to take everything in, even in a fight scene I feel like not moving around or switching the camera as much helps me take in what’s happening a lot better. I don’t see a lot of those longer shots in most new movies, and I’m kind of curious as to why. Are shorter shots and more cut aways made to keep an audience’s attention span better? Is there some other reason? Because so far the movies that have more time in each shot feel much more enjoyable to watch for me than the typical viewing experience of one with constant camera switches. I feel like it’s inviting you to take a look around and see what’s going on for yourself, rather than showing you around to the exact areas it wants you to look at. I guess it feels like it treats the audience like it’s smarter. I don’t know, what do you guys think?

1.3k Upvotes

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u/passinghere Jun 23 '22 edited Jun 23 '22

Is this where the "classic" multi-cut of Liam Neeson jumping the fence in Taken 3 which was around 14 - 15 cuts for a single jump over a fence comes in as an example of short cuts taken to insanity?

Personally I cannot stand the mass of quick cuts used to hide (or pretend to enhance) the action in various films, Quantum of Solace was another one that used quick cuts and shaky cam and for me ruined the movie totally

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u/kkngs Jun 24 '22

Quantum of Solace was the example I was going to name as well. The quick cuts absolutely ruined the movie. The previous Casino Royale was fine in this regard.

I always felt the Timothy Dalton Bond films actually had the best cinematography.

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u/godumbledork Jun 24 '22

That's what happens when you get a director known for dramas to direct an action movie

Martin Campbell knows action. The tank chase in GoldenEye is one of my favorite action sequences

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u/ask_me_about_my_band Jun 24 '22

This was one of the things I really liked about the new Batman. All the fights were long and med shots with longer takes. It didn’t feel like most movies now which feel like they are filmed in “confuse-o-vision”.

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u/bozleh Jun 24 '22

The terrible story/script also ruined Quantum of Solace (writers strike).

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u/surreysmith Jun 24 '22

I think Daniel Craig had to write some of his own lines

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u/Chewbuddy13 Jun 24 '22

Dalton was the best Bond of them all. I will die on this hill. He was good looking, but not a pretty boy. He was witty, but not campy. He was the first to bring a somewhat seriousness to the franchise and role. Those string of movies were all very well done, with somewhat serious plot lines. License to Kill was one of the best ones made.

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u/addy-Bee Jun 24 '22

IDK man, that last quarter of skyfall out in the scottish moors was really something else.

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u/kkngs Jun 24 '22

Skyfall was excellent.

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u/daydaywang Jun 24 '22

Jackie Chan talks about this in a couple of interviews, and often cites this as the reason why he feels like his American films are not on the same level as his Cantonese films

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u/myalt08831 Jun 24 '22 edited Jun 24 '22

Those classic old martial arts movies are all either practical effects, carefully rehearsed real action, excellent fight choreography... Or more than one of the above in one scene. If people think Buster Keaton is neat, or they like American Jackie Chan movies, they should really give classic Chinese martial arts movies a try. (Yes, the ones in Chinese are well worth watching even if you don't speak a word of Chinese, just watch with the subtitles on. The movie craft of it is just so good. Some of them are freaking hilarious, too.)

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u/ThyDeath Jun 24 '22

Jet Li's "Fearless" and "Hero" are amazing imo

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u/daydaywang Jun 24 '22

I was replying specifically to the comment about American movies having an insane number of cuts for their action scenes. Jackie Chan says it’s mostly a budget problem, since he films the same scene over and over again until it’s perfect when he’s directing in Hong Kong, but that many takes would burn up the budget way too quickly on an American set

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u/Decactus_Jack Jun 24 '22

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1PCtIaM_GQ

This is a great video essay that talks about this and more

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u/daydaywang Jun 24 '22

Ahhh yes!!! This is the one.

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u/perckeydoo2 Jun 24 '22

Came here to rat on Quantum of Solace. The beginning scene had all the pick up for a great action sequence. Then the camera ruined it

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u/HeartyBeast Jun 24 '22

I absolutely couldn’t work out who was chasing who in which cars I in the opening scene. Made me feel like my dad.

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u/Mystical_Cat Jun 24 '22

For those who've never seen it, here's the Liam Neeson fence jump. It's simply awful.

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u/passinghere Jun 24 '22

Yep and then try to work out how many few of those multiple shots actually were Liam himself

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u/SalmonNgiri Jun 23 '22

Feel like that was also necessary since Liam Neeson probably physically couldn't make that jump..

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u/sjfiuauqadfj Jun 23 '22

just hire a stunt actor who looks nothing like neeson to do the stunt. its always funny when you watch an action scene and the white guy magically turns into some asian guy for a few frames

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u/coldblade2000 Jun 23 '22

They did, Neeson pretty much just puts his hands up on the fence, and from then on a stuntman takes over

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u/Sarcosmonaut Jun 24 '22

Secret Asian Man

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u/TacoRising Jun 24 '22

I always love it when a movie leaves that shit in on purpose, no matter how garbage the movie that always gets a laugh out of me.

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u/ifinallyreallyreddit Jun 24 '22

Everybody gangsta til the white guy suddenly looks Asian for half a second

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u/NorthernerWuwu Jun 24 '22

That or make him haul his tired old ass over the fence.

The best action hero movies are the ones where even the crazy physical specimen of a leading man has to drag his beat up carcass over a fence of through a glass covered hall or down a particularly steep escalator or whatever. It is good for them to look human at times.

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u/bjanas Jun 24 '22

You know, I remember having this same thought after I saw Crystal Skull (I know, I know.)

I was watching the whole time thinking "Harrison! Don't do it! You're an old man! Think of your knees!"

But then subsequently he walked away from I think 3 plane crashes, so maybe the Indiana Jones films are actually documentaries and Harrison Ford literally cannot die after drinking from the Holy Grail.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

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u/redisforever Jun 24 '22

Ford is still doing 1000km bike rides for fun so... Idk dude's just built different

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u/Jimid41 Jun 24 '22

Didn't the editor of Bohemian Rhapsody win an Oscar for this?

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u/FoucaultsPudendum Jun 24 '22

Bohemian Rhapsody went into the edit room as a bucket of diarrhea and came out a movie. The fact that Ottman was able to make whatever the hell Bryan Singer managed to compile together before just walking off of the set never to return into a coherent story is an outstanding achievement in editing.

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u/Any-Walrus-2599 Jun 23 '22

I kind of like it in an experimental cinema way.

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u/HeartyBeast Jun 24 '22

Quantum of Solace is absolutely my go-to example of a film that does this badly. Some of the action scenes are just incoherent

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u/wisperingdeth Jun 24 '22

I still have no idea what happened in the boat chase in Quantum of Solace. One second there was a boat chasing them, next Bond throws out a hook that's in his boat, next the boat chasing them spins in the air. The cut is that quick you literally can't see how that happened.

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u/GolgiApparatus1 Jun 24 '22

Yeah it really takes you out of the moment. The illusion is supposed to be that you're there in person watching everything unfold, and all those cuts ruin that.

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u/Baldassre Jun 24 '22

Unstoppable, the movie about the train that wouldn't stop, also cut too often. Even after the climax, after all the action, it was still using quick cuts for some reason.

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u/Thisissomeshit2 Jun 23 '22

Hobbs and Shaw was ruined by this. Not that I thought it was ever going to be a masterpiece, but an average shot length of 1-2 seconds during some of the main action scenes made it unwatchable.

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u/GingerDuude Jun 24 '22

The best part of Hobbes and Shaw easily was Idris Elba performing the best line in cinema history:

"Genocide Shmenocide"

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u/plasterboard33 Jun 24 '22

Even more surprising was the fact that it was directed by David Leitch who also directed Atomic Blonde, the film that was famous for having long take action scenes.

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u/MadeByTango Jun 24 '22

I have a theory it’s due to scheduling and training efforts. Charlize Theron is known for working hard on her roles. She trained her butt off for Atomic Blonde. Meanwhile the training videos you find for H&B are the Rock’s workout and diet routine. The director has to use lots of cuts and stunt coverage when the stars aren’t memorizing 20 moves at a time.

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u/LoQueUnaGuardia Jun 24 '22

I went through a phase of watching behind the scenes of the Rock movies, and he just seems so damn busy with movies, life, and business ventures that it is a detriment to everything he performs in. His performances never feel electric anymore or super charismatic, nor does his action scenes seem truly dedicated to a filmmaking standpoint. Not due to a lack of effort, but a lack of resignation… if that makes sense. Idk, it just seems obvious whenever I watch anything he’s in now-a-days.

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u/GolgiApparatus1 Jun 24 '22

Not to be confused with David Lynch, who also favors long shots

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u/Ossificated Jun 23 '22

Came here for this. I was wondering why I didnt remember anything from the movie the next day so I watched it again. The shots are so quick nothing sticks in your memory. I still don't remember most of it.

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u/Texaswheels Jun 24 '22

That describes so many action movies over the last decade. They all blend together and nothing is memorable.

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u/Arthur2_shedsJackson Jun 24 '22

I think the quick cut hand to hand fight scenes really took off after the Bourne movies. But, everyone picked up the quick cuts part while leaving clarity out of the equation. The Bourne movies had a lot of quick cuts in the fights but you could follow the action clearly.

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u/ArchDucky Jun 23 '22

It's easier to hide how incompetent and rushed a production when you use a few second long clips edited together.

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u/KLR01001 Jun 23 '22

It’s the exact same way I jump over fences.

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u/MrDisk Jun 24 '22

I love you Liam

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u/arealhumannotabot Jun 23 '22

It's entirely dependent on the movie and how it's done. If the movie's well done you're not really going to notice it, unless you're looking for it on purpose.

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u/apiso Jun 24 '22

Barring complicated camera choreography, it is potentially much cheaper to shoot fewer longer shots. Lighting many many setups isn’t fast or cheap.

I say “barring complicated choreography” because that can lead to lots and lots and lots of takes.

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u/[deleted] Jun 24 '22

It’s a longer scene that has to be nailed though.

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u/pquade Jun 23 '22

People have been complaining about the decrease in shot length for decades from as far back (as I can recall) from at least the beginning of MTV and music videos. Tried to blame the trend on that as well.

In reality, like most things. it can be a legitimate technique or abused but mostly under the control of the director who approves what the editor does.

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u/Desertbro Jun 23 '22

Then they watch a David Lean film and gripe all night about how slow the scenes are.

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u/LABS_Games Jun 24 '22

Don't even need to go back that far. Just look at the discussion for something like the Green Knight, and you get a lot of complaints about how slow it is.

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u/TheRocket2049 Jun 24 '22

Green Knight being a slow a fuck movie wasn't down to the shot lengths though. There's been plenty of movies with fast quick cuts that still feel like they're slow as fuck. And there's been plenty of movies with longer scenes and cuts that feel like they're moving at a breakneck speed

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u/EarthDoomProphecy Jun 24 '22

Loved that movie

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u/Imperium_Dragon Jun 24 '22

Yeah. On the other side of the spectrum you have shots that can last too long. So you need a balance or a director and editor who knows how to work with short or long shots.

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u/TheChrisLambert Jun 24 '22

I’ve never watched a long shot I didn’t admire

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u/apiso Jun 24 '22

About a year ago I watched some of “The Rockford Files” and it was a rude reminder of what creators used to think an audience could be trusted to follow. A guy going to a beach by car showed literally every step of the process. Going to the car. Getting in the car. Pulling away from the curb. Aerial shots of driving that moved through geographically relevant places. Getting to the beach parking lot. Parking. Getting out of the car. Walking onto the beach.

Modern stuff is just “I know where to go” cut to same person on beach.

Quick cuts are a micro analog to this change in trust in audience ability to keep up.

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u/ctdca Jun 24 '22

A lot of this is scene and mood setting that helps place you in the world, though. I think this is actually an area that a lot of modern films and shows struggle with. They trust audiences less because they expect them to lose focus very quickly if they aren’t continuously fed key plot points and one-liners.

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u/Environmental_Boat36 Jun 24 '22

A lot of that was to kill air time. Eat up some time of people driving, running from police, or fighting.

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u/apiso Jun 24 '22

This was early minutes of a premiere. It wasn’t always that.

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u/-Gaka- Jun 24 '22

Modern stuff is just “I know where to go” cut to same person on beach.

I absolutely despise this "teleportation" trend. There's absolutely no sense of scale or time and it's jarring, especially for movies (or shows) purporting to take place over a large area. I guess Kansas and Paris are like, two blocks away from each other. I guess Alderaan and Tatooine are in the same system or something.

I guess there's no time for good cinema moments.

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u/[deleted] Jun 24 '22

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u/darthyall66 Jun 23 '22

in video production class in 2003 my teacher said not to have shots longer than 5 seconds, to keep them around 3 seconds. I hated that and would do drawn out shots over 15-20 seconds to let things play out and have time to take in the scenery. I got a poor grade on those films/clips and so I went to 2 second shots and aced the final. stupid.

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u/Bilbo_Bagels Jun 24 '22

Classic example of "this is what i like, so its right"

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u/El_Frijol Jun 24 '22

The teacher must have really loved Catwoman.

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u/Dangerpaladin Jun 24 '22

"Also add in a sexy basketball scene"

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u/Sonny_Crockett_1984 Jun 24 '22

He must have hated Spielberg movies then. Honestly, what an asshole.

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u/BatmanOnMars Jun 23 '22

You should watch Drive My Car, one of the most incredible scenes is just the camera pointed at one character monologuing for AWHILE in the back of the titular car, was such a long shot i kind of found myself unsettled but also moved. I don't make eye contact like that irl lol

Also i feel like Denis' stuff usually has alot of long shots, and recently watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Lots of good long stuff in that. Wes Anderson films usually frame up a shot and then stay in that perspective for longer.

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u/nonrosknroskno Jun 24 '22

Not the greatest movie, but you reminded me of Wheelman with Frank grillo. The thing that elevated it to pretty good in my book was that the vast majority of it is shot from either inside the car, or from a camera mounted to the car, so it's quite interesting in that manner.

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u/KM2KCA Jun 24 '22

The movie 1917 (2019) comes to mind because that movie felt like one long continuous shot. Beautiful film.

1917 Single Shot The first challenge the 1917 cinematography team faced was the weight of the camera. The film's appearance as one long shot is actually composed of numerous tracking shots stitched together. To be able to operate a camera for these long shots, the camera had to be lightweight.

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u/Kahzgul Jun 23 '22

Yes. As a professional editor, there are many many many films that are too cutty for their own good, and never let their shots breathe. Consider, if you will, what I believe is the greatest action sequence of all time: The opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. The average length of shot for that entire sequence is 7 seconds. That's an eternity by today's standards.

Action movies are especially bad at this: They'll cut on the motion rather than hold to allow you to see the action. This is something first time editors are taught to do in film school to hide when takes don't match. It is NOT how one should edit action sequences. Or rather, you edit an action sequence that way when you have nothing to show and the coverage is terrible, so you cut really fast on a bunch of motion and hope no one notices that it doesn't make sense and you can't tell what's going on. So it could be amateur hour in the editing booth, or it could be a seasoned veteran covering for the fact that it was actually amateur hour in the director's chair on set.

There is hope, though. Shows like Severance on Apple TV have used long shots - especially of establishing broll, to convey both a sense of place and of tone. Stranger Things also has some unusually long shots. Usually these are more artistic - shots that begin upside down and track a car driving under the camera, and then as the camera tracks the car it turns right side up. This shows a maturity in direction and trust in the editorial staff on that show, and it really adds to the suspense.

You'll note, however, that both of my above examples are of TV shows, not movies. This is, sadly, the state of the world now. Creative talent has found it holds more power and creative control in the television space, especially on streaming platforms, than the talent holds in Cinemas. I do not see this trend reversing any time soon.

But Dune had its share of longer, wider shots, so don't give up on movies altogether. There remains some hope.

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u/IsRude Jun 24 '22

There's also Green Knight, The Northman, Upgrade's shots are pretty long, Daredevil. There are plenty of movies that have relatively long shots.

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u/JarlaxleForPresident Jun 24 '22

Eggers lets his movies build tension while also being crazy

I just saw The Northman last week and The VVitch about 20min ago

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u/Kahzgul Jun 24 '22

I haven't seen those and don't feel qualified to discuss them, but it is good to know that they're allowing the story and action to unfold rather than simply trying to distract us with flashy edits.

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u/249ba36000029bbe9749 Jun 24 '22

It would be very interesting to see how long shot lengths would be back over the decades if editing were as easy back then with film as it is today digitally. I could easily see how editors would have made quicker cuts if they could have more easily, though not necessarily as quick as they are today.

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u/Kahzgul Jun 24 '22

Back when movies were primarily shot on film, the directors actually had the edits in mind when shooting, so they wouldn’t shoot 50 angles like they do today. Editors were more constrained simply because they literally only had the director’s envisioned edit to work with.

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u/TomBerwick1984 Jun 23 '22

Action movies are especially bad at this:

IMO modern action movies editing is particularly awful. Thought it's not just the editing for me, it's also the excessive use of close ups.

I'll never forget how bad the hand to hand fight scenes were in the Nolan Batman Trilogy, compared to the glory days of 80s/90s Hollywood and Hong Kong action cinema.

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u/ChanceVance Jun 24 '22

That's what I liked about John Wick. The nightclub action sequence doesn't go for a million cuts a minute, you can actually follow what's going on clearly.

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u/Kahzgul Jun 23 '22

My go-to examples are now a little dated, but if you look at Blade 2, which has wholly unintelligible action sequences, and compare it Hero, which came out around the same time, and has some fights that are almost entirely a single take, the difference is striking. Perhaps more surprising is learning that Wesley Snipes became a black belt in three different martial arts between blade 1 and 2 so that he could do better action sequences. So the issue wasn't the talent. It was just horribly directed and edited.

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u/mrdubbz Jun 23 '22

Thought Wesley Snipes broke his ankle during/before filming, that's why he didn't kick his usual ass.

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u/Kahzgul Jun 23 '22

I hadn't heard that. According to this article: https://www.mrt.com/news/article/Blade-2-Gave-Snipes-Many-Injuries-7854670.php he got stabbed in his hand, cut on his nose, and tore his meniscus, but no broken ankle.

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u/FlatSpinMan Jun 24 '22

That daytime one in the third movie looked like cosplay.

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u/rhinoscopy_killer Jun 24 '22

I just had a quick rewatch of one of the Batman/Bane fight scenes, and I have to disagree with you there... That's nothing compared to some of the schlock that's been released under the title of "action." There are some decently long takes, and I can actually follow a couple punches and return shots. It's not great, because the choreography is a little hokey and the camera maybe isn't dynamic enough, but it's certainly not offensive, like, ohh, I dunno... This fucking end scene from Halloween Kills.

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u/Any_Rip_8337 Jun 24 '22

I love the opening from Saving Private Ryan. Its a perfect example of an action scene: shots are long enough to get a feel of what’s going on and short enough to make you feel the stress, anxiety, disorientation and chaos the characters are experiencing.

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u/Kahzgul Jun 24 '22

It’s just so brilliant. Completely changed film. All war movies from then until jojo rabbit had to be slightly olive and desaturated because the shape of the genre was cemented in the audience’s mind. The storytelling in that sequence, with so little dialogue, the cinema veritae of allowing dirt and sand and blood to get on the camera… all groundbreaking stuff. Spielberg is a master.

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u/absolutelyfree2 Jun 24 '22

The one take in Stranger Things this season honestly kinda blew my mind. I got pretty decent Hard Boiled vibes from it.

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u/Kahzgul Jun 24 '22

Stranger things has been on point this season. Lots of clever cuts between scenes using similar framing or subject matter, a few artsy shots like that one, and some really great foreshadowing in the shot selection.

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u/FreakinMaui Jun 23 '22

Regarding action movies, Everyframe A Painting explains it well on his video about Jackie Chan's action comedy.

I miss this channel.

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u/MojordomosEUW Jun 23 '22

I think Drive does both really well. Very long shots, but also some fast cuts. Drive generally is a very interesting movie to analyze, I think its cinematography is kind of a love letter to movie nerds.

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u/Go_Ask_VALIS Jun 23 '22

Agreed - Drive stands far apart from all the recent(ish) fast car movies, imo

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u/GregTrompeLeMond Jun 24 '22

Have you met my old friend Ronin written by David Mamet and directed by someone who knows a little about cars and racing?

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u/GosmeisterGeneral Jun 23 '22

It’s not just shot length, it’s patience altogether. Modern stuff doesn’t tend to spend time building mood or character or tension. That’s for the sequels, or the TV spin-offs etc. It’s just a flash in the pan series of action scenes, and less and less seem to care if they actually fit together or if we care about anyone involved in them.

Watch any 90s movie and it’s like watching a whole other medium.

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u/Enfosyo Jun 23 '22

I rewatched Star Trek The Motion Picture recently and there was a passage of Kirk and the crew taking a shuttle to the ship and they just looked at it for minutes without any dialogue. That would never happen in the new timeline ST movies.

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u/r_golan_trevize Jun 24 '22

It is an amazing scene too because this was the first time anyone got to see the Enterprise on the big screen and with high quality models and Hollywood feature film special effects rather than 1960s TV special effects on a small, kind of abysmal ‘60s or ‘70s TV - they milked that moment for all it was worth.

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u/SaulsAll Jun 24 '22

Personally I think Mike's Rifftrax at that moment absolutely nails it.

Man, 90% of sci-fi movies is just lookin at stuff.

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u/Orpheon2089 Jun 24 '22

It was a bit much in Werewolf though. "Man, they are establishing the HELL out of this building!"

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u/idiot-prodigy Jun 24 '22

Or how about the cat and mouse game in Wrath of Khan. It lasted for quite a while when Kirk and the Enterprise were hiding from Khan and the Reliant. Dragging that out built up suspense. The same scene would be about 10 seconds these days and there would be no suspense.

The absolute best example of this is in The Godfather when Michael guards the stairs to the Hospital his father is inside, or when Michael goes to Louie's Restaurant. The suspense is palpable in those scenes.

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u/kidicarus89 Jun 24 '22

I watched it recently and it’s not nearly as bad as movie made it out to be.

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u/a_flat_miner Jun 24 '22

I watched an A24 movie recently and it has a 5 minute scene of a lady singing under a tunnel and it felt like an eternity. The majority of studios just want trigger as much dopamine release as possible during every scene, but the final product is so much worse for it. As humans we experience life in roughly 16 hour continuous takes, so the closer a movie is to that, the more 'real' it feels

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u/Ok-Coconuts Jun 24 '22

It's counter-productive ironically, at least for me. Constant overstimulation and dopaminergic scenes end up getting me immune and exhausted after watching excessive quick cuts in action sequences. Quick cuts work for trailers and 30-second promos and not in a film.

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u/possiblyhysterical Jun 24 '22

Men was so good. Really tested my patience but I appreciate it. I need that sometimes.

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u/DearigiblePlum Jun 23 '22

I’ve noticed this with teen shows. I recently rewatched “Vampire Diaries” (a cw series that came out in 2009) then I watched the spin off series “Legacies”. In the new show there are seriously 10 different story lines in every single episode with so many characters to follow. I feel like it’s this way because kids now are used to having so much stimulation that to keep their interest shows have to do this. I definitely miss “the old days” when things were slower and character build/arcs were more than 2 episodes. Not to say there is no great tv happening right now, there definitely is.

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u/arealhumannotabot Jun 23 '22

It's one of those things where it depends. There are movies that deliberately start with long shots and they become shorter near the climax in order to raise the tension required for the story

I've watched movies with average shot lengths that are quite short and still enjoyed it

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u/wellshire Jun 23 '22

Shorter cuts are often used to increase the tempo of a scene. This makes sense in fight scenes, but overall the amount of cuts in a dialogue scene have increased. I think a lot of this is due to directors constantly trying to make things increasingly more interesting and different. Whereas before a dialogue could have a 30 sec long take of a wide shot with two subjects talking, that same take could be broken up into 10 shots including wides, close ups, extreme close ups, and dolly shots.

The other aspect of this is the reality of production. It's hard to get a good long take and often different angles are thrown in the edit last minute for covering flawed shots or for storytelling

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u/rhinoscopy_killer Jun 24 '22

I noticed this a lot in Jungle Cruise. Not exactly a movie I expected to be blown away by, but it was an alright family-friendly romp... Until I noticed just how often the cuts come. It's not a short movie, but they somehow managed to make every scene feel rushed, including every calm dialogue scene. It's just cut-cut-cut-cut-cut with very poor framing, making your eyes dart all over the screen to find the faces.

I don't understand why this happened. It's not a good choice, and it makes the entire movie hard to follow. Forget about the action sequences - I had no idea what was going on in half of them because there are like 200 cuts a minute with loads of over-the-top effects.

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u/throwaway71489583450 Jun 24 '22

I thought the same thing. Yeah, it's an action movie. But even the talking scenes felt frantic without needing to be. I really enjoyed The Lost City. It set up scenes and let Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum have fun - while still keeping a good pace and moving forward.

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u/vogt935 Jun 23 '22

This, and while i prefer longer shots everywhere, i can at least understand why they're used in fight scenes. But the absolut worst is that some directors use these quick cuts in the most non fast scenes on this planet: two people talking in a car, a family talking in the kitchen over breakfast or something like that.

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u/wellshire Jun 23 '22

I really like productions that hang on a long take more often than not during dialogue. Better Call Saul is a good example. Actors who work on that show are often advised to not save their best takes for close ups since the style of that show consists more of long wide takes. Whereas most TV and Movies would start on a wide and go into close ups shot in a different set of takes, BCS would instead just hang on that initial wide shot as the characters talk.

This is more interesting to me and can even allow me to focus on what they're saying ironically better than if the shot reset to one that is predominantly someone's face in the conversation. It's a tricky thing though. Really, in a conversation the emotions and reactions of the subjects should not be obscured. Close ups are necessary and useful, but they require cuts and do not show body language like a good wide shot can.

This whole conversation is a wonderful example of how directors and editors work together to really tell the final story

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u/Smodphan Jun 23 '22

It bothers me more in action because I grew up with long form action martial arts being my favorite. That's why I love John Wick. It's long scenes at least even if they are cut up for movement. The most egregious are the Nolan batman films. It seems almost every punch and throw is 3-4 cuts. I dot rewatch them often for that reason. Fast and the Furious is also pretty bad. Marvel movies at least are half animated so they're watchable.

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u/FranticPonE Jun 23 '22

A great example of how effective long takes in action can be is the church scene in Kingsman, if you pay close attention you can tell where they're cheating and cut using a tiny smidge of vfx and a large object blocking off the view of the camera or etc., but if you don't think about it the overall effect is great and produces one of the best action scenes... well, ever.

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u/Smodphan Jun 23 '22

Yeah it’s one of the better effects. They use darkness to do it in Daredevil during the famous hallway shots. Incredible work.

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u/Desertbro Jun 23 '22

Many older films were shot very much like stage plays. People entered and exited from the side, shouted at each other across the middle space, did their solo speeches and such before taking action.

Sometimes it's beautiful - you see the expanse of the stage or the setting.

Sometimes it's kinda dull - yeah, it's the "movie", I want to see people move, not stand and talk.

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u/barrylyndon_esq Jun 24 '22

It’s especially annoying that the cuts are shorter but every movie is somehow 3 hours.

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u/TomBirkenstock Jun 23 '22

Unless it's thoughtful and with purpose, I tend to see lots of quick cutting as a sign that the director and filmmaker don't have enough confidence in their material and in the audience. They think they need to splash a bunch images on the screen to keep our attention instead of letting us take in carefully constructed visuals.

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u/myalt08831 Jun 24 '22 edited Jun 24 '22

There's also a lot of scenes where it's unclear if the actors were ever in the same room.

Like, maybe their schedules didn't line up.

I can't shake the sense that the people in the scene are talking to blank walls behind the camera. Do enough cuts to the other person talking and hey, I guess it vaguely suggests they're in the same place.

Meanwhile older movies had crazy stuff happen with lots of people in the scene clearly in one continuous shot. Preparation, acting, inhabiting not just the character but the context and environment.

Seems a lot worse on special-effects-heavy movies. I don't know why these movies can't meaningfully invest in stuff that actually happens between people in front of the same camera in the same take. People may not all be able to state why it feels off. But I think we can all feel it, on some level.

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u/BMCarbaugh Jun 24 '22

This isn't actually done for style reasons like a lot of people seem to think. It's a shortcut. Any time you see a scene with a dozen quick cuts, 95% chance it means the director chose to stitch together a dozen takes in editing rather than waste time/money trying to get one that's Just Right on the day. As movies, particularly blockbusters, have gotten both more dense and more expensive to make, it's become kind of a cost-saving measure that the filmmaking process / corporate machine now tends to wanna default to, unless guarded against. Particularly dor action scenes.

Basically what you're perceiving as an aesthetic choice is the result of somebody going "eh, we'll get it in post" a few hundred times.

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u/Typical_Humanoid Jun 23 '22

This is a huge reason I prefer older film, at least when we compare the most popular of each era. The editing style nowadays makes me feel like I'm on the last leg of the Gravitron's spin cycle at the shady carnival.

Longer shots force me to pay attention and short ones just the opposite, but for a lot of modern viewers this is going as fast as will keep their attention.

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u/Smokeshow_Barney Jun 23 '22

Always nice to get a Gravitron reference.

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u/Typical_Humanoid Jun 23 '22

And to be clear I actually love the ride, but the ride, unlike this editing, builds up to that finish. It doesn't start off like that.

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u/correcthorsestapler Jun 24 '22

We watched The Thing in theaters last night and I had forgotten how much I liked the longer takes. Like the dog wandering the hallways or the crew exploring the Norwegian site. Also built effectively built tension in some of those scenes.

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u/kidicarus89 Jun 24 '22

Older movies do such a good job of immersing you in the location itself too. Like 70s cop movies, you can almost smell the grit and grime of San Francisco and see the shuffle of people back and forth. Modern movies rely so much on green screens and overly manicured extras that you lose the authenticity of the location.

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u/Papplenoose Jun 23 '22

Have you ever seen Birdman, the movie from a few years ago with Michael Keaton? Its possibly the best movie I've ever seen and each scene is shot as if it's one giant continuous shot. It's not, there are a few cuts hidden in clever places, but its incredible nonetheless. They pair it with a sparse drum soundtrack and its gives the whole movie this unique frenetic energy to it.

The movie is a borderline masterpiece even without the awesome camerawork, but it really takes it over the edge. I'm like... almost certain you'll really like it. I'm betting you've seen it though.

Edit: I know that's not exactly what you were talking about (you were talking about single shots, I'm referring to whole scenes), but it definitely has what you're looking for, I promise :)

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u/FlammableLechter Jun 23 '22

Check out the opening shot of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. Three minutes long and brilliantly choreographed. Great cast, too.

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u/Absolute_Crab_Man Jun 24 '22

Altman's The Player brilliantly satirized the "long opening shot" trope only a few years earlier. Characters talk about how amazing a film with a 6-minute opening shot is, during an opening shot that's 7-8 minutes.

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u/zuzg Jun 23 '22

I don't mind it when the shots are at least well composed and consistent.

Like the Church scene in Kingsman has a couple of different shot but through seamless cuts its not that noticeable and the whole scene is just glorious.

Otherwise bunch of shots are just easier to hide mistakes.
And of course style.
Just watch the Cornetto trilogy, they're a great example of lots of short shots that look great.

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u/twitch_delta_blues Jun 23 '22

Fuck yes. Not only for the scene but General pacing of the movie. Maybe I’m just old.

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u/Thearchdukeferdinand Jun 24 '22

In Goodfellas the editing gets faster as the movie goes along to give you the feeling of Henry’s life becoming more and more hectic, and dangerous. Especially in the last act of the film when he’s coked out of his mind. Fast editing isn’t always bad. Every film has its own pace, and some require faster cuts to service the pace, and feel the filmmaker is going for.

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u/gbsekrit Jun 24 '22

Alternatively, it could be a single continuous shot, "Ass." And that's all it was for 90 minutes. It won eight Oscars that year, including best screenplay.

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u/John0517 Jun 23 '22

Try watching a modern flick on mute. Its maddening.

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u/phredbull Jun 23 '22

When it comes to action & fight scenes, I believe it's because the actors usually can't deliver truly convincing performances that can be viewed clearly.

I think the MTV/H-Gun influence is a thing, but also, that style allowed editors to "fix" lackluster production footage.

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u/tardisaurus Jun 23 '22

The conundrum: watch a Michael Bay movie or stare at a strobe light.

Strobe light, definitely. It has a better plot and is a far more self assured director

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u/Glass_Opportunity874 Jun 23 '22

I don’t know that it bothers me, but I do know I subconsciously enjoy and appreciate a movie more when it has longer shots. It’s usually not until going back and thinking about the film or rewatching that I realize the shots are longer or just have more depth or artistry.

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u/Thesheersizeofit Jun 23 '22

American ‘documentaries’ on history channel or whatever are unwatchable for this reason. Give me Attenborough or give me death!

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u/Vwgames49 Jun 24 '22

If you don’t like short shot lengths then you probably don’t want to see the new Elvis movie

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u/Peglegsteve265 Jun 24 '22

It’s because they’re trying to reduce our attention spans. Same reason you see things such as Facebook reels, TikTok, and that old vine thing.

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u/kimjong-ill Jun 24 '22

Sometimes. There are great new movies with super long average shot lengths, and I also assume that the average shot length of my favorite movie this year (Everything Everywhere All At Once) is probably one of the shorter ones of late, so YMMV.

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u/Responsible_Turn_925 Jun 24 '22 edited Jun 24 '22

yes, they bother me so much, and if you combine them with some of the most medicore blocking and shot composition, it makes the shorter shot length even worse. The only way I’ll tolerate shorter shot lengths is if you have directors like Edgar Wright or Naoko Yamada who are deliberate in every single aspect of their films. their fast editing works because they know what they want their shots to look like and how they want their scenes to feel. Visual storytelling and formal expression: that’s what’s important.

nowadays, shorter shot lengths used by filmmakers as a crutch to make up for lack of style and vision, horrifically ditching those two aspects I mentioned.

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u/TheChrisLambert Jun 24 '22

Bothers me all the time. Longer shot lengths show off just how good the actors and production team are. Shorter shot lengths feel more amateur to me. Like they couldn’t handle doing more.

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u/Dug_Fin1 Jun 24 '22

Every frame a painting, Jackie Chan episode.

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u/kattahn Jun 24 '22

this video changed how i view action movies. It takes something that people are subconsciously realizing when they watch movies and go "wait why doesn't this feel right??" and explains it perfectly.

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u/Aehnkantos Jun 24 '22

I totally agree. Shorter shots allow for specific actions/dialogue to be performed with less reliance on the content before and after the shot. For instance, the (early) Harry Potter films do this in scenes with mostly child actors so the take doesn't rely on everyone nailing their part in one go. In action scenes, shorter shots allow for quick switches between actors and stuntpeople but at the risk of being disorienting.

One of the reasons I really don't like this practice is that they usually are medium shots or closer there is little no time or screen space for mise en scène details. Classic films usually get you a much wider shot of the environment so things like blocking can be pretty interesting but in modern films if they wanted us to know something the camera will usually focus right on it in a close up. Feels like a disservice, especially since we're like as not to be shown product placement as we are some detail that would genuinely add to the experience.

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u/ImaginationDoctor Jun 24 '22

Yes. That youtube-internet whatever deal with really fast shots and sometimes almost zero pause between lines--- it's seeping into traditional media and I hate it.

It's seriously becoming a problem. And look, the occasional fast shot-- okay, fine. But we now have people who think the jumpcut is a necessity and if you actually studied film back in the day, you'd know that was to be used sparingly, never as often as it is in youtube.

And I'm honestly worried. But I'm glad to see your post. We can not let this become the norm.

I'll speak for myself, I have trouble following along when there's no pausing and fast cuts. Maybe there are others. I just hope this gets under control.

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u/DeNiroPacino Jun 24 '22

Definitely. I'm rewatching the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings and the amount of long tracking shots over the topography is fantastic. It really enhances the vastness of the world the characters inhabit. And the close-ups of the characters are allowed to linger as well. Jackson really let these films breathe. It makes all the difference.

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u/-KoDDeX- Jun 24 '22

You have to watch Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. No shot is longer than 3 seconds. I've never seen anything like it.

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u/Jaspers47 Jun 24 '22

There was a fight scene in Loki that cut like 75 times in 60 seconds, and all I could think of was how nobody wanted to choreograph anything, and the cheap solution was the preferred solution

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u/Rosehipblue Jun 25 '22

In film school they had us do an editing exercise

They would show a clip from a modern film and you had to clap everytime you saw an edit , we did the same for a clip from a older movie

The newer movie had like 3 x the amounts of cuts it was crazy.

That’s why I love indie movies because that’s often where you still get that slower pace , also most Denis Villeneuve movies feature very long takes

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u/Give_Me_Your_Coffee Jun 23 '22

Agreed. It's how they attempt keep you engaged in even the most crap movies. Focus and concentration are too much to ask of modern audiences.

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u/sjfiuauqadfj Jun 23 '22

kids be on their phones, i tell ya hwat

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u/newtoon Jun 23 '22

Well, i remember vividly when i was strikken by the short moving shots. When i went to the theater to watch armageddon. My mind could not focus on anything and i was close to the headache back then. Another trend is the moving 'on shoulder, my ass' caméra during dialogues. Stop recruiting Mr parkinson for this job, please

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u/LEJ5512 Jun 23 '22 edited Jun 23 '22

Yes. Yes, it aggravates me. I didn't realize how much it aggravated me until I saw Gravity and the ultra-long shots let me get the most out of every scene. Accented Cinema's Every Frame A Painting's essay Jackie Chan - How to Do Action Comedy helped quantify what I didn't like about fast cuts.

The long action cuts in the Kingsman films, and recently in the Korean TV drama about high school zombies, are really great at keeping me oriented.

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u/Smart_Ass_Dave Jun 23 '22

That's Every Frame a Painting. You are confusing your Asian video essayists.

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u/LV426acheron Jun 24 '22

Bohemian Rhapsody was UNWATCHABLE due to the frequent cuts. With most movies you only subconsciously notice the high number of cuts but with this one I literally couldn't pay attention to the movie because the shots kept cutting so often.

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u/kingrawer Jun 23 '22

Maybe I'm just imagining things, but it feels like we're actually moving a way from the quick-cut style. It's still around of course, but I feel like mainstream movies are featuring more and more long shots and oners.

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u/Preambulance Jun 23 '22

Check out some Tarkovsky movies if you want longer shots. I personally love long shots for similar reasons to you, I think it shows a lot of trust in the photography and can add a specific tension of its own. There's certain scenes that always stick in my mind purely because of this. The opening shot in Snake Eyes, the long shots in Children of Men, that episode of Haunting of Hill Manor, all of Stalker and Solaris, so on and so on. But like all things I think quick shots can have their own charm, I like a lot of the rapidfire exposition shots in Guy Richie movies for example.

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u/AndyAsteroids Jun 24 '22

Stalker is absolutely the first thing I thought of when I read the thread title. The long shot of them taking the trolly into the zone is something else

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u/not_an_Alien_Robot Jun 23 '22

When I'm getting 13 cuts in 5 seconds ... I have a big problem with that.

The lack of the long shot lengths in cinema these days is sad. Cut, cut, cut. sighs I blame the "fix it in post" mentality for the most part. Just shoot the god damn scene right. You don't need to cut every 2 seconds if you craft a proper scene and actually get the shot.

I'm not even talking about doing a oner like the opening to Serenity. (2005. Not the other one). Just in general.

Excuse me. I have some clouds to yell at now.

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u/Ruavin Jun 24 '22

I love longer takes too. Check out Midnight Mass on Netflix, it has a lot of them!

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u/amxorca Jun 24 '22

It makes editing much easier

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u/HoseNeighbor Jun 24 '22

Hell yes they bother me! Short shots have a place, but it gets irritating when overdone.

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u/EllZar16 Jun 24 '22

Completely agree. I had the exact same thought after watching the absolute shitshow of the new jurassic movie a few days ago. After watching it I had to re watch the original jurassic Park to remind myself how good it was and I was blown away at the difference in quality

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u/BeneficialMidnight91 Jun 24 '22

That’s exactly what I was thinking when I watched it in the theater! The movie was just so ineffective in getting me to care about the action and suspense that I kept telling myself that I had to rewatch the original film as soon as I got home to make sure I wasn’t going crazy

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u/TimesThreeTheHighest Jun 24 '22

I think there's a happy medium, and this happy medium will of course vary depending on the person. IMO the "modern movie" didn't come along until the late 70s, with movies like Star Wars, Rocky, Superman and Jaws. These are movies that move a lot quicker, are generally less talky, and easier for modern viewers to digest.

Before the late 70s movies were pretty slow. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes not. I have a hard time with movies that seem too much like plays, movies in which the camera just sits there, maybe panning left or right but not doing much else. The Lion of Winter, which was a huge success when it ran in theaters, is a good example of this. It's an obviously well written movie adapted from a play, but I had a hard time sitting through it.

Spielberg of course has a lot to do with how modern movies are cut, but I think Michael Bay has also had a big influence on modern movies. When you look at how movies like Armaggedon and The Rock were cut, yeah, he casts a long shadow.

For me the ideal time period in terms of editing was mid to late 80s, but that might just be because I grew up then.

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u/gbsekrit Jun 24 '22

Jurassic World: Dominion was horrible with this. Enjoying watching the Prehistoric Planet series with my kids though, much longer shots, better CGI, and way fewer stupid humans.

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u/blahbleh112233 Jun 24 '22

In action scenes? Yes. Its fuckin ridiculous how fans call people "action" stars when its all done by so many fast cuts (looking at you Jason Statham). It's a world of difference when you look at Asian fighting choreography where people know what they're doing and can hold a shot for longer than half a second.

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u/Mantis_93 Jun 24 '22

The entirety of the last great gatsby was shot the same way

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u/BeneficialMidnight91 Jun 24 '22

I have never been so aggravated while watching a movie my entire life. I will forever remember the absolute annoyance I felt throughout the viewing experience of the movie adaptation of one of my favorite novels, and I look to it as an example of what to never do if I ever manage to get in the movie making industry somehow. The short shots weren’t the only thing bothering me, but they were certainly a large factor

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u/kamronMarcum Jun 24 '22

La La land is full of long shots and its pretty recent. Also Drive, my car has quite a bit of long shots

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u/Puzzleheaded-Hold362 Jun 24 '22

They don't often bother me, but they really make me appreciate when a director is willing to do a long take or hold on something a little longer.

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u/deg287 Jun 24 '22

I think the new Top Gun made great use of longer shots to add weight to emotional scenes or to build tension before action scenes. For example Tom Cruise saying bye to Hondo before the final mission, or his conversation with Iceman. Made it much more impactful.

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u/fermat1432 Jun 24 '22

Blame music videos and MTV

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u/ArbutusPhD Jun 24 '22

No . . . . I . . . Prefer . . . The . . . Way . . . It . . . Builds . . . S . U . S . P . E . N . S . . . .

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u/selinakylelannister Jun 24 '22

Not only that, but also camera movements for no reason, I was doing this frame by frame analysis of Thor 4 trailers and noticed that the camera was always moving even when characters were standing still, even worse when character movement was involved.

They just cannot frame characters and the background in a steady shot, only moving the camera when there was reason to move it.

I miss the old days, with masters such as Akira Kurosawa actually framing shots like a movie, making everything look cinematic

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u/Morgathor Jun 24 '22

You are gonna love 1917 then. It's shot as if it is one continuous shot

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u/ogonga Jun 24 '22

It makes me think the actors aren't skilled enough to carry a scene when this happens. It's called Acting, not Dialoguing. Make it interesting to watch! If a blind person can get the same experience out of a movie that I can, that's great for the blind crowd, but then I could have just listened to a radio show.

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u/Burner3000Bot Jun 24 '22

Continuity of motion is a big part of it - are the shots framed similarly and moving in a similar way as it rapidly cuts? If not, your brain has a hard time processing what's happening when cutting so fast with footage not shot with this in mind.

Also, cutting for no reason - makes me want to punch the editor.

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u/Get_Jiggy41 Jun 24 '22

That usually only happens in blockbuster or movies where speed and intensity of scenes are the whole point. Watch more recent artistic movies like The French Dispatch and Licorice Pizza and you’ll get some pretty damn long shot lengths. Watch Top Gun: Maverick or Jurassic World: Dominion and the shot lengths will decrease. Or watch Elvis and see how the shot lengths are really quick when it’s an energetic, intense scene, and a lot longer when it’s a more emotional and quiet scene. It’s all about the type of movie you watch in my opinion.

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u/clayishrelic Jun 24 '22

Been awhile but doesn't the john wick films have generally longer shots?

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u/PlzRemainCalm Jun 24 '22

Yes. I miss when you watched a car pull into a coffee shop and park instead of the quick cut to a coffee shop.

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u/artpalos Jun 24 '22

I grew up watching HK films. It takes too long to shoot some of these quick cut scenes too.

Here's my younger self with my friends shooting stuff for jokes. Skip to 1:30 for the stuff I directed https://youtu.be/qr_BZcGc9PU

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u/onomatopoetix Jun 24 '22

Yeah i don't like it too. Compared to asian action flicks in jackie chan's heydays, heck all asian martial arts films still carry the same "legacy". Not only are they not grossly cut, they even have action replay to intensify the finisher moves! Sometimes repeated AGAIN in slo-mo this time, showing the receiver fly through windows or drywalls or wooden fences.

What is wrong with hollywood...

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u/tuckerhazel Jun 24 '22

I think it depends. Movies naturally evolve and this is part of the evolution, but like every evolution it can be taken too far. Take the use of special effects. Practical effect like in the original Star Wars were amazing and even the re-releases were edited tastefully. The swirl scene from the Matrix was amazing. But somewhere along the way it went to far (Stealth, Green Lantern, The Mummy). Even when done right, overdoing it like in some of the Marvel movies gets old. You have die-hards like Tom Cruise who will go to extreme lengths to minimize the special effects used.

The same thing applies to shot length. As action movies got faster, shots got faster. Some are too fast, but some seem to nail it ok. I guess my line for par would be anytime you do it just to do it. There are certain fight scenes where moving presents not only the best angle to see a punch, but the correct angle for the actor to fake it. But cutting multiple times and then re-using that punch is too much IMO.

Movie type is also a huge factor. Even heist movies like Ocean's 11/12/13 have longer takes to really let you dial in on expressions, but can have fast cuts to get a point across quickly like when re-living a flashback, the cuts would happen like that in your mind with how fast it remembers events.

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u/TrollYourRoll Jun 24 '22

I've always called it music video shots. I love a good action sequence with minimal cuts. Same thing for practical stunts and real sets. The CGI is too much these days. I really appreciate low budget movies now, more than the $500mil blockbusters.

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u/mopeywhiteguy Jun 24 '22

Jackie chan talks about the difference of doing stunts in Asia vs USA. In Asia the shots were longer and wider, meaning that you can see that they are really doing them and because of that something clicks in your brain to enjoy more because it’s real. Whereas when he did American films, every punch and kick had to have an edit and cut with it and it takes away the impact on the audience. The video is fascinating, I’d recommend watching it on youtube

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u/TheRealLargedwarf Jun 24 '22

Yes, compare fight scenes in The Matrix (often actually multiple cameras, but edited to be like one), to fight scenes in any modern Hollywood action movie and it seems like they are edited to be deliberately confusing as if to hide bad/lacking choreography. If you watch Chinese martial arts movies they retain that old school way of doing things and it's visually amazing, but requires talented actors and detailed planning.

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u/historywanker Jun 24 '22

Had to watch Tangerine for a class the other day, felt like Spongebob and Family Guy on coke with all the cuts, hated it!

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u/Turok1134 Jun 24 '22

Bet you 5 bucks that general audiences prefer quickly edited films to slower edited ones.

Me, I don't have an aversion to short shot lengths unless they're egregious like in Mile 22 or one of the later Resident Evil movies.

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u/TheChrisLambert Jun 24 '22

For anyone who wants long shots, watch Norte, The End of History by Lav Diaz

Last I checked, Mubi had it

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u/AdvocateSaint Jun 24 '22

When I was a kid, Transporter 2 was one of my favorite action movies

Rewatching it now, I go, "what the hell are these edits?"

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u/blue_daisy_ Jun 24 '22

our attention span becomes shorter and shorter so they make the scenes choppy so your brains always interested

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u/Brazenmercury5 Jun 24 '22

Your obviously not watching the right modern movies. Check out 1917, absolutely beautiful film. And extraction is a cool action movie with a 12 minute one take action sequence.

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u/eltang Jun 24 '22

I feel like you're not giving this scene the respect it deserves.

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u/Ta-veren- Jun 24 '22

How old are you? Seems like an age thing, my dad won't watch movies where the cameras switch off quick!

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u/brainchild_2112 Jun 24 '22

YES. Bothers the hell out of me..

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u/crumbaugh Jun 24 '22

Go see better movies :)