Finding the Director’s Cut — The Midsommar Edition

As much as I love movies, there are a handful of things other film lovers get into that I don’t. One of those things a local critic is obsessed with is how the film looks on the screen. That sounds like something you should be concerned about, but he’ll go on and on about the “aspect ratio,” and he throws fractions by you, and he’ll jump up and go complain if something is just slightly off. It’s usually something nobody notices but him. 

Another thing I don’t get into is a “director’s cut.” The first time I recall hearing that phrase was as a 13-year-old who, having been blown away by Blade Runner, started hearing years later that there was a director’s cut. If memory serves, most of it had to do with whether or not Harrison Ford’s character was also a replicant and not human. The studio felt a “happier ending” was needed. I hear there are currently around eight different versions of Blade Runner (not counting the sequel from last year, of course).

I remember in my 20s, watching an episode of Siskel & Ebert, and they did one of their theme shows talking about various movies. They brought up The Magnificent Ambersons. That Orson Welles film came out the year after his classic Citizen Kane, but during test screenings, audiences were laughing and reacting in ways that worried the studio. They made a bunch of weird edits and completely changed the picture. The original version, the way Welles wanted it, was never released and has been lost forever.

Sometimes it’s wise not to trust directors. Pulp Fiction was my favorite movie of 1994 (the year that gave us the terrific Forrest Gump, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Quiz Show, Clerks, Bullets Over Broadway, and The Shawshank Redemption). I was excited when I got the DVD and could watch the deleted scenes. Tarantino talked about various scenes and how bummed he was to edit them out. Yet not one of them, would’ve made the picture better, but probably the opposite. It would’ve turned Pulp Fiction into one of his long movies, that unnecessarily meanders (don’t get me started on Django, Inglorious, Hateful Eight, and the recent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). 

Recently I talked to actor Greg Kinnear, and I told him one of my favorite con movies ever was his Thin Ice (the title since changed to The Convincer). Director Jill Sprecher was furious at the edits the studio made with the ending. I told Kinnear I loved the ending, and he agreed with me, that it worked. I can’t imagine why Sprecher felt differently, although as a director, she should have final cut.

A few weeks ago, a local critic called me to ask if I wanted to see the latest director’s cut of Apocalypse Now! That’s a movie I loved, but having seen that film a few times in my life, as well as the terrific documentary on it (Hearts of Darkness), I wasn’t up for driving down to Mission Valley for another version.

That makes it all the stranger that this weekend, I’m going to the Reading Town Square, to see the director’s cut of Midsommar. A film that I felt was too long at two and a half hours, is now going to be three hours [my original review appears here: https://fox5sandiego.com/2019/07/03/midsommar/ ]

It’s even stranger considering the fact that I was lukewarm on the film to begin with. Yet there were so many questions about it and scenes that I kept dissecting (no pun intended). By the third day of talking about it, my wife put a moratorium on that as a topic of conversation.

I’m guessing this new three hour version of Midsommar won’t answer any of the questions I had. It might just add more. I’m also guessing it will show more gratuitous gore, which I wasn’t a fan of the first time. But I’m going with James Jay Edwards, a critic I always look forward to talking with at screenings. He writes a lot of great reviews and pieces on film, especially horror (check out his stuff at https://www.filmfracture.com/ ). And if you want to check out the new version of Midsommar — to see if there will be even more death or bizarre mating rituals — you can head to the Reading Town Square this weekend. That’s where we’ll be.

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