Warner Bros. won’t release The Batman in Russia; The Underground Railroad director Barry Jenkins discusses Obama’s presidency, jazz and cinema; are movies getting longer? All in today’s Movie News Rundown.
But First: Romantic comedy Americanish won the grand jury and best narrative feature this weekend at the Amelia Island Film Festival in Florida, which I’ve been covering. Americanish director Iman K. Zawahry calls her debut film “the first American Muslim rom-com made by Muslim women about Muslim women.” You can read the complete list of winners here.
Also at Amelia: Is Est, known in the U.S. as Adventures Italian Style, which catalogs a road trip to Romania in 1989. Maurizio Paganelli, author of the book on which the film his based, says he and his friends were shocked by what they saw in Romania before the fall of communism: “It was difficult to find the bread or meat, restaurants are closed, and there’s no gasoline.”
Barry Jenkins on Jazz: Barry Jenkins spoke with David Remnick for the New Yorker Radio Hour, and one highlight is an anecdote about Jenkins flying to Argentina the day after President Obama was elected. Debating Argentine intellectuals about America’s contributions to culture, the Moonlight and Underground Railroad director pointed to Jazz, and pointed out that Jazz musicians “stretched and mutated” the sound coming out of their traditional instruments. He says Black moviemakers are doing the same thing in contemporary cinema.
Barry Jenkins on Sound: “Sound, just like when you’re eating food or you’re drinking wine, the taste is important, but the smell is just as important. I think, in cinema, the sound is just as important. It’s that sniff of wine before you taste it. That’s what the speakers are to me.”
No Batman in Russia: Warner Brothers has pulled The Batman’s release in Russia at the very last moment, The Hollywood Reporter says. “In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy,” a Warner representative told THR. The film comes out elsewhere this week.
Disney and Sony Also Out: On Monday afternoon, Disney became the first major Hollywood studio to pause releases in Russia, and Sony quickly announced that it will not release the upcoming Morbius in Russia next month, THR notes.
At Three Hours: The Batman is not short. Variety asks a question that gets posed every few years — typically around awards season: Are movies getting longer? In the piece, National Treasure director Jon Turteltaub has a good quote for aspiring moviemakers about making hard decisions in the edit bay: “There’s always a ton of bad. It’s getting rid of the good for a better good.” CNN also recently examined whether longer movies are a trend, or if some people just think they feel longer.
A Bit of History: “As the home entertainment market really started to evolve for Hollywood studios, shorter running times became a little bit more of a priority. It did factor into the decision-making at some point when you think about commercial prospects,” media and entertainment analyst Daniel Loría told CNN.
But Belfast: Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical tale of growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles is only 98 minutes and has a great shot at winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
The Other Oscar Frontrunner: Jane Campion’s Power of the Dog, is only 125 minutes. That’s not short, but it’s not in Lawrence of Arabia or Avengers: Endgame range.
At a Film Festival Once: When deciding what film to watch, I recall a friend referring to one option while consulting the program: “And it’s short.” The runtime was 90 minutes. I exclaimed that this used to be the standard running time for any feature and shouldn’t qualify a movie as “short” by any stretch.
Paul Thomas Anderson is Also Obsessed with Runtimes: We covered PTA ruminating on the perfect runtime in the New York Times, and then admitting he often misses this mark. Over Valentine’s Day weekend in Los Angeles, Anderson presented a screening of the 1982 classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High — a film that heavily influenced Licorice Pizza — and marveled to Fast Times director Amy Heckerling in the Q&A about just how much she accomplishes in 92 minutes.
Film Festival Programming News: Palm Springs International ShortFest just announced this morning that Sudeep Sharma will serve as the festival’s interim festival director. Sharma has been the director of programming for ShortFest since 2014. He also programs documentaries for the Sundance Film Festival. ShortFest, which made our inaugural list of the Best Short Film Festivals in the World, returns on June 21.
Main image: Barry Jenkins at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Courtesy of Shutterstock