Opinion: Perfectly Long Movies

Raghav Raj | Staff Writer

With Zack Snyder’s absolutely massive, 4-hour long director’s cut of the 2017 DC film Justice League in the spotlight, there’s a renewed interest in the “long movie,” a remarkably volatile cinematic experience that serves as a double edged sword for any viewers up to the task. If a filmmaker gets it wrong, you’re stuck sitting through a miserable, endless bore. But if they get it right? There’s truly nothing like taking in the cinematic sprawl of a truly great “long film” (which is basically anything over three hours). Here are four of the best ones to clear your schedule for.

Seven Samurai (1954)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

207 Minutes — (3 Hours and 27 Minutes)

In many ways, Seven Samurai is the blueprint for a film like Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Often regarded as one of the greatest and most foundational action films of all time, it earns its length, filled with impeccably choreographed fight sequences, fantastic performances, and enough heart and humor to make the runtime feel like a breeze. The movie actually invented the “assembling the team” trope, and it still holds up over half a century after its release sent shockwaves down Japanese and American film industries alike.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (1975)

Director: Chantal Akerman

201 Minutes — (3 Hours and 21 Minutes)

Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s watershed Jeanne Dielman is a beautiful study of the mundane, an essential work of feminist filmmaking that centers around the titular character as she goes about her daily life as a single housewife over three days. A film where something as small as overcooking potatoes is treated as a genuine plot point, the minute details of Jeanne Dielman feel engrossing, even if very little is actually happening. And, when something finally does happen, it’s truly worth the wait.

JFK (1991)

Director: Oliver Stone

206 Minutes — (3 Hours and 26 Minutes)

A lightning rod for controversy as soon as it came out, Oliver Stone’s epic political thriller on the conspiracy behind John F. Kennedy’s assassination may not hold up as fact, but it’s an utterly unreal work of filmmaking. Thanks to its unmatched editing work and great performances, the film is tense, paranoid, and gripping for its entire runtime, even with all it throws at the wall. It’s an insane, high-octane feat, and few films match its intensity and magnetism from start to finish.

The Irishman (2019)

Director: Oliver Stone

210 Minutes — (3 Hours and 30 Minutes)

Though I could’ve easily chosen another legendary gangster film with all-time performances from Robert De Niro and Al Pacino for this spot — The Godfather, pt. II is only eight minutes shorter than this movie — The Irishman deserves a spot on this list. A poetic meditation on violence, religion, family, identity, and guilt, The Irishman expands on what a gangster film can be, worn by age and filled with a profound weariness that’s fascinating to see unfold. Thanks to Scorsese’s peerless vision and a marvelous cast, the film flies by, enthralling to the very end.