It’s possible that I am insane, but I suspect I’m not the only human who, while sitting in the cinema, has occasionally twitched a thumb in an involuntary effort to fast-forward the film.
Of course, cinemas don’t provide remotes for their attention-deficit customers. That would create anarchy, since one person’s boredom is another’s art-appreciation.
In need of a hurry-up? Robert De Niro, as mobster Frank Sheeran, with Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Credit:Netflix
Home is the only place where you can use a remote to speed up a movie. That can be useful if you’re simply looking for the saucy bits, but it’s an inconvenience if you want to follow the narrative.
Now we have exciting news for the impatient movie lover. Netflix is trialling a technology that will let its subscribers watch shows at 1.5 times the normal speed, with dialogue still audible.
Reporting this breakthrough, The Playlist website remarked that it would come in handy for watchers of the new Martin Scorsese movie, The Irishman, which lasts 3½ hours. Watched x 1.5, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino would speak in slightly squeaky voices, but you’d be in bed in just over two hours, with all plot twists fully understood.
The Playlist said some people speed up their audiobooks with no ill-effects, but added sneeringly that this new technology might appeal to “the same type of people that would watch Roma on their phones”.
Call me a philistine, but I’m looking forward to this power over my entertainment. Back in the age of the DVD (1998-2016), I enjoyed watching the “extras” and “special features” to see what Hollywood studios had forced directors to cut out of their movies. I usually found myself agreeing with the evil studio bosses. (Example: The Abyss, a James Cameron sci-fi thriller about underwater aliens. It's delightful in the original 2 hours and 25 minutes and irritating in the 2 hour 51 minute “director’s cut”).
Nowadays directors are given more freedom, on the theory that they are auteurs, so Quentin Tarantino can stretch 90 minutes of material to 2 hours 40 minutes in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 3 hours 7 minutes in The Hateful Eight (soon to be known as The Hateful Six).
Other amusements that will benefit from being sped up include: The Joker, the last three Avengers films, A Star is Born, Australia, Pride and Prejudice (all versions), Lost, The Revenant, and Bohemian Rhapsody (except for the songs).
You’ll have your own candidates, and soon you’ll be able to better appreciate them – but only when you’re home alone.
David Dale, a former popular culture correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald, teaches media at the University of NSW.
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