The report that Bong was asked to cut precisely 20 minutes seems particularly suspect: It’s the exact same number of minutes Harvey reportedly insisted be shorn off of a number of other films, including Sling Blade, Hero, and Shaolin Soccer. “Twenty minutes” might be something of a magic number for Harvey, like an obsessive-compulsive tic. It’s one thing to insist that a three-plus-hour film be shaved down to around two — that’s at least financially logical in that it allows for more daily screenings — but it’s another to ask multiple filmmakers to cut 20 minutes from very different films, as though a single reel (in old-school celluloid terms) has the power of panacea. In a world in which the top-grossing films of the past three years have all been over two hours, maybe it does nothing to make the movie more commercial — but it does make Harvey feel like he’s the one who really has the power by undercutting the filmmaker’s signature, and that’s what he needs emotionally in order to work his magic in a film’s favor. And maybe, just maybe, part of that magic is creating this spectacle in which Harvey Scissorhands is the villain in conflict with the innocent auteur. Weinstein gets his publicity and the filmmaker gets his own reputation bolstered by the sympathy of fans and journalists who continue to be shocked — shocked! — that a director’s prerogative could be anything other than inviolable.
1) Harvey Scissorhands, such a great nickname.
2) Hard to argue with the results he gets…