Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two Cuts Above

Forgive me for being distracted for the past few days, as you no doubt were, by a different set of movie Honorees—the ones given out by "that film society," in the words of Addison DeWitt. Meanwhile, if you've just heard the sound of a glass ceiling crashing, allow me to underscore that by whipping up my Best Editing citations, I have officially gotten further with the Honorees than I did with last year's. Hooray for momentum. And in honor of that great event, and in the spirit of Responsibility and of Redressing Bad Habits that is currently sweeping the nation (ahem), let's celebrate by catching up with last year's business side-by-side with this year's. In a few categories, this will be awkward, mostly because last year's movies as a whole kind of wiped the floor with this year's, at least in my mind. But that's not a problem in Best Editing, a category as surfeited with worthy contenders in '08 as it was in '07. Even the Honorable Mentions lists in both cases would have been perfectly viable as top-shelf Honorees. Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, etc.

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Blogger Calum Reed said...

Ooh... killing two birds with one stone.

This encouraged me to look back on my own awards from last year. Turns out we match 3/5, and I haven't seen Day Night, Day Night or Jindabyne. Good stuff.

As for this year, Burn After Reading is definitely done well and it all feels very easy. I wasn't so sure about Savage Grace. It is a strange one. You make a GREAT case though, and the more I think about it the more the editing feels crucial to the direction and feel of the film. It's got an interesting approach as it is -- very Kubrick in its measured, mechanic way, and it could have felt more overdone and far-reaching with less restrained work.

2:52 PM, January 24, 2009  
Blogger Sam Brooks said...

Things I Love About This Entry:

1. More 2007! The memories.

2. A Mighty Heart. One of the few movies where I've actively noticed the editting and how well somebody has done their job at this. (And a smaller yay! for Lust, Caution in the honourable mentions.)

3. Editting is so important to making a good comedy work, and I love that you gave good notice to Burn After Reading.

9:16 PM, January 24, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

What a blessing; we're actually getting last year's Honorees after all! (I'm still eagerly awaiting the write-up on my beloved, unfairly maligned Tang Wei.)

Of course, I have to reiterate my disappointment that Kung Fu Panda isn't in the running. Because the movie is structured on the archetypal hero's journey, and because animated movies tend to be so heavily storyboarded, it's easy to dismiss KFP's seamless editing as a simple job of lumping the scenes together in the right order, without the headaches of picking from a large ream of footage. But I love how editor Clare Knight modulates her use of slow-motion, at times as a parody of its flagrant abuse in action flicks, and at others as a genuine call for audiences to examine the sleek grace of a character in motion -- which is symptomatic of the movie as a whole: a tricky balance of mocking and celebrating the theatrical pomp of (action/animated/wuxia/all) movies. I love how precisely she plays with her wide angles and medium shots and close-ups. I even love the precious film-school tricks, like the running visual joke where every paraphrased mention of "who is the Dragon Warrior?" is followed by a shot of (or the visual entrance of, even if there's no cutaway) our unlikely eponymous hero. I love the mixture of animated styles: the usual 3D CG for the bulk of the movie, a soft-filtered 3D for flashbacks, hand-drawn 2D for dreams, freeze-framed 2D for visions.

Some of these are surely directorial decisions, and none of it would have worked as well without the well-calibrated script and tireless animation, but the editing deserves acknowledgement nonetheless. (And thus continues my restless pimping of KFP -- even more maligned than Tang Wei, who at least had many web critics behind her.)

9:58 PM, January 24, 2009  
Blogger Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Nick, have you made any films yourself?

Cause if not - you're eerie-knowledgeable about editing. So much so that I deigned to read a full entry on the year's 'best 5' pieces of editing that didn't even include A Christmas Tale. And I'm even tempted to give it credibility!

5:26 AM, January 27, 2009  

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