Saturday, March 6, 2010


Best Achievement in Editing

- Avatar - Stephen E. Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron
- District 9 - Julian Clarke
- The Hurt Locker - Bob Murawski, Chris Innis
- Inglourious Basterds - Sally Menke
- Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire - Joe Klotz

Editors. What do they do? Is it science? Is it art? Is it magic? It's a question that's forever haunted people without a film education trying to speak intelligently about the Oscars. So to help us out, we've brought in our friend Jawn Duffy, who actually sometimes edits video professionally (and should probably be doing so now instead of talking to us about it).

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: well Jawn, let's start with who got motherfucking snubbed

Jawn Da’vi: now I have to think about what movies came out this year

Jawn Da’vi:I really wish my category wasn't the hardest one to judge

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Well then I'll start it off by suggesting two movies that had absolutely no shot at an Oscar nomination (but I certainly like more than Avatar).

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Crank: High Voltage, which actually does its ADD style on purpose and is something special for it and House of the Devil, which as a horror movie is more or less ineligible for awards but has a better slow build than anything in a long time.

Jawn Da’vi: Well I should preface, that for me, I feel that editing is at it's best when I totally get lost in the world of the movie. People like to call editing "the invisible art" or whatever and that can be because there's always so much more that you don't see than what you do see (and wow, there is always so much more that you don't see). So when I judge editing, it's more about getting lost and not noticing things. Pacing is really important obviously, which is why action movies like Bourne that have recently won can be just as good as a slow burner. It's not so much about the technique, but more about the experience, which is why I love movies like Zodiac or A Serious Man, which I guess is one of my snubs, that and Parnassus

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: (which I still haven't seen, shame on me)

Jawn Da’vi: which I'm guessing was an absolute nightmare to edit

Jawn Da’vi: well, you have seen every other movie out there so it's ok (for now)

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: haha

Jawn Da’vi: but back to A Serious Man

Jawn Da’vi: I knew I'd like A Serious Man from the trailer alone. That is the most perfect trailer I have ever seen. It made me happy to call myself an editor. Which is good because that's how I go around introducing myself. Hi, I'm John Duffy, but you can call me The Cutter!

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: now, a question:

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: (as we move on to who should win) How much of a bloated, over-long film can be blamed on an editor? Like, if the editor of Avatar suggested that it be half an hour shorter, you figure Cameron would just be standing there, like no!

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Although, wait, now that I look at it he's actually one of the editors argh.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: but take that question in the abstract, I guess.

Jawn Da’vi: yeah, that movie was a mess. When you're in a movie theater and realizing how long something is, then it's just not good. A lot of that is probably Cameron's massive, facial-hair-needing head. When it comes down to it, Jimmy Camewrong is not going to want to get rid of something that he spent 18 years writing

Jawn Da’vi: like, the little seen or heard from guy that the Coens' work with seems to magically be on the same page as them

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: haha

Jawn Da’vi: it's almost like he's an extension of them. Which is why the realtionship between the director an editor is so important. Directors like Tarantino who work with the same editor over and over again is something that I like. There's a trust there where he knows what Sally likes to do and vice-versa.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: I mean, I should note that I don't think length is Avatar's only editing problem.

Jawn Da’vi: Oh no, definitely not.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Several of its action scenes are completely disorienting in the worst way possible.

Jawn Da’vi: oh but it's an alien world so it should be right?

Jawn Da’vi: or I think it was a moon actually

Jawn Da’vi: man, I hate that movie (by the way, any defense of Avatar from me should be read as sarcasm).

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: noted. So which of these five is the best, you think?

Jawn Da’vi: well, I'll briefly run through the other 4

Jawn Da’vi: ok District 9

Jawn Da’vi: the first third of how this was edited had me completely freaking out. That is EXACTLY the kind of editing that I do, the connecting of ideas documentary style with broll on top, I felt legitimate while watching that. That and the Serious Man trailer made me really happy about what I've been doing with myself over the past 3.5 years

Jawn Da’vi: Inglourious Basterds I also really liked. The first scene alone, as mentioned by countless others, is exactly what film making should be. It took me a little while after that to realize what the film was trying to do, but I liked that, I liked how it turned out, and the storytelling kept me very interested throughout

Jawn Da’vi: Push, I haven't seen, but my question there is how great can the editing actually be with a title that long and ridiculous?

Jawn Da’vi: (pause for laughter)

Jawn Da’vi: OK, and finally The Hurt Locker

Jawn Da’vi: The Hurt Locker is exactly the kind of movie I was talking about in the beginning. From the first frame I was completely immersed. I'm so happy that there's no draft because if that's even a tenth of what it's like to be a modern soldier, I wouldn't even make it off the plane. I'm sure it did with many, I was physically affected watching that movie

Jawn Da’vi: Well maybe not really, but stuff was happening inside of my body

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: I feel like the tension in the Hurt Locker is something that us amateurs ofter give credit to the editor for.

Jawn Da’vi: that's true. I mean a tense movie is a tense movie for more reasons than the editing. But what that movie shows is that everybody from the top down all the way through post, was on the same page.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: surprise, surprise

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: sorry, wrong chat window. haha.

Jawn Da’vi: haha

Jawn Da’vi: maybe it's just that we're talking about The Hurt Locker, but that "surprise, surprise" totally freaked me out

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: so is the Hurt Locker your pick of the 5?

Jawn Da’vi: yes, absolutely

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: MINE TOO!

Jawn Da’vi: one of the best I've ever seen

Jawn Da’vi: yay!

Jawn Da’vi: the world is safe!

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: OK, now that we've wasted all this time on our opinions, the more important question.

Jawn Da’vi: I've prepared myself to be ready if Avatar wins a bunch on Sunday, but if it gets this one, then something gonna get broke real fast

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: how scared are you that it will?

Jawn Da’vi: ooh, well. I feel pretty good about The Hurt Locker winning. It won the Eddie, right?

Jawn Da’vi: which is an actual thing

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: yeah

Jawn Da’vi: I mean, they can't give Cameron multiple awards

Jawn Da’vi: again

Jawn Da’vi: or maybe they can. But if he's gonna win one, it'll be for picture or director.

Jawn Da’vi: both undeserved

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: I agree.

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: and I also agree that Hurt Locker is taking this one..

Jawn Da’vi: if THL doesn't get it, maybe they'll skip down to Basterds

Jawn Da’vi: she's been in the game for a long time

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Yeah, I wouldn't be at all upset if Sally Menke won it

Jawn Da’vi: she's to Tarantino what Schoonmaker is to Scorcese

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: Her work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was pretty great.

Jawn Da’vi: and she was only working with half a shell

MaciejBasedOntheNovelMobyDickbyMelville: FIN

Jawn Da’vi: see, that's how you edit.

OK, so my computer is responding to the Oscars being tomorrow by being almost impossible to work with. I'll try, I promise.

No comments: