It’s been a while…
When I haven’t been working, I’ve been visiting my niece & nephew. They’re cute, I don’t have to clean up their poop, and they’re conveniently located near the beach. I am way behind on my movie going and renting. Superman, X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, and Nacho Libre all remain unseen.
I did finally get around to renting City of God. It’s the story of kids growing up in street gangs near Rio de Janeiro, and is pretty amazingly shot and edited. A couple of years ago, I went to an editing seminar at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. All five of the editors nominated for an Oscar that year were there to show off a scene from their movies and discuss The Craft of Editing. It was a fascinating and entertaining program, which surprised me because I think discussing The Craft of Editing is pretty boring and aimless. Unless you have seen every frame of footage shot for a movie, you really have no idea how well a movie is cut, but anyway… City of God’s editor, Daniel Rezende was there, along with William Goldenberg for Seabiscuit, Lee Smith for Master and Commander, Jamie Selkirk for The Return of the King and His Editorial Majesty Walter Murch for Cold Mountain.
The place was packed. There were the usual nerdy discussions about Avid vs. Final Cut Pro and the digital revolution. Everyone knew that Jamie Selkirk was going to win the Oscar, so there wasn’t any debate about awards. I’d wager that half of those in attendance were film students who had just read “In the Blink of an Eye” by Walter Murch and wanted to see their new messiah in person. For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Murch cut picture and sound for a few great movies – most of which came out a couple of decades ago – and wrote the aforementioned book which every editing student at every film school is forced to read. Mr. Murch is a talented and articulate guy, and was smart enough to put his theories about editing down on paper to be devoured by movie geeks everywhere. It’s a good book, and is really the only book on the subject. Thusly, he is revered like a god in the post-production world. At the seminar, he was clearly relishing his professorial status, delighting in the spotlight. Then something interesting happened…
Daniel Rezende looked about sixteen years old. He spoke softly with a thick Brazilian accent and was visibly intimidated by his surroundings and fellow nominees. He looked totally out of place. Then they showed the opening sequence of City of God. It was astounding. It is an amazingly constructed scene of gang members chasing a chicken through Rio’s slums. There are shots you’ve never seen before cut together with stunning energy and originality. It was the most exiting piece of action movie editing anyone in the room had seen in years. When the clip was over there was thunderous applause. Rezende was flooded with praise and questions. He did very well considering his limited English, but he was a bit stunned by the adulation. The film students had a new hero - one only a few years older than themselves. Walter Murch may have packed the house, but Daniel Rezende emerged as the star.
I had some sympathy for the other editors on stage. They had all done some terrific work. Jamie Selkirk showed the Shelob scene from Return of the King, was unpretentious and somewhat dismissive of all the film theory talk. You got the sense that he’d rather be off cutting King Kong than yapping it up in Hollywood. Lee Smith was funny and seemed like he’d be a good guy to work for. William Goldenberg gave off an I’m-just-happy-to-be-here vibe. It was like that scene in Amadeus where Mozart takes Salieri’s ho-hum march of welcome, plays around with it on the harpsichord and turns it into a vastly more entertaining piece. Rezende didn’t have Mozart’s arrogance or delight in his own talents, but you got the feeling that the older editors went home thinking “Who is this little punk and how did he get so good?”
Anyway, it was one of my more interesting days in L.A.
On a completely unrelated note, I encourage all of you to watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on FX. Imagine an episode of Seinfeld as directed by Kevin Smith and you’ll get an idea of the show’s tone. It’s hilarious and you all should watch it. It's on right after Rescue Me, which you should also be watching.
That is all.