Edited By

“A survey of two hundred and six editors who invented, developed, fine-tuned, and revolutionized the art of film editing.”

http://womenfilmeditors.princeton.edu/

“A momentous event in online film culture went mostly unnoticed earlier this year [2019]: the unveiling of Edited By, Su Friedrich’s large and invaluable web resource devoted to women film editors. Friedrich, a renowned experimental filmmaker with a body of work spanning over four decades, tells the story of coming upon a film history book, turning to the editing chapter, and finding that each reference to a film mentioned the director—but never the editor. Looking up the cited films on IMDb, she discovered that most of them were edited by women. Out of this seed of curiosity grew the enormous research effort that has now resulted in the website.

Edited By is global in scope, even if the majority of its entries are devoted to American women. Friedrich points to the unjust lack of attention to editors everywhere, contrasting their relative invisibility to the much greater awareness of directors, writers, and even cinematographers that exists in film culture. “It’s time to stop imagining that ‘it’s really the director’ who does the editing,” she writes. This neglect applies to both male and female editors, but it has had a special impact on the latter by occluding the fact that women have a rich but little-known history as editors, especially in American cinema.”

-Giresh Shambu, “Hidden Histories: The Story of Women Film Editors.” The Criterion Collection. September 12, 2019.

Movie Review: West Side Story

I’ve always thought the original West Side Story (1961) was close to perfect. I was not excited to see a remake of it. Remakes should focus on flawed films and make them better.

Much to my surprise, the new West Side Story (2021) shows the flaws in the original I simply didn’t see before. It’s a better movie is every way that matters. Highly recommended.

Letterboxd

“What is Letterboxd?

Letterboxd is a global social network for grass-roots film discussion and discovery. Use it as a diary to record and share your opinion about films as you watch them, or just to keep track of films you’ve seen in the past. Showcase your favorites on your profile page. Rate, review and tag films as you add them. Find and follow your friends to see what they’re enjoying. Keep a watchlist of films you’d like to see, and create lists/collections on any given topic. We’ve been described as “like GoodReads for movies”.

https://letterboxd.com

New to me. IMDB doesn’t really do this that well. So, hopefully, this will be an improvement.

Film Review: Cruella

tl;dr: Derivative, thin plot but with inspired acting, visuals and costume design. Not recommended, but there are worse ways to spend 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Generally speaking, I think it is best to offer reviews for things that are excellent or in exceptional circumstances, advice to avoid something terrible. Cruella is neither of these things. It has some really brilliantly executed shots. But, it’s mostly a pastiche, a mishmash of moments that don’t work to tell a fundamentally interesting story. If I had to list the problems with the film, it might look like this:

  • Cruella is another example of Disney recycling old content and preaching “family” values
  • Cruella is a comic book villain, someone who wants to make coats from Dalmatian puppies (in the original)
  • In this version, Dalmatians are like Dobermans or German Shepherds, except for the inconvenient fact that American Animal Hospital Association writes about a study that puts them in the bottom five breeds for bite risk
  • Cruella’s superpower is fashion in the service of narcissism, which is sympathetic because we are comparing her to someone worse and it is more relatable in an era of self-absorbed “influencers”
  • The relationship dynamics in this story are ridiculous, e.g., the Butler.
  • There’s also an underlying theme that genetics are fate and that somehow the real choices she is making aren’t defining who she is more than her parental lineage

And I could go on. Ordinarily, I’d give a film like this one a pass on all of these defects because it is a “popcorn” movie. The whole point of watching it is to enjoy the action sequences. But, man, something about that greasy Disney touch, with the moralizing while constructing a story that makes horrible behavior look sympathetic revokes that free pass.

You might also argue, and you’d have a point, that the fact that it gave rise to this kind of reaction might suggest that it has artistic merit on those grounds alone, a kind of provocateur. Maybe. But, it’s still a pretty mediocre movie.

Puzzle (2018)

Puzzle is a movie about the transformation of a mousey, suburban mom into a real person, complex and willing to stand up for herself. I love coming-of-age movies, but one featuring a woman in her 40s with grown children, was so much better for reasons I cannot quite put my finger on. Kelly Macdonald’s performance is inspired. Highly recommended.

Quarantine Double Feature: Judy followed by Judy Garland Live at Carnegie Hall (1961)

Judy, available on Amazon Prime for $2.99, followed by Judy Garland Live at Carnegie Hall (1961). The movie is an outstanding performance by Renée Zellweger that really helps in understanding why Judy Garland was such a beloved figure. Then, listening to her Judy Garland live in one of the greatest live albums ever recorded? Well, it’s not a bad way to spend a few hours.

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