Monday, August 19, 2013

Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (2012): Montage in the era of snippets

Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (2012)
dir: György Pálfi and seemingly every other director ever

There is a current phenomenon that is being revived in the era of YouTube and Vine: the supercut.  

What's a supercut?  A supercut is any video that edits a wide variety of disparate elements into one montage of varying elements.  The most common utilization of this method seems to be clips along thematic lines.  A supercut of one-liners that occur before somebody dies, zombie headshots, famous people playing themselves, temper tantrums, etc etc.  These are pure distillations of these clips.

The earliest instance I have encountered of the supercut was when I had the pleasure of seeing Joe Dante's 4.5 hour cut of his touring The Movie Orgy, a supercut of b-films, ads, television spots, and other detritus that originally was edited live on tours with several different projectors.  With the advent of the digital, non-linear, editor, and then the distribution of digital films, the supercut became easier and easier to do.  Indeed, even Joe Dante's The Movie Orgy was probably tightened to the point of being amazingly witty at its 4.5 hour mind bending assault.  

In this era, György Pálfi decided to create his form of the ultimate supercut movie.  This is movies upon movies edited together to create a new story of everyman and everywoman falling in love, having lovers quarrels and eventually coming together in the end.  

The previous attempt at this type of storytelling could be seen in Mark Z. Danielewski's novel Only Revolutions.  But, where Danielewski was so overly fascinated with puzzles and post-modernism in order to create something new and individualistic, György Pálfi wants to make a movie which will resonate with everybody in the exact same way.

Really, the effect of the supercut montage as an entire movie is breathtakingly beautiful, at least to the film geek who could probably name about 2/3 of the films based on the single flash at any given moment.  And, this isn't a film that goes for just the easy targets.  This is a love letter to all of the movies Pálfi has ever seen.  It uses scenes from classic, well known, movies like Metropolis and Gone With the Wind, and it dives into the cult using the likes of Subway and THX 1138, to even using TV shows like 24 and Northern Exposure. With 450 different sources (at under 90 minutes), Final Cut never sticks with any one movie for long enough to get bored with it.  

Final Cut is well assembled, romantic, exhilarating, and a complete love letter.  It never gets boring, and is ultimately an education in the art of vision.  As a purely visual feast, it is a wonder of modern editing systems. This is a must watch for anybody who has any passion about film new and old.

The main problem is that is it "for educational purposes only" because, much like the YouTube era, Palfi never got permissions from all of the 450 copyright holders.  This is an illicit film in terms of creation and availability, especially in the U.S.A.  That isn't to be said that you cannot see it in the USA.  It has been shown at various film festivals like the New York Film Festival, and was shown earlier this month at Cinefamily in Los Angeles.  Random screenings in big cities will probably pop up periodically, and it would behoove anybody to catch this on the big screen if they could.  And, while piracy seems to be the ultimate solution for this work of art, seeing Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen on a big screen in a movie palace would be the best possible way to see it.

Find it.

Watch it.

Love it.

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