Take Two: In the Cut
For years this single cut has held in my mind as a rebuttal to all of the expensive blockbusters that rely on costly explosions, explicit crashes or elaborate computer-generated effects to get a rise from the viewer, when something as simple as a perfectly placed jump cut can startle just as effectively.
Stripped of any traits of her former character, d’Orsay’s face becomes enshrined as love goddess solely through the logic-defying action of the cut; the viewer is thrust up against a contextless image purporting to entice their deepest carnal yearnings by sheer virtue of its assertive presence.
What’s so striking about the Bressonian universe, and probably most responsible for his lasting reputation, are his editing decisions; it’s rare that a shot ends exactly when you might expect it to, and even rarer that what follows provides easy linear causality.
What grounds Soderbergh’s pop pastiche, I think, is that a revenge thriller is basically about a character’s desire for historical correction—an honor killing that rewrites the record. For the director, of course, that’s also a matter of carving up his influences.
With Bamboozled, Spike Lee entered the new millennium and announced, without the slightest hesitation, that filmmaking was still a primitive medium. Technologically and educationally unformed—made suspect and misshapen by those who wielded it, and barely ready to be vindicated.
For years, I have isolated one surreptitious shot match in her largely overlooked Nenette and Boni as defining her particular brand of brilliance, which merges hyperstylized formalism with gentle realism to create something at once tactile and relaxed.
Rope can be seen as a denial of the edit, a kind of negation or repudiation of its importance and power. At the same time, the presence of the cut despite its elision, its status as “not there but there,” could be seen as the definitive test and proof of the very centrality Rope seems to deny.
Andrei Tarkovksy’s The Mirror is full of such event-cuts, each defining or sensing the cohesive whole of the film, like its maker, as discrete moments hung together through time, however disparate and dispersed its instances, like his limbs, may seem.