' ' Cinema Romantico: In Memoriam

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Memoriam

If you watch all or enough of a particular filmmaker's work there are certain names in the opening and closing credits that you begin to instantly recognize without ever stopping and considering and appreciating their contributions. Bonnie Timmermann as casting director on several Michael Mann movies and Henry Bumstead as Production Designer and Tom Stern as Director of Photography on many Clint Eastwood films and Barry Alexander Brown as editor and Terrence Blanchard as composer on numerous Spike Lee Joints.

Any Quentin Tarantino movie you have ever seen was edited by Sally Menke. I can't really ever pretend to know precisely what goes into editing a major motion picture but I can say to a certainty that in directing my only short film (rejected all by film festivals it was sent to, thank you!) there were instances where I idiotically failed to provide all the necessary "coverage" for my beleaguered editor and he managed to make it look as right as humanly possible. That's part of what an editor does - saves director's asses.

Did Sally Menke ever or routinely save Q.T.'s ass? I cannot say for certain. But it would seem to me that piecing together The House Of Blue Leaves sequence in "Kill Bill" in the editing bay would have been a herculean task. I always adored that little sequence at the end of "Jackie Brown" where Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson) and Max (Robert Forster) are driving back to Max's office where Jackie (Pam Grier) waits and the cutting back and forth between the two settings - the former with music and the latter without, Jackie's cigarette burning down in the dark, and then that close-up of Ordell's face as if the camera is cluing us into his fate before it has even happened. Maybe Tarantino had this shot progression in mind from the start, maybe not, but whichever way Menke had to make it come alive.

She died yesterday at the age of 56. Too soon for anyone. I am certain we will all miss seeing that familiar name turn up in the credits more than we could have ever known.


Derek Armstrong said...

WHY DID SHE GO HIKING ON SUCH A HOT DAY? It is indeed a shame.

Nick Prigge said...

Yeah, that's a legitimate question. I lived through those 115 degree heatwaves in Arizona and it was brutal just walking from the house to the car.

I also just read that apparently she was on a hike when she got the call to edit "Reservoir Dogs." Man, are the fates crazy like that.