Posts Tagged ‘Quentin Tarantino’

Remembering Sally Menke, Tarantino’s Editor

September 29, 2010 1 comment

Yesterday, film editor Sally Menke was found dead in Griffith Park. She was reported missing by friends when she didn’t return home from a hike. News reports speculate that the extreme 113 degree heat that hit Los Angeles on Monday was likely the cause of her death. She was 56 years old. She is survived by her husband, and two children.

This is sad news for not only her family and friends, but for everybody who loves film. Menke cut all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, beginning with 1992’s Reservoir Dogs and ending with 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. She was nominated for two Academy Awards for editing, once for Pulp Fiction and the other for cutting Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino and Menke’s relationship closely echoed the other great male director, female editor duo of Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoomaker. Menke’s influential collaborations with Tarantino crafting some of cinema’s most iconic imagery, puts her right up there with the pantheon of great female editors, including Schoonmaker, Dede Allen and Verna Fields.

At times, those people who don’t appear above the line in the film industry, like editors for example, may not get the attention they deserve. I know I’m guilty of being an auteur theory snob, probably giving too much credit to the director. We have to remember that film is truly a collaborative medium. I remember watching Pulp Fiction for the first time when I was 17 years old and absolutely falling in love with the film. It’s quite possible that I wouldn’t have felt that way without the help of Menke giving shape to Tarantino’s unique, shifting narrative. I think we all owe her a thanks for helping assemble not just that film, but forĀ cutting all of Tarantino’s films. Her work will live on as long as film exists as an art form.

During filming, Tarantino would have the cast talk into the camera and send a message to Menke. These were called “Hi Sallys.” Here are a collection of “Hi Sallys” from Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds. Also included in the first clip is Tarantino talking about how crucial Menke was during the editing process.

It was hard to single out one moment from the Tarantino-Menke canon to show the brilliance of the two. I decided on The Battle at the House of Blue Leaves from Kill Bill Volume 1 because it is one of the great action sequences in movie history. This is was the first Tarantino film I ever saw in the theatre, so it holds a special place in my heart. Watching the film filled me with exhilaration, tension, and absolute cinematic joy. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it was to edit this scene together, but Menke succeeded admirably.


Tarantino’s Top Films of 2009

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Not a top 10 list, more of a top 8.

Half the films on his list wouldn’t make my top 10 or even top 25. Star Trek was fun, but overrated in my view. Funny People and Drag Me to Hell were okay but very flawed. Observe and Report was just plain bad.

Precious and Up in the Air are solid picks. Those films look like they would appear on my list of the top 10 films of 2009.