Monthly Archives: October 2010

“Hi, Sally!” clips…

Oh, man…I am such a dick! It just occurred to me that by blaming the heat wave for the fact that celebrities were “dropping like flies” last week, I inadvertently mocked the heat-related death of the late, great film editor, Sally Menke. See, last week, it literally was the heat wave that killed Sally Menke as she was hiking with her dog in Griffith Park.

Urgh…so sorry, Sally. I totally suck. Here’s hoping this mini-tribute will more than make up for my earlier lameness…

Over the years, Sally Menke worked with such big-name directors as Billy Bob Thornton and Oliver Stone, but, she is probably best known for the films she edited for Quentin Tarantino. The two began their fruitful collaboration on Tarantino’s first film, “Reservoir Dogs”, when Tarantino hired Menke because she was “cheap”. From then on, they were inseparable, with Menke being QT’s go-to editor on everything he’s worked on since.

Scoring Oscar nominations for editing “Pulp Fiction” and this past year’s rocking WWII sage “Inglourious Basterds”, Menke was often referred to as more of co-writer than an editor by Tarantino, who was always quick to give Menke credit for her vital role in shaping the plot and pacing of his movies.

Another cool thing Tarantino did for Menke was to make sure to shoot several outtakes during production with the cast and crew calling out “Hi, Sally!”. This became a tradition between the two of them and the footage is often hilarious. My favorite is a shot of the chick from “Grindhouse: Deathproof” hanging onto the hood of the car for dear life and chirping “Hi, Sally!”. So awesome!

Anyway, in honor of the passing of the sweet-faced, badass known as Sally Menke, here are just a couple of the best “Hi, Sally!” clips from YouTube. Enjoy…

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“Bonnie & Clyde: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” on DVD

Wow…I was gushing over Arthur Penn so hard in my last post that I totally forgot to mention that after years of being relegated to a horribly-grainy, extras-free, pan-and-scan DVD version, “Bonnie & Clyde” was finally given it’s due back in 2008 with the absolutely gorgeous “Bonnie & Clyde: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” DVD.

Remastered, restored and packed full of totally awesome DVD extras, this is the version to buy or, you know, receive as a lovely gift from your friend Ginger (thanks again, chica!). Disc one features a lush, widescreen transfer of the film that will really knock your socks off. Trust me, if it looks good on our old-ass TV, the image quality will positively dazzle on a good HD set!

Disc two features such super cool extras as “Love and Death: The Story of Bonnie & Clyde”, a History Channel documentary on the real-life Bonnie and Clyde, two deleted scenes, Warren Beatty’s original wardrobes tests, a replica of the original road show press kit, and a beautifully put together documentary entitled: “Revolution! The Making of Bonnie & Clyde”. Featuring outstanding interviews with every principal member of the cast and crew, this is the thing that really makes the second disc soar.

Warner Brothers may have taken their sweet time releasing a home video version worthy of this cinema classic, but, wow, they certainly did a bang-up job of it! One of the funniest things I learned from the extras was that Morgan Fairchild (who is interviewed in the “Revolution!” documentary) was actually Faye Dunaway’s stand-in on the shoot. Wow…who knew?

Oh, there is also a miniature folded reproduction of the original telegram that WB studio head, Jack Warner (who was never a fan of the movie, even after the acclaim) sent to Beatty and Penn on the first day of production, wishing them well. I know it sounds completely geeky, but, man, I love that little folded telegram to death. So cool!!

But all that awesomeness aside, my favorite extra in this slick, elegantly-appointed boxed set — even the DVD’s themselves are cool with little bullet holes over each of the stars faces! — is the 36-page collectors book of photos. Usually the so-called “books” included in collector’s edition DVDs are more like pamphlets, but, not this time. This is a genuine article book here, folks, loaded with some of the coolest behind-the-scenes pics you’ll find anywhere. Amazing!

And, hey, even if you don’t dig all the groovy extras, the pristine new print of the movie alone will, pun intended, blow you away. So, light a candle for the late, great Arthur Penn and get thee to a video store…

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Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie & Clyde”

Wow, man, I don’t know if it’s the heat wave or what, but, celebrities have been dropping like flies this past week. Old Rose, Tony Curtis, stand-up comedian Greg Giraldo, Tarantino’s kick-ass film editor Sally Menke, and now, the visionary director Arthur Penn. Sad!

Like many directors of his generation, Penn began his career directing stage plays on Broadway. And even then, he broke all the rules. Using bold, minimalistic sets and lighting, and cultivating a raw, naturalistic acting style in his actors, Penn literally changed the way we watched modern theatre.

And when he turned that eye towards television and, eventually, film, he truly revolutionized the way movies are made. The stage and screen versions of “The Miracle Worker”, “Little Big Man”, “Alice’s Restaurant”, “Night Moves”, and the little-seen, hipster-noir classic “Mickey One”, Penn’s filmography would be impressive even is he hadn’t directed “Bonnie & Clyde”. But lucky for us, he did, and the world is a better place because of it.

I know I go on about the movies I love, but, “Bonnie & Clyde” isn’t just a movie that I love, it is a movie that rocked my world the first time I saw it. I remember my brother Ryan and I literally trembling while watching it on TV for the first time. Seriously, we were in awe, man. The perfect cast acting at the top of their game, the darkly-hilarious script, that bad-ass, hillbilly soundtrack, and all those crazy jump cuts…whoa…we just about died.

Overnight, “Bonnie & Clyde” became one of my favorite movies. And in the many years since I first saw it, my appreciation for the film and its renegade director has only grown. I mean, shit, “Bonnie & Clyde” could have easily been just another cheap genre picture, a lurid, pulpy, crime drama for the drive-in theatre market. Actually, that’s what Warner Brothers expected to get for their money, but man, were they ever in for a surprise!

Working with an Oscar-nominated screenplay by David Newman and Robert Benton, Penn and producer/star Warren Beatty, crafted a genuine cinematic masterpiece. And unlike some of the celebrated films from the past, “Bonnie & Clyde” is no dusty relic, revered solely for it’s groundbreaking technique or subject matter. No way, baby, watching “Bonnie & Clyde” today is just as vivid and electric an experience as it must have been in the summer of 1967. Um, you know, minus the drive-in theatre part.

And though there are many things that make this movie great, I have to say that Arthur Penn’s direction was crucial to pulling it all off. Finding the right tone was key…funny and sexy one minute, dark and disturbing the next, Penn walked a tightrope in every scene and the movie crackles with excitement because of it. In fact, that’s probably what makes “Bonnie & Clyde” so modern and relevant today. Crazy tone shifts happen all the time in movies nowadays, but, Penn and company pioneered that shit, yo.

And sure, some might grouse that Penn borrowed liberally from the French New Wavers (who, hello, borrowed liberally from pulpy American genre movies to begin with) but with “Bonnie & Clyde”, Penn didn’t just make a great New Wave film…he actually made New Wave mainstream. And in doing so, Penn and company ushered in a whole new era of raw, gritty and most importantly, personal, American filmmaking. Suddenly, it wasn’t just OK for your big name, A-list leads to be antiheroes, it was cool too! The revolution had begun…

And the violence? Oh, man…forget about it, that shit is insane! Slow motion, fast motion, bullets flying everywhere, it was positively operatic and again, it changed the way violence was depicted onscreen forever. Some might say that’s not such a good thing considering the overuse of hyper-realistic onscreen violence today, but, lemme tell ya, when Penn did it, it was golden, baby. Dying in a hail of bullets never looked so gorgeous. Mmm…

So, thank you, Arthur Penn. You turned the film world on its ear 43 years ago with a little movie called “Bonnie & Clyde”, and for that, and so much more, we are eternally grateful. RIP, brother…

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