There are two ways I could approach reviewing something like Final Cut- Ladies and Gentlemen (boy, that hyphen is gonna drive me nuts). I could go my smart-ass, look-how-clever-I-am-route and…I dunno, either make a review through snippets of other reviews, or cut up a bunch of dialogue to make it into a review, or do a really cute editing trick that sells a cohesive whole. It would suit the movie, but I think I’ll pass. The alternative is to give you a brief overview of the film and tell you it’s good, which isn’t clever, but may be my best choice. What’s that quote? Writing about music is like dancing about architecture? Let’s adapt that: “writing about Final Cut- Ladies and Gentlemen is like doing macrame about quantum mechanics”.
Final Cut- Ladies and Gentlemen is really a very simple story: boy meets girl, love blooms, complications ensue, love conquers. That last one may be a spoiler. Straightforward, but it’s elevated through the medium: Final Cut-Ladies and Gentlemen tells its story entirely through footage from other films. A lot of other films. The official press releases say it’s in the ballpark of 450, but sitting through the list of sources in the credits it felt like thousands. And it works incredibly well, as a concept and as a narrative.
I can’t really tell you more than that without this review slowing to a dirge, it’d just be like “and there are a few shots from different movies of a lady answering a phone” ad infinitum. The entire thing is editing magic, but there are a few juxtapositions-as-jokes that require knowledge of context to work. That’s hardly a stretch for the target audience, though. If you’re sitting in the cinema, then the movie already expects that you know and love a lot of films. Look out for how it uses the Janet Leigh death in Psycho, that one was my favourite.
I could go on about this one. Do some delving into gender politics and heteronormativity. Mention how interesting it is that in all the movies sampled only men do any real violence and that a lot of movies have scorned women going to a mother figure. Point out the surprising frequency that Airplane! and the Star Wars trilogy made appearances. But this isn’t the time. The film doesn’t use its conceit to indicate theoretical points, and it could have. Instead, Final Cut- Ladies and Gentlemen is a love story, both between a man and a woman and between you and film. Go and participate.