September 2014

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6 CINEMONTAGE / SEP-OCT 14 by Tomm Carroll I n the midst of a sweaty and somewhat sleepy August dog-day afternoon in Hollywood, I was contemplating a subject to write about for this column when the sudden, shocking and saddening report that the great actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead, by suicide, spread like a drought-fueled wildfire throughout the industry — and the entire planet — thanks to the wired-to-the-gills world in which we live. The supersonic speed at which the news traveled seemed somehow appropriate; it almost matched the high- velocity Williams wit, rivaling Robin's rapid-fire riffs and ripostes rattled off during performances and interviews. The word "nanosecond" comes to mind. Or should that be "nanu-nanu-second," in deference to his breakthrough role as Mork, the alien from the planet Ork, from the late 1970s sitcom Mork & Mindy? I was reminded that a decade ago this October, in one of his more "straight" roles that, like many of his similar dramatic portrayals, can now be viewed in retrospect as a window into his longtime battle with depression, Williams portrayed a "cutter," a futuristic editor of sorts, in the feature The Final Cut (2004). I remember that film clearly because, in my first issue as editor of Editors Guild Magazine (NOV- DEC 04) — the forerunner to CineMontage — we ran an article on it ( cfm?ArticleID=25) written by Robert Brakey, who co-edited the movie with the esteemed Dede Allen, ACE — one of her last editing credits. In the film, which takes place in a near but undefined future, parents can buy their children a kind of video immortality by installing an implant into their brains. Programmed to activate at birth, the implant begins recording their lives, through their own eyes, until they die. Upon death, the implant is removed and handed over to a "cutter," who edits a lifetime of footage into a "rememory" — a movie of that life to be replayed in perpetuity at the gravesite and for family and friends. "But The Final Cut is really about the editor," Brakey wrote. "Robin Williams plays Alan Hakman, the best 'cutter' in the business, who specializes in working with the sometimes ugly and disturbing footage that is captured on these implants that never turn off and never look away." Without spoiling the plot in case you haven't seen it, suffice to say that in the latest assignment for Williams' character, he makes a startling discovery that ultimately puts his life in danger. Ultimately, the film forces us to confront the capability and reliability of our memories, as well as the very sanctity of our privacy — a contemporary, real concern in this post-Snowden-revelations era of unbridled surveillance. But on its more abstract or POST SCRIPT Thanks for the Rememories Robin Williams as a "cutter" in The Final Cut (2004). Photo by Rob McEwan/ Lions Gate Films CONTINUED ON PAGE 12

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