Summer 2016

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40 CINEMONTAGE / Q3 2016 In the analog days, you would cut away to something and cut back, which is tricky because any cut can be a violent disruption. The trick to doing those things well is to understand the way human beings move and breathe, the way the frame rate gets interpolated as you slow down. There are some kinds of smoothing that feel human and others that don't. Some filmmakers worry that manipulating a human face will steal some humanity. And I say, "Yes it can, but only if it's executed badly." CM: Tell me about the first feature you landed, Latin Boys Go to Hell in 1997. BK: The director, Ela Troyano, was an artist I knew while I was working on the programming committee of Mix: Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival. She took a chance on me. I worked the night shift on a very cheap Avid. It was a big break for me because even though the film is not very well known, it premiered in the Berlin Film Festival. And it was editorially challenging because it took its stylistic cues from Latin American telenovelas; we had to find a sincere heart in the middle of a patently over-the-top genre. And there was violence. It was the first time I had to cut a "sex- death montage." CM: How many of those have you cut? BK: Crazily enough, four! Latin Boys Go to Hell, Shadowboxer [2005], Lackawanna Blues [2005] and Kill Your Darlings [2013]. By sex-death montage, I mean that if there's an orgasm, someone's probably also being murdered. I've edited that montage so many times that when I was watching Steven Spielberg's Munich [2005], which climaxes with one, I started laughing. Michael Kahn's beautiful work in that sequence gave me vicarious pleasure. CM: So what have you learned about them? BK: Each is different. Kill Your Darlings takes that sensationalistic premise and does it simply and poetically. The character, David [Michael C. Hall], is imploring Lucian Carr [Dane DeHaan] to kill him as an act of mercy for unrequited love, we learn later. That scene is intercut with Allen Ginsberg's [Daniel Radcliffe] deflowering, as it were, and also with William Burroughs's first experience shooting heroin. So there's something tragic about the sequence, but it's also exuberant and kind of sacred — with a feeling that all of these events are somehow pre-ordained. Nico Muhly's score for the sequence is a big part of that, and obviously the way director John Krokidas got Dan Radcliffe to understand how to hit his...emotional beats. Latin Boys, on the other hand, is pulpier and over- the-top. In fact, a piñata explodes at…you can probably guess which point. Shortbus has a sex montage without any death — it's not a violent film — but it does have a piñata! Everything old is new again. CM: How to Talk to Girls at Parties is actually your third collaboration with John Cameron Mitchell; you edited Shortbus and he executive produced Tarnation [2003]. How has your process with him developed? BK: In terms of workflow, there were many aspects common to both films: John doesn't watch dailies while shooting unless the scene is incomplete and he needs to match something later. Not watching keeps him focused on the actors, optimistic and forward-thinking, and it gives me almost complete freedom in the editing room during the shoot. When we begin cutting together, he spends every morning for a month or so watching everything he shot, and writing detailed, time- coded e-mails with all of his selects. My assistant, Chris Rand, strings out John's selects and I compare them to my assembly, and then recut. Sometimes there's a lot of overlap between those two versions and sometimes the second cut goes in an entirely new direction. In the afternoon, we work together. It's a system I love — the director gets to know the footage intimately and is monitoring what goes in, yet it's up to me to work out the puzzle of the construction. Then we synthesize all that together in the room. CM: And that was pretty similar to Shortbus? BK: John's voice is amazingly consistent in both films, in my opinion. There's a wry sense of humor, a love of wordplay, a mixture of slapstick gags and erudite How to Talk to Girls at Parties. A24

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