"As an editor, one of the best things ever is to find a director that you work really well with. There are a few editors that have this kind of long term partnership, like Schoonmaker and Scorsese, or Sanders and Cronenberg for example. There’s one duo, however, who have established a very specific style together over the years, and that’s Menke and Tarantino. Some themes that run throughout their work together (from an editing perspective) are long takes, wide shots, the emulation of various 1970’s era movie styles, and of course fun with the concept of time through the use of chapters.
5. Four Rooms (1995)
This film within a film is interesting because usually when one partakes in a collaboration movie such as Four Rooms that everyone would endeavour to merge styles into one stylistically coherent film. This is not the case, here. Tarantino and Menke take the last part of this film and turn every already established motif and style upside down. The first couple of cuts are between takes that are 5-8 minutes long… each. Added to that is the typical Tarantino dialogue, where each character feels the need to tell every detail of their story, making it a very wordy and almost un-cut scene.
4. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Here’s an example of emulating a variety of styles all in one film, and not taking it seriously enough for it to NOT work! One thing in particular that worked, was using the close up as more of a tool for showing us something private about the character. While this is a common practice, the reasons vary— usually it is a storytelling technique to bring the viewer closer to the character, emotionally. But Menke makes sure that the close up stays about the character, rather than making it about the viewer. Oh, and the continuity is impeccable.
3. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
While I personally think that this is their best film yet, the editing in this film is arguably more “mainstream” (if you want to call it that). The cuts are more straightforward, and though the pace of the film ultimately feels the same as all of their other films, there are more cuts per scene and shorter takes from what is their usual MO. Another thing that this film proves is that, these largely stylised cutting styles also work in pieces that take place in eras outside the last 40 years.
2. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Here the long take is once again king with Menke and Tarantino. In this film, however, it has a clear purpose: to force the viewer to deal with the awkward situation at hand. By holding on these long takes, people watching have no choice but to be in the room with the characters. There are virtually no cuts to speed up the process or take them out of the scene. …Unless they turn off the movie.
1. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Besides the montage being beautiful and the takes even longer in this film, what I find most interesting (and effective) about the cutting is that it is paced like a stage play more than a movie. It’s as if the warehouse is the stage where all this stuff happens and everything else around it is back-story that only us lucky viewers have access to. It all feels deliberate, and consequently the tension gets tighter because we the viewers know that there is more than meets the eye in everything happening.