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Final Cut — Ladies & Gentlemen

The product of three years in the editing room, the playful pic consists of quick cuts from more than 450 classics of world cinema, artfully collaged to tell a love story.

Cast:
(English, French, Hungarian, German, Japanese, Cantonese dialogue)

When a state subsidy is suddenly eviscerated, what’s an enterprising filmmaker to do? In the case of Hungarian helmer Gyorgy Palfi (“Hukkle,” “Taxidermia”), a leftover post-production grant provided seed money for his delightful montage film “Final Cut — Ladies & Gentleman.” The product of three years in the editing room, the playful pic consists of quick cuts from more than 450 classics of world cinema, artfully collaged to tell a love story. Although fests and cinematheques will salivate, a rights clearance nightmare looms before the film can screen for paying audiences. Sales agent Wild Bunch signed on to aid the process.

Repping a master class in both film history and editing, the story is told via clips that last just a few seconds yet cleverly move the action forward. Men and women meet cute, take in a show, fall in love, have great sex, marry and honeymoon. With the arrival of domesticity, women cook and clean, and men spend long hours at the office. Misunderstandings surface; men turn paranoid, women dissolve in tears. War tears couples apart, but reconciliation — and a baby — lies in the cards.

While some of the extracts contain dialogue, even more depict action, which Palfi and his crack editing team time to the rhythms of famous film-music tracks. One showstopping sequence starts with Rita Hayworth as “Gilda” performing “Put the Blame On Mame,” and as the song plays on, it cuts to other sirens of the silver screen, including Marilyn Monroe, gyrating in their big production numbers.

Cinephiles will thrill to the challenge of identifying the clips as they play and will spot icons including Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Jeanne Moreau, Marcello Mastroianni, Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jackie Chan, Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Shah Rukh Khan, to name but a few. Palfi labels the pic a “recycled film” but isn’t talking about how he got the footage; the variable image quality seems to suggest that some of it was downloaded from the Internet.

Opening credits boast a spiffy graphic design by Bela Klingl that morphs the names of all the actors shown in the clips into silhouettes of a man and a woman. Lengthy end credits list each clip by title, director, cast, year and studio; music tracks are likewise assiduously attributed. A final acknowledgment that all rights remain with the authors should go some small way toward placating angry copyright lawyers.

Final Cut -- Ladies & Gentlemen

Hungary

Production: Directed by Gyorgy Palfi. Screenplay, Palfy, Zsofia Ruttkay.

Crew: Camera (color, B&W); editors, Judit Czako, Karoly Szalai, Nora Richter, Reka Lemhenyi; music supervisor, Barna Balazs; sound, Tamas Zanyi, Gabor Balazs. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Cannes Classics), May 26, 2012. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: (English, French, Hungarian, German, Japanese, Cantonese dialogue)

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