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  • Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature

    Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature

    October 21, 2009, 6:16 pm
    I love courtroom scenes. There’s something particularly exciting about watching evidence and clues unfold in a courtroom scene. Maybe it’s the fact that each case that’s ever brought into one is inherently mysterious in nature. Maybe it’s the actors portraying lawyers as the epitome of a battle between good and evil. Or maybe it’s just fun to watch people argue. In any case, no one can ever help but feel sorry for the person in the chair who gets the tough cross examination. ...unless he’s guilty.



    Criteria

    -Witness must be proven wrong about the situation or a liar due to cross-exam
    -Effective choice of shots in a sequence to amp up drama and tension
    -Timing in cuts not only reflects the pressure but adds to it
    Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature
    5. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

    Just when you thought this movie was about the adventures of a 6-year-old tomboy, you realise that it is actually a socially driven courtroom drama. The trial is not only a great scene because of the content and Cary Grant’s strong performance, but it is also a good example of an effective cross-examination. Unfortunately on the editing side, it is driven more by the content and performance than the image, and there are some noticeable continuity issues. The shots chosen are effective, going in close during pivotal lines and speeches, not to mention that visually it picks up on Eisenstein’s montage theory, but I feel that it could actually have been edited further to amp up the emotion even more. Then again I don’t know what there was to work with in the first place...
    Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature
    4. Paths of Glory (1957)

    You don’t even have to know that this is a Kubrick film to know that it’s a Kubrick film. He tosses the idea of subtly moving the viewer’s eye right out the window and the timing is slow—just to the brink of it being too much without it being too much. With your eye jumping all over the screen from cut to cut and the constant "oh my god next cut already!!" thoughts going through your head, it’s amazing to me that it works as well as it does. I think the biggest reason why there’s so much tension in the scene is because of the long takes and eye jumping. That’s certainly one way to do it... and it also doesn’t help that the defendants always have a Dr. Strangelove-esque facial expression all through their cross-exams.
    Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature
    3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

    This film technically doesn’t fit the criteria 100%, but the opening sequence is close enough and good enough to make an exception. The key to understanding why he gets sent to prison in the first place is in the long reaction shots of Tim Robbins where he is completely and utterly stone cold. This is also the only cross-examination that intercuts flashbacks, but it does so in an unobtrusive and informative way, keeping the slow and still shot choices next to one another. If Richard Francis-Bruce decided not to hold for as long as he did, the viewers probably would have had a different first impression of Robbins’ character for the rest of the movie, thusly affecting how we perceive his development as a character throughout the film.
    Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature
    2. My Cousin Vinny (1992)

    As dorky as this film is, I found a new appreciation for the editing on my research this week. Tony Lombardo and Stephen E. Rivkin managed to keep the cross-examinations filled with tension and mystery all the while keeping an ultimately goofy dialogue afloat. While watching you find yourself trying to stifle the laughter so that you can try to focus on the tension that you are simultaneously feeling. In your best Pesci voice: "Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than in any place on the face of the earth?!"
    Top 5 Courtroom Cross Examinations in a Feature
    1. A Few Good Men (1992)

    If you ever want the pants scared off of your body, then you can always count on a movie involving Jack Nicholson yelling at someone to do the trick. However, in this case, it is even more terrifying because the editing is so effective. Yes, it’s smooth and you don’t really notice it (as in the best editing should be), but when you’re paying attention to it specifically you can see why it’s so effective and why you start to tingle with the same nervous sweat that Tom Cruise’s character gets. Each cut gets a little closer to Nicholson’s face, and while this is largely a product of shooting it like that, the timing in which Robert Leighton and Steven Nevius chooses to cut back and forth with is impeccable. Faster and faster, closer and closer, until BAM! Angry Jack Nicholson in your face!!!

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  • Other Postings By Member
    • Light Sabre Battles! (v)
      EDITING

      Light Sabre Battles! (v)

      January 18, 2012, 3:00 pm
      As an interesting note, it was conveniently blocked by FOX just as the internet is on blackout strike today in solidarity against SOPA. American friends, please be aware that if SOPA passes, videos like this where I attempt to teach about film editing in a fun way will not be available anymore, even if I am in compliance with the Fair Use clause— in fact, I could be shut down, fined, and/or jailed without due process. If you like the internet and the ability to find information freely and easily, please educate yourself about this bill, and do whatever you can to stop it from passing!

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    • Top 5 Marx Brothers Films
      EDITING

      Top 5 Marx Brothers Films

      January 4, 2012, 1:19 pm
      First EDL of the new year up! Marx brothers, see? nyaah!

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    • Top 5 Moment of Despair Scenes in a Xmas film (v)
      EDITING

      Top 5 Moment of Despair Scenes in a Xmas film (v)

      December 14, 2011, 4:44 pm
      Have a video version of my very first Christmas blog, the best edited Moments of Despair in a Christmas film!

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    • Top 5 Scenes With a Steam Engine
      EDITING

      Top 5 Scenes With a Steam Engine

      November 30, 2011, 11:29 am
      Check out this week's EDL, featuring the top 5 edited scenes with steam engines!

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    • Top 5 Edited Dinosaur Attack Scenes!
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Dinosaur Attack Scenes!

      November 16, 2011, 1:28 pm
      I know I've covered this one in the past, but with the new video format I feel like I can really do some of previous written blogs justice. This one especially!

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    • Top 5 Scenes on a Mountaintop
      EDITING

      Top 5 Scenes on a Mountaintop

      November 3, 2011, 1:54 pm
      Vlog number 3! Scenes on a mountain. See my epic climbing skills (not)...

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    • Top five scenes in a Mad Max film!
      EDITING

      Top five scenes in a Mad Max film!

      October 19, 2011, 1:19 pm
      In Vlog number 2 of the Edit Decision List, I look at the best edited scenes in a Mad Max Movie, as well as manage to completely butcher an Australian accent.

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    • Top 5 Edited Die Hard Scenes
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Die Hard Scenes

      October 5, 2011, 12:07 pm
      My very first vlog covers the top 5 scenes in a Die Hard movie!

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    • Top 5 edited scenes in Metropolis
      EDITING

      Top 5 edited scenes in Metropolis

      September 21, 2011, 4:25 pm
      Metropolis is one of the most influential science fiction films of all time, and it's obvious that the editing has a lot to do with it. The expressive nature of the acting is superbly juxtaposed with epically framed shots in such a way that story isn't only easy to follow, but really fun to watch!

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    • Top 5 Back to the Future Scenes
      EDITING

      Top 5 Back to the Future Scenes

      September 7, 2011, 12:16 pm
      Great scott! I must've blown a hole in the space-time continuum with my 1.21 "Jiggawatt" blog entry…

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