I just finished watching Tony Scott's Man on Fire, and I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed by all the jump cuts, blurred shots, black and white flash frames, takes of undercranked coverage -- many months back we had a discussion here about film directors, who we thought was the greatest director working today. This type of filmmaking is exactly the sort of empty pyrotechnics masquerading as substance that sets apart artists like Scorsese and Eastwood, Spielberg and Tarantino. Every cut and every take in their films have specific meaning and purpose. In movies like Man on Fire or Bad Boys II, these types of gimmicks feel soulless. A chimpanzee banging away on an Avid is no more likely to produce great art than a chimpanzee banging away on a type-writer. And yet the overall effect of this type of editing style feels exactly like that -- as if the chief cutting strategy was to turn the camera dailies over to a monkey jacked up on Jolt cola and a few 8-balls. This is editorial style for the sake of style, cuts existing to feign artistry. They say nothing about the characters. They say nothing about the story. All they do is jerk you out of the moment and constantly remind you you're watching a movie. You're trying to pay attention to the moment, the editor is saying "Look at me!" and laying in 2 frame flashbacks and black and white slow-mo footage ... for no narrative or thematic purpose. It reminds me of a time I was mixing a live band in a theater in LA for a benefit. The drummer was beating the living hell out of his drums, which was probably needed if he was playing in an open-air park, but not in a small indoor setting. You don't BEAT the drums, you PLAY the drums. That's the difference between an artist with talent and insight to his or her craft -- and a hack. Same thing with empty editorial gimmicks. You don't edit like crazy just because you can, you edit to tell a story, and to give the audience specific information at a specific time. You don't cut a movie, you edit a movie. I remember seeing Oliver Stone's JFK and being knocked-out by the editing. The gigantic difference between a film like JFK and some more recent films is that the editing in Stone's ground-breaking opus related volumes of key information while also expressing and supporting the key themes of the film (especially paranoia). We're very far away from JFK in some modern films, I even question Oliver Stone's editorial techniques of late, although he's such a mad poet, I always give him the benefit of the doubt. I trust his eccentricities of late mean something to *him*, even if they aren't always immediately clear to us. Films cut like Man on Fire are pale shadows of JFK or Nixon. They feel like a director trying to pretend that he or she is actually saying something. The only thing that movie is saying to me is "We went crazy with the Avid trying to pretend that this is an art film". There are many, many great directors with a strong sense of personal style expressed through their editorial choices, but what makes these people great is their fierce control and assurance over their frame. Every cut, every camera move has explicit and direct purpose. Compared to the lean efficiency and precision of an Eastwood film, or the whip-crack intelligence of a Scorsese film, movies that express style for the sake of style with no substance behind their editorial tricks feel exactly like what they are -- a lie.