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Old October 8 2012, 08:46 AM   #16
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Sorry for the wait for the next review. I've been on a short vacation.

With Paths of Glory, Kubrick creates his first of many great films. Trench warfare, no man's land, the need for advancement, all of World War I, France in all of its glory. Loyalty, honor, cowardice, justice, pride are just a few of the themes this film captures with stark honesty and with a grim outcome. Even though this is only my second viewing of this film, my heart was pumping with every passing second.

What becomes a recurring motif for Kubrick, the film is divided in two parts: Life in the trenches culminated with an unnecessary suicide attack and the fallout of said attack with a mock trial intended to "boost morale."

Both acts are driven by the divisional commander Brig. Gen. Paul Mireau's pride, pride to gain promotion, pride to avoid embarrassment for what he perceived to be cowardice. This is a man who steps his way through double talk with his corps commander, Maj. Gen. Georges Broulard, regarding an attack he knows is impossible and claims to care about his troops but gracefully changes his mind when promotion is waved over his head. This is a man who believes shell shock doesn't exist. This is a man who will not take no for an answer no matter how absurd his request is. This is man who demands greater loyalty to himself from Col. Dax than to Dax's own men. This is a man who will lie through his teeth to keep his pride even in the face of irrefutable facts of his disgrace and dishonor. Only Kirk Douglas' Col. Dax takes the effort to fight against Mireau's pride to defend the honor of his men.

After the failed attack not only proves to be fruitless, but the men fail to even pass their own lines (some not even leaving the trenches), Miraeu forces Dax to pick three men to be trialed for cowardice (only after being "negotiated" down from hundreds of men and Dax offering himself up in place of his men). What follows is a miscarriage of justice despite Dax's efforts to defend his men with his coincidental experience as a lawyer prior to the war. To further emphasize the revulsion of this situation, one of the men suffers a skull fracture prior to execution but Mireau's pride is relentless: the man will still be shoot and insists the man will be conscious at the time of the execution.

Kubrick masterfully directs this film that's greatly heightened by continued presence of Gerald Fried's music that is reminiscent of Stalag 17 and The Great Escape. Film is boosted even further with an excellent cast which includes Douglas, George Macready, Adolphe Menjou, and Rallph Meeker. Kubrick's third and final wife, Christiane Kubrick, appears in the final scene as a German singer. Joe Turkel, who played one of the accused soldiers, previously appeared in The Killing and later shows up as the ghostly bartender in The Shining (as well as Dr. Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner). Timothy Carey, who played another of the accused soldiers, also returns from The Killing.

I end this review with the following quote from Miraeu: "Col. Dax, your men died very well."

Next up: Spartacus.
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Old October 9 2012, 12:35 AM   #17
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

This is one of my favorite movies, but the post above is well said and I don't have much to add. What always strikes me about it is how well it zeroes in on the issue of the faceless institution vs. the individual. Mireau will do anything to secure his place in the institution (the army) and has no problem shutting out human decency. The palatial chateaux where the higher-ups spend the war not only show the gulf between them and the fighting man, but emphasize the weight of the massive, cold, unassailable institution. ETA: David Simon of The Wire has said Paths of Glory was a big inspiration for him, and you can see how. If you like this movie, BTW, another outstanding wartime courtroom movie that has some similar themes is the Australian Breaker Morant, 1980.

Douglas is great, he really makes you believe his heart is in it. George Macready's specialty was cold heavies, and this is one of the coldest. Meeker, Carey and Turkel were good as mentioned above, I would also point out Wayne Morris, who plays the drunken and dishonest Lt. Roget, was actually a decorated navy fighter pilot in WW2.

Some people say Kubrick is a cold, unfeeling technical filmmaker, but the last few minutes of Paths of Glory are quite remarkably moving, all the more so from how simply it is approached.

Justin

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Old October 13 2012, 03:20 PM   #18
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

For years, I deliberately avoided watching Spartacus because I knew of the behind-the-scenes strife between Kubrick and Douglas and Kubrick's lack of complete creative control over the production, which wasn't even his originally. However, for this marathon, I finally decided to look past these facts and watched the film.

Spartacus is an epic film on the same scope as Ben-Hur and Lawrence of Arabia and has a brilliant cast of Kirk Douglas, Lawrence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Peter Usinov, Tony Curtis, Charles Laughton, and John Gavin. While not entirely historically accurate, it succeeds in being a highly dramatic film of a slow building story with an epic battle that's only matched years later by Peter Jackson and concludes with a bittersweet ending. It's an entertaining film, but it's not much of a Kubrick film.

While there's plenty of Kubrick-esque attention to detail, very little felt like a Kubrick film and more like the atypical grand film of the 50's, complete of the overly dramatic music. Nowhere are the strange eccentric characters, nowhere is the deep psychological analysis, nowhere is anything that screams Kubrick.

Coming back to the music, I understand this style of scoring was normal practice of that era and Alex North's score here is highly praised, I often found it distracting and taking away from the scene, especially when Spartacus is forced to fight to death against Antoninus, who he loved like a son. When I should have felt sad over the tragedy of the situation, I found myself merely shrugging the whole thing off. It should also be noted that this was the first Kubrick not to feature the work of Gerald Fried, who scored all of Kubrick's feature-length films up to this point and his first short film, Day of the Flight.

At the end of the day, I might be judging the film too harshly against the Kubrick scale (which may or may not be fair), but I found nothing special about the film beyond the scope of the story for a film during that time.

One side note: In regards to the infamous "I'm Spartacus!" scene, I never knew the context of the actual moment and had always assumed it was something that occurred during his enslavement and people were speaking up to gain favor (a la the end of Life of Brian). The actual scene is intended to be more poignant than that but I found it to be a bit heavy-handed (again, because of the music) and rushed without much of a thought on the moment (until reflected upon much later).

Next up: Lolita.
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Old October 13 2012, 03:43 PM   #19
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Evil Headhunter wrote: View Post
nowhere is anything that screams Kubrick.
I completely disagree with this. A couple of examples:
  • The overlooking view of the approaching and shifting Roman formations screams Kubrick to me. Tension mounts as a staggering force meticulously approaches like a juggernaut slowly grinding forward.
  • In the scene where Spartacus and Draba await their turn for combat, Kubrick focuses on the two waiting gladiators while we hear, but cannot see, the other two fight outside. Many directors would have shown us at least some of the first fight. IIRC, Kubrick resists the temptation to do that, and instead focuses on the main character and his opponent only, who themselves do not care to know what's happening outside.
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Old October 15 2012, 09:12 AM   #20
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

I'll definitely agree with the scene with Spartacus and Draba waiting to fight. It's a unique because in a single shot that stays one place for the entirety of the sequence leading up to the Spartacus/Draba fight.

As for the overlooking view of the Roman formations and mounting tension, I can't think of another example where Kubrick did something like this. Like I said in my review, I couldn't help but think of Peter Jackson and maybe that's clouding my judgement.
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Old October 20 2012, 05:43 AM   #21
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

With Lolita, Kubrick enters the realm of controversy which doesn't shy from for the remainder of his career. That being said, Kubrick restrained himself in regards to the sexual nature between Humpert and Lolita because the ratings system didn't exist yet and censorship limited Kubrick's directing. Certainly if Lolita was filmed later in his career (and certainly around the time of A Clockwork Orange) the film would have featured a more sexually implicit relationship instead of just hints and double entendres.

While I thoroughly enjoy the performances of James Mason, Sue Lyon, Shelley Winters, and especially Peter Sellers (foreshadowing his multi-role performance in Kubrick's next film), the film itself doesn't quite grab me. I don't blame the controversial nature of the material or even Kubrick's restrained directing, both times that I've watched this film I find myself waiting for something to happen (an issue that I have in my single viewing of Barry Lyndon and I wonder if my opinion will change when I rewatch it). Tragically, I think the highlight of the film for me is the in media res opening that's brilliant performed by Mason and Sellers.

Next up: One of my favorite films of all time, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
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Old October 23 2012, 01:26 PM   #22
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

While Paths of Glory is Kubrick's first great film and Lolita is Kubrick's first controversial film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb becomes Kubrick's first controversial yet brilliant film. A real masterpiece.

The film might be a dark satire but it also provides great commentary on both the Cold War and McCarthyis and it's amazing how relevant the film is to this day. Armed with a powerful cast of Peter Sellers in three roles, George C. Scott (even if it wasn't the performance he wanted to give), Sterling Hayden (returning from The Killing), and Slim Pickens, Kubrick masterfully develops how the end of the world can easily come to be: A mad general sees a terrifying conspiracy from the enemy and utilizes a loophole in policy to initiate a devastating attack on said enemy. Anything that could go wrong, does go wrong and yet the day was nearly saved if it were not for the sheer determination, act of duty, and total commitment of the B-52ers to perform their mission. In the end, this is the very thing that Gen. Jack D. Ripper had hoped for even if he said this of the president and the joint chiefs.

From the very beginning of this film, one can tell that this would be an unique production. The opening credits breaks away from the traditional block letters in favor of a font that looks handwritten (I'm blanking on the font's name but it's fairly popular these days). The film wastes no time by jumping into the action with Gen. Ripper issuing his unauthorized order to utilize Plan R to all aircraft within striking distance of Russia. We're quickly introduced to one aircraft that is piloted by Maj. Kong, who quickly switches his helmet for a stetson, which further sets the tone of the film.

What really drives this film other than Kubrick's great directing is the amazing performances by Peter Sellers as Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and the eponymous Dr. Strangelove. Sellers was also set to perform Maj. Kong despite his own hesitations to properly deliver a Southern accent, but ultimately dropped the performance when he sprained his ankle and couldn't get in the cockpit. Nonetheless, Sellers masterfully performs each of these characters to give each of them distinctive personalities. Each of these characters define and carry the film from beginning to end (in fact, if Sellers had performed Kong, he would have been in nearly every scene of the film).

An interesting aspect in this film that I don't think is completely explored is the trust to follow orders without question, not just to the total destruction, but also firing upon fellow Americans out of fear and/or misdirection of the enemy. The President sends in troops to storm Gen. Ripper's base in order to get to Gen. Ripper by any means. Ripper's men have standing orders to fire on anyone who comes within a certain distance of the base and barely question who is attacking them, simply assuming it's a big Communist ruse because of the communication blackout.

Due to the limitations of technology of the time, Kubrick is forced to be creative on several occasions which only gives the film a more dramatic effect. When the B-52 plane is chased by a Russian missile, much of drama comes following the crews reactions and a simple view of the RADAR. Additionally, whenever there's an exterior shot of the plane or a view from the cockpit, the viewer sees the background moving faster than perhaps it should but this gives a farcical dramatic effect to these scenes. Lastly, I'm amused that Kubrick skillfully uses a shaky camera during the combat scenes on the airbase, decades before the effect became common practice, much to many's dismay.

Of course, who can forget the final minutes of the film? The B-52 plane rushes towards its target with a mile countdown from the navigator, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is playing in the background, the crew calmly and dryly recites tactical information, sparks are flying as Maj. Kong tries to fix bomb release mechanism...and then the "Hi There!" bomb is falling from the plane and Maj. Kong embraces the moment by straddling the bomb as if he was at a rodeo. BOOM! Dr. Strangelove and his diagnostic apraxia provides a few more moments of comedy before closing out to multiple nuclear detonations while being serenaded by Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again."

Next up: 2001: A Space Odyssey.
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Old October 24 2012, 04:59 PM   #23
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Evil Headhunter wrote: View Post
While Paths of Glory is Kubrick's first great film and Lolita is Kubrick's first controversial film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb becomes Kubrick's first controversial yet brilliant film. A real masterpiece.
Agreed. Maybe my favorite movie ever, saw it on the big screen again this past summer.

From the very beginning of this film, one can tell that this would be an unique production. The opening credits breaks away from the traditional block letters in favor of a font that looks handwritten (I'm blanking on the font's name but it's fairly popular these days).
I don't know aout the font's name, but it was hand-lettered by graphic artist Pablo Ferro. When I was getting into this movie in my teens I was also into the new Talking Heads movie Stop Making Sense and, what do you know, same Ferro title design. Pretty cool, I thought.

What really drives this film other than Kubrick's great directing is the amazing performances by Peter Sellers as Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and the eponymous Dr. Strangelove. Sellers was also set to perform Maj. Kong despite his own hesitations to properly deliver a Southern accent, but ultimately dropped the performance when he sprained his ankle and couldn't get in the cockpit. Nonetheless, Sellers masterfully performs each of these characters to give each of them distinctive personalities. Each of these characters define and carry the film from beginning to end (in fact, if Sellers had performed Kong, he would have been in nearly every scene of the film).
It would have been fun to see Sellers doing another character, but I suspect the movie was better with Pickens. He was kind of over the top, but that was really part of his personality that came out in a lot of his roles. Sellers wouldn't have had his authenticity, I don't think.

As fun as Sellers and Scott are to watch, my favorite performance is still Sterling Hayden. The straighter-than-straight way he delivers some of his bizarre lines and his intense sincerity in his strange heart-to-heart with Mandrake still crack me up.

An interesting aspect in this film that I don't think is completely explored is the trust to follow orders without question, not just to the total destruction, but also firing upon fellow Americans out of fear and/or misdirection of the enemy. The President sends in troops to storm Gen. Ripper's base in order to get to Gen. Ripper by any means. Ripper's men have standing orders to fire on anyone who comes within a certain distance of the base and barely question who is attacking them, simply assuming it's a big Communist ruse because of the communication blackout.
And how do you question orders when communicating doesn't work? The movie is one communication breakdown after another: the base blackout, the CRM-114, the Soviet premier unavailable and then drunk, the long-distance operator and Col. Guano.

Due to the limitations of technology of the time, Kubrick is forced to be creative on several occasions which only gives the film a more dramatic effect. When the B-52 plane is chased by a Russian missile, much of drama comes following the crews reactions and a simple view of the RADAR. Additionally, whenever there's an exterior shot of the plane or a view from the cockpit, the viewer sees the background moving faster than perhaps it should but this gives a farcical dramatic effect to these scenes.
Though some parts of the movie are farcical (character names, some dialogue), the background and settings tend to look realistic and serious. The B-52 bomber was still top secret at the time, and the sets art director Ken Adam designed for the interior of the plane turned out to be so close to reality it was said that he got a visit from the FBI.

I agree that the determined and matter-of-fact way the crew makes their bomb run turns out great for building tension. The intercom sound distorting and breaking up as they are hit by the missile blast is a great touch.

The model-and-rear-projection effects for the bomber exterior are somewhat lacking by today's standards, but some great looking aerial arctic second-unit footage makes up for it a little. And even though it is not very realistic looking, it is miles ahead of the mis-matched stock footage used in "Strangelove's" contemporary, Fail Safe (which is also a really good movie).

Lastly, I'm amused that Kubrick skillfully uses a shaky camera during the combat scenes on the airbase, decades before the effect became common practice, much to many's dismay.
And a couple of years before The Battle of Algiers, which got so much notice for using the newsreel/documentary look in a fictional movie. The air base combat scenes are very reminiscent of parts of Full Metal Jacket later on.

Kubrick really got all his strengths together in a full package for Dr Strangelove. Brilliant.

Justin
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Old October 24 2012, 07:52 PM   #24
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
I don't know aout the font's name, but it was hand-lettered by graphic artist Pablo Ferro. When I was getting into this movie in my teens I was also into the new Talking Heads movie Stop Making Sense and, what do you know, same Ferro title design. Pretty cool, I thought.
Barry Sonnenfeld also used the font for the opening of Men in Black, in homage to Kubrick.

Ferro also designed the classic trailer to the film, which Kubrick allegedly said was "better than the movie." It's on all of the DVD releases of the film, but for some reason they left it out of the Blu-Ray.

Dr. Strangelove is a great movie. I've never been able to see it on the big screen, but I've watched it countless times on video.
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Old October 25 2012, 10:14 AM   #25
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
Evil Headhunter wrote: View Post
What really drives this film other than Kubrick's great directing is the amazing performances by Peter Sellers as Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and the eponymous Dr. Strangelove. Sellers was also set to perform Maj. Kong despite his own hesitations to properly deliver a Southern accent, but ultimately dropped the performance when he sprained his ankle and couldn't get in the cockpit. Nonetheless, Sellers masterfully performs each of these characters to give each of them distinctive personalities. Each of these characters define and carry the film from beginning to end (in fact, if Sellers had performed Kong, he would have been in nearly every scene of the film).
It would have been fun to see Sellers doing another character, but I suspect the movie was better with Pickens. He was kind of over the top, but that was really part of his personality that came out in a lot of his roles. Sellers wouldn't have had his authenticity, I don't think.
I agree that the movie is better with Pickens as Kong because of the authentic accent and because Pickens was probably better suited for the role. I simply found myself wondering what an incredible achievement it would be if Sellers had played the role, too.

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
As fun as Sellers and Scott are to watch, my favorite performance is still Sterling Hayden. The straighter-than-straight way he delivers some of his bizarre lines and his intense sincerity in his strange heart-to-heart with Mandrake still crack me up.
I admit I didn't give Hayden enough praise for his performance. It's always good to have a straight man in a crowd of jokers and Hayden delivered in spades, especially with his ridiculous lines about fluoridation and bodily fluids.

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
Evil Headhunter wrote: View Post
An interesting aspect in this film that I don't think is completely explored is the trust to follow orders without question, not just to the total destruction, but also firing upon fellow Americans out of fear and/or misdirection of the enemy. The President sends in troops to storm Gen. Ripper's base in order to get to Gen. Ripper by any means. Ripper's men have standing orders to fire on anyone who comes within a certain distance of the base and barely question who is attacking them, simply assuming it's a big Communist ruse because of the communication blackout.
And how do you question orders when communicating doesn't work? The movie is one communication breakdown after another: the base blackout, the CRM-114, the Soviet premier unavailable and then drunk, the long-distance operator and Col. Guano.
That's precisely my point. The lack of communication makes it very difficult, but we do see Ripper's men commenting on the incredibly similarity in vehicles', weapons', and personnel appearances, and I find it interesting that they don't go beyond "Huh, that's weird" and immediately fire upon fellow Americans without realizing it.
J.T.B. wrote: View Post
Evil Headhunter wrote: View Post
Lastly, I'm amused that Kubrick skillfully uses a shaky camera during the combat scenes on the airbase, decades before the effect became common practice, much to many's dismay.
And a couple of years before The Battle of Algiers, which got so much notice for using the newsreel/documentary look in a fictional movie. The air base combat scenes are very reminiscent of parts of Full Metal Jacket later on.
I've been meaning to watch The Battle of Algiers for some time now and this is another reason for me to check it out. I hadn't thought about the similarity with Full Metal Jacket but I certainly see it now.

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
Kubrick really got all his strengths together in a full package for Dr Strangelove. Brilliant.
And it wouldn't be the last time either. That's what makes Kubrick so amazing.

Harvey wrote: View Post
Ferro also designed the classic trailer to the film, which Kubrick allegedly said was "better than the movie." It's on all of the DVD releases of the film, but for some reason they left it out of the Blu-Ray.
I love that trailer. Watching it again reminds me of the The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo trailer from last year. Possibly a homage to Kubrick?
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Old October 25 2012, 04:30 PM   #26
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Evil Headhunter wrote: View Post
That's precisely my point. The lack of communication makes it very difficult, but we do see Ripper's men commenting on the incredibly similarity in vehicles', weapons', and personnel appearances, and I find it interesting that they don't go beyond "Huh, that's weird" and immediately fire upon fellow Americans without realizing it.
Right, I wasn't disagreeing, just adding another theme.

In the '50s when Curtis LeMay (a likely influence for the Turgidson character) was running SAC he was very concerned (some might say paranoid) about air base infiltration by Soviets or fifth-columnists in the US. He was constantly running exercises with forces that would try to penetrate base security. This was touched on a little in the movie Strategic Air Command with Jimmy Stewart: A small airliner calls Mayday and asks for an emergency landing at the base's runway. When it lands "infiltrators" rush out to "sabotage" bombers. The commanding general emerges from the airliner to critique the base's performance and IIRC demotes the security officer on the spot.

I think things like the seizure of personal radios and the security forces' skepticism of the friendly-looking troops were probably references to that mindset.

I've been meaning to watch The Battle of Algiers for some time now and this is another reason for me to check it out.
It's really good.

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Old October 26 2012, 12:18 PM   #27
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

2001: A Space Odyssey is either loved or hated by most people, and yet, after my recent viewing of this film, I find myself oddly somewhere in the middle. I certainly don't hate it by any means (and I admit I have much more patience with the slower moments of the film than the average viewer these days), but I neither outright love the film. However, I do love certain aspects of the film.

Everything involving HAL is especially very good. HAL has the right amount of creepiness, from his cold voice to his simple, calculating decisions. Although I knew it was about to happen, I still nearly jumped out of my skin when the space pod suddenly begin to turn in preparation to attack Frank Poole. For an added level of creepiness, I found myself deliberately looking for HAL in every interior shot of Discovery 1 as an odd twist to Where's Waldo? Even when HAL is begging for his life as Dave slowly removes his memory cards has a subtle, yet wonderful edge of creepiness, right down to his "performance" of "Daisy Bell." While Kubrick deserves credit for his brilliant presentation of the cold computing machine, Douglas Rain also deserves a lot of credit for his perfect performance as HAL.

Throughout the film, I had a particular Kubrick quote running through my head: "The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent." Kubrick presents this notion in the film in spades. Not just with HAL, but also by the sheer vastness of space, both the empty landscape of Earth at the Dawn of Mankind and in the space between worlds. The slow travel speeds, the deep heavy breathing of Dave and Frank, and the pure and unforgiving silence of objects moving in a vacuum all gave me a great sense of reality. A sense of realism in outer space and real space travel that I rarely feel in films or television. Honestly, only Apollo 13 and Moon (and Firefly to a lesser degree)really repeat this feeling and not Star Wars, Star Trek, or even my beloved Doctor Who.

With this film, Kubrick makes the leap away from a traditional film score (famously tossing out Alex North's music) and instead uses a number of classically composed pieces, most notably Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube" and Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra." Kubrick makes great use of these pieces and even uses Gyorgy Ligeti's "Requiem" as a leitmotif for the monoliths, which gives them a sublime level of creepiness.

Dave Bowman's space walk is perhaps one of the most surrealist cinematic sequences presented over the years, ranging from its sheer intense light show (with Bowman's black & white photographic response), dramatically colored landscapes, and images depicting the beginning of the universe and life itself (complete with giant floating sperm) to the bizarre and controversial conclusion of Bowman arriving in the neoclassic bedroom leading to his rebirth as the Star Child. It's an incredible viewing experience, heightened by Kubrick's imagination and music selection, and it's one that I don't intend to look beyond what I felt.

Usually I'm one to jump deep into interpreting ambiguous and abstract films (most notably in Blade Runner and Inception), I strangely find myself not interested in looking too far with 2001 beyond "the monoliths are present at certain jumping points in mankind's life" and "Dave Bowman witnessed the birth of the universe and life and then experienced a rebirth." I can't explain why I feel this way, just that I was thrilled by what I saw and don't feel the need to look behind the curtain.

Next up: My favorite Kubrick film, A Clockwork Orange.
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Old October 27 2012, 03:38 AM   #28
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

2001: A Space Odyssey demands to be seen on the big screen, and the bigger the better. On video, my reaction isn't far from yours. On the big screen, its a revelation.
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Old October 28 2012, 09:57 AM   #29
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

A Clockwork Orange is by far Kubrick's most controversial film and is coincidentally my favorite. The film wastes no time introducing Alex DeLarge and his Droogs and how they spend their time. While they are initially given the appearance of helping a woman from being raped to fulfill their hunger for "ultra-violence," they later turn beat and rape a different woman in her own home in front of her helpless, now-crippled husband. This is just the beginning of the incredible three-act story of Alex's raise, fall, redemption, and subsequent return to "normalcy."

Stepping away from the veiled and subtle sexual innuendos of Lolita and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Kubrick shows no restraint and covers the film with sexual explicit imagery. Ranging from the blatant nude female sculpture coffee tables, the penis-ass statue, and nude Jesuses dancing the can-can to slightly subtler imagery such as the Basil the boa leading into giant painting of a nude woman spreading her legs and the two young girls sucking down on large phallic popsicles, one of which goes limp and Alex promptly licks. This is on top of the overt sexual violence that's present throughout the film. Kubrick strikes a fine balance to make the viewer to feel both comfortable with their sexuality and to feel utterly repulsed with sexual violence.

An important theme Kubrick deftly explores is the principle of "an eye for an eye," which the prison governor directly refers to and approves of. The governor doesn't like the Ludovico technique, believing that it takes away the necessity of punishment, nor does he believe in the need to make bad people good. However, the technique not only proves to be a terrible form of torture and brainwashing, it creates side-effects that afflicts Alex for the remainder of the film: He becomes unintentionally conditioned against his beloved Ludwig Van and is driven to attempt suicide. Additionally, after Alex is "cured" and released from prison, Alex is forced through a series of acts that further drive this principle: He is rejected by his parents and from his home, is humiliatingly attacked by an old man he once beat, saved by his own Droogs who in turn torture him to the brink of death, and then unknowingly wanders into the home of his greatest victim, Frank Alexander. Frank initially intends to use Alex as a political weapon against the currently ruling government, only to turn to personal vengeance when he realizes Alex was his tormentor.

Alex never sought redemption rather he only wanted freedom. When reading the Bible and claiming to learn from its teachings, Alex imagines himself whipping Jesus, committing brutal violent acts of war, and lavishing himself with the fruits of women. He only volunteers for the Ludovico technique as an early out, not realizing he would be robbed of his free will, the very essence of his being. Politicians and scientists wanted to cure Alex and stop violence in general no matter the cost, but they didn't care about redeeming him. However, their attempts proved fruitless, because after all of Alex's trials and tribulations, he finally regained both his freedom and his free will by the end ("I'm cured, all right!").

Like several of his previous films, Kubrick takes a popular song, "Singin' in the Rain," and gives it a completely different meaning, far from originally intended. While it's a Gene Kelly classic, I will forever correlate the song to Alex's raping and later bathtub serenade. Likewise, I always think of the rapid threesome whenever I hear the "William Tell Overture." Following on the heels of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick extensively utilizes classical music including the aforementioned "Overture," "Pomp and Cirucumstance," "The Thieving Magpie," and of course, our friend, Ludwig Van's "Ninth Symphony." Kubrick goes a step further and interweaves Beethoven's work as a key part of the plot. Additionally, Kubrick also uses an original score that's quite unlike anything his early frequent collaborator, Gerald Fried, composed. Wendy Carlos' organic score stands on its own, while at time same time, works brilliantly with Kubrick's classical music selections.

Next up: Barry Lyndon, the one Kubrick film I didn't like before I started this marathon. I'm hoping my opinion of the film will change.
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Old October 28 2012, 11:19 PM   #30
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Another great movie, although I slightly prefer Kubrick's previous two films.

McDowell, not Kubrick, deserves recognition for choosing "Singin' in the Rain," though. He was asked to improvise something on set; he chose that song because he knew the lyrics. Kubrick made the call and ensured they had the rights cleared.
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