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Old October 29 2012, 01:58 AM   #31
J.T.B.
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

I love both 2001 and A Clockwork Orange and don't really have much to add. The ambition of 2001 continues to impresses me; the attempt to convey something utterly alien, timeless and outside human experience was, I think, very well realized.

For A Clockwork Orange, the themes are carried strongly from the novel, it's probably Kubrick's adaptation closest to the original. The ending is changed, though, and I have to cop out and say that the movie ending works great for the movie and the book ending likewise. Both wonderful achievements.

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Old October 29 2012, 09:25 PM   #32
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

The ending of A Clockwork Orange isn't changed, exactly. Kubrick was working from an edition of the book that had the final chapter censored for some reason. I haven't read the book, but I have read summaries of that final chapter, and it strikes me as a cop out.
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Old October 30 2012, 12:47 AM   #33
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Harvey wrote: View Post
The ending of A Clockwork Orange isn't changed, exactly. Kubrick was working from an edition of the book that had the final chapter censored for some reason.
Very well, it differs from Burgess's unabridged version.

I haven't read the book, but I have read summaries of that final chapter, and it strikes me as a cop out.
Not really fair to judge without the context of the entire work, is it? One could as easily say that the film is a cop out, giving meaningless violence an aesthetic appeal that is absent from the book.

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Old October 30 2012, 01:46 PM   #34
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Harvey wrote: View Post
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.
I read about that after I posted my review. Kubrick told Malcolm McDowell to improvise because he thought the rape scene was "too stiff."

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
I love both 2001 and A Clockwork Orange and don't really have much to add. The ambition of 2001 continues to impresses me; the attempt to convey something utterly alien, timeless and outside human experience was, I think, very well realized.
I definitely agree that Kubrick managed to create something truly alien, which we rarely see, for that alone he deserves praise. Like I tried to say, the experience of the film is its greatest highlight.

Harvey wrote: View Post
The ending of A Clockwork Orange isn't changed, exactly. Kubrick was working from an edition of the book that had the final chapter censored for some reason. I haven't read the book, but I have read summaries of that final chapter, and it strikes me as a cop out.
It was censored because the U.S. publishers wanted a happy ending and Burgess relented. While Burgess had some issues with Kubrick's film, he doesn't fault Kubrick for the ending because he understood why Kubrick did it. That being said, Kubrick discovered the omission near the completion of his screenplay and decided he didn't like it.

At some point, I want to read the book (along with a plethora of other books) to see how well it relates to film and whether the final chapter works for me or not (but I have a feeling it won't).
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Old October 30 2012, 08:39 PM   #35
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
Not really fair to judge without the context of the entire work, is it?
Indeed -- thus, the admission that I haven't read it.
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Old April 6 2013, 12:13 PM   #36
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

After a long delay due to work, personal matters, and wanting the right time to properly watch Barry Lyndon, I've finally resumed my Stanley Kubrick marathon.

It’s been many years since my first and only viewing of Barry Lyndon, and since that time, it had remained the only Kubrick film I didn’t like. I didn't like it perhaps out of impatience for the film’s storytelling or perhaps because of how radically different the film’s setting varies from Kubrick’s normal fare. Or perhaps I wasn’t mature enough as a film viewer to fully appreciate what Kubrick presented in the film. Whatever the reason, my opinion has now changed, for the better.

A sweeping epic of an Irish adventurer and duelist (guns, swords, fists, take your pick) who is forced to flee his home because of youthful love and a short temper, Redmond Barry quickly finds himself first in the British army and later in the Prussian army. He soon becomes involved in gambling around Europe before finally achieving his goal of becoming a gentleman by marrying a recently widowed young lady with a great fortune, thus gaining the style and title of Barry Lyndon. The story has a tragic turn to it, but I find it hard to be sympathetic because Redmond is an asshole and much that happens to him is his own fault.

While the film is a British period piece that feels like a great literary novel playing out on a screen (like Glengarry Glen Ross felt like a play on screen), it is also a quiet farce. Ranging from Lord Bullingdon vomiting during the climatic duel and Part 2’s description “Containing an Account of the Misfortunes and Disasters Which Befell Barry Lyndon” when a great deal of misfortunes and disasters had already occurred in Part 1 to Capt. Quinn’s caricature performance and the endless narration, most notably after two very long and drawn out dialogue-less scenes leading up to Redmond’s successful courtship of Lady Lyndon, the narrator states “To make a long story short…”

In addition to Ryan O’Neal’s superb performance as Barry Lyndon (although at times, he reminded me of a strange mix of Matthew Modine and Paul Rudd being sad and dreary), the film boasts an excellent cast that includes famous German actor Hardy Krüger, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee and frequent Kubrick collaborator Leon Vitali.

However, what makes this film truly breathtaking is Kubrick’s use of vibrant and sharp primary colors throughout the film. One of the main reasons why I love this film now is because, as a matured photographer, I see Kubrick’s photographic expertise throughout the film. Most notably is Kubrick’s use of super-fast lenses with a huge aperture (.7!) used to capture low-light scenes involving only candle light.

Many other Kubrick motifs are found throughout the film, including Kubrick’s classic panning away from a subject and a subject slowly moving closer to a far away camera, Kubrick’s use of classical music (although here it the music is right at home), and moments that feel similar to other Kubrick films such as Capt. Feeney asking Redmond if he wants food and drink being reminiscent to Mr. Alexander insisting Alex to try the wine in A Clockwork Orange.

Next up: The Shining. In addition to this film, I will be also watching the recently released documentary Room 237.
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Old April 6 2013, 05:38 PM   #37
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Barry Lyndon fucking rocks; this has inspired me to rewatch it today. Love that duel scene, especially Bullington vomiting. Amazing battle scenes and it's just so much fun to LOOK at. My favorite Kubrick film.

(Although honestly, I do think his filmography would've been even better if he had the production values and look of this applied to Napoleon.)
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Old April 8 2013, 11:26 PM   #38
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy......

The Shining is quite simply one of the greatest horror films of all time, one that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud and one that is rarely made anymore. Kubrick fills the film from beginning to end with incredible imagery paired with overpowering music and sound effects, balanced with riveting performances from Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall and Danny Lloyd.

Kubrick immediately sets the tone of the film with its sweeping vista of Colorado landscape overlaid with haunting music, later followed by such creepy scenes as Tony’s introduction and vision to Danny, and Danny’s proclamation, “Don’t worry, mom, I know all about cannibalism. I saw it on TV” (“See, it’s okay. He saw it on the television,” Jack intones).

Once again, Kubrick uses music to his fullest strength particularly in moments where the high-pitch music highlights a simple scene and a lower pitch for introducing high intense moments. And yet, he’s most effective when doesn’t use music at all and instead uses the never-ending heart beating to emphasis the terror of the scene.

However, the creepiest aspect of this film is Danny Lloyd’s performance, both as Danny and as the “imaginary” friend, Tony. The high-pitch, throated muttering “Redrum” is especially eerie which highlights the scene where Danny picks up Wendy’s knife and lipstick and writes “Redrum” on the bathroom door.

Kubrick’s photographic past continues to shine through with wonderful camera angles such as the low angle up to Duvall as she reads the typewriter, the low angle of Nicholson’s head against the store locker door as he screams at Duvall, the ultra-high angle of Duvall and Lloyd walking through the hedge maze, and just about every shot of Lloyd throughout the film, especially when riding his big wheel around the hotel.

Philip Stone makes his third and final appearance in a Kubrick film, here as the ghost of Delbert Grady, the previous caretaker, after appearing as Alex’s father in A Clockwork Orange and Graham, the Lyndon family lawyer, in Barry Lyndon. This also features Joe Turkel’s third and final appearance in a Kubrick film, here as the ghostly bartender, Lloyd, after appearing as Tiny in The Killing and Pvt. Arnaud in The Paths of Glory. Both actors bring great gravitas to their roles, especially Stone who quickly and without warning goes from goofy to deadly serious.

Unfortunately, the documentary Room 237 leaves a lot to be desired for. It’s a mishmash of interviews between 5 film critics who ramble aimlessly on their different theories about what The Shining means (and stating it all as if it were Fact). They suggest that the film is either about the massacre of Native Americans (which is the only one that doesn’t feel like its grasping at straws), the Holocaust, ghosts being sexually attracted to the living, history of everything, or, the most absurd of them all, Kubrick’s confession that he was directly involved in faking the moon landing (a theory which I’ve read on Cracked.com and actually comes off as even more absurd in this film).

The only interesting aspects of the documentary are some of the visual elements that these critics point out, particularly the spatial anomalies that exist within the hotel itself, continuity errors throughout the film, duality, and how certain imagery lines up when the film is played forwards and backwards at the same time.

However, all of these theories and insights are lost in what felt like an unedited mess (one interviewee is interrupted by his daughter in an obvious phone conversation which adds nothing to discussion) and aren’t given any room to breathe and flourish. In the end, I felt like I wasted two hours of my time watching this documentary when I had hoped for more interesting in-depth analysis of the film.

Next up: Full Metal Jacket.
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Old April 11 2013, 11:23 AM   #39
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

“In other words, it's a huge shit sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite.”
“Sir...does this mean that Ann-Margret's not coming?”


When watching Full Metal Jacket, it’s hard not to compare and contrast it to other major Vietnam War films. Is it surreal and manic like Apocalypse Now? Does it show a good before and after image of people who go through the war like The Deer Hunter and Born on the Fourth of July? Does it give it a “real” sense of how the war might have felt like Platoon? The short answer is yes and no. The longer answer is Full Metal Jacket isn’t a Vietnam War film or even “Stanley Kubrick does a Vietnam War film,” it’s a film about the way things are.

I’ve probably seen Full Metal Jacket more than any other Kubrick film, not because it’s my favorite Kubrick (far from it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it), but because I serve in the Navy as a journalist and I’ve visited Da Nang, Vietnam twice. As a result, I can’t help but keep being drawn back to it and reflect on my own experiences. I saw the film a few times before joining the Navy and I even erroneously thought my boot camp would be like the Marines’ boot camp, but of course it wasn’t. However, ever since then, I always think back to my own boot camp days. The living quarters, the cadences (both metering and lyrical structure), the basic sounds of the boot camp world are all very similar. Hell, my rack mate reminded me a lot of Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence both by the way he looked and acted.

Even more so than The Shining, Kubrick deeply focuses on duality in Full Metal Jacket. Unlike his norm, Kubrick bluntly states this in the “Duality of Man” scene involving Joker and his peace symbol pin and “Born to Kill” helmet. But there are many more layers to it than that particular scene.

A common complaint lodged against the film is the change of pace and direction in the two parts of the film, many claiming the first part is the only good part of the film (a friend of mine stopped watching with me this time around after Gomer Pyle kills himself for precisely that reason). However, I can’t help but notice the many similarities between the two parts.

Both parts show the creation of a killer and how that affects a particular individual. In the first part, the viewer watches the rise and fall of Gomer Pyle, ending with his dead cold stare and murder-suicide. In the second part, the viewer watches Joker, who (one can only assume) more or less reverted back to his pre-Parris Island self, slowly being forced into committing cold blooded murder and gaining “The Stare.” The difference is Joker can live with himself. As he says at the end, in contrast to Pyle’s final words, “I’m in a world of shit, but I’m alive.”

While Kubrick brings greater meaning to “The Stare” in this film, I realized during my marathon that Kubrick has been using the same expression as a motif in many of his films. Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper, Dr. Dave Bowman, Alex DeLarge, and Jack Torrance all had the same expression at specific moments in their respective films. The difference in Full Metal Jacket is that two different characters have it and the viewer sees it multiple times on Pyle’s face (the opening haircutting, job assignments, and the bathroom scenes).

One classic Kubrick motif is strangely sparse in this film unlike all of his others: music. While there are a few scenes with music, it’s not as frequent as his previous films. However, when it is present, it’s incredibly effective especially in the blanket party, mass grave, and the killing of the sniper scenes. One musical motif that had been absent from his previous two films returns: Taking a popular song and twisting it with a completely different meaning from its original intent. In this case, the soldiers sing “The Mickey Mouse Club March,” which, in itself, is an amusing callback to Gunnery Sgt. Hartman’s “What is this Mickey Mouse shit?” comment in his final scene.

Another interesting aspect of this film is control. In the first part, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman is a man of complete control. He controls each of the recruits through his brusque and ironic manner, first claiming that he’s fair and free of bigotry, but then immediately spews racial and homophobic insults. However, when he’s unable to reach Gomer Pyle, he makes Pyle Joker’s responsibility and then later the whole platoon’s. This backfires on him because the platoon’s solution is a blanket party, and while that causes Pyle to be more discipline, he loses control of his own mental state, which in turn leads to the fatal end of Hartman’s control.

Likewise, in the second part, Cowboy slowly loses control of his squadron after a sniper takes out one of his men because of decision he was forced to make under circumstances he couldn’t control in the first place. This leads to another marine’s death before Animal Mother supersedes Cowboy’s authority, which in turn leads to Cowboy’s own death. Additionally, Joker loses control of his composure when he has the sniper in his sights when his gun jams in the uncontrolled moment, yet he is able to pull the trigger on the sniper minutes later in the controlled moment when the sniper is lying helpless, begging to be killed.

Next up: Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut.
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Old April 11 2013, 05:03 PM   #40
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Re: Stanley Kubrick marathon

Great analysis, Emh. I need to revisit (or, in a few cases, visit) many of the films in this thread.
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