Stanley Kubrick: Classic or Dud?

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lolita has this weird problem where the like primary mechanic of the book--humbert's direct-to-you narration, where he wheedles and equivocates and jokes with you, and shows off, and tries to charm you, and keeps referring to himself as a "murderer" while hoping his bigger crime will just slip through you, and without meaning to slowly reveals his total narcissism and isolation and callousness and sickness--cannot be reproduced on film. or at least isn't. i dunno how you'd do it. so humbert as a character is much more cartoonish in the movie; he's an arch, fastidious villain. as played by mason he's hilarious though. winters is also great, and comes the closest to reproducing the unreliable-narrator effects: she gives charlotte some dignity when the camera and the lights and even the story structure are sneering at her, just like in the book. and the girl's good too! too old obviously, and too straightforwardly sexual--the only way to find dolly haze sexually attractive (unless you are also into little girls) should be to come to it through humbert's lust for her, to share it a little, and that should feel weird and horrible and troubling and be full of doubt. but an early-blooming teenager is, again, the part that's written; lyon does a good job with it. the egg scene is lol.

i don't know if i have an opinion about sellers. i go back and forth on the balcony scene. sometimes it seems like a masterpiece of cruelty-to-paranoiacs and sometimes it's just dumb.

i've never seen the jeremy irons thing.

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 5 April 2011 23:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

Sellers' scenes have aged the worst for me, or at least the ones I can't watch without getting restless. But I'm sure I'd do the same if I reread the novel.

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

"a rehearsal for dr. strangelove" underrates the stuff sellers does in this movie that is very specific to nabokov's quilty--he definitely tries. but yeah he's much better in strangelove. strangelove is nearly perfect.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

(i love strangelove and the shining, like lolita and 2001 a lot, and hate clockwork).

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:05 (3 years ago) Permalink

i always disliked clockwork, but i saw it in the theater recently and it was a little better than i remembered. funnier than i remembered, anyway.

ℳℴℯ ❤\(◕‿◕✿ (Princess TamTam), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

i haven't seen it in a long time, so i'll defer. i do remember that scene where malcolm mcdowell is in tighty-whiteys being lectured (in his bedroom for some reason) by the school headmaster or whoever, and the school headmaster is this very particular kind of british-schoolboy-literature unctuous sadist with his unctuous sadism turned up all the way to molester levels, as being sickly funny; it's always stayed with me.

besides that i dunno. a lot of fisheye shots of people making absurd faces. everyone in movie is horrifying grotesque whom kubrick distances us from (compare w/ scene in book, way more unpleasant than anything in movie, where they kill that guy and then read and mock the love letter in his pocket). alex made out to be weirdly passive and pathetic for a thrill killer. total void of compassion which really bothers me. extremely looooooooooong. but yeah, it's been a while.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

like, the thing is, it's not necessary for alex's school headmaster to be an unctuous sadist molester--the movie waaaaaaaay overpedals the Oppressive Society thing when the whole evil of the ludovico technique is that it could seem like a good idea to a decent state. instead everything around alex is deranged. if everyone in the world is a disgusting cartoon why not kill them.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

although haha i probably still wouldn't like the movie that much if it were just a series of horrific murders of compassionately drawn and human characters. but that's just because i'm squeamish.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

god sorry one more thing: admittedly GREAT opening titles.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

no one did fonts better than SK.

Matt Armstrong, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

In one of those unexpected ironies, the book reads like an early Kubrick film: a mordant, funny attack on authority. But the movie is oppressive.

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

I like Clockwork least of all Kubrick's films. (Haven't seen the first.) It took me a long time, but I've started to come around a bit on 2001; after three viewings, I really like Barry Lyndon. Those were two that I was slow on, or at least slower than with the rest. Strangelove, too; didn't get it when I was 16 or 17, like it fine now. But I really do dislike Clockwork. (I know the last one's really trashy, but I'd even take it over Clockwork.)

clemenza, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Was Clockwork Orange and Sleeper made around the same time? It sort of has the same feel (minus oversized prop bananas).

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

Kubrick works best when he's given compost.

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

Sleeper's a year or two later, I think.

clemenza, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

clockwork's '71, sleeper's '73, so kinda.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

I mean, Paths of Glory as a script is every midcentury liberal war-sure-is-hell cliche reenergized (Adolphe Menjou even gets to keep his villainous mustache).

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

note that woody allen would definitely have gone to see a clockwork orange, probably to impress people, so some of the dystopia-parody stuff could have come from there, sure. (and metropolis.)

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

The great thing about ACO is Malcolm McDowell's performance; physical, rock-star sexy, commanding. Doesn't quite suit Anthony Burgess's intentions, perhaps.

your generation appalls me (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:35 (3 years ago) Permalink

i do remember that scene where malcolm mcdowell is in tighty-whiteys being lectured (in his bedroom for some reason) by the school headmaster or whoever, and the school headmaster is this very particular kind of british-schoolboy-literature unctuous sadist with his unctuous sadism turned up all the way to molester levels, as being sickly funny; it's always stayed with me.

that + the spaghetti scene were what i was thinking of - the latter is played very broadly, but its still very funny. i think it was also during that scene where i realized that literally every performance in the movie was flat-out awful, except maybe david prowse who didn't have any lines.

i still don't think much of the movie, but i guess i was taken by the cinematic-ness of it or something - which is p much how i feel about The Shining too, another movie that i'll always see in the theater whenever there's an opportunity

ℳℴℯ ❤\(◕‿◕✿ (Princess TamTam), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:35 (3 years ago) Permalink

Love Paths of Glory. Not for its politics--just for the excitement, for the performances, and for the weirdness of Tim Carey.

clemenza, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:36 (3 years ago) Permalink

i think it was also during that scene where i realized that literally every performance in the movie was flat-out awful

there's some unfortunate line of kabuki insanity that this movie crosses for me and the shining doesn't.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

Kubrick's Clockwork is definitely a comedy, not a satire, just like Strangelove. He's not offering an implicit humanistic critique because he thinks humans will fuck it up no matter what.

But like that end title of Barry Lyndon says of the 18th century's rich and poor, knave and lord, "They are all equal now."

your generation appalls me (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

The great thing about ACO is Malcolm McDowell's performance; physical, rock-star sexy, commanding. Doesn't quite suit Anthony Burgess's intentions, perhaps.

yeah i think him being the only attractive thing in the movie is a real problem. i think kael said the same thing although the only thing i actually remember is the Little Nell joke.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

For me, McDowell is really the only redeeming thing about ACO.

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

OK let's just pretend we've had a discussion about how evil can be superficially attractive, and nobody won.
xp

ACO only loses me when the worm turns on Alex, and then Patrick Magee just hams atrociously (at Sk's urging, I'm sure).

your generation appalls me (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

oh no the problem isn't that he's attractive, it's that no one else is. but yeah we don't have to Do That.

god the shot from below of magee leaning against the door making a face. which is repeated almost precisely in the shining, only the face isn't so ridiculous.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

you mean the part when he realizes alex is alex? For some reason I remember him being at a writing desk or in a bathtub, not against a door.

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

oh no the problem isn't that he's attractive, it's that no one else is.

this is Pauline Kael's complaint, btw.

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

Stanley Kubrick considered both Robert De Niro and Robin Williams for the role of Jack Torrance but decided against both of them. Kubrick didn't think De Niro would suit the part after watching his performance in Taxi Driver (1976), as he deemed De Niro not psychotic enough for the role. He didn't think Williams would suit the part after watching his performance in "Mork & Mindy" (1978), as he deemed him too psychotic for the role. According to Stephen King, Kubrick also briefly considered Harrison Ford.

ℳℴℯ ❤\(◕‿◕✿ (Princess TamTam), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

you mean the part when he realizes alex is alex? For some reason I remember him being at a writing desk or in a bathtub, not against a door.

i remember him as like leaning against the door of the bathroom listening to alex hum singin in the rain in the tub, but like i said, been a while.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

harrison ford might have been really interesting in that. xp

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

you mean the part when he realizes alex is alex? For some reason I remember him being at a writing desk or in a bathtub, not against a door.

― Philip Nunez, Tuesday, April 5, 2011 8:47 PM (1 minute ago) Bookmark

he starts out at the desk, hears alex humming/singing, wheels his ass over to the door to listen in and then when it clicks with him he starts making these crazy gnarled faces with the camera looking at him from below

ℳℴℯ ❤\(◕‿◕✿ (Princess TamTam), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:49 (3 years ago) Permalink

it's odd that he would have that problem with Williams, since the strangest thing about Nicholson's performance is that his Jack Torrance is unhinged from the start.

Matt Armstrong, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

Robin Williams/Shining thing doesn't pass the smell test: the movie was certainly shooting by the time "Mork & Mindy" premiered in fall '78, and RW was a nobody before then. A 26-year-old nobody unsuited to the role.

your generation appalls me (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:52 (3 years ago) Permalink

the strangest thing about Nicholson's performance is that his Jack Torrance is unhinged from the start

see, people always say this, and i get it--nicholson is JACK from the beginning in this movie--but i dunno, it's never seemed quite true to me. i mean i know there's that delivery of "see? it's ok. he saw it on the television." which is really like bitter and sarcastic for no reason that's even apparent and suggests serious marriage-related emotional issues. but he's clearly not driving them up there with intent to kill them or anything. he's just an ex-alcoholic and not all that successful of a writer and has resentments about his wife.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

i mean the implication in the kubrick version (never read the book) is not that he's an innocent man who has the bad luck to move into a haunted hotel, it's that the hotel sensed his preexisting darkness and drew him--he has always been there, etc..

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

My problem with The Shining -- which might be in King's novel; I haven't read it -- is the attempt to give Torrance "motivation." All those scenes of Nicholson talking to himself are so unconvincing, in part because Nicholson's gift as an actor is badinage with real live people. Talking to "himself" brings out an unattractive narcissism.

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

wait when are there scenes of nicholson talking to himself? he talks when he's alone but it's always to other people--continuing to yell through the storage room door even after duvall is no longer on the other side, or screaming for danny in the maze. there's always a character the lines are directed to.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 00:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

Talking to the "ghosts."

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

I like the part where he's walking through the hallways mad as shit though, punching at the air.

Matt Armstrong, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

after Wendy falsely accuses him.

Matt Armstrong, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

oh. well they're played by people! they're not even translucent or anything. the weird physical contact with grady in the red bathroom scene and nicholson's like hung-open mouth and little smirk when grady says the n-word. in the bartender scene, though, yeah, you're right, the camera keeps them totally apart.

xxp

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

anyway jack nicholson has some pretty decent badinage with the camera too.

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

wish i did not have to go to dinner but i do!

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

i mean the implication in the kubrick version (never read the book) is not that he's an innocent man who has the bad luck to move into a haunted hotel, it's that the hotel sensed his preexisting darkness and drew him--he has always been there, etc..

ding ding ding ding ding

That's exactly why Kubrick's Shining is superior to King's, which deals in these themes lightly before it definitely moves away from them and becomes a story about a man possessed by something not inherently IN him.

scissorlocks and the three bears (Eric H.), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

if everyone in the world is a disgusting cartoon why not kill them.
^Love this.

Saw ACO recently at a theater and yeah, it was the funniest showing I've ever been to. Also, the record store dolly shot is my favorite thing in any movie ever.

Telephoneface (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

god sorry one more thing: admittedly GREAT opening titles.

― difficult listening hour, Tuesday, April 5, 2011 8:18 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark

YES. Just a big blast of a blood blood red filling the screen, crazy 70s synth drones going off all around you. Instantly you are in another world.

Telephoneface (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 01:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

mmm, that's the trailer, not the opening. also I thought dlh was talking about A Clockwork Oranhe.

your generation appalls me (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 02:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

My bad, you're right.

Still, i love the minimalism of that opening segment.

Telephoneface (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 02:22 (3 years ago) Permalink


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