Stanley Kubrick: Classic or Dud?

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One of the 3 or 4 best narrative filmmakers of the last 50 years.

Accusations of "no sense of humor" several years xpost: fucked. "A clod with dialogue"? Strangelove is one of the most quoted films ever, and when his characters say banal things, it's quite purposeful.
(except in Spartacus, in which he had no script input)

Barry Lyndon is a smarter, subtler film about desire and violence than A Clockwork Orange.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 10 March 2005 14:50 (9 years ago) Permalink

haha i KNEW you'd hotly defend kubo, morbius

by sense of humour i meant the actually funny kind

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 10 March 2005 14:54 (9 years ago) Permalink

Mark's right way upthread about that Chion book, it's really cool.

I used to love Kubrick in my revering great artists phase but right now the only films i can imagine sitting down to watch again are Barry Lyndon and Eyes Wide Shut (which really is a comedy i think in the classical sense, much like Fight Club, another film often taken too seriously.)

ryan (ryan), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:02 (9 years ago) Permalink

Classic, despite obvious flaws and large fanboy cult. Surprised that there is only one mention of The Killing. And Lolita although lacking a lot that is in the book, as miccio pointed out, is better than its reputation.

Ken L (Ken L), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:03 (9 years ago) Permalink

i still adore 2001 though. kind of the ideal film for Kubrick to make. the intrinsic interest of SPACE plays nicely off his cool ironic distance.

ryan (ryan), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:04 (9 years ago) Permalink

it's good isn't it?

it doesn't QUITE rescue ews for me but if a film can cause a book that good, well done film

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:06 (9 years ago) Permalink

Ha ha, this thread also has my Mum's 2001 story on it!

Pete (Pete), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:07 (9 years ago) Permalink

i love the banal day-to-day business of space travel in 2001 but the rest loses me a bit, esp the long lightshow/travel sequence (film with a better lightshow/travel sequence: BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS)

jones (actual), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:14 (9 years ago) Permalink

2001 and B&B have the same plot anyway

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

hmm maybe the monolith is the same bed propped upright with the knobs and blankets and stuff stripped off

jones (actual), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

it's a futon cz aliens are swank

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:38 (9 years ago) Permalink

Is the Hipgnosis monolith on the cover of Led Zeppelin's Presence the same one, only scaled-down to tabletop size?

Ken L (Ken L), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:44 (9 years ago) Permalink

oh so that's why their backs are so fucked up!

does anyone know where the jg ballard line about kubrick quoted here is pulled from?

jones (actual), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:45 (9 years ago) Permalink

the zep one is sorta wonky though

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:46 (9 years ago) Permalink

(the presence shaft is a plastercast of r.plant's penis ken)

jones (actual), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:47 (9 years ago) Permalink

TS: joking with mark s on ILX vs finishing mark s's great book

jones (actual), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:49 (9 years ago) Permalink

lose-lose!! :D

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 10 March 2005 15:52 (9 years ago) Permalink

Barry Lyndon is a beautiful movie. I love how natural things look in the sequences in the castle with the candles. The battle scenes are amazing.

Earl Nash (earlnash), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:24 (9 years ago) Permalink

Barry Lyndon has the same droll, ironic narration as Clockwork Orange, just transfered to the past, not the future.

The Argunaut (sexyDancer), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:30 (9 years ago) Permalink

i've been thinking it's time to revisit 2001!

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:34 (9 years ago) Permalink

hey can i watch the first 25 mins it with you?

jones (actual), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:38 (9 years ago) Permalink

let's have a party! hey do you have mark s's book? where did you get it?

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:39 (9 years ago) Permalink

I've been thinking it's time for me to revisit Kubrick in toto! Hi, I'm the guy that started the thread almost 4 years ago. This is my 2nd post to the thread. How ya doing?

"A clod with dialogue"? Strangelove is one of the most quoted films ever, and when his characters say banal things, it's quite purposeful.

Dialogue being quoted != good dialogue (cf. KEVIN SMITH) (tho I like the dialogue in Strangelove tons more than any KS hoohah) (plz don't get all Alex-in-NYC about KS now, folx).

Also, utilitarian, "purposeful" dialogue != good dialogue, either! By "clod", I was thinking in terms of Eyes Wide Shut mostly, which is just some 3-hour-long dry philosophical exposition about booty (as I recall) where folks talk like they're having SK shove an etiquette book up their prostate. Might've been the point, to make these characters act naturalistically but sound unnatural (& I don't even think they ACTED naturalistically, either!), but that doesn't make the dialogue enjoyable or interesting to experience.

Of course, leave it to the SK skeptic to be a pain in the ass about the last film SK did.

David R. (popshots75`), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:46 (9 years ago) Permalink

whoever said that kubrick had an amazing facility with images was totally right but i'd hardly classify them as "amazing photographs," he really did have a way with moments that incorporated the image, movement, and sound (or absence of it), whatever you think about his movies as a whole.

s1ocki (slutsky), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:48 (9 years ago) Permalink

I really like Tracer's warts-and-all encapsulation of SK, from way upthread:

Kubrick's a fanboy's dream: obsessive, nerdy, reclusive, capable of constructing self-contained worlds from which neither light nor sound (nor occasionally any sense at all) can escape - but he puts you there, inside this impossible place.

David R. (popshots75`), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:50 (9 years ago) Permalink

s1ocki yeah i got it on amazon AND SO SHOULD LOTS OF OTHER PEOPLE
< /lendie guilt>

jones (actual), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:56 (9 years ago) Permalink

>Dialogue being quoted != good dialogue (cf. KEVIN SMITH)

I didn't mean being quoted by skateboarders.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:58 (9 years ago) Permalink

Kubrick's a fanboy's dream: obsessive, nerdy, reclusive, capable of constructing self-contained worlds from which neither light nor sound (nor occasionally any sense at all) can escape - but he puts you there, inside this impossible place.

Isn't this true of nearly every Hollywood director though?

It surely encapsulates the majority of losers I went to film school with who left behind their podunk hometowns & trekked off to Hollywood in search of fame and acceptance.

jay blanchard (jay blanchard), Thursday, 10 March 2005 16:59 (9 years ago) Permalink

I watched "Clockwork Orange" with my skateboarding friends about 3,479,089 times in high school.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Thursday, 10 March 2005 17:00 (9 years ago) Permalink

Eyes Wide Shut has got to be the one of the most resilient films i've ever seen, in terms my enjoyment not being at all diminished by an ever-increasing list complaints i completely agree with

i watched Clockwork on a tiny tv with a weird magnifying screen put in front of it to make it look all grainy and big, it was spooky and unpleasant but i was pretty stoned at the time

jones (actual), Thursday, 10 March 2005 17:06 (9 years ago) Permalink

"A Clockwork Orange" is a pretty bad film, despite Malcolm McDowell's brilliance. To me it marked the point at which Kubrick emphasized content for its own sake over the moral questions which marked earlier films like "Paths of Glory." Just compare the book with the film and it's obvious that we're supposed to empathize with "poor" Alec – even as he rapes that woman. It doesn't help that McDowell's performance is the best in the film and thus we think that everyone else deserves to die.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 10 March 2005 17:13 (9 years ago) Permalink

yeah that's funny because "everyone but Alex deserves to die" is EXACTLY what i think when watching that movie!

ryan (ryan), Thursday, 10 March 2005 17:24 (9 years ago) Permalink

I watched Barry Lyndon with my mom over xmas, I was surprised how much she enjoyed it. Don't even tell your friend it's by Kubrick.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Thursday, 10 March 2005 18:04 (9 years ago) Permalink

I watched Lyndon with my "mean" uncle and we chuckled through the whole thing. I think what Soto says above there is why Clockwork Orange is a good film. Technology > Morals and film proves it time and time again.

The Argunaut (sexyDancer), Thursday, 10 March 2005 18:25 (9 years ago) Permalink

Argunaut, that's how I felt when I was younger, more callow, and had seen (and thought about) more films. Read Pauline Kael's review of "Clockwork" – still the most nuanced out there. There's a difference between a brilliant film which presents attractive killers and then undercuts our expectations (like "Bonnie & Clyde") and one which endorses the characters' points of views. Great film, like great literature, doesn't endorse: it presents and then judges, or in the case of a rare artist like a Jean Renoir, shows why everyone has his reasons. But then again, there were no villains like Alec in Renoir's movies, and no two-dimensional emotional landscapes like Kubrick's "Clockwork."

And I have no idea what you mean by "technology".

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Thursday, 10 March 2005 19:12 (9 years ago) Permalink

i dont understand. it would seem to me that Bonnie and Clyde almost wholeheartedly endorses them--they are given a martyr's death even! ACO seems a little more ambiguous in this regard--it's pretty much taken as a given that Alex is a murderous hooligan and stands for nothing other than his own perverse and violent pleasure.

ryan (ryan), Thursday, 10 March 2005 19:25 (9 years ago) Permalink

by technology, I mean film itself and also the technology in Clockwork, the violence "cure."
I will say that great art only observes.
Kubrick--it's hard to bring dimensionality, or realism, into a critique of him because he's essientially a hermeticist. His films are experiential allegories. His concerns are systems, not individuals.
Alex is much more than a hooligan: he's an artist.

The Argunaut (sexyDancer), Thursday, 10 March 2005 19:53 (9 years ago) Permalink

he's an art lover, i'm not sure he's an artist

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 10 March 2005 19:58 (9 years ago) Permalink

How much of Kubrick's life -- exile in UK, obsessive -- is responsible for labeling of his art as "hermeticist"?

BTW, I don't recall Kael being at all equivocal on The Shining; she panned it as "the first pompous haunted-house movie," and for once I agree.

I think Alex is glamorized in ACO, but not endorsed. It's still a minor film of his, and really hits the skids once he returns HOME.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 10 March 2005 20:00 (9 years ago) Permalink

His concerns are systems, not individuals

I think that he is more concerned than most with systems, but that this does not render him unconcerned with individuals. I think he is particularly concerned with the interplay between the individual and the system. It is probably accurate to say that he is far less concerned than most with 'character.' But perhaps he thinks that 'character' is a nice story for people who don't want to think too much about their relationship to a system, and that he doesn't want his movies to be so encumbered.

gabbneb (gabbneb), Thursday, 10 March 2005 20:06 (9 years ago) Permalink

you're right, "character" is what I meant. Not that "characters" don't inhabit his films, they usually don't go through the standard h-wood "character arc" bullshit.

The Argunaut (sexyDancer), Thursday, 10 March 2005 20:14 (9 years ago) Permalink

re: "hermeticist" is don't mean "someone who is reclusive" but more of "someone who locks volitile elements inside airtight containers and observes the transformations". Mystical, yeah.

The Argunaut (sexyDancer), Thursday, 10 March 2005 20:16 (9 years ago) Permalink

is = I, oops

The Argunaut (sexyDancer), Thursday, 10 March 2005 20:20 (9 years ago) Permalink

His Theme is often called dehumanization, ie basic training in Full Metal Jacket is the Ludovico Treatment reversed.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 10 March 2005 20:38 (9 years ago) Permalink

10 months pass...
this site has some great stuff

gabbneb (gabbneb), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 01:43 (8 years ago) Permalink

Just compare the book with the film and it's obvious that we're supposed to empathize with "poor" Alec – even as he rapes that woman.

Is the contrast here supposed to be that we're not supposed to empathize with Alec in the book? Because I don't think Burgess would agree with that.

phil d. (Phil D.), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 02:05 (8 years ago) Permalink

Indeed he won't.

Masked Gazza, Tuesday, 17 January 2006 02:11 (8 years ago) Permalink

EWS is a heartless whore of a movie and its viewer a hapless john who pays his money, heaps praise, looks past the wear and tear and for all his trouble, is greeted with contempt at at two hours' end left with a sour taste or worse and little else.

Ian in Brooklyn, Tuesday, 17 January 2006 04:07 (8 years ago) Permalink

"But perhaps he thinks that 'character' is a nice story for people who don't want to think too much about their relationship to a system, and that he doesn't want his movies to be so encumbered."

otm, 'character' is so overrated in movies, the same as how lyrics are overrated in songs.

latebloomer (latebloomer), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 04:14 (8 years ago) Permalink

>>EWS is a heartless whore of a movie and its viewer a hapless john who pays his money, heaps praise, looks past the wear and tear and for all his trouble, is greeted with contempt at at two hours' end left with a sour taste or worse and little else.

Brad Laner (Brad Laner), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 04:18 (8 years ago) Permalink


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