Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stanley Kubrick

This is serious. I am about to talk about the greatest director of all time. Big words? No. Stanley Kubrick deserves the title. This week I watched the last (accessible) film I hadn't seen by the master. So now I feel I can discuss what it is that makes his films so gosh darn good.
If you've never seen Killer's Kiss you'll probably be okay. It's a good flick, just short of greatness. You can tell what the man is aiming towards and you can probably see the restrictions he was held to. It's awesomely shot. That's the key here. You can see his voice in the angles. But still, not his best feature... nowhere near.

If you've never seen The Killing you should give it a chance. Man is that a fun flick. Again, the man was just warming up. But great things are just creeping in at every corner.

If you've never seen Paths Of Glory... what the hell are you waiting for?? One of the greatest war films of all time. My problem with War as a genre usually lies in the lack of plot and character development. Well watch this movie and you'll never once get a sense of lacking.

You've probably seen Spartacus. You probably already know how good it is. But it's still not his best. It's an epic. And epics have their place. But rarely do they fit into the "most entertaining" clique.

Lolita. Oh Lolita. A push towards something amazing and unseen on the big screen to this point. If only he had the same freedom, during the making of this, he did later in life.
You love Dr. Strangelove? Well what a coincidence, so do I. Why don't we go have a drink and talk about how great it is?

2001: a space odyssey is mesmerizing. The fact that this is a film about 30 years in the future taking place 10 years ago and we still haven't reached the technological level at play. What's taking so long? If you like crazy weird lights shooting at you... it's totally your movie. If not, you'll probably still like it.
A Clockwork Orange. Controversial? Classic? And such an incredibly well directed film. Perfect cast. Crazy and fancy free. I don't think anyone can dislike the creativity on display.

I think Barry Lyndon is beautiful. Slow? Sure, but just the right pace for the story being told. Just to understand the lighting is to take a class in the genius of filmmaking.
I love love love The Shining. I think it's best with a group and no lights and all of that. The flick's got a reputation for a reason.

I don't much care for Full Metal Jacket. It doesn't feel like a full movie... in fact it has all of the faults I praise Paths Of Glory for not having. That's about all I have to say about that.

I do like Eyes Wide Shut. Maybe I'm just a sucker for strange happenings etc etc... but I really think it's a good flick. I don't know what makes so many people so negative towards it. Perhaps just the fact that it's the last thing Kubrick ever finished. And yes that is sad, but I'm glad he made it. I think he had to.

I haven't listed the mini documentaries here... and his first film which is locked up in some vault somewhere. But I'd like to take a moment and talk about what makes these movies so good.

They have a clear sense of setting, emotion, and meaning. When you watch one of these films, though none of them feel the same, they all feel honest. They stem from something pure, a feeling. And when you hear about Kubricks process it makes it all that more mythical. He would do as many takes necessary to get the shot he wanted. And it seems he was always right. Sadly most directors will say, "good enough," and move on to the next shot. I recognize that there is a schedule, and I have been on sets that have taken FOREVER, but sometimes the ends really do justify the means.

Anyway, I just wanted to follow up on my last entry with this little article... love letter. Recognizing the quality that I would like to someday attain is important. And that is the talent of Kubrick to me.


  1. What makes Eye Wide Shut draw a negative reaction is its self-indulgence and pseudo-intellectuality. It's much, much longer than it needs to be, the score turns it all into something ridiculous, and despite it actually being a final cut, it feels like a first edit.

    Meanwhile, the fact that he didn't have all the freedom in the world with Lolita is a strength, I think. It challenges Kubrick to find other ways to tell the story. For me, it is absolutely his greatest work, followed closely by The Shining.

    And I haven't seen Spartacus! Or 2001: A Space Odyssey! Or Paths of Glory, Killer's Kiss, The Killing...

  2. I sometimes think Clockwork is my favorite... then I think The Shining or 2001... then I watch Barry Lyndon and my mind gets all confused and I don't know how I can pick a favorite because they're all so good.

    I guess it's an opinions game here. I think Eyes Wide Shut is exactly the film he wanted to make. I think he did justice to the material, and I think the fact that he allowed the scenes to breathe adds an extra layer to the flick. But then again, I'm a sucker for almost any Kubrick endeavor.

  3. Hey Caleb,
    I'm hosting the My Best Post blog-a-thon.
    It goes from May 21st-23rd. Want to be a part of it?
    It's pretty easy. You've already written your entry.
    Just send me a link to your best/favorite/underrated blog post! Thanks!