Director Dissection with Seanc and Rauldc

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Hey y’all!

I’ll be out and about until Monday, so won’t be able to watch movies or write reviews. But I think what @seanc said on Letterboxd is quite true - there’s no rush. I mean, I somehow treated this as a HoF with strict deadlines and stuff and there’s no need for that. We shouldn’t just get this out the way. so y’all can also just take it easy and if you and Sean have Kubrick cravings then go ahead with 2001 since I already saw that one. And I’ll get around The Shining once I’m back



Hey y’all!

I’ll be out and about until Monday, so won’t be able to watch movies or write reviews. But I think what @seanc said on Letterboxd is quite true - there’s no rush. I mean, I somehow treated this as a HoF with strict deadlines and stuff and there’s no need for that. We shouldn’t just get this out the way. so y’all can also just take it easy and if you and Sean have Kubrick cravings then go ahead with 2001 since I already saw that one. And I’ll get around The Shining once I’m back
Hope you enjoy whatever you are up to MM. Watched 2001 last night so I will write something up tomorrow.
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Letterboxd





My relationship with 2001 is definitely evolving (I know MM just appreciated that word play). Certain segments still don't work for me but I am going to try and fumble through why I think that is in a moment. What I will say is that between my second and third viewing I find the HAL segment to be absolutely perfect. It makes me realize why people love this movie so much and makes me think I could get there eventually as well. Like almost every other segment, it looks astounding. The set design and costuming have to some of the best ever for a sci-fi. HAL is hands down the best character in this movie. He is, at once, the most terrifying, funny, and developed character. I love how Kubrick can make us feel his anger and frustration just by how he places the camera on what is essentially a red light.

So my problems with the film are that I think besides HAL it completely lacks humanity. That is certainly on purpose but I think it explains why it remains at arm's length for me. The Monolith is a nothing burger. I thought about Tree Of Life when watching 2001 this time. I definitely think it's a good juxtaposition to this film and my love for it helps me understand why I don't love 2001. Both Malek and Kubrick are using imagery to evoke thoughtfulness from the viewer about existence. Tree Of Life has so much spirituality in those sequences. Just the difference between using a flame and a black box gives the movie a life that 2001 never achieves in my opinion. There is a humanity and a warmth, even in humanity's flaws, that I never ever feel in 2001. That very well may be on purpose. However, both films are exploring our existence with their themes. One gives me the warm fuzzies and one leaves me very cold. The warm fuzzies is where my love will be every time. I don't know if it's a great explanation, but hey, at least I'm not calling it boring.

I will end on a bad note. I really don't like the opening sequence. I know people think that it holds up because it's practical. I don't. I find it really bad.




2001: A Space Odyssey



I always feel my next watch will be the one where it completely elevates me into loving it. I do highly respect the film, but it isn't something that feels like it is a complete masterpiece. Visually it's as iconic as they come, and it definitely set a precedent for the Sci-Fi genre. That scene between Dave and HAL is some of the best cinema created though.

I think eventually it may get to the greatness level but not yet. It's still one of his better works though.

To get with what Sean was saying in that last paragraph, I wasn't a big fan of the beginning either but I put it to me not fully connecting the dots on what Kubrick was intended to go for. Like everything else in the film it seemed filmed magnificently. The choice of music with all the scenes seemed to always be on point.

To know this movie is over 50 years old now, it seems like this is even more of a historic achievement. Hopefully I can continue to appreciate it more. Kubrick seems like Hitchcock to know how to properly use color in his film and make certain average scenes seem gorgeous to the eye. That seems to be one of his better trademarks.

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2001: A Space Odyssey



I always feel my next watch will be the one where it completely elevates me into loving it. I do highly respect the film, but it isn't something that feels like it is a complete masterpiece. Visually it's as iconic as they come, and it definitely set a precedent for the Sci-Fi genre. That scene between Dave and HAL is some of the best cinema created though.

I think eventually it may get to the greatness level but not yet. It's still one of his better works though.

To get with what Sean was saying in that last paragraph, I wasn't a big fan of the beginning either but I put it to me not fully connecting the dots on what Kubrick was intended to go for. Like everything else in the film it seemed filmed magnificently. The choice of music with all the scenes seemed to always be on point.

To know this movie is over 50 years old now, it seems like this is even more of a historic achievement. Hopefully I can continue to appreciate it more. Kubrick seems like Hitchcock to know how to properly use color in his film and make certain average scenes seem gorgeous to the eye. That seems to be one of his better trademarks.

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I think we are pretty close in thought on 2001. That is something I didn't think I would say a couple years ago. How do you like the opening?





Lolita is pretty much tailor made for me. I love stories about obsession, and I like them even more when they send the protagonist into a downward spiral they can't come out of. I don't know what it is about these kind of films. I think that it is that obsession can be a stand in for so many things. It really speaks to my belief in man's fallen state. That's the high minded explanation of my love for these stories. It could be a much more selfish reason as well. I think part of me likes seeing stories about characters with "worse" flaws than myself. Not a pretty th in ng to admit but I think there is probably some truth there.

Anyway, I don't think I automatically love these types of films so there must be more to Lolita that appeals to me. I think Madsen's performance also makes this film special. He is an actor I like but this is definitely my favorite performance of his. He pretty well Carrie's the film with some nice assists from Sellers and the actress who plays the mother. The weak link her, surprisingly, is Lolita. I don't think the performance is great and the character is under developed through the first half. In fact if that wasn't the case this may be a five banger for me.

You always have to mention the cinematography in a Kubrick film. It is understated here but the film still has a crisp clean look that I really enjoyed. As always the score is perfect as well. I don't think there is a Kubrick film that fails in either of these two areas.




I notice you guys haven't done Scorsese yet. If you're thinking od doing him sometime soon I'd definitely join.
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Letterboxd

Originally Posted by Iroquois
To be fair, you have to have a fairly high IQ to understand MovieForums.com.



I notice you guys haven't done Scorsese yet. If you're thinking od doing him sometime soon I'd definitely join.
I am game after Kubrick if Rauldc is.



I am game after Kubrick if Rauldc is.
I don't see why not to do it. That one would create a major dilemma of what 2 movies to pick certainly.

As for Kubrick, I may skip him for a week to try to see some more Pixar HOF and I want to see Ant-Man and the Wasp before Endgame comes out.



Please do, Raul! Even though I said I’m okay with us just taking it easy I feel so behind here.

I had a small job suddenly where I could come out and film for Copenhagen Games 2019 so I took the shot. I’m serious when I say this April has been the busiest month of my life in years... Anyways, this time I PROMISE to have a review up either Sunday or Monday. I’m going to some friend’s house on Tuesday and we are seeing Endgame for the midnight premiere.



Director's Dissection

Aaand I’m back with a vengeance and ready to dissect some Kubrick, which proves to be a truly tough act to perfect. This is also one of the reasons why I find this director dissection so difficult, simply because it is so daunting of a task to take on.

Don’t get me wrong, almost all the greats in cinema has endless amounts of elements you can pull from their films and study furiously. But none so far, for me, seems so frustrating as that of Kubrick. The man constantly confronts me with his cinema in ways that I find both off-putting and awe-inspiring. The former isn’t meant as something negative but more like something so grandiose that getting a grasp of everything means that you really have to commit… like, A LOT.

But I do like a challenge, so let me just cut down the Apple tree of Eden to the tones of satanic music blasting from my portable Bluetooth speaker, while I sit back with a juicy orange in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other, writing in detail why exactly I got such a hard-on for the horribly excellent piece of cinema
famously called...

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A CLOCKWORK ORANGE



A Clockwork Orange is an odd and ominous oxymoron that combines the organic, sweet and colorful of the orange with the cold, mechanical and disciplined of the clockwork, creating a sweet and sour world within society


Stanley Kubrick confronts our inner animal, confuses our moral compass and condemns our cinematic soul with this surreal and extreme social commentary. A film that is almost too on the nose with its themes and structure, yet it smells like fresh grass and wicked herbs when in the firm grasp of someone like Kubrick – a man whose movies create quite the confusion for some and have more takes on them than he has with his camera. ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is split into three distinctive acts, functioning almost as a traditional but surely twisted “three-act structure” taking place inside Kubrick’s very own fairy tale wasteland – a wonderland or simply a land of wonder – you be the judge of that.

We begin this cinematic journey, in what is one of my favorite openings to any movie ever, starting with a practically perverse use of extreme color (set to equally perverse and power-pandering music) and presented in a majestic and “mimicry masculine” manner – all of which are things this movie constantly explores throughout. ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is indeed extreme, perverse and dominant but not merely within the superficial boundaries of the words. The words are thoroughly worked into the material of the movie, all the way from the characters to the story, its themes, the visuals and the sound design. For a movie starting out as a seemingly senseless piece of exploitation schlock cinema, it is impressive how it almost travels through the totality of human evolution and psychology from beginning to end, evoking thoughts and emotions that equally encapsulates every single element of the Freud psychoanalytic theories… for one.


ACT ONE
Alex DeLarge is very much a product of the world and society that Kubrick creates here, which is seemingly dominated by anarchy, chaos and primitive human drives – all of which relates to the “id”, which Alex is pretty much a personification of during the beginning of this movie. We see his obsession with violence, sex and perversion in several scenes of the film, often set to classical music as a comical and cruel contrast; and done in a way that seems even more extreme than that of ‘2001’. Like seen in one of the most extreme presentations of it, Alex is in his room listening to Ludwig van Beethoven, while we are shown the artistic painting of a naked girl in which the camera pans to her legs being spread but also being blocked by an “Eden-like” snake as the camera continues down, now revealing four crucified Jesuses below, which then evolves into a morbid montage of death and destruction and even more religious references; this time also in the satanic department. It is almost an over-stimulation of the “id” within Alex; the conscious preposterous provocation combined with a clear cinematic authority and irresponsibility within Kubrick; as well as my very own shameless and prideful pleasure in devouring such a high-calorie-loaded piece of luscious cinema, which feels so “out there” it should be locked away.

ACT TWO
I admit there is a sense of “nakedness” to the way Kubrick presents some the above, but in the case of the primal it makes complete sense. Things do get a tad more sophisticated as we move on, without losing the loose and unhinged attitude, which makes the movie work in my opinion... Once Alex gets locked up, we move into the “ego” part of Freuds theory, having the pleasure-department of our mind try to settle with a reality that presents us with some basic constraints. This evolves slowly but surely, once Alex is attempted “cured” from his basic human instincts and otherwise rightful free will, in which the “super-ego” steps in as the higher power, punishing socially improper behavior with emotional insertions that spurs reactions of both guilt and remorse. The extreme past behavior of Alex is now being replaced, not with comforting correction, but with complete constraints and cunning methods, which questions the very balance between social control and independency. Together with the first act, this creates a moral dilemma within us and even bigger demands to our perception of the people on both ends of the spectrum and the life we might be living ourselves, in the middle of it all.

ACT THREE
When Alex finally gets out, he isn’t merely a shadow of his past self as much as he is a projection of his newer self, created by the upper society. And he isn’t simply stripped from his past problematic behavior, he is stripped from every single behavior that makes one human. As the theory goes, no one man is purely good, nor can he be purely evil. The scales of good and evil may be heavy on either side, but if you take away one side completely the scale will break and the strength of the one side won’t have its contrast of the other side, which can otherwise enforce it. Once again, we are left to question or to judge what we just witnessed in the first two acts, and the wish of having some law and order be rolled out – how conscious or subconscious it might be – may now have to be ruled out completely. However you may respond to this, Alex is walking a path here, which doesn’t seem to be heading straight to heaven nor hell. It is indeed a middle ground that is kind of up to the audience and how they see the character of Alex DeLarge who, despite all, is not an easy person to like.

EPILOGUE
And when Alex is sitting in bed at the end, we are witnesses to the biggest whirlwind of rightfulness and wrongdoings, where we sort of celebrate the success of a convicted murderer, simply because he is also the triumph of free will in its very essence. So, while Alex has a fallback to the basic instincts of the “id”, this also creates a fallout with the failure of the Ludovico-experiment and thereby also the “super-ego”, showing us that the cure might be worse than the illness and that free choice and morality is a contradictive concoction.


Ultimately, I’m not sure if I somehow accept the extreme and perverse nature of this film because the thematic presentation and execution is so strong, or that I simply find pleasure in projections of ‘ultra-violence’ when I let them speak to my inner “id”… because once, the clash of cinematic perversion was a peak I couldn’t always pass just for the power it held in connection to a given film and its admittedly strong themes… maybe it was a steppingstone I needed to stomp hard on a few times before being able to overcome it? Perhaps I have always had it in me? This perversion. Oh well, whatever restrictions I had in the past are gone and I guess you could end all this by saying that indeed, “I was cured alright…”





Great review MM, maybe your best that I have read. You make me want to watch the film again. You also make never want to write another word about anything I watch.



Great review MM, maybe your best that I have read. You make me want to watch the film again. You also make never want to write another word about anything I watch.
Haha you’re too kind, Sean! Appreciate it.

But really, I did put a lot of time into this. Probably 3-4 hours sitting in the sun for most of the time, just chilling outside with my computer being glad summer finally really hit. Stuff like this takes time, but it also pays off immensely. Especially when you say it might be my best.

I am indeed very proud of it. Also because I switch up my style with my write-ups, and with this I definitely went with a more analytic approach, which is something that’s exciting and stimulating to do from time to time, but also the most exhausting. Getting into so much detail and analyzing so many aspects demands a lot of time, concentration and attention to detail. Or else it won’t work.


So thanks again, I hope my absence is warranted now.

and now I’m just missing 2001, which is luckily a very easy movie to go about! OR NOOOOT



Director's Dissection
The Shining adaption of the Stephen King novel, the shining example of a horror masterpiece and the shining star behind it all, Stanley Kubrick, will be presented to you in this glorious review of
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THE SHINING



"The Shine" is a sensitivity to the supernatural or the macabre. It is a way of communicating with someone or sensing something without the presence of words or any other conventional connection between the two parts…


There are many Stephen King novels, which contains characters, who has the psychic ability that embraces the above in different ways… And you could say, that with the film adaptation of “The Shining”, Stanley Kubrick brings this ability inside the very fundament of adaption and bases his starting point to horror within that very psychologic aspect. He wishes to incorporate the element of fear in a way that is unconventional, by communicating the supernatural and macabre through imagery and sounds instead of plainly writing it into the material. He wants to generate horror with the smallest amount of storytelling possible, but with the biggest amount of atmosphere available. He wants to speak to the deeper mind and bodily senses in a subtle way, which we might not notice, consciously, though we feel every little bit of it.

Stanley Kubrick brings bona fide cinema creepiness to new harrowing heights, as he without any hesitation throws the horror handbook straight into the garbage bin in the name of a revolutionary genre rebirth, making Stephen Kings novel a surreal novelty with a nightmarish and almost nauseating approach to horror cinema. Kubrick shows us a shining example of how to embrace atmosphere as a director and let it linger like a character in and on itself. The feel of the Overlook Hotel is so atmospherically impressive and not the least visually expressive, that the terror comes creeping around every corner as a sort of psychosomatic play on our minds, unfolding our deepest fears and being downright unwilling to the follow the rules of horror (or even the source material for that matter).


HE CAME…
Just judging by the ominous opening to the film, which also contains Kubrick’s almost signature-like use of lavish colors in the credits, as well as his constant care for always wanting to create a cunning contrast within his work – this time by having heavenly scenery seem like a road to hell. A helicopter tracking shot of a car travelling along the soft, curvy roads of the Rocky Mountains, builds a beautiful backdrop to the otherwise dominating dun-dun-dun’s that pound away like the Devil’s own heartbeat. It is so uncomfortably eerie that you almost feel the sweat bursting out, making you want to turn up the AC and add on the DC to this highway-to-hell madness.

When we cut to Jack arriving at the hotel for the job interview, we enter the calm but far from collected state of the movie, that slowly eats up the atmosphere as we go. We get a sense of our main character, who indeed does seem “off” from the very beginning. But in relation to the intro, it is quite clear that Kubrick set out to sow the seeds of terror early on and having us wait for the inevitable moment of which the horror will eventually strike. There really is no doubt that this is an indisputable independent vision of a universally acclaimed novel, which is now being brought to life in ways almost unimaginable prior to watching the film. Kubrick breaks down the door of a one-room thinking space, piercing the mind of the viewer, allowing our thoughts and feelings to flow freely and seamlessly together with every element of this film. I doubt there is a need for details here, but some examples won’t hurt you, though it may bash your brains in.

HE SAW…
As mentioned, there is a constant calmness to this film, yet you never feel completely calm watching it. It definitely feels destined to make us drift into the mindset of the characters, especially that of Jack, and the character of the hotel. The short inserts of unsettling images almost feel like the flashing callbacks similar to that of a person suffering from PTSD. It is like a picture-perfect portrayal of an actual nightmare and an excellent example of crafting and arranging horror to illustrative and influential effect. It is like a perverse poem, in the way that it strings together these images with very hard cuts, perfectly pushing forward the effect that this type of editing has when you compare it to the rest of the film, which often let the scenes dissolve slowly into one another. So visually and craft-wise, Kubrick really tries to concentrate this constant feeling of time just going in a “loop” or days and hours passing in and out of each other, having the audience feel the cabin fever close to heart. When the shock hits, it is often with hard cuts, thereby having the same effect on the audience as on the characters.

I could go on forever and ever and ever about how meticulous every camera move is in this movie – how it glides over the floor like a ghost and how it hides behind the hard walls of this hollow and empty hotel. The atmosphere really elevates the film to an expert level of extensiveness; painting every surface with the colors of the most bloody beautiful nightmare ever created. The four walls within this hotel is like the four horsemen surrounding you in the middle of the madness going on, having your heart galloping uncontrollably. Kubrick knows precisely how to generate this ghastly gallows-feeling of sorts, bringing home a menacing and gloomy guise of loneliness. The sheer sense of dead-silent emptiness is extremely unsettling, while the only sounds we hear are footsteps and the monotone sounds of motion, when Danny goes on his long tricycle trips of terror through the hallways of hell on earth.

HE SHINED…
Jack “Here’s Johnny” Nicholson comes in swinging and presents us with the most unhinged performance of his career, and it comes across like a bloody elevation of the already disturbing location. A true rock n’ roll performance of the century, proving that “Johnny B. Goode” is definitely not his full name. Because Jack the character is as bad as they come, and Jack the actor as bad-ass as they get. His boundary-free performance loudly bounces off the cold walls of this colossal emptiness of the Overlook Hotel, echoing its excellence and further enforcing the eeriness of everything going on. Not one character in this movie feels completely normal, which is of course a classic element to a Kubrick film, but definitely feels more dead-on than ever. It all just adds to the sense that something is always “off”, if you understand what I’m on about.

Whenever I revisit this film, I love to get drunk on Kubrick’s disturbing atmosphere and distanced approach to reality and normality. It truly is a film that finds the deeper roots of the genre end its power and subsequently pulls them straight up into the open, letting them grow far and wide as the film winds along, thereby creating three times the terror compared to a more superficial horror. Kubrick certainly brings back the craftmanship of a good scare that is well-earned and a long-lived legacy that is well-deserved. All hail the great Kubrick… shining on all of us…





Lolita



Sorry for the Kubrick hiatus but I finally got back into it today with Lolita, which after the second go around will still remain one of my favorite Kubrick movies. I like the unsettling nature of this movie, which has often been a hit or miss impact of Kubrick films on me. I think it's because I have a deep appreciation for the acting in this film.

I would clearly categorize this as James Mason's best work that I've seen so far and thought he was cast perfectly. Sellers was great and Winters was pretty good. Sue Lyon was a mixed bag, kind of weak at the beginning but started to heat up near the end.

Just think Kubrick takes a intriguing story and turns it up a notch with his directing, which honestly takes a lot of skill to not make the film as mundane as it could be.

It's either in slot 2 or 3 for me. I'd have to think on it for a bit.




Lolita is one of those I haven’t seen, so I’m very much looking forward to it. I really have no idea what to expect from it.


I’ll see if I can get it in soon so we can all finish with the big Barry Lyndon.