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Old 12-09-2010, 01:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

Next on my personal listing agenda will be another screenwriter. In this particular case, I will be reviewing only movies both written and directed by this gentleman. That's the explanation for the movies that are seemingly missing from the list. Anyway, here goes.

RWE's Best Of... Stanley Kubrick

11. Eyes Wide Shut - I went in to the theater to watch this film for the first time expecting suspenseful softcore porn with a twinge of Kubrick's intensity and beautiful cinematography. What I saw was a visual assault coupled with a trip deep inside the human mind: basically, a completely different approach utilized to reach a similar goal as that of A Clockwork Orange. Although I found the pace frustrating and the emotions unnatural (at times), the overall composition of the piece is impressive. All the loose ends eventually got tied together into a nice, neat package that was maddening and saddening but skillfully wrapped.

10. Killer's Kiss - Possibly the best B movie I've ever seen. You can tell throughout that the actors aren't exactly up to the standards of some of Kubrick's later work, but the screenplay is razor sharp. Thematically, it's halfway between Raging Bull and The Wrestler. Stylistically, it's like a cross between Spellbound and Pan's Labyrinth. It's a pity we couldn't have seen this film performed with the likes of Marlon Brando and Audrey Hepburn, but it still stands the test of time because of it's strangely contemporary take on intimacy and on big city life. You can definitely see Kubrick was destined to do great things as a filmmaker by watching this one.

9. Paths of Glory - What better way to make an anti-war movie set in WWI then to center the plot around a French army unit? This was the first Kubrick movie I ever saw. Viewing it as a teen, I had no idea that it was any different from the other war movies I had seen. Watching it again as an adult, I was able to recognize the great subtlety in the screenplay, the stark realty of the sets, and the intricacy of the cinematography. This movie also features one of the great endings in movie history. If you haven't seen this picture, do yourself a favor and buy it.

8. Full Metal Jacket - This is really a tale of two movies. In order to truly accept the depth of this film, you have to watch the first half in a different frame of mind than that with which you watch the second half... which is sort of the point. I often wonder how normal men and women leave their suburban lives, join the marines, and eventually become killing machines of war. The first half of this movie gives you a little insight into that phenomena. The much maligned second half of the film serves a different purpose. It's bleak. It's direct. It's about the reality of the Vietnam War but then again it's not. Kubrick certainly has some strong opinions about the weaknesses of the American military system, and he doesn't pull any punches here. The only reason I have it this low on the list is that the satire just isn't as sharply witty as I would have liked. It's a very small criticism, but ordering everything from here on up feels like splitting hairs a bit anyway.

7. Lolita - Featuring yet another of Kubrick's deeply disturbed male leads, this feature is perhaps the blackest of black comedies. Though I didn't think it was as dark as the novel that bears its name, this film adaptation is every bit as strange and awkward. If ever you doubt what lust and panic can do to a man, watch this movie. There are no ends to which Humbert will not go for his Lolita... or rather for the beast within his psyche which desires her so completely. Sitting in a theater in 1962 watching this movie play out must've felt downright scandalous. Sorry age didn't afford me that opportunity.

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Possibly Kubrick's most controversial film winds up at what I'm sure will be a controversial spot on this list. What do you make of it? There's hardly any dialogue. Half the plot is missing. Ages of time are leapt so abruptly your head will spin. No element of the production is anything less than epic. The movie that shaped a genre (Sci-Fi) continues to leave viewers in equal states of confusion and awe to this day. It took me three viewings to recognize that the true beauty of this piece of art lies not in what is said or shown, for that matter, but in what is implied. The message is essentially cold but somehow infinitely hopeful at the same time. We made it past 2001, folks. Where do we go from here?

5. Barry Lyndon - As uneven as it is vivid, Kubrick's depiction of William Makepeace Thackeray's cautionary novel is a true testament to his brilliance as a cinematographer. I should make it clear that I've only seen this movie once. I don't think it warrants the same multiple viewings that most Kubrick flicks require. The characterization isn't quite as rich as in some of his other pictures, but the way he captures the world of 18th Century Europe like he's building a ship in a bottle is something to behold. He has such great attention to detail in this movie that it's hard to find a flaw in his visual technique. The only reason it's this low is perhaps the same reason 2001 is below it: it's more visual art than enjoyable movie experience.

4. The Shining - "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." It does not however make him a dull screen presence. This movie features so many iconic images in horror that's it's hard to get them out of your mind after you watch it. More mainstream than a typical Kubrick film, this picture proves that simple is scary. Contort the fabric of marriage, toss in a little isolation, add a twist of haunting children, send your protagonist spiraling into psychosis, and what do you have? You have one of the true classics in the genre.

3. The Killing - Over 50 years of cinema later, and I don't know if a better crime drama has ever been made. It's full of surprises and features one of the most dastardly, ruthless, wicked women in movie history. Though much more plot-centric that most of Kubrick's films, full cinematographic artistry is still on display here. It's fun watching modern caper films (see Ocean's 11 and Italian Job for two) extra closely to try and identify all the techniques they borrowed from this movie. Even the subjects of my previous list (The Coen Brothers) borrow liberally from the brilliance of this picture. The sense of impending doom that builds throughout the unfolding of this twisted storyline can only be matched by that of the top film in this list. Stay tuned.

2. A Clockwork Orange - From Ludwig Van and ultra-violence to government vilification and a full body cast, Alex sure goes on quite a ride in this visually stunning yet blood-curdling Kubrick epic. Never have I sat in complete silence and absence of motion with such intense concentration for quite as long as I did the first time I saw this film. It's almost as if there are certain requirements imposed upon viewers of this movie. It's brilliant, captivating, and sensational. It will disgust you and challenge you to examine the boundaries of your own mental stability. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony serves as a microcosm of the screen play, itself. One minute, there's: "Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!" But then again: "It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

1. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - The greatest strength of this Cold War farce is how seamlessly it has stood the test of time. Never before (or perhaps even since) had such globally significant matters been treated so irreverently on screen. With the world's superpowers poised on the brink of nuclear winter, the American military's best and brightest find themselves reading instruction booklets and firing on friendly soldiers from their offices. While it truly is hilarious, the mistakes of our past depicted in this masterpiece are anything but funny. I often wonder just how much of our lives today were built on the pillars of paranoia and corruption that this film so expertly exposes. And possibly more importantly, could a blunder of simple miscommunication lead to our extinction?
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

I've got to be honest. Not getting any response on this list took the wind out of my sails a bit. These things take a long time to do. Despite that, I think I'm going to start a new one.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

I've only seen three of those movies, so I have no idea if your list is worth a damn but you made me want to see a few more of them. Good write up.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

I have to watch Clockwork Orange in the next week and I have a paper to write on it comparing it to something we listened to in class. Heard great things about it.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thumbs up A Clockwork Orange

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I have to watch Clockwork Orange in the next week and I have a paper to write on it comparing it to something we listened to in class. Heard great things about it.
A Clockwork Orange turns 50 today
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

Full Metal Jacket is a great film. I remember watching it for the first time in the early hours of the morning, I lay in bed until sunrise trying to comprehend what I had just witnessed.

A Clockwork Orange, now I'm not sure I buy the hype. I've watched it a couple of times and I just don't dig it nearly as much as the book.
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:43 AM   #7 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

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Full Metal Jacket is a great film. I remember watching it for the first time in the early hours of the morning, I lay in bed until sunrise trying to comprehend what I had just witnessed.

A Clockwork Orange, now I'm not sure I buy the hype. I've watched it a couple of times and I just don't dig it nearly as much as the book.
Since you didn't mention Dr Strangelove, I will assume you haven't seen it. Do yourself a favor. Seriously. It's one of the best films ever made IMHO.
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

I will do. It's good timing, I had to explain to my girl what the Cold War was (this is a chick with a Maths degree from a prestigious University!).
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Question Maths

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with a Maths degree
Was this a typo, or do they really call it "maths" in England?
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

It's really Maths. I prefer Math. Which is odd, as I vehemently deny most American-isms.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:29 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Thumbs down re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

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I vehemently deny most American-isms.
Me too bruv.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:52 PM   #12 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

The New Yorker has a potential revealing interview with Anthony Burgess (the writer of A Clockwork Orange) scheduled for it's newest issue which will hit newstands on June 4.

Here's the abstract.

Quote:
Nearly ten years after its publication, its title and content became known to millions because of Stanley Kubrick’s very close film interpretation.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

I promise I will watch Dr. Strangelove.

But I have a lot of respect for our Cold Warriors and Curtis LeMay in particular.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:33 PM   #14 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

As I mentioned on the MPT, I think "2001" is one of the best movies ever made.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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re: RWE's Best Of #2 - Stanley Kubrick

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As I mentioned on the MPT, I think "2001" is one of the best movies ever made.
Have you seen the 5 ahead of it on this list?
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