Friday, 13 September 2013

On Stanley Kubrick

As it turns out, I do now like Stanley Kubrick and recognise his talent. 
"The shining", as written before, is not a good film. To do it justice, I should say it's a very interesting film, with good cinematography and some very impressive scenes (especially the scene in which Jack's wife enters the room and discovers the sheets of paper and realises what he has been doing the whole time) and a puzzling, thought-provoking ending, but the characterisation of Jack and Jack Nicholson's acting ruin it. 
"Lolita" is not a good film either. I have written a very long article called "Lolita: from Vladimir Nabokov to Stanley Kubrick"- it's not that I have lots of expectations and demands for an adaptation of Nabokov's masterpiece, but objectively the 1962 "Lolita" is not a good adaptation, the film is unsuccessful 1st because of the casting (Lolita and Humbert Humbert), 2nd because of the changes to the characterisation and the plot so that the story is much toned down and becomes average. 
However, I fortunately have watched 4 other Stanley Kubrick films. 
"Barry Lyndon" is 1 of the most beautiful films ever made. What I find most interesting is how the beauty of scenery, of landscape, of costumes, of cinematography, stands in contrast to the ugliness of human nature. 
"The killing" is undoubtedly in the list of my favourite heist-gone-wrong films. Meticulously planned to every minute detail. Its somewhat messy, confusing, back-and-forth narration reminds me of "Before the devil knows you're dead", 1 of the best films by Sidney Lumet. Right from the beginning I had a feeling that something would go wrong, and believed it would be because of Sherry, the wife of 1 of the participants, with her lover, but the ending turned out to be a huge surprise. 
When it comes to the other 2 films, "Dr Strangelove" and "Eyes wide shut", I must say they are masterpieces. It is difficult, but not impossible, for a good director to make another "Barry Lyndon" film or another "The killing" film that is as good, or nearly as good, as the ones by Stanley Kubrick, but "Dr Strangelove" and "Eyes wide shut" are impeccable and original and so impressive and strange that the idea is simply impossible. "Dr Strangelove" is, I'd say, a crazy film, crazy in a fascinating way, and arguably 1 of the best, if not the best, satire films of the century. 
The other film, "Eyes wide shut", is a dream story, and it has a dreamlike quality, thanks to the music in the background, the lighting, the movements of the camera. The audience feel as though being in a dream. While "The killing" is told in a documented style and "Barry Lyndon" has an aloof, cold, indifferent narrator and "Dr Strangelove" keeps the audience in a distance, "Eyes wide shut" makes one feel as though being in the 'dream', the story, ourselves like Bill, intrigued and interested like Bill, scared like Bill, puzzled and confused like Bill. 
"Eyes wide shut" and "Dr Strangelove" are also placed at a higher level than the other films, in my opinion, because of their symbols, their multiple layers, all the things hidden which intrigue us, which arouse our curiosity and which demand to be explored. 
Most astonishing and extraordinary of all, is the fact that even though Stanley Kubrick has a strong visual style and does have trademarks (such as primary colours, tracking shot of a character, dark humour, exploration of the dark side of human nature, etc.), at the same time, as Roger Ebert put it, "few directors seemed so determined to make every one of his films an individual, free-standing work" and Stanley Kubrick is 1 of them. Among the 6 films I have watched, no 2 films are similar and I, having considered it and tried, can't even put them in pairs. 
No 2 films are similar. 

Anyway, that's my rant. Have to see some other films by Stanley Kubrick. Must. I've seen 13 films by Martin Scorsese but only 6 by Stanley Kubrick- that's horrendous. 
Have to see other films by Akira Kurosawa. I saw one yesterday, "Ran", in class. I perhaps could not appreciate it as much as I do if I had not read "King Lear" by Shakespeare, who knows, but "Ran" is a great, great film. Long but engrossing. Akira Kurosawa improves Shakespeare. 
And Orson Welles. I have never seen any Orson Welles film. It's shocking. 

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