stanley kubrick

The Shining

Year: 1980
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Stephen King (novel) Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie really features the best of both worlds. It’s a movie directed by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time based on a book written by one of the most popular horror writers of all time. This turned out to not be such a perfect marriage between Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King but it’s still hard to argue with the final product.

This movie was made by a true master of his trade and you can see that from the very onset of the film. The panning shot of the horizon as the car drives toward the hotel is both breathtaking and eerie with the musical overtone. This is largely hailed as one of the greatest horror films ever made and I think this intro sets the tone for a scary film. The stillness of the camera as it rolls over the scenery is particularly impressive. The perfection of Stanley Kubrick really shines through this movie from beginning to end. It’s an aesthetically pleasing movie with it’s incredible set designs and contrasting colors. Nearly every shot of this movie is filled with color almost like it was painted for the screen. Kubrick was an artist and you can see that in all his films; a truly one of a kind filmmaker.

While this movie is considered one of the best horror films ever made there is one strong opinion to the contrary. The author of the book, Stephen King, absolutely hated the movie and spent years bashing it before he was contractually silenced in order to make his own version. He has a lot of problems with the movie and is on record saying he has no idea what people find scary about it. The truth is that it was his baby and a new step daddy raised it into something different than King had in mind. He did not like the casting of either Jack Nicholson or Shelley Duvall. He specifically hated Duvall as she was the exact opposite of the character he wrote and he felt like Nicholson’s Jack was crazy from the get go rather than having a slow descent into madness as in the book. As far as King is concerned it’s far scarier for a Jack who is actually a loving and caring father to go crazy rather than a Jack who seems sort of already crazy when the movie starts. The hotel itself is the real villain, and Nicholson’s performance makes Jack the primary villain as opposed to merely a weapon of the evil hotel.

Jack Nicholson is truly magnificent in this movie, the true face of a madman. It’s easy to see why King hated the part because in the Jack is obviously a little crazy from the beginning. It seems a bit obvious in the scene on the ride to the hotel with his family. Nicholson really comes off as if he is suppressing rage throughout the whole scene. It may not have been how King envisioned the part for the adaptation but it is hard to argue with Nicholson’s performance. He does appear a bit crazy from the get go but when he starts delving farther into madness he is truly terrifying.

On the other hand I don’t understand why they ever cast Shelley Duvall in the role of Wendy. Not only did she not even come close to resembling the original character but she is simply awful. Her acting simply isn’t on par with the others in this movie and she is legitimately annoying throughout the entire film. Kubrick wanted her for the part because he wanted a weak and vulnerable Wendy, and to ensure he got one he bullied her relentlessly during filming. She appears so on edge throughout the film because she actually was on edge in real life working under Kubrick. I find her to be too weak and vulnerable though. It’s off putting, she is the weak link in this otherwise fantastic movie.

This was practically the only thing that Danny Lloyd ever did as an actor. He made one appearance in a TV film before retiring as an actor at the age of 9. It is unfortunate because he did such a compelling job in this movie that it would have been interesting to see what else he was capable of. He came up with the finger thing for Tony on his own and I think it was a really effective tool to have stumbled across. I have always thought that this little kid talking to his finger in that creepy voice was part of what made the film so scary. Due to his young age Danny wasn’t actually privy to what the movie he was making was about and Kubrick managed to get him through the film without him ever realizing that he was making a horror film. He remained under the impression throughout filming that he was filming a drama about a family that lived in a hotel.

One of my favorite performances in the movie is that of Scatman Crothers, who just embodied everything I had imagined for the character when I read the book. This was a hard movie on him at age 70 and his friend Jack Nicholson actually had to smooth things over with him multiple times. Kubrick is notorious for taking several takes of everything and he at one point nearly brought Crothers to tears after an unreasonable amount of takes in which Crothers seemingly could not please the director. If I’m not mistaken it was the airplane scene in which he simply asks the stewardess when they will be arriving. After an insane amount of takes Crothers looked at Kubrick and asked him what he wanted, to which Kubrick replied “I want you to do it right.”

Of all the movies we have reviewed this October this is the only one so far that fits with the season. The other horror movies have all been disappointing or flawed in some aspect but this one is legit. Whether King liked it or not it’s still a great movie that offers plenty of entertainment. He might have not found it scary but there are plenty of people who disagree with him. Personally I don’t find it too scary but entertaining none the less and it has the feel of a horror film. Horror films simply aren’t made with this quality of filmmaker and cast. It’s what makes this movie exceptional. King’s version of the film has it’s merits but it will never stand up against what Stanley Kubrick was able to do. I would easily recommend this movie to watch during Halloween season, it’s worth your time.

As a side note there is an interesting conspiracy theory attached to this film that is enough to make you question things. Check it out below and leave a comment with your thoughts if you feel so inclined.

Did Stanley Kubrick film the moon landing? I don’t know but while the whole the conspiracy theory surrounding this movie has been debunked I still find it to be quite interesting. I do not know if the moon landing was real or not and truthfully I have never cared. I’m not big on conspiracy theories because they simply encourage the foolish, and things are never quite so theatrical in real life. Yet there are certain differences in this movie from the book that have always befuddled me. Specifically the 237 room number makes me wonder. The number 217 was used in the book and it is specifically a Stephen King thing to use numbers that add up to 19. It’s change in the movie was apparently a request by the hotel so people didn’t get spooked by a real room within the hotel but if it actually correlates with the distance to the moon then it is a fascinating coincidence. While I have no interest in the conspiracy theory I do think if a director was hired to do it Stanley Kubrick would have been the one chosen. Kubrick was arguably the greatest filmmaker of all time and he was so intelligent that the theory makes me wonder. Is it a coincidence or was Kubrick actually trying to tell us something? I’ll let you decide, check out the video below and take a trip down the rabbit hole.

 

 

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A Clockwork Orange

Year: 1971
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Stanley Kubrick (screenplay) Anthony Burgess (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have been on a Stanley Kubrick kick lately and watching many of his films.  It has brought me to this one, a film I haven’t seen in over ten years. As a teen that liked to walk the fine line this was obviously a movie that drew my attention; it drew the attention of all of us that walked that line even 30 years after its release.  I remember that despite my appreciation for this type of film at that tender and influential age that this movie seemed too much for me.  I found value in so much that was inappropriate at that time but this film was more than I could stomach.  I have since considered it an enigma and it had a sort of taboo quality to it.  Now, for the first time since I was a teenager I am revisiting the film.

I can never love this movie because I find the rape scenes too disturbing but despite that I could never deny how incredible of a film it is.  What a wickedly sexual film. Only Stanley Kubrick could have made it.  What other director out there would have the balls to do such a thing? Has there ever in all the history of film been a man bold enough to have his star fight off a woman with a porcelain penis before killing her with it? Where did the man even find all the props for this film? The suggestive art was easy but where did the Jesus quartet come from? This is typical of Kubrick in truth but this is far and away the most pervasive sexuality I have seen in one of his films, and I’m considering his last film when saying so. The sexuality is pervasive but effective nonetheless.  It’s what makes this movie stand out.  It’s what made me think it would be so cool to watch when I was a teen.  I can only hope I’m not the only teen that found it to be too vile and offensive.  To think any of them out there are identifying and being influenced by it is an alarming thought. The extreme nature of the film can leave a lasting impression and to an extent overshadow what is otherwise a work of art.  Stanley Kubrick was one of the most compelling filmmakers of all time and the body of work he left behind is incredible.  This movie as much as any shows his talent and boldness as a director and filmmaker.

I wrote everything above a couple of weeks ago when I was watching the film and my feelings have changed after mulling it over in that time.  In the oddest way I simply haven’t been able to get the film out of my head.  The magic of a Kubrick film right? The kind of film that leaves an impression on its viewer. The type that gets into your head and swirls around till your entire perception of it has changed.  I approached this film in a negative way and too early felt repulsed by the graphic break-in scene again, just as I had when I was younger.  Nevertheless I persevered and appreciated the film more in the end.  I didn’t love it then but simply marveled at what a great filmmaker Kubrick was.  As the past two weeks have progressed I have come to feel so differently.  I keep re-watching scenes in my mind just as our dear narrator would “viddy” films in his own mind.  The more I have thought about the movie the more I have come to like it in ways I never would have imagined.  I am still bothered by the rape scene because it is awful but I can overlook it now in light of becoming aware to the larger greatness of the film. I now feel like I love so much about this movie.  I love the strange dialogue, which Amber and I only understood once turning on subtitles; I love the boldness, the perversion, and the wickedness of the world that it conveys.  This movie is wicked, but this is a wicked world we live in and I think that Kubrick understood that about this world.

One of the things that really makes this film terrific is the performance of Malcolm McDowell. As Alex, or 6655321, McDowell played the greatest part of his career.  He has the most evil smile I have ever seen and his delivery of the slang dialogue is flawless.  One of my favorite scenes in the film is the awkward one in which he returns home after being released from prison.  He stands there so strangely casual with his parents for the longest time before inquiring about the random guy sitting in the room that nobody has mentioned yet.  ” Hey dad, there’s a strange fella sittin’ on the sofa munchy-wunching lomticks of toast.” The slang that he is speaking is a combination of languages called Nadsat.  It’s much easier to read than to listen to and once we turned on the subtitles for this film we got more out of it. It’s a fascinating language in truth and it makes the film interesting as much as anything else about it.  A truly unique dialogue that sets the film apart, but so much about this movie sets it apart from others.

I have let this review sit too long now and the movie isn’t as fresh on my mind.  As much as Amber and I both enjoyed it I’m going to leave this one as is for now instead of watching the film again.  I will undoubtedly be watching the film again in the future and may put some more thoughts about it down then.  Otherwise until that time don’t waste your time reading what I have to say when you could be watching this movie yourself.  This is a crazy one and once you get through the worst parts of it you will see a film that is as complete and incredible as any that has ever been made.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan wouldn’t watch this movie for the longest time. All he knew for sure was that they raped someone and he said it was too horrific to watch again. There are other films like that too, Reqiuem for a Dream, The Exorcist. I am sure, eventually; we will see all of those as well. Having now finally watched A Clockwork Orange, I have to say that I was incredibly blown away. I honestly feel like Kubrick was immensely ahead of his time. I could only imagine the craziness that he could create with today’s technologies. But then again, it’s hard to tell if he would be considered special in today’s time. But back then….he was a genus. Ryan has always said he was off put but how bad they are, and believe me, they are…but it is nothing we haven’t seen done. I think it was new and considered risky back then. I also was intrigued with the whole trying to correct his brain thing. Having just read A Brave New World, it reminds me that these things don’t always work. And of course it doesn’t here. Sometimes, evil is just evil.

aclockworkorange_poster

I like the simplicity here. The use of negative space is so refreshing. Like I can breathe while looking at it. I like the way the character is sort of breaking out of the mold of the A, and also metaphorically in the film and in time. The cue ball is an eye ball which alludes to the evil within. The font, although wouldn’t be used today is very iconic for its time. I am equally pleased with the movie and poster.

Full Metal Jacket

Year: 1987
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Gustov Hasford (novel) Stanley Kubrick, Gustov Hasford, and Michael Herr (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I think this is a perfect movie. It is Stanley Kubrick‘s masterpiece. There are many movies that I love and many that I will say are great but there aren’t many I ever call perfect. This is one of the ones I do though; it is an incredible film on a level above all others I describe that way. This movie means something where so many mean nothing. It has a purpose that transcends everything that most movies are made for. This movie will be forever remembered and loved because it is special, because Stanley Kubrick is an amazing filmmaker and because it tells a different story about the war.

Admittedly this is a movie I never understood until I actually understood The Vietnam War. I studied history in college and took an entire class specifically about the war. It was after that class that I revisited this film and recognized how great it really was. Before that I remembered always giving up during the half way point where the story goes from boot camp to Vietnam and the story seems to change so dramatically. The film almost feels like a comedy for the first half during the boot camp section but once it moves overseas it moves like the experience of those men. It changed dramatically, it became real, and it became something those of us that weren’t there could never understand. The first time I saw this movie I knew nothing about the Tet Offensive, or anything at all about the Vietnam War for that matter. I would imagine that everything after the boot camp half of the movie must be confusing to a viewer who doesn’t know anything about the Tet Offensive. For those that don’t know, the Tet Offensive was a major coordinated offensive counter strike from the Vietcong on a major Vietnam holiday during the war in 1968. At the time Americans were under the impression we were winning the war, but suddenly there was a major nationwide attack that changed everything. This movie eventually settles around that event and it is important to understand what actually happened when watching this film. The Tet Offensive occurred in 1968 during the Tet holiday in Vietnam in which no fighting was supposed to be done. It was a serious coordinated offensive attack all over North and South Vietnam that caught US and South Vietnamese forces by surprise and hit hard. It happened during a time the war was still developing for people back home in the US and many people were under the impression the Vietcong was nothing to worry about and we were beating them. The Tet Offensive proved not only that we weren’t easily defeating the Vietcong but that they were in fact a serious opponent as well. It then went on to take the war to the next step that would go on for another four years or so. The Tet Offensive was a significant event in The Vietnam War and I would suggest that anybody interested do further research about it because I am just getting this information from memory. The Vietnam War overall has a really fascinating history that everybody can learn from, I would suggest anybody and everybody to read about that war.

From the very beginning of this film you can see how great it is. I love the opening with all the recruits having their hair shaved off. They all have such different kinds of hair and hairstyles and they all begin to look so similar without them. It suggests the loss of identity, they are in the first stage of being stripped of who they are and molded into something different. The Marines are masters at making men into machines and this movie gives us a window into what it was like during the 60s. The fact that they are Marines at all makes this a different Vietnam film and that was something else I never understood when I was younger. Men were drafted into the Army prior to and during the Vietnam War, but not the Marines. The men we see in this film weren’t drafted, they volunteered to go, and it was their decision. That changes everything about this movie and their war experience in general. I think the strangest thing is that a guy like Private Pile was even able to get in, but there are probably men finding they aren’t cut out for what they decided to do every day in the Marines.

Private Pile’s role in the movie is very interesting and the part is played well by Vincent D’Onofrio. His character’s inability to get with the program is something that happens all of the time and this movie offers a great opportunity to see an example of it. The marines are tough, you get that seeing this movie if you don’t already know it, and some men just aren’t cut out for it. Private Pile obviously didn’t have what it took but the Marines don’t accept failure as an option. His drill instructor only got harder and harder on him until those efforts proved fruitless and then he made the whole squad suffer in his place. That led to the hazing that we see with the soap wrapped in towels. I think that scene is incredible because you can see that Joker knows he shouldn’t join in, but his own frustrations with Pile overcome him and he ultimately gives Pile the worst beating of anybody. When Pile actually goes crazy it’s clear that it was only a matter of time and it turns into such a dramatic and hard hitting scene.

A major part of what made the first half of the film so great was the performance of R. Lee Ermey. He brought his own personal experience to the role and made it so much more real for the viewer. Ermey spent over a decade as part of the Marines and rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He actually served for over a year in Vietnam during his service so I’m sure he his opinion had a lot of weight during filming. Although there is no telling how suggestions were taken on a Stanley Kubrick set. Ermey’s role was so incredible that his career ballooned afterwards and he is still popular today. He is an interesting and enigmatic actor who I have always liked; he has such a unique and intimidating voice. He is perfect for so many roles.

Once the story goes into Vietnam we see such a different film because it is such a different world over there.  The men over there are all half mad, and the ones that aren’t half mad are totally bat shit crazy.  These were young men that went overseas to fight that war and they went into quite a mess.  They entered a world full of death and uncertainty.  Eventually they begin to question what they are even doing there because they don’t know anymore. They are told they are there to help the South Vietnamese gain their freedom from the Communist but more often than not they find themselves fighting the men that they are supposed to be there to help.  This was a common problem in Vietnam because the South Vietnamese troops were just as likely to turn around and fight the Americans as they were to fight the enemy.  This makes the whole purpose of the war confusing to the soldiers in the field and eventually they all have to question why they are there.  The one thing that they all do know for certain is that they are there to kill, and that is what they do, but it makes them crazier and crazier as time passes. With the individual interviews you see being recorded in the film you get a wide range of opinions about the war from the people involved.  It’s also really interesting to see how the craziest ones (Animal Mother) can put on a nice face for the cameras.

The individual interviews were a really incredible part of the movie because they are so informative but they can also be confusing to people who know little about the war.  Vietnam was, at the root, more of a political war than anything else and it is just an unfortunate reality that many many people suffered because of it.  The Vietnam War was fought to combat the growth of Communism in the East.  There was The Domino Theory that suggested if one country fell to Communism they all would and it became the position of the United States to not allow the Communist to gain ground in South East Asia.  This led to the creation of the South Vietnam democracy by the US government and that was who we allied with during The Vietnam War. The truth of it all is that the nation of South Vietnam never really existed; it was just set up by the US government to give us somebody to fight for. We would get natives from South Vietnam, train them to fight, and then put them in the field and back them up. Those people didn’t care whether or not they had freedom though. The whole thing was ridiculous and in reality the whole war was just a big mistake that went too far and many different men continued making more mistakes and took things farther.  It wasn’t a winnable war because there was no side that could win.  We couldn’t win because we were just helping, but the country we were helping didn’t really exist.  You can’t force freedom down the throats of people who just want foreign people to leave so they can go home to their farms and villages to live life as they always had.  The South Vietnamese soldiers in the field would more often than not turn and fight the Americans because their hearts weren’t in it for freedom.  Democracy made no difference to them and they weren’t going to die for it.  In a nutshell this is why the war was so ridiculous, and it accomplished nothing but death and destruction for both sides.

This movie makes several strong statements about the war but they are wasted on people who don’t understand the conflict. For those of us that do understand, this movie is more than moving and it can teach us plenty about the war.  The Vietnam War is one of the most interesting conflicts I have ever studied and I would encourage anybody interested in history to learn as much as you can about it.  It was an awful situation, as all wars are, but there wasn’t much glory in this war as there was in the ones that came before it i.e. WWI or WWII.  This movie shows us the effects the war had on the soldiers and on the country of Vietnam as well.  It says a lot about guerrilla warfare and how unfair it all is.  In the end the squad loses several important characters and risk quite a bit to resolve the situation.  All of them end up at the mercy of one single person and it turns out to be a girl that was doing all the killing.  That says a lot about the war right there.  They never knew who the enemy was, where they were, or how many of them might be waiting to attack.  These men had it hard, and their lives were on the line.  It’s unfair to make assumptions about them or pass judgment on the things that they did because we weren’t there and we don’t know.  They were dying for people who might very well turn around and shoot them while they were focused on the enemy.  Every day was a struggle just to survive and danger was around every corner.  That situation would wreak havoc on the minds of any of us, and we can’t hope to understand what it was like for those that were involved.

I might not have said this before watching the movie again for this review but I now feel that this is without doubt Stanley Kubrick’s finest work.  That is only my opinion but I consider it a perfect film and it is now my favorite of all his movies.  It didn’t win any awards, but Platoon may have stolen all the Vietnam thunder at the Oscars the year before.  Kubrick was a perfectionist and people had difficulty working with him because of that but his efforts paid off in spades with this movie.  Matthew Modine also did a great job in the lead role.  I think this kind of role should have propelled him on to the next level of stardom but it didn’t.  He has remained in the background of movies for a long time but he has never really become that headline actor I think he had the potential to be. This summer we will be able to see him in the background of another film but this time a big time movie.  Modine will be playing a small role in this summer’s The Dark Knight Riseswhich I think many of us are looking forward to.

I think I have sufficiently gone on forever about this movie but there is plenty I haven’t even mentioned.  Among the many things I haven’t mentioned is the soundtrack.  The music in this movie is excellent and does a great job of setting the tone for the film all around.  This is a graphic movie but a movie about The Vietnam War that isn’t graphic is a waste of your time.  It was a graphic conflict; there is no point to sugarcoating it. Bad things happened on all levels and as a nation I think we learned a lot from the conflict.  For example I think soldiers are treated differently today specifically because of that war.  There are also many ways in which we didn’t learn from the war as we entered such a strikingly similar conflict in Iraq.  I will side step the tangent that will lead me down though.  I think this is a perfect movie and I have LOVED watching it again.  I actually lost a fight with Amber about watching it a second time to write an even longer and better review. This movie isn’t one that she can appreciate so she won’t be adding in her own review.  Don’t let that discourage you though; this movie is worth your time.  If you don’t understand this movie then I suggest you educate yourself and watch it again.  This is a great movie and I would recommend it to anyone.

NEXT MOVIE: Galaxy Quest (1999)

Eyes Wide Shut

Year: 1999
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Arthur Schnitzler, Stanley Kubrick, & Frederic Raphael

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was Stanley Kubrick‘s last film; he died four days after turning in his final cut and never lived to see it released in theaters.  He spent over a year making this movie and it was said that he worked so hard trying to reach the deadline that he literally killed himself working on it.  Kubrick was renowned for being a perfectionist and was notorious for taking a really long time in both the filming process and in editing. His work always paid off though and he made some really great films in his time.  This movie was a project that he had wanted to work on for a long time and I have heard he considered it one of his best films.  I don’t agree with that, it hardly competes with Dr. Strangelove, but it is an interesting film nonetheless.

This film is about marriage, sexuality, and the struggles that come from making a lasting relationship work. The couple in this movie never actually cheats on each other, but the thought alone is enough to drive the man of the relationship crazy.  I think that the idea of his wife cheating even being a possibility, in addition to his own latent desires for other women is what drove him crazy. In the end their relationship is strong enough to survive the situation though and it is sex that seals the survival.  If nothing else I think the excess sexuality in this film is a cherry on top for Kubrick’s career.  Kubrick was also known in several films like Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey to show obvious and blatant sexual references with various objects like planes and space ships.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married in a really media obsessed relationship when this movie came out. They both signed contracts to work on the film as long as Stanley Kubrick had need of them and for the entire making of the film the whole plot was shrouded in secrecy.  All people knew about it was that it had something to do with sex and it sported this couple that everyone was obsessed with. Their performances weren’t anything exceptional that I could see but their presence in the film did add quite a bit to the anticipation for it.  I loathe Tom Cruise but can admit he is one of the best actors out there and has great decision making skills when it comes to choosing his roles. I haven’t always been a big fan of Kidman either but she looks great in this movie and is naked quite a bit. Sydney Pollack plays one of the better roles in the film, he fit his part perfectly.

This isn’t a movie I will sit down and watch for fun or anything but it was interesting to revisit it again. The fact that it was a great filmmaker’s last movie makes it worth everybody’s time but it’s the kind of film I think you should only see once.  I doubt many would really want to see it again but it is worth one time around.  It is a bit of a long movie and has themes that can easily confuse most viewers. I enjoyed watching again but wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.  I would selectively choose who to suggest this film to and I might never find a person I think really needs to see it.  It may surprise you though, this film has an ability to draw you in and it is a very mysterious thriller.  If nothing else, this was the last film made by one of the greatest filmmakers ever and that alone makes it worth your time to see it at least once.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before watching it with Ryan the other night. I found it to be extremely interesting and it has stuck with me for days. It’s one of those movies that kind of lingers and you think about it and think about it and maybe even relate to your own life. I think that if I would have seen this film before I was married it wouldn’t have had the same effect that it did this time. Ryan and I have been together off and on a total of 10 years now. I will tell you this unmarried couples…it doesn’t matter how long you date someone, marriage is different than dating. It is hard and it is complicated, but it is beautiful. This movie portrays what a real marriage looks like. All marriages have their secrets. I think we [married couples] can really relate to this film. It is crazy and interesting, and I love how it shows how consumed you can become with thinking about your spouse cheating. They never even cheat on each other, but the thought of it alone was enough to almost drive them crazy.

I really enjoyed this film, in that it was really interesting and telling. I think I would only recommend this one to married couples. It is one of those movies that will keep you thinking well after the ending credit.

NEXT MOVIE: Face/Off (1997)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Year: 1964
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Stanley Kubrick, Terri Southern, and Peter George (book)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of the greatest comedies of all time, even after almost fifty years.  It is a culturally significant and satirically clever movie that happens to be hilarious as well.  It has been so long since this film has come out that the situation the film depicts might be strange to young viewers unfamiliar with the Cold War.  I urge any of them to learn from this film as it mocks a very real and serious situation in our nation’s history.  When you watch the movie you have to really allow yourself to get sucked into it.  Absorb yourself in the story to get the most out of it.  It is a film that requires your attention because it is easy to get lost in a story about an unfamiliar time.  I have been struggling for years to get Amber to actually pay attention to this film and appreciate how great it really is.

The Cold War was one of the most ridiculous conflicts in the history of the world and it left the entire planet in a precarious situation for a long time.  It is a conflict that every rising generation needs to learn about so that we all understand the pointlessness and risk of the arms race and theories like Mutually Assured Destruction.  This movie is perfect for conveying the danger the world faced and the madness behind it all.  When I was in college I actually designed a lesson plan for a history class on The Cold War that centered on this movie.  The main problem with that would be getting teenagers to pay attention to a black and white film like this.  There would need to be a lot of background info to go over in order for them to understand but that is where most of you teaching points start.  I believe the easiest way to get young kids to understand history is giving them something like a film that they can relate to and understand better.  Teaching around films in this fashion gives you plenty of opportunity to convey important information to them while keeping them interested in the topic with a film.  Films are never historically accurate but that only gives you more opportunities to stop the film and explain how it really was.  The problem with this idea of using movies in history class is that history classes in this state are required to be taught to the test at the end of the year.  That kind of system really limits what teachers are able to do and rushes them to fit too much history into too short a time.  Hopefully the powers that be will one day learn the folly in such a system.

Stanley Kubrick is a legendary director with an incredible track record.  He is also quite the perfectionist which led some people to wonder if he was mad but it always made his films better.  He read something like fifty books about nuclear war before writing the screenplay for this movie.  That’s part of what makes it such a historically and culturally significant film because it so accurately mocks the realities at stake.  This movie only got the green light from the studio if Peter Sellers agreed to play four parts and he got the king’s ransom for his contribution to the film.  Receiving roughly fifty-five percent of the film’s budget in payment.  Peter Sellers played the part of the British liaison officer, the President, and Dr. Strangelove and his performances carry the film.  Sellers was supposed to play the part of the B-52 pilot as well but twisted his ankle or something like that and they had to cast a new role.  The part ultimately went to Slim Pickins after being turned down by the likes of John Wayne and Dan Blocker.  Slim Pickins gave one of his most memorable performances and will live on in infamy because of his role as Major TJ “King” Kong.  George C. Scott, better known for playing General Patton in Patton, was sensational as General Turgidson.  He is specifically does a good job of conveying the paranoia and insanity that had a voice in some of the high level meetings of the time.  “Mr. President! We cannot allow a mine shaft gap!” That line is one of my favorites in the film, it is so funny. Sterling Hayden does a great job of keeping a straight face while he speaks complete nonsense.  He fits the part perfectly as the longtime military man that has ultimately gone mad.

This movie was originally supposed to come out in November of 1963, but when JFK was assassinated it didn’t seem like the right time for this kind of dark comedy. It was pushed back until sometime in 1964 before actually being released. It is one of the most well received movies in history and considered one of the best comedies of all time. This movie is referenced on a regular basis in the media world so it will always have an incredible legacy.  With a movie like this I don’t think I need to vouch for it because this is a movie that speaks for itself.  Let yourself get drawn in and pay close attention to everything that is happening and you will see the value of this film.  It is a great classic film that I always enjoy watching.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan’s right, I really can never seem to get into this movie. I know it is supposed to be really great, but for some reason every time we watch it, I find myslef wandering away or not paying attention. I don’t even know what the movie is about, so I really can’t give it a review. It’s a a classic, so I say yes watch it, I am just not sure if you will like it or not.

 

NEXT MOVIE: Dumb and Dumber (1994)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Year: 2001
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Stanley Kubrick

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ve read that Stanley Kubrick began working on this film in the 70s, always waiting for the necessary technology to develop before getting into actual production.  It seems Kubrick actually wanted a real robot to play the part of David.  Kubrick may have been a little nuts and unrealistic but he did make great movies.  Unfortunately he did not live to actually make this one and his friend Steven Spielberg took up the helm after his death.  Spielberg is a terrific filmmaker and you can see his talent throughout this film as with all his others.  I don’t think this is his best movie however.  It is long and can be painfully boring at times.  Haley Joel Osment delivers a fantastic performance, but the kid creeps me out.  At times I still find myself feeling like I’m watching a horror movie.

A.I. does deliver an interesting view of the future that at times is reminiscent of Blade Runner.  This is a powerful film and the performances are great.  Not just Osment, who really is phenomenal, but William Hurt is great, Francis O’Connor is at her best, and Jude Law isn’t that bad.  If you have some time to kill and the patience to stick with a slow movie then check this one out, it’s a great science fiction film.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I have always loved this movie. It is really long and tiresome, but the theme and story are really original and different. I think the acting done by Haley Joel Osment is great. I think he really understand this robot’s character and fully embraced it. He is eerily creepy in some scenes, which I think he is supposed to be and he completely succeeds. This is a film to watch if you like the sorts of futuristic “what if” storylines.

NEXT MOVIE: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

2001: A Space Odyssey

Year: 1968
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Written by: Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have been told that when this film was released in 1968 that it was billed as “the ultimate pothead movie,” and I suppose I’m just glad they warned them.  I can only imagine what the first few minutes must have been like for the stoned or stupid when they sat down to watch the movie.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, the movie begins with only a sound and blackness on the screen.  Not even so much of a sound as it is simply a tone that gradually gets louder over a period of minutes.  For the pothead viewers in the late 60s, I also hope that they went in high enough to make it through the film.  It can be painfully long for the sober minded viewer, and I mean PAINFULLY long.  There is a scene that feels like it lasts over ten minutes and all you hear throughout its duration is the sound of a man breathing.  However, it probably just feels that way to my generation. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see this film in the pre-Star Wars world, viewers had more patience then, they hadn’t grown up in the special effects world.

As you can see early on in the Dawn of Man section of the film, this movie remains influential even until today.  I don’t know the name of the song, but I have seen it in countless films, I have also seen many references to HAL.  I love this film, it is visually exciting, it has a great musical score, and I find the journey from the dawn of man until the birth of artificial intelligence fascinating.  I am a big Stanley Kubrick fan, we will eventually cover most of his films as we make our way through the collection.  This isn’t my favorite Kubrick film but I think its a masterful work of art.  I never recommend this film to anyone because it’s not for the average viewer, especially the people of my generation.  For the serious viewer like myself though, for the person who loves movies enough to study them, …for the person out there with a bag of really potent pot: check this movie out for yourself, and I hope you enjoy it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This film was one that we watched in film critique because it is one of those influential films that is still prevalent today. If you have seen this film, then you know the music that it uses in the beginning has been used over and over and over in spoofs and movies of all kinds and it originated here in this film. I can’t say that I love it, it is very long and very boring for the most part, but I definitely appreciate it for what it is. If you call yourself a movie fan and you haven’t seen this film, then you need to watch it. It is an important one in movie history.