The Shining is probably Stanley Kubrick’s most mind-boggling film, certainly not his best but not far from what its poster heralds as “a masterpiece of modern horror.” Watching the film for maybe the seventh time the other day – but the first ever on the big screen, in a gloriously crisp 35mm print at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox – the film registered to me as droll. Many scenes, thanks to Kubrick’s craftsmanship, sink their hooks in you, while others hang loosely with pin-dropping bemusement. (continue reading…)
The ambiguous part about Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960), and what makes it fascinating, is the creative gap in the thematic components of the story between the director and leftist screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. There is a tale about the Thracian slave’s divine quest to save his people from an oppressive Roman Empire, and concurrently an undertone that scoffs at the absurdity of that mission in a rigidly right-wing empire. (continue reading…)
Laughter in Dr. Strangelove comes from both fear and joy. The film’s entertainment value is paradoxical – we are amused by humanity’s pathetic, fallible efforts to overcome global destruction. With Dr. Strangelove, harmony and perfectibility in America no longer exists and Kubrick demonstrates this realization through a sort of nightmare comedy, a sub-genre where wit and woe coexist simultaneously in a hopeless struggle against the arrival of our doom. (continue reading…)
Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb – A war of clowns, nukes, and coca-cola companies
3.5 Stars out of 4
Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is one of those glorious political satires that is one emblematic joke after another. And it is still relevant today. This is a true-blue satire that catches Cold War politics and its enforcers with their pants down. It is so over the top, so overly silly, and yet very amusing. It’s a very good movie, but is largely mistaken as Kubrick’s greatest film. It’s a minor work I polemically state. But that is like saying the Statue of Liberty is a minor landmark of New York City.
The film was made in 1964, about two decades after the Germans surrendered and in the midst of an intense, jingoistic war between capitalism and communism. For the Russians, American capitalists exploited the working class and it was a system that would inevitably perish. For Americans, Russians only had a despotic socialist government and their vodka. Absurd, but amusing prejudices. (continue reading…)
2.5 Stars out of 4
Spartacus seems like a long, reluctant picture. It’s over three hours, it went through three directors until reaching its final product, and it is merely an extension off the array of Roman epics. Ben Hur had reigned 74, 000, 000 dollars at the box office and one year later, Spartacus would accompany it at a measly 1.8 million. But Spartacus as cinema feels like an ordinal, underwhelming picture. As it was for Kubrick. (continue reading…)
4 Stars out of 4
There is something I find so fascinating about Kubrick’s final film. This film is not about the director, the linear plot, or the well-understood characters. Everything is so beautifully vague. Kubrick could have easily bridged off into a love story, tumultuously ridden with canny clichés and dull conflict. But Eyes Wide Shut takes a different channel — it is a journey into the subconscious. We don’t quite get anything, except that these people are sexually contested beings, burdened under one temptation after another. Forget a sensible plot or a contented payoff, as Kubrick will tinker with your emotions. Nothing really ties in, except that anguishing human psyche, as paranoid as it can become. Kubrick, for a final film, breaks modern conventions and rediscovers a new narrative: everything happening for nothing. (continue reading…)
3 Stars out of 4
I wouldn’t call Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita Oedipus with a twist or a Shakespearean tragedy. It acts oddly as farce, outlandishly portraying its themes and characters. You don’t know whether to take Lolita seriously: is it realistically tragic or awkwardly absurd? It was 1962, the post-war era and censorship was at a high. Kubrick had to find a way to make Lolita acceptably unacceptable. To do so, he approaches Vladimir Nabokov’s adapted screenplay with a snide tone. This, at times, raises and reduces Lolita’s effectiveness on age taboo.
Nevertheless, Kubrick is a master iconoclast, who makes Lolita an ironic pun if anything. You will have an uncanny feeling watching Lolita, a ticklish sensation as if you want to laugh at these people, this risqué premise. Of course, Lolita will discuss fundamental normativity of society but the film is striking. It’s a joke about something very serious. (continue reading…)