Sunday, June 7, 2009

Affinity #13


27 comments:

Ryan Kelly said...

Uncle Stanley!

Not to start fistfights here, as Kubrick truly is one of my favorites, but there are two films of his I'll just never be able to swallow--- A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket. The former just sends me up a wall, the latter irritates me with how one-note it is. He just keeps crying "War is so dehumanizing" for two hours. He made the same points much more eloquently with Paths of Glory/.

I pretty much love everything else, though, in varying degrees.

bill r. said...

A Clockwork Orange is very, erm, problematic, especially when compared to the novel. It's probably, too complicated to get into here, and Greg, myself and others had a whole long conversation about it a while back on his blog, but it comes down to the film being both less explicit and more disturbing in its implications regarding Alex and his crimes. It comes down to that for me, anyway.

I actually still like the film a lot, but I think the controversy that finally kicked up about it, and the tendency for people to misunderstand it, is pretty much Kubrick's fault.

After Full Metal Jacket shifts from boot camp to Vietnam, I think it's almost a complete failure. So I pretty much agree with your comment, Ryan. But I still love Kubrick beyond all reason.

Rick Olson said...

If you're going to have an affinity with someone, Kubrick's not a bad one to pick.

Ryan, I fell asleep several times during "2001," myself. How's that for heresy?

Rick Olson said...

Bill, we cross-posted. How is the controversy that got kicked up about "Clockwork" Kubrick's fault?

bill r. said...

Rick, it's a topic worth a whole big long post, but for instance: remember the scene where Alex and his droogs confront Billy Boy and his gang? Billy Boy's gang is stripping, and preparing to rape, a very buxum, curvaceous adult woman, on whose body the camera lingers. Not that the fact that she's a good looking adult woman in any way excuses or tempers their actions AT ALL, but in the novel they're preparing to rape a young girl -- 13 years old, if I remember correctly, even younger. And they don't even get around to stripping her. Upping the victim's age and removing her clothes and almost ogling her seems like Kubrick was just asking for trouble.

There's more to my views than that, and I hope what I just wrote makes some sort of sense, but, like I said, this is worth a whole post. Where's Greg? I think he knows what I'm talking about...

bill r. said...

But I do love Kubrick. I just think he had a misstep or two.

Ryan Kelly said...

I hear where you're coming from, too, Bill. I feel like Kubrick is almost deliberately distorting his theses during that film, being wishy-washy about Alex to appease almost every view-point on him. You could look at it that the movie is disgusted with Alex--- and it IS, in some cases. But by the end he's actually happy that Alex has his identity back! If he were going to take one route or the other, fine, but he doesn't--- so you wonder what the hell the whole thing is about by the end. This is why so many of the films 'fans' misinterpret the movie, thinking it celebrates violence. Given the film in question, I feel it's an easy mistake to make.

I agree with you, Bill, FMJ really takes a nosedive after the boot camp portion. But I have my problems with that part, too. And all the problems I have with the movie ar eonly exacerbated as it wears on. But Kubrick has exactly two points that he pounds into your skull throughout the entirety of it:

1. Soldiers are boys.
2. War is Dehumanizing.

Or, if you prefer; all war and no play makes soldiers a dehumanized boy.

Like the image of D'Onofrio going through the training grounds with his pants around his ankles and his thumb in his mouth? It's unusally obvious for Kubrick, and I just find it annoying. Coming from someone who is anti-war himself (don't hurt my bleeding heart!), I find the sentiment mostly trite and obvious. The best anti-war movies aren't JUST about being against war.

However, there's no denying Ermey is hilarious and a joy to watch.

And Rick, I love 2001 but it's not everyones cup of tea. Have you ever seen it in the theater? It's really the only way TO see it.

Ryan Kelly said...

Yes, I agree with Bill, two mis-steps in a sea of some of the greatest films ever made (from his first masterpiece The Killing to his final one Eyes Wide Shut) isn't much to whine about. But he's such a strong artist that the films of his I have a distaste for I have a STRONG distaste for.

bill r. said...

But by the end he's actually happy that Alex has his identity back!...

I actually don't agree with this, and think the ending is very chilling, and that Kubrick intended it to be. But I also can't blame anyone for seeing it differently, because, as you say, Kubrick makes it very hard for people to see where he's coming from.

And I agree about the shot of D'Onofrio with his thumb in his mouth. That's pretty awful.

Pat said...

I'll always love Kubrick for "Dr. Strangelove" alone. But I don't know if I'll ever make it through "Barry Lydon" - I mean, it's real pretty and everything but....zzzzzzz......

bill r. said...

Oh, Pat! Barry Lyndon is a masterpiece! Yeah, okay, it is kind of "boring" in patches, but it's brilliant even then. Honest!

Ryan Kelly said...

I don't know, Bill... that music that comes in, the smile. "I was cured, alright". It seems more glorious than chilling to me, but that may be because I'm generally just livid by the end of it.

Barry Lyndon? Boring? I'm plotzed, I must say. I find it riveting and extremely moving, especially by the end (one of the most heartbreaking endings I've ever seen). If not for 2001, that would probably be my favorite of his.

As for Dr. Strangelove... I like it, but I have problems with it. Mostly because I feel like he's taking on such a macrocosmic perspective of the doomsday scenario that the human beings themselves are almost window dressing, and I feel like that doesn't work well with the subject matter. I don't think Lumet's a better film maker, but I do think Fail-Safe is a better movie, because human beings actually factor into it.

Pat said...

For me, the coldness of "Dr. Strangelove" is actually what makes it so scary. That and the fact that some of George C. Scott's lines seem so eerily like what Donald Rumsfeld was actually saying in press conferences when he was in office...

As for "Barry Lyndon," as should be obvious, I've never made it through much of that one, but perhpas I should give it another try. Lots of other have told me it's brilliant, too. I have trouble getting past Ryan O'Neal - very nice to look at, but he has all the charisma of an unsalted cracker.

bill r. said...

I was cured, alright...

That line is completely ironic! Even Alex thinks so! The "all right" clinches it, I think. Anyway, that's the last line of the novel, as well (or the last line of the version of the novel Kubrick was adapting, but let's not get into all that...).

And as Dr. Strangelove is a satire -- maybe the last truly funny satirical film I can think of -- "human beings" as fully developed characters can't really factor in too heavily. The more human the characters get, the less impact the satire has.

Ryan Kelly said...

No doubt about it, but that approach is something of a double-edged sword. How can he be decrying the end of the human race when the film is almost unconcerned with humanity?

The 'cold' label is applied to Kubrick a lot, and I just don't agree; 2001 and Barry Lyndon are pretty powerful humanist sentiments, but I'll certainly concur that I see that coldness and detachment in Dr. Strangelove, where it turns me off. I do like and appreciate the movie a lot-- but more politically than artistically/cinematically. It took a lot of balls to make us laugh at our own worst nightmare. And Kubrick certainly doesn't find it funny, but I just feel like he sees the actual human race as pawns on a chess board with that picture.

bill r. said...

How can he be decrying the end of the human race when the film is almost unconcerned with humanity?...

I don't know that it is. That is, I know what you mean, but I don't think you're necessarily right. The priest, for instance, is a good man, maybe the only fully decent and wise man in the film, and nobody will listen to him...but A Clockwork Orange is a satire, also. I don't think that's the genre you want to go to for a gentle treatment of human beings. You'll find it occasionally, but I don't think it's the norm.

Ryan Kelly said...


I don't know that it is.


You don't know that it is decrying the end of human kind or that it is unconcerned with humanity?

I know what you mean, but I don't think you're necessarily right.

We seem to reach this conclusion a lot. =P

I don't think that's the genre you want to go to for a gentle treatment of human beings. You'll find it occasionally, but I don't think it's the norm.

I realize I've been awfully harsh with Kubrick in this thread, and I don't mean to. But there are things in his career that definitely leave a bad taste in my mouth, and I think he wanted it that way. I think the point of Dr. Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange is to bother me in the way that they do. Though Dr. Strangelove is a much better movie, I think, and leaves nowhere near as bad a taste in my mouth. But there's something just a tad off about Strangelove to me.

And speaking of Kubrick I get to see 2001: A Space Odyssey projected this weekend! It's at Manhattan's IFC, which is something of a drag, but that movie projected is worth pretty much any circumstance.

Greg said...

Hi everybody. What's everyone talking about?

Ha ha, I am funny. Anyway, sorry for falling off the face of the Earth except to check in at CS but I'm back now. Here is the post you are referring to. It's from last year with the old haloscan system so to see the comments you have to click the archived comment link at the bottom.

Anyway, I love the boot camp sequence of Full Metal Jacket and while I don't like it much after that there's still a lot I do like.

And Pat, I couldn't disagree more. Barry Lyndon is exceptional filmmaking from beginning to end with a pacing so deliberate as to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout. And I thought Ryan O'Neil was pretty good actually. Not great, but not bad either. And it's got that duel! I mean, THAT is one of the most extraordinary sequences EVER PUT TO CELLULOID!

Also, I think the line "I was cured alright" would have been even more ironic spoken by a piece of ham. They really missed a great opportunity there.

bill r. said...

And it's got that duel! I mean, THAT is one of the most extraordinary sequences EVER PUT TO CELLULOID!...

Yes. Oh for God's sake, yes. Extraordinary, and perfect. The feeling of suspense and dread and I-don't-know-what I get from that scene is still fresh for me. I have to stop myself from gushing too much, but it MIGHT be Kubrick's finest hour. There are Kubrick films I like, and which mean more to me, than Barry Lyndon, but for pure filmmaking, he may have never topped that duel.

bill r. said...

Also, guys? "Alright" isn't a word. It's "all right". Come on, now.

Ryan Kelly said...

Alright, Bill, whatever you say.

Just please, please tell me it's alright that I got confused. Alright?

And, for what it's worth, my spell check in my browser doesn't flag it. Now, they flag 'alot', because it's supposed to be 'a lot'! You see that mistake a lot, especially while you're sitting in your car in a lot.

bill r. said...

Ryan, you're still doing it!!

And don't blame your spell check. Those things are stupid.

Ryan Kelly said...

Okay, Bill, whatever you say--- just please don't yell at me anymore!

Greg said...

From Merriam-Webster. "Alright" has been around since 1887. According to the piece there are critics who dispute its usage and it is used less frequently than "all right" but others say it is acceptable. I believe it is alright to use it whenever one wants. And you completely glossed over how freakin' awesome that ham joke was! I mean come on - cured! Get it? Cured!

Ryan Kelly said...

Meh, it was alright.

Greg said...

Alright Ryan, say what you will but I think that joke is the cure for what ails you - alright? Alright.

bill r. said...

I hate the way you guys besmirch the internet's good name with your antics.

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