Monday, January 14, 2013

1001 Movies: Finishing Kubrick

185 - 187

Slowly, my Kubrick-film-feast is going to an end... Having watched all sixteen feature and short films of the late director, I feel full of knowledge and enlightenment. That doesn't mean I loved or even liked all of his films - but we'll dive further into that matter when I write my big, grand Kubrick Post with a capital P. All you're going to get for now is three short reviews of my last three Kubrick-adventures, one that disappointed me and two that are officially on the list of my favourite Kubrick-opuses.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)


The one that disappointed me. Dr. Strangelove should've been the right comedy for me, it really had all the requirements - politics, satire, craziness, quirkyness... But it ended up being just a tad too... don't know whether people are going to kill me for these words but... slapstick? Yeah, I mean, I laughed or at least smiled a lot of times - my favourite scenes where the calls to Dimitri, hilarious - but really? A weird doctor who has to keep his hand from performing the Heil-sign? Really? I don't know whether I'm being hyper-sensitive as a German, but I don't think that kind of humour is really funny. The German professor in Lolita was kinda funny, but this one, I mean not even the accent was realistic.
Also, the last scene with the bomb detonating was not funny either - I know it was just meant to be ironic, the way the guy clutches the bomb etc., and the prologue shots of atomic bombs were of course critical and satirical ones (a segment I liked) but I just didn't like the shot of the officer jumping out of the plane. 
Dr. Strangelove is a movie that just didn't really work for me. But I should be getting used to that, considering my WTF-THAT-KINDA-COOL-BUT-STILL-NOT-REALLY-SPECIAL-BEN-AFFLECK-FILM(loved his looks in this one)-WON-A-GOLDEN-GLOBE-FOR-BEST-MOTION-PICTURE-DRAMA!!!!????-reaction just a few minutes ago.


Full Metal Jacket (1987)


There's really not much to ad to that quote. War films are definitely not one of my favourite genres (I know I said that about sci-fi too about a year ago), but Full Metal Jacket is a full exception. Whether it's the first half with its soldier training - a lot of screaming-at-each-other going on here - or the second half in the actual Vietnam war, the film is suspenseful, repulsive and philosophic at all times. 
Kubrick really got better and better at mixing incomparable style (three words: Paint It, Black) and engaging observation and analysis of the human psyche, which makes out a huge part of what makes him one of my favourite directors. 
Reading about Kubrick's worry about the advanced release of Platoon when news about Full Metal Jacket leaked is like a joke for me, someone who didn't live at that time. I haven't seen Platoon yet, but however good it may be, it won't be able to change the greatness of this one.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Sadly SADLY!!! Not included in my version of the book out of reasons that I will not and cannot ever be able to understand.

This is another daring statement perhaps, but after having seen this movie, I'm thinking whether it might actually be my favourite Kubrick film instead of 2001. But then again, it's been quite a while since I saw that one, so until now it's a tie. Honestly, I don't understand how Eyes Wide Shut can be one Kubrick's most-discussed movies in matter of "quality". To me, it's a hundred times better than say, Dr. Strangelove.
Are the sexual tension, the good-looking hero and the prominent female character the reasons for my euphoria? Perhaps so. These are all ingredients that I have found in no other Kubrick film, or at least not in this measure. As for the first, there was something in Lolita but it was pervert in a way (or many ways) and of course A Clockwork Orange, but that was mainly scary and far away from the viewer. In Eyes Wide Shut, the tension is present in every single frame, and it draws the viewer as well as the characters into a deep labyrinth of forbidden desire and white lies.
The good-looking hero is played by the good-looking Tom Cruise - an actor whom I have problems sympathizing with as a person, but who has been great in every film I've seen yet. This however was his best performance by far, from my personal experience. Kubrick did have handsome actors in his other films, but nobody ever pushed it as far as Cruise.
And finally, the female character. Not even here does Kidman's Alice become the "main character" in a traditional measure, but she is the reason for the whole story. She is the cause for all of the worries Bill suddenly develops - and of course, all his never-before felt jealousy. And she's also the person that finishes Kubrick's last film ever, with a line that will be remembered forever: "Fuck". 


  1. I have to admit I wasn't hugely blown away by Dr. Strangelove either... there was just something lacking. Perhaps too much hype led me to believe it would be a comedic masterpiece.

    I do like Full Metal Jacket, but it really is a film of two halves and the first half is just so incredible to me that the second doesn't quite compare.

    Haven't seen Eyes Wide Shut but I'm guessing I should!

    1. Dr. Strangelove - There is a lot of hype about it, so it was one of the movies I was looking forward to the most.

      Full Metal Jacket - My favourite is the first half too, but there's I think the connection between the two halves works in the end.

      Do watch Eyes Wide Shut!

  2. I finally finished my Kubrick watching last year for my Auteurs piece on him. That is a major accomplishment for me. Now I can go for other filmmakers.

    1. It is for me too - feels like I've grown with the challenge.

  3. Just for counterpoint, I will say that Strangelove is my favourite Kubrick film. Perhaps because I think of it as a Sellers film :)

    1. He delivered three great performances, but personally I found it confusing that all those guys looked the same ;).

  4. Maybe that should be one of my goals for this year - finishing Kubrick's filmography! Sad to say I've only seen three - 2001, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining. I'd love to see Dr. Strangelove, and I really want to see Barry Lyndon, because it's my friends favourite. 2001 is my favourite, then The Shining!

    1. Then you've already seen three of the best! Barry Lyndon is one of my absolute favourites too, actually it was the movie that made me want to watch all of Kubrick's movies.
      So you have a lot of good films coming up (just don't expect too much from his first experiments such as Fear and Desire and the shorts).


Let the discussion begin!