Tag Archives: Stanley Kubrick

The Set of 400: #121 – My Favorite Ghost Bartender

Today! Because there ain’t nothing in Room 237. But you ain’t got no business going in there anyway –

The Shining (1980)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (x3)

Starring Jack Nicholson (x5), Shelley Duvall (x3), Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers (x4), Barry Nelson, Joe Turkel (x2), Anne Jackson, Tony Burton (x4), Philip Stone, Barry Dennen (x2)

Poor Shelley Duvall.

My least favorite version of this story, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is nonetheless a triumphant masterpiece of cinematic horror – unnerving, upsetting, bizarre, and fucking gross as hell. It became such an iconic landmark in film history that it weirdly spawned countless interpretive and/or conspiracy-esque theories about its hidden messages – largely chronicled in the terrific documentary Room 237 – and functioned as a key level in the Spielberg adaptation of Ready Player One, wholly replacing the book’s trip through WarGames. It provides countless memorable quotes – “Heeeere’s Johnny!” “I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in!” “Redrum.” – and unforgettable visuals, like that elevator tidal wave of blood or that guy in the dog suit, whatever that is.

Is it a statement about the environment or something?

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The Set of 400: #178 – My Favorite Shoddy Luggage

Today! Because you’d be killing a horse, that’s not first degree murder. In fact it’s not murder at all, in fact I don’t know what it is –

The Killing (1956)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (x2)

Starring Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr. (x2), Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Marie Windsor, Joe Sawyer, Timothy Carey, Jay C. Flippen, Ted de Corsia, Kola Kwariani, James Edwards

The first great Stanley Kubrick movie, The Killing came directly on the heels of the slight, interestingly photographed Killer’s Kiss (1955) and Fear and Desire (1953), but represented such a massive uptick in quality as to render these early films obsolete in the canon. For the longest time, this was also the earliest Kubrick film you could find – the other two having fallen out circulation to an extreme degree, so The Killing is sometimes even now still referred to (or maybe just thought of) as his first film.

Such an avant garde filmmaker was Kubrick that it’s interesting to watch his good 1950’s films – this and Paths of Glory – to see how he operates in the technical limitations of the time. Lolita and Strangelove still have some of this going on, too, but it’s more pronounced here, pre-Spartacus, when Kubrick didn’t yet have free reign to make movies however he liked. The Killing is a touch hindered by the overbearing narration that, while probably keeping the run time down, doesn’t feel 100% necessary (Kubrick was apparently forced to include it by the studio). Some of the acting in the early going is a little jangly, too – Hayden and Cook do most of the heavy lifting throughout, but especially in the run up to the heist.

Hayden accurately diagnoses everyone

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The Set of 400: #245 – My Favorite Toenail Polish

Today! Because I’m really sorry that I cheated so much. But I guess that’s just the way things are –

Lolita (1962)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Starring James Mason (x2), Peter Sellers, Sue Lyon, Shelley Winters, Gary Cockrell, Terry Kilburn (x2), Shirley Douglas, Marianne Stone, Jerry Stovin, Diana Decker, Lois Maxwell, Cec Linder

Finally we get to some Kubrick! I guess you’ll have to wait and see – checklist of the great man’s thirteen features in hand – what got left off the list (spoiler: Killer’s Kiss and Fear and Desire had no chance!), but don’t worry, film nerds, there is plenty of Stanley’s greatest hits to come. Many of his works feature an insane degree of difficulty, but none higher than the romantic drama adaptation of Vladimir Nobokov’s unconventional/disgusting relationship at the center of Lolita. Seriously, the above poster is no lie – in 1962, how the hell did they make a movie of Lolita? This question was also posed in the trailers for the film – it was considered impossible, by the standards of the day, still ruled by the Hayes Code, which was a far more strict and unforgiving system than the MPAA ratings that would follow a few years later.

Gah!

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