Tag Archives: Stanley Kubrick

The Set of 400: #1 – My Favorite Combination Russian Phrasebook and Bible

Today! Because you can’t fight in here, this is the war room –

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

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (x7)

Starring Peter Sellers (x5), George C. Scott (x3), Sterling Hayden (x3), Slim Pickens (x3), Keenan Wynn (x2), Peter Bull (x2), James Earl Jones (x8), Shane Rimmer (x3), Tracy Reed

Folks, you may have never expected us to reach the end of this journey – God knows, I didn’t – but nonetheless, here we are! 400 posts, 265,000 words, and a lot more praise for Teen Wolf than the average person could muster, and we’ve finally come to the grand conclusion! My favorite movie of all-time, at least 70% of the time, Stanley Kubrick’s darkly comedic apocalyptic global thermonuclear satire, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Featuring a triple performance from the unparalleled Peter Sellers and an unhinged, over-the-top turn from George C. Scott as war monger Buck Turgidson (the role that kicked off my long affection for Scott’s work), Strangelove shares a fair number of similarities with my other favorite movie, yesterday’s Duck Soup, as they both poke fun at international politics, jingoistic armed conflict negotiation, and gloriously inflated government egos. The difference, obviously, is that the fate of the entire world is at stake in Strangelove, due to one rogue lunatic, where nuclear weapons were still some years away when Duck Soup went before the cameras in 1933.

And this is not even the rogue lunatic in question

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The Set of 400: #15 – My Favorite Deformed Popsicle

Today! Because you should come and get one in the yarbles, if you’ve got any yarbles –

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (x6)

Starring Malcolm McDowell (x2), Aubrey Morris (x3), Patrick Magee, Warren Clarke (x2), Philip Stone (x3), David Prowse (x4), Adrienne Corri, James Marcus, Miriam Karlin, Michael Bates, Carl Duering, Clive Francis, Godfrey Quigley, Sheila Raynor, Michael Tarn, Richard Connaught

Man, you get a pretty warped view of the world when you’re exposed to A Clockwork Orange relatively young, I can tell you that. It holds an odd place as one of the pivotal movies of my life, and not in a completely good way. It didn’t inspire me to a life of crime or a completely amoral outlook on how to behave in society, but it did damage some very early relationships of mine, and I was completely unapologetic about it, because hey, A Clockwork Orange is art! I better explain –

How or why I knew what A Clockwork Orange was is a mystery – I read a lot of books about movies and Leonard Maltin’s Home Video guide and Oscar history and whatnot, so probably there? – but I got a copy of the Anthony Burgess book sometime around 1993, at the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The book is pretty lurid, but not exactly the X rated mayhem that they filmed. The movie also lops off the last chapter of the story, to pretty solid effect.

One version or another of this book was always within arm’s reach growing up

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The Set of 400: #95 – My Favorite Jelly Donut

Today! Because I wanted to see exotic Vietnam, the crown jewel of Southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture, and kill them –

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (x4)

Starring Matthew Modine (x2), Vincent D’Onofrio (x4), R. Lee Ermey (x4), Adam Baldwin (x2), Arliss Howard (x2), Dorian Harewood, Ed O’Ross (x2), Kevyn Major Howard, John Terry

Stanley Kubrick hadn’t released a film since 1980’s The Shining when Full Metal Jacket finally hit theaters in the summer of ’87, so you know seven-year-old Joe was first in line, eschewing the likes of Harry and the Hendersons, Dragnet, and Benji the Hunted at the General Cinema. Little did I know that this film would inspire one of the great thinkers of our time, Luther Campbell, to later pen the now immortal ode to love and lust “Me So Horny,” and become an icon for free speech in the process. Nope, soon-to-be third grader Joe was just reveling in the blanket party and ubiquitous vulgarity, not even questioning if ten dollars was a good price for a Vietnamese hooker.

No, come on, I didn’t see Full Metal Jacket in theaters when I was seven! What do you think, my parents were monsters? They cut me off from renting R-rated movies after the whole Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors fiasco, so they certainly weren’t going to take me to see Private Pyle’s murderous bathroom breakdown, no matter what a Barry Lyndon fan I might have been in those days!

A gorgeous but insanely boring film

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The Set of 400: #98 – My Favorite Spinach Eating Robot

Today! Because they made us too smart, too quick and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us –

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x6)

Starring Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law (x3), William Hurt, Frances O’Connor, Sam Robards, Jake Thomas, Brendan Gleeson (x2), Robin Williams (x6), Meryl Streep, Chris Rock (x4), Ben Kingsley (x4), Jack Angel, Ken Leung (x2), Clark Gregg (x4), Kevin Sussman, Ashley Scott, Enrico Colantoni (x2), Paula Malcomson (x3), Adrian Grenier, Michael Fishman

Not often mentioned in the same breath as Spielberg’s best, most iconic films, A.I. Artificial Intelligence holds a weird distinction for me, as the hybrid Frankenstein of a movie that it is. When Stanley Kubrick died in 1999, he left unfinished a number of projects, including his proposed epic biography of Napoleon, some (i.e. me) would argue the final edit of Eyes Wide Shut, and his debatably in pre-production sci-fi epic A.I. Now, Kubrick was taking a helluva long time between movies at this point, so “pre-production” is a pretty relative term, but by all indications this was next up, having started and stopped a number of times, including doing some casting and allegedly recording Robin Williams voice role as it exists in the film. Rumors also persist that Kubrick had discussed with Spielberg the possibility of him directing the film instead. So, when Kubrick died, Spielberg was able to pick up and run with what was largely in place already, cranking the whole film out in just over two years.

Oh those Spielberg silhouettes!

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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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