Tuesday, December 18, 2012


He isn’t my favorite director. I know he is one of the best whoever did it. He is also the director I give the utmost respect to. I am as fascinated by his legend as much as his films. Stanley Kubrick movies are less about narrative. Each film seems like different philosophical lessons. He never really made the same film. Each one not only had its own personality but was in a different genre. Of course he had recurring themes usually involving Bleakness and Anti-Heroic protagonists. Though he was more about technique and execution. Keeping a distance. No manipulation no answers, Characters where who they are, No Happy endings. Beautiful Cinematography.

One of his favorite actors was James Cagney. Who had certain largeness to his performances. So Kubrick had an appreciation for amplified acting. Which showed the actor at times being actorly. Whereas Jack Nicholson’s acting is celebrated in Kubrick’s films. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s in EYES WIDE SHUT are attacked. I feel it’s because THE SHINING is not only a better movie but it is in a genre where overacting is common and encouraged. Whereas EYES WIDE SHUT is o.k. but a drama through and through. It makes the performances in the film seem like that which you would see on a soap opera melodrama. It may also go to the fact that the actor’s in question are limited in their acting ability.

Kubrick’s Films feel so emotional though they are cold. None of his films are fun. They are revolutionary, but they don’t necessarily move quickly, but that’s ok because you feel captivated while watching his films. Though I will admit to them both being different types of films. It’s more about him exploring different themes.

I can remember my first time seeing A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. It was so strange and beautiful. It was so shocking to my system that I actually felt ill after it was over, but I haunted my memory and thoughts and I wanted to watch it over and over. Though many have tried and certain people have their own reasons. When I watch the film there are many things I like about the film. Yet there is no single definition of why I do. It’s a combination of many things that seem to come together perfectly. That was only my second Kubrick film.

The First was FULL METAL JACKET which I watched before I even knew who Stanley Kubrick was or how highly he was regarded. Watching it I could tell the film was different from any film I had seen before. Especially when it came to war films. It showed boot camp the before scenes whoever the character were before they got there it was shed in the first scene as they got their hair cut off. Now they were all new presented to us. As the film went along we attached personalities to the faces. Then after the mayhem we are thrust into the middle of the war to meet a whole new bunch of grunts. We are just as disoriented as the lead Pvt. Joker as we are thrust into new surroundings and people. It becomes a different film of sorts everything moves faster and is on the line. You make a mistake here not only does it get you killed but put’s the whole platoon in danger. Watching this film I knew I was watching the work of someone who was different than the rest someone who could take something I had seen before and present it not only differently but made me open my eyes to details other films treated as insignificant.

Many of us watch a lot of films. We have our favorites of course. Even our favorite types, But rarely can we remember them, Let me explain. We watch them but years down the line we couldn’t tell you the storyline of the film or would have to be reminded of details to get a picture of it in our heads. Never the less where and when we saw the film.

Very few directors make memorable films some are lucky if they get even one. Rare is the director whose almost every film can be looked at as a masterpiece or nearly one. While also staying relevant and part of pop culture. --Stanley Kubrick is one of them. He is one of the directors also that I can remember not only when I first saw each of his films, but my reactions to them. How I felt during and after. They were just so monumental and shocking to me, that I couldn’t help it. Get them out of my head. They are still awe inspiring to me to this day. Very few filmmakers can I say the same about for some reason the director David Cronenberg comes to mind. More for dedication to their visions and contributions to film history. Though Croneneberg has mostly done what can be seen a horror films. He made them into something different so that the industry and fans of cinema more see his films as work of art rather than simple genre exercise. As he indulges his imagination and gives the audience things they have never seen or presenting them with something they might not have even thought possible. Their films seem to be an imagination released and set loose on screen yet composed and leaves you with questions. Not only story wise, but filming wise. How it was shot and how it was even thought up. The films are never run of the mill. Never could you say I could have done that. Watching their films

I believe even the average filmgoer will not be able to dismiss his films as stupid, juvenile or something they’ve seen before.

Even now there are still 3 films he has made that I have not watched. Why? Because I want to preserve the feeling of watching them for the first time. That magical feeling we have all felt when encountering something new. Discovering that no matter how many times you watch it. The feeling never comes back. You might notice something new you didn’t before. But the euphoria never reaches the level it did on your premiere viewing. Though it’s your favorite, you’ve seen it. You know too much. So over the years I have avoided the films. As I know these are the last. Since he is deceased there will no longer be any new ones. It’s sad yet inevitable with many filmmakers as it is with other artists and people in general. It is also a reason I don’t watch my favorites all the time I like to preserve the viewing of them so I never get that familiar with the film that it feels like something I will get used to.

While Stanley Kubrick made many films. Not as many as other celebrated directors. Which while it makes it easier on my memory when it comes to his cinema. It also feels that as an audience we were robbed. He took his time making his films as a perfectionist to make them just right or as close to his vision as he could make them. It was his choice and way of working he put care into his work and that is what makes them that more special. They weren’t product to him. It does feel disappointing that instead of Films such as TOWER HEIST and the RUSH HOUR series, we don’t have at least 5 more of his films in which to appreciate like the Alfred Hitchcock Library.

--As with his films he was very reclusive about his life and personal life. So it only adds to the mystery as to what exactly made him tick. Many people from his personal life and colleagues share stories and testimonials about him. Though we will never truly know much from the master himself. All we have except for personal anecdotes from others, personal writings, Scripts for unmade films such as NAPOLEON and LUNATIC AT LARGE, Are the films that speak for themselves and him. Yet communicate to us. Neither is simple and they all have different interpretations. The meaning of them will be different for each of us. --Mr. Kubrick Directed epics as well as small films, But even with the small films he made them feel like epics. With grand vision and the care that went into them. He crossed genres so many times. You could never pigeonhole him as a director. Though he never diluted his eye and talent by making more.

Each new film he made was an event as it was so researched and planned, miraculously shot. He enjoyed and took his time with editing as much as with production. He was a devoted perfectionist Legendary for his multiple takes until he got it just right.

No one can make a Stanley Kubrick film. No less then Steven Spielberg a friend and admirer of his. Tried and while the film A.I. is dark for a Spielberg film and as much as I like it. I can’t help but to think how much better and different it would be if Kubrick lived to make it. Then again you can see his fingerprints all over the film. Not to take anything away from Steven Spielberg. It just felt like a bad fit for him. You can’t duplicate or come close to the art of Kubrick. It’s like a cover version of a legendary song. The singer is good, but doesn’t come close to the original.

Hopefully your kids don’t hear the cover before the original or that will be the one they are left impressed by. Just like many cinema conventions today we associate as cliché that when we watch the films that truly began the so called cliché we think the film is cliché and not original. I know of what I speak I saw the inferior 12 ANGRY MEN remake before the original.

His films are the real deal not some legend you hear people talk up and writer’s write about. Whose stories and reflections excite you to witness the legends work then once you do, you don’t see it or get what is so special. Where you wonder are you missing something. What they told you and what was said and described is more interesting then what you are watching/Witnessing. That never happens with a Kubrick film.

On a personal note we finally come to why I have titled this essay MY FRIEND STANLEY. --Directors like him feel like godfathers. So that when I would go see the films of a prolific director like himself. Not only was it an event in my life, but almost like a homecoming. It felt like everyone liked or wanted to see the film, but you. You are the only one who understood it, Read it. Got all the messages, references and jokes it put forth and the individual brilliance of the director. The ringmaster who brought it all together. --You feel special like you are the only person to pay attention to credits. So that you know exactly who made it and become a fan and follow their career. If you haven’t already. So they become living legends to you. Like when you discover anything you like. You want to know who made it. So that you can go back and gather the other movies, music, books, art, dance etc. Like audiences do at the movies only they are more geared towards the actors/Movie stars.

The filmmakers also seem like competitors, even friends as you read all about them. Notice similarities or Matching opinions in interviews and life as yours. Sort of like teen girls and their crushes only leave out the sexual and lustful part (Except for you Sofia Coopola and Kathryn Bigelow, How are you doing?) for most of us. So they feel more like friends, you never met but in your mind would get along famously and be kindred spirits. Fully understanding one another if you ever met. More my teenage thinking here. --Movies, Some of Kubrick are where who accompanied me on lonely weekend nights. Where everyone else was living life and going on dates and parties. They were the ones who were with me in the dark side by side making me feel like I belonged. --A small disappointment is that in my lifetime. He only made and came out with two films. Only one was I around to actually witness in the movie theater (EYES WIDE SHUT) and see the genius of the man behind it and appreciate the filmmaking. --I want there to be anew Stanley Kubrick film, but know that will never happen again. So I have to settle for slowly preparing to watch BARRY LYNDON, SPARTACUS and FEAR & DESIRE.

I am well rounded and fun, but really pop culture and film is all I know. It seems like at times all i have. That seems sad but I choose it, so there is no one else to blame for it. It has always been there and never changes on you Separate from Director’s cut and extended editions. Yet they are still the same only with a new haircut so to speak. That is why I am so devoted to them and want to give back to them as much as I can and get the public to see their beauty.

Like anyone in love at some point I also want to create. Make my own, Show it to the world. Introduce the world to it and me by proxy. As it is something I helped create. Be my representation to the world. Make me feel like a participant more than a voyeur. The world doesn’t own me anything and it’s my turn to show the world and the people of it who I am. Give back instead of complaining. That is the final lesson from the master I have been taught and now realize. --Have to get off my ass and create, Contribute instead of sitting around admiring others contributions. --Stop Talking about it and do it --“Don’t dream it, be it” --“Just Do it”

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Jeff. Really personal post. Best of luck to you!