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« Kubrick redux | Main | Moviegoing: "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" »

July 12, 2002

Kubrick re-redux

Friedrich --

You and the wife ought to chatter about Kubrick sometime. I occasionally have something halfway interesting to say about work I don't enjoy, but not with Kubrick. Watching his films, at least post-"Strangelove," I feel pinned down like a butterfly. All those centered compositions, those blaring overhead lights, those plunging spaces, those ultra-deliberate tracking shots -- all of which I take as an image of cerebral control, the cage of intellect, if you will. And I get restless, I look for escape, and come away exhausted, rattled and speechless.

Kubrick always seems to go at things intellectually. Even with the acting: his hope seems to be that if you ponder and insist long enough, and bear down hard enough, something strange and wonderful is likely to occur. (The hope of every obsessive workaholic?) To my mind, sometimes it does (Malcolm Macdowell) and sometimes it doesn't (most everyone else in the movie). But I suspect I'm just demonstrating how out-of-sympathy I am with what Kubrick's up to.

Am I wrong in thinking that, as he moved past his hustling-and-perverse early stage, he got overdeliberate and his humor left him? But I can sense the wife getting ready to tell me I just don't get the real brilliance of "Barry Lyndon." Which I'm sure I don't.

I've always been fascinated by the fact that Kubrick meant so much to some people. (Does he still?) Of all filmmakers, why him? Clearly, geeks can relate to his work. And, clearly, frustrated adolescents with superman fantasies can relate to it too. I'm guessing too that, like Woody Allen, Kubrick was "our boy" to people in the business. Some of Woody and Stanley's movies are super, some are lousy. But both guys got cut an enormous amount of slack by the business. And both became, at least in certain circles, almost-officially-certified geniuses. How these two? Why these two?

Also: when you think back to your infatuation with Kubrick as a college kid, what occurs to you now? Do his movies still mean something similar to you now?

Best, Michael

posted by Michael at July 12, 2002


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