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« Business, Sherman, Thurber | Main | Kubrick Rerereredux »

August 05, 2002

Kubrick re-re-redux

Friedrich --

Sherman? I dimly recall from the two books I ever read about the Civil War (a kiddie picture book, and Bruce Catton's one-volume history) -- no, I recall almost nothing about him, dimly or not. Atlanta, burning, Southerners hating him... A bad guy?

I don't think I've I've ever identified with a military figure, at least since I was a "war"-playing kid. But I was surprised how much I enjoyed, and how much I was moved by, two adult ventures in reading about war -- Paul Fussell's "Wartime" and John Keegan's "A History of Warfare," both of them terrif. Fussell's book mentions and praises many war memoirs -- "With the Old Breed on Peliliu" is one such, about WWII in the Pacific. Have you read it?

Looking back on our earlier exchanges, I notice that I was unfair to Kubrick, who I described as intellectually-driven. I think he was (do you?), but I was using the description as though it automatically implied a negative judgment -- "intellectually-driven"=bad. My failing. Even if I do tend not to enjoy most intellectually-driven art, grumble grumble.

But of course there's some such I do enjoy, De Palma, for instance. Have you seen "Mission to Mars"? Many flaws, but also some beauty, brains and humanity. Plus a childlike sense of wonder (from De Palma!) that reminded me of how I felt as a kid looking at those charts of the solar system so many Boomer boys had tacked to their walls.

When I wrote something online praising "Mission to Mars," I got tons of angry emails denouncing me, often viciously . It took me a while to understand who my correspondents were -- sci-fi geeks for whom "2001" is the gospel. And it took me a while to figure out why they so hated "Mission to Mars." It was because the movie had some human and poetic qualities. They like the I-am-a-computer quality of most sci-fi. They're geeks because life inside the machine and the mind makes more sense to them than does life in the body and the world. Or so I surmise.

I should simply have said at some point that "Mission to Mars" was a sci-fi movie for people who don't usually like sci-fi movies. (Though I do wonder if the outraged geeks would have been less abusive if I had. What a badly-socialized lot they are!) There were certainly many reasons to not enjoy "Mission to Mars" -- some not-great writing, some flubbed acting. But it did have some poetry and some (perhaps over-earnest) emotionality. Sweetness, tenderness, innocence -- imagine that. Have you seen it?

As for Kubrick -- what's wrong with creating a vivid picture of the "cage of intellect"? If indeed that's what he's doing, it's an achievement, whether I enjoy it or not.

I don't know how you reacted to "Eyes Wide Shut." When I saw it at a screening, I found it amazingly bad. Thinking back on the movie now, I'm fascinated to find that some of the (ponderous, obvious, laughable) scenes stay in the erotic memory. I forget the annoyances and narrative specifics while retaining what was juicy in some of the situations and imagery. (I read somewhere that all the breasts on display in the film were real. Kubrick apparently declared the set a "silicone-free zone" -- he hadn't totally lost his sense of humor!)

I gather that movie-theater audiences couldn't stand the film, but that people who watch it at home often find it sexy. I wonder why? Because they aren't surrounded by cynics who are laughing at the movie? Because the slow parts can be fast-forwarded through and the sexy parts dwelt on? Maybe viewing the movie at home allows hubby and wife to lie back and enter a certain kind of mood together better than sitting in a theater does.

Another topic that hasn't been enough explored: how erotic movies are experienced differently in the theater than they are at home.



posted by Michael at August 5, 2002


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