NYFF56 – What I Saw the First Three Days

The 56th New York Film Festival kicked off this past Friday and continues until Sunday, October 14th. It’s my big film event of the year. There are 30 features in the Main Slate section this year, and dozens more in the various sidebar programs. When I started attending this festival in 1977, the opening and closing night films were shown at Avery Fisher Hall. The rest were shown at Alice Tully Hall, which remains the main venue for Main Slate selections. Back then it was possible to see every film on the schedule if you wanted to. The addition of screens at the Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film center down the block has created venues for inceased programming during the festival. Even if someone was crazy enough to want to see everything, you just couldn’t do it. An embarrassment of riches, as the saying goes. I’m seeing 24 films this year. That’s probably enough.

Here are the six I saw this past weekend. I want to get this in before the end of the day (at midnight my computer turns into a pumpkin), so these brief impressions will be my immediate reactions to the films. (As is now obvious, I did not succeed in finishing this last night, pumpkin or not.)

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Friday, September 28

The Favourite  (Yorgos Lanthimos, writer/director)  This was the opening night film and I loved it. The following description on IMDb is from Fox Searchlight Pictures: “Early 18th century. England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.”

The film is quite nasty, and very funny as well. The performances are exceptional. There’s a hilarious dance scene that a friend of mine said “seemed to be a sort of Monty Python spoof of the era’s courtly dances.” The Favourite also reminds me a bit of Richard Lester’s wonderful Three Musketeers films. I’ve had mixed feelings about the previous Yorgos Lanthimos films I’d seen. The Lobster (2015) was off the wall, but I liked its bizarre premise. I had an aggressively negative reaction to The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), so I wasn’t sure what to expect with The Favourite. But like I said, I loved it. It’s steeped in period detail. I don’t know if that detail is totally accurate, but everything looks amazing. You can overdose on the production design, which made me think of Barry Lyndon (1975). Lanthimos also makes extensive use of extreme wide-angle, fisheye lenses. These shots have a surreal, panoramic quality suggestive of dioramas in museums.

Here’s a trailer that gives a good sense of the tone and sensibility of The Favourite. The film opens on November 23rd.

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Saturday, September 29

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead  (Morgan Neville, director) This is a documentary about the making (and unmaking) of Orson Welles’ legendary unfinished film, The Other Side of the Wind. Welles began production in 1970, which continued in fits and starts until 1976, after which it was lost in a limbo of legalities and speculation. Efforts to complete it in some fashion over the years invariably stalled out, until things were somehow sorted out, with Netflix providing funds to make it possible. I didn’t like this documentary very much. I found it very chaotic, though I suppose you could say that reflects the chaos of Welles’ film itself. Also, the editing — using many clips from Welles’ films — is too clever by half. Still, it’s interesting to see archival footage of Welles in various interview situations. He’s always fascinating.

The Other Side of the Wind  (Orson Welles, director/co-writer) As I said, Welles is always fascinating. I have deep affection for him and love his films, especially Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Touch of Evil. Which makes it all the more disappointing and distressing that when I finally saw The Other Side of the Wind on Saturday afternoon, I didn’t like it at all. It seemed completely chaotic to me, and not in a good way. But in retrospect I have to admit that the style and structure of the film — telling the story via an assemblage of footage shot from many sources in black & white and color and different aspect ratios — was way ahead of the game in predicting the glut of “found-footage” films that followed in the wake of The Blair Witch Project (1999). I’m kind of working this out as I’m writing. There’s no way of knowing what The Other Side of the Wind would be like had Welles been able to actually finish it himself down to the last edit, instead of others trying to second guess what he would have done.

The audience reaction for They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead and The Other Side of the Wind was very enthusiastic on Saturday, which made me question my response to the films. I had to rush to see my next film, so I couldn’t stay for the Q&A because I’m sure it would have given me more to work with, especially since it included Frank Marshall, Peter Bogdanovich, Morgan Neville, and Martin Scorsese. Hopefully it will be eventually online and I can see what I missed. Both films will be released by Netflix for streaming on November 2nd. Then you can see for yourself. I probably should take another look as well.

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The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (William Wyler, director) and The Cold Blue  (Erik Nelson, director)  In 1943, William Wyler, filming in 16mm, flew with the crews of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers on combat missions over Germany. He used the footage to tell the story of the 25th and final mission of The Memphis Belle and its crew. Wyler’s film was released in 1944, and is considered to be one of the best WWII documentaries. For years it existed in poor quality prints and videos, but has received a splendid 4K digital restoration. The Cold Blue is a new film by Erik Nelson, who drew from the over 15 hours of footage shot by Wyler. It details the making of The Memphis Belle, and is supplemented by interviews with surviving veterans who talk of their experiences as very young men who flew during the war. I have a particular interest in this subject. My dad was a navigator on a B-17G in 1944 and ’45. I was born while he was stationed in England flying bombing missions. Seeing both films resonated strongly with me.

There were Q&As following the screenings, both of which included Wyler’s daughter, Catherine. The second Q&A was moderated by Mark Harris, author of Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War. This excellent book is about five major directors — John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, Frank Capra, William Wyler — and the documentaries they made to promote the war effort.

The Cold Blue will be shown on HBO sometime next year. Release plans for The Memphis Belle have yet to be announced.

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Sunday, September 30

Her Smell  (Alex Ross Perry, director & writer)  Elizabeth Moss stars as Becky Something, the leader of an alt-rock/punk/grunge band called Something She. Becky is destructively out of control, making life impossible for everyone around her, which includes the three women in her band. She made me think of Courtney Love, though in a Q&A after the film, the director and Moss said they’d modeled her on a number of people. The opening act, a sequence lasting 25 minutes, drops us in Becky’s in-your-face world right from the start. The cinematography by Sean Price Williams is frantic and reflects the deliberate chaos of Becky’s life. It’s hard to watch and she’s hard to take, but I couldn’t look away. In a subsequent section, with Becky recovering in a house in the country, the camerawork is completely different, very stable, locked down for long takes. Elizabeth Moss gives a totally committed, kick-out-the-jams performance. I first saw her in Mad Men where her character’s amazing evolution was the spine of the show. This is the third Alex Ross Perry film she’s been in, following Listen Up Philip (2014) and Queen of the Earth (2015).

There was a brief Q&A with Alex Ross Perry and Elizabeth Moss after the screening moderated by Dennis Lim. I wish it had been longer.

There’s a lot to absorb in this film. I saw it only yesterday, but I think I need to see it again in order to see it better.

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I’ve got 18 films to see before NYFF56 ends next Sunday. I’m particularly looking forward to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate (with Willem Dafoe as Van Gogh and Oscar Isaac as Gauguin), a restoration of Edgar Ulmer’s Detour, and Watergate, a 4-hour documentary by Charles Ferguson. I’m also hoping to score a ticket for Frederick Wiseman’s Monrovia, Indiana, the latest documentary from this 88-year-old master.

That’s all for now. See you at the movies. — Ted Hicks

Posted in Documentaries, Feature films, Streaming | 4 Comments

Movie Poster Potpourri – Take 2

As with last year’s “Movie Poster Potpourri,” there’s no particular theme or category for this collection of film posters, other than they’re dynamic and dramatic. They all got my attention in one way or another. These are for films both well-known and obscure. It’s easy to see why vintage posters have become so collectable. Many of the ones in this post are artistic, often beautiful, or just in your face in ways today’s film posters don’t begin to touch. This is a bit of a grab bag, but I think they’re all pretty cool.

I’ve also included a few slides that used to be shown in theaters during the silent movie era, plus an incredible Clara Bow cover for the magazine “Motion Picture Classic” (don’t know the year), and the cover of the first issue of “The Edison Kinetogram,” published in London in 1910.

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I got a kick out of the one above. What else would you applaud with? Your feet?

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Here we have two decidedly different approaches to the same Western movie, followed by a very nice poster for The Oregon Trail.

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Title and year for films are listed below in the order they appear above (countries for foreign posters are also indicated):

The Fighting Streak (1922), Deadwood Pass (1933), Cimarron (1931), The Walking Dead (1936), I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), Somewhere in the Night (1946), Side Street (1950), The Wild Party (1929), Red Hair (1928), Red Headed Woman (1932), Psycho (1960), Quality Street (1937), Rebecca (1940), A Farewell to Arms (1932), Anna Karenina (Germany, 1920), The Atomic Man (1955), Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars (1938), Spies (1928), Riddle Gawne (1918), Renegades (1930), 3 Bad Men (1926), The First Kiss (1928), Love Letters (1945), Invisible Stripes (Sweden, 1939), Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), Sirocco (France, 1951), King Kong (1933), The Invisible Man (1933), Dracula (tinted lobby card, 1931), The Black Cat (1934), Beggars of Life (1928), The Kid (1921), Zaza (1923), Fanny (France, 1932), Fighting for Justice (1932), The Oregon Trail (1936), The Phantom of the Opera (Sweden, 1925), Phantom of the Opera (U.S. 1925), Them (1954).

This post is a follow-up to three previous posts, “Movie Poster Art: Foreign Versions” (6/30/14),  “Movie Poster Art for Art’s Sake” (12/30/16), and “Movie Poster Potpourri” (8/31/17) .

That’s all for now. — Ted Hicks

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Hang on, here’s one more.

Posted in Art, Feature films, Film, Film posters | 3 Comments

Seen Anything Good Lately?

Well, actually, I have. The following are some of the best films I’ve seen so far this year. This is by no means comprehensive, but these quickly came to mind. After I initially compiled the list I noticed that all of the films had been either written or co-written by the director. I don’t think that’s an accident.

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Custody (Xavier Legrand, director & writer)  This French film, a prize-winner at last year’s Venice International Film Festival, is a tense domestic thriller with an 11-year-old boy as the prize in a custody fight between divorced parents. Miriam Besson (Léa Drucker) wants to keep her son Julien (Thomas Gioria) as far away from her ex-husband Antoine (Denis Ménochet) as possible. Julien is clearly terrified of him. Antoine is a glowering, short-fused presence, though for a long time we’re not sure if he’s as bad as he seems. Custody is wound very tight. There’s always a threat of violence that could erupt at any moment.

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Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham, director & writer)  Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is in her final week of middle school. She constantly posts videos about self-confidence and image on YouTube, but feels like an absolute klutz in her real life. For Kayla, every moment she has to be with other people has the potential for humiliation. Her doubts and fears are something we can all relate to; I know I certainly can. The writing and performances feel completely natural.

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First Reformed (Paul Schrader, director & writer)  Throughout his career as a director and screenwriter, Paul Schrader has been concerned with protagonists — often anguished and doubting — who have been boxed in by their struggles to find meaning in their lives and beliefs. They frequently find expression through violence, as with Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, or, as with Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, by being crucified. In First Reformed, the Reverend Ernst Toller, strongly played by Ethan Hawke in a claustrophobically contained performance, continues Schrader’s exploration of this kind of character. Even his first name, Ernst, makes a tight and constricted sound when you say it, as opposed to Ernest, which is what I initially thought the name was. Toller is the minister of the First Reformed, a small church with a shrinking congregation in upstate New York. The church is an historical landmark, significant for being a stop on the Underground Railroad. Toller gives tours of the church to handfuls of people, which end at the gift shop. He’s also involved in preparing for the 250th anniversary of First Reformed, a celebration to be attended by the mayor, governor, and other dignitaries. Then there’s the parishioner (played by Amanda Seyfried), concerned for her husband, a fanatical environmentalist, who has a suicide vest in the house. First Reformed is a rigorous film, and deadly serious. There aren’t many laughs. None, actually, and no easy answers. At a Q&A at the Walter Reade Theater in May, Schrader explained the absence of a music score by saying he didn’t want music cues to tell the audience how to feel. He said, rather poetically, “You can’t hold the hand of the viewer when you’re asking them to walk into the mystery.” First Reformed is very rewarding. It gives you a lot to think about, and I liked it a lot.

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The Guardians (Xavier Beauvois, director & writer)  I really loved this film. I saw it twice and it was just as strong the second time. The Guardians is set in a farming community in France during World War I. Most of the men are away fighting, so it’s left to the women to do the farming. There are frequent scenes of farm work — plowing, planting, harvesting, etc. These are lengthy and mostly wordless. Having grown up on a farm in Iowa, I appreciated the time and respect the filmmaker gave to this activity. Husbands and sons return on leave, then go back to the front again. During church services, the priest reads he names of those who’ve been killed. Seasons pass and life goes on. It’s a great movie.

Here is the French-language trailer, which I think adds to the one above and is worth seeing.

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The Guilty (Gustav Möller, director & co-writer)  In this riveting Danish film, police officer Asger Holm (played by Jakob Cedergren) has been assigned to an emergency call center. The entire film takes place inside this center. We hear the voices of the callers, but we never see them. The focus is tightly on Asger as he handles each call. The film kicks into gear when he gets a call from a woman who may have been kidnapped by her ex-husband. In a series of calls, Asger attempts to help the woman without alerting her kidnapper. By the end of the film, things have flipped a couple of times as Asger (and the audience) learns more. The Guilty is terrific. It’s a thriller that never leaves Asger, a cop on the phone at a desk. It reminds me of another film I like a lot, Locke (2013), which takes place entirely inside a car with Tom Hardy as he drives through the night, constantly calling people and taking calls. That was a thriller, too. The Guilty will be released in the U.S. on October 19 of this year.

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Hearts Beat Loud (Brett Haley, director & co-writer)  This is another film I love. It is, as the poster proclaims, a “feel good” movie, but it earns it. Frank Fisher (wonderfully played by Nick Offerman) owns a vinyl record store in Brooklyn. His daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemmons) is about to leave for California and pre-med study at UCLA. Frank had been in a band when he was younger. He and Sam are talented musicians; they write songs and jam together. In a great sequence, we see them as they record a song that goes viral after Frank puts it on Spotify, unbeknownst to Sam. Frank feels he and Sam are now a band (which he calls We’re Not a Band) and wishes she would delay college to work on this with him. The cast includes the always great Ted Danson as a bar owner and Frank’s friend, Sasha Lane as Sam’s girlfriend, Toni Collette as Frank’s record shop landlord, and Blythe Danner as Frank’s mother. There’s not a lot of big drama, and things don’t work out the way they might in a more conventional film with this premise. It feels very natural. This is a really, really good movie.

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Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird, director & writer)  It’s hard to believe it’s been 14 years since the first Incredibles movie. That’s an unusually long amount of time to wait for a sequel, but I have to say, it was worth it. I loved the first one, and this is even better. It’s one of those infrequent cases where a sequel surpasses the original, as did The Godfather: Part II (1974), Aliens (1986), and Terminator 2 (1991). Advances in animation technology since 2004 raised the quality of Incredibles 2 to a very high level. Plus it’s impossible not to get swept up by the momentum of the storytelling. Brad Bird‘s work is exceptional. He directed The Iron Giant in 1999, an animated film with a lot of heart  that transported me back to my childhood. I like retro robots, and this has one of the best. His live-action feature debut, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), is the best of that seemingly inexhaustible series.

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Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, director & co-writer)  This is a very strong, deeply affecting film that doubles down on the promise of Debra Granik’s previous feature, Winter’s Bone (2010). Just as that film provided a breakout role for Jennifer Lawrence, Leave No Trace does the same for Thomasin McKenzie. She’s excellent as Ben Foster’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Tom. Foster plays Will, a former soldier with PTSD. They’ve been living off the grid deep in the forest on public land in Oregon. Their struggle to maintain this way of life forms the crux of the film. Leave No Trace is very understated, free of the more conventional drama you might expect. The film respects all of the characters; there are no villains per se. Foster is excellent as Tom’s father. But he’s almost always excellent, as his work in The Messenger (2009), Hostiles (2017), and especially Hell or High Water (2017) will attest. Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz has described him as “one of those actors who make even a bad film worth seeing.”

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Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Mouly Surya, director & co-writer) and Revenge (Coralie Fargeat, director & writer) are two distinctly different examples of rape-revenge dramas. It’s worth noting that both of these films were written and directed by women. Marlina, from Indonesia, takes an understated approach, which might sound ironic considering that Marlina carries the severed head of one of her attackers with her for most of the film.

In both films, the women take decisive action against their perpetrators. Revenge, a French film, is anything but understated. The violence is graphic and extreme. Jennifer (played by Matilda Lutz) becomes almost a superhero given the level of damage she sustains at the outset and more than survives. Revenge definitely takes an in-your-face approach that’s not for everyone. At times I was afraid of what I as going to see next.  Marlina is more artful and thoughtful, and probably the better film. Though there’s something undeniably satisfying on a visceral level about watching Jennifer lay waste to her attackers in Revenge. What I’m unsure of is why that is. Regardless, I liked them both.

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The Rider (Chloé Zhao, director & writer)  For me, this is the best film of the year so far. I responded more strongly to The Rider than anything else I’ve seen to date. It concerns a promising young rodeo rider, Brady Blackburn, who suffered a near-fatal injury when a bull stepped on his head before the film begins. He’s told he can never ride or rodeo again. The Rider shows how he struggles to deal with this. Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker who was born in Beijing, attended boarding school in London, finished high school in Los Angeles, and studied filmmaking at NYU in New York City. Like her first feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), The Rider was shot on and around the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It has a documentary aspect that reinforces the reality that’s created here. All of the characters are convincingly played by non-actors. Brady is played by Brady Jandreau; his father by his real father; his sister by his real sister. Brady had the same injury as his character has in the film. His friends in the film are his friends in real life. One doesn’t need to know this to appreciate the film, but it adds to the authenticity you feel.

In the scene below, Brady, who is a horse trainer as well as a rodeo rider, tames a horse. There’s something beautiful about it.

As with several of the films on this list, The Rider doesn’t go the way you’d think it might, given its premise. It’s truer than that. It’s also, as has been pointed out by others, visually stunning and deeply moving.

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Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, director & writer)  Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield) takes a job with a telemarketing company in Oakland, California where he’s encouraged to use his “white voice” to increase his sales. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This film is insane. The white voices are dubbed by actual white voices. You could say the film is social satire, but that doesn’t begin to convey the anger that runs through it. It’s also a comedy, a farce, a horror film, and probably a thousand other things. Plus it’s great. Something is revealed in the latter half of the film that will have your jaw on the floor. I don’t dare say anything else about that, though I’d like to. I can only hope that in the wake of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, we’ll see more films that are this full-throttle.

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Under the Tree (Hafstein Gunnar Siguròsson, director & writer)  Black comedy from Iceland. I liked it a lot. The very large tree in the yard of an older couple casts an equally large shadow over the yard of their next-door neighbors, who insist that the tree be either trimmed or cut down so the wife can resume her sunbathing uninterrupted. This becomes a war of nerves, a feud in which the stakes are constantly raised. The Coen Brothers would love this. There Will Be Blood would also be an apt title. It’s very nasty.

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Supplemental

Here is a sampling of interviews and one music video.

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Eighth GradeBo Burnham & Elsie Fisher interview

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First Reformed Paul Schrader interview

— Ethan Hawke interview

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The Guardians — Xavier Beauvois interview

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Hearts Beat Loud Music video of the title song intercut with scenes from the film

— Brett Haley & Nick Offerman interview

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Leave No Trace Sundance interview with Ben Foster & Debra Granik

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The Rider Brady Jandreau interview (don’t mind the French subtitles, the interview is in English)

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Many of these films are still in theaters. The others should be available soon for rental or streaming. That’s all for now. — Ted Hicks

Posted in Feature films, Film, Film posters, Streaming, TV & Cable | 3 Comments

Kubrick Postscript: “Killer’s Kiss” – 1955

After putting up my third post on Stanley Kubrick last Thursday, I was still in the mood, so I decided to watch his second feature, Killer’s Kiss. I didn’t plan to write about Kubrick again so soon, but I really liked the film and thought there were some things worth sharing. So here we are again.

Killer’s Kiss isn’t a great film, but it’s very interesting and unusual in a number of ways. Much of what stands out about it is that it was shot on location rather than in studio sets. As film critic Geoffrey O’Brien says, “…shooting on location in New York introduces an element of chance and feeling for actual locations.” He refers to the “…general run-down feeling of all these locations, of these interiors,” and “…the absence of glamour.” He goes on to say “…the presence of New York City in Killer’s Kiss is overwhelming. The city spills into the movie and makes it more than it would otherwise have been.” It’s also important in the development of Kubrick’s career. Killer’s Kiss is a significant advance from his first feature, Fear and Desire (1953), which seems more like a student film now. His next feature, The Killing (1956), is an even greater advance. It’s as though he really knew who he was and what he wanted to do. (My previous post on The Killing can be accessed here.)

The importance of shooting in actual locations can’t be over-estimated. New York location filming was also used to great effect in The Naked City (Jules Dassin – 1948), Side Street (Anthony Mann – 1950), and the opening scenes of Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway – 1947). O’Brien points out that images of the city are not being used as backdrop; they are the foreground, it’s the story that’s the backdrop.

That story is fairly simple. Davey Gordon (Jamie Smith) is a prize fighter on the way down who becomes involved with Gloria Price (Irene Kane), who lives in his building. Vincent Rapallo (Frank Silvera) is a small-time gangster who runs the Pleasure Land dance hall where Gloria works. He wants to possess her, body and soul. Davey wants to defend her. All three are lonely people. Davey is a typical film noir protagonist; he’s in over his head and his plans to get out are undone by random chance. As Rapallo says near the end, “I didn’t want murder. It’s all gone wrong.” That’s noir in a nutshell.

An interesting detail is that Gloria’s sister, Iris, seen performing an interpretive dance in flashback, was played by Ruth Sobotka, who was Kubrick’s wife at the time. She later was the art director for his next film, The Killing.

Killer’s Kiss is included on the Criterion Collection’s Blu-ray release of The Killing. The high definition transfer is stunning. I was struck by the clarity and razor sharpness of the black & white images. The look of the film in general reminded me of the photos Kubrick took for Look magazine in the late 1940s. Compare the photo below from Look with a scene from Killer’s Kiss below that.

An immense amount of detail crowds the frame in scenes shot on Broadway near Times Square. In the frame above, note the signs for Childs restaurant, Pepsi Cola, Admiral Television Appliances, and the theater marquee in the background advertising Tony Curtis in Beachhead. There’s much more. All of this actually existed at the time, and it lends a powerful sense of reality to the film. The scenes in Killer’s Kiss appear to have been shot in natural light, especially the exteriors, without any “Hollywood” lighting. If Kubrick wanted a documentary feel, he got it. In his book Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist’s Maze ,(Indiana University Press, 2000) author Thomas Allen Nelson, in reference to Killer’s Kiss, points out “…its street locations and neorealist flair for random detail (objects and faces in subways, and on the street and in shop windows of Times Square)… used to create a chaotic public backdrop at odds with private worlds.”

The streets we see are grey and dirty, and mostly empty, except for the scenes shot on Broadway, which are teeming with actual life. Davey’s apartment is stark and mostly empty of decor, except for a few snapshots of his Uncle George’s horse ranch near Seattle, and the odd detail of a machete mounted on the wall. Davey and Gloria’s apartments face each other across an air shaft. We watch Davey watching Gloria through her open window. This voyeuristic aspect is continued in a later scene with Davey, watching from Gloria’s apartment as two policemen enter his apartment looking for him after his boxing manager has been found beaten to death. In an earlier scene, on the morning of his important prize fight, we see Davey peering closely at his face in the mirror, much as fighter Walter Cartier did in Kubrick’s short documentary, Day of the Fight (1951). As Thomas Allen Nelson wrote, “The best moments of Killer’s Kiss combine a voyeuristic and narcissistic definition of character.”

As a fighter, Davey has seen better days. The announcer at that night’s fight describes his boxing career as “…one long promise without fulfillment.” You can see the fight in the following clip, which intercuts the match with shots of a gleeful Rapallo and a reluctant Gloria watching the fight on television in his office at the dance hall. I was especially taken with a moment early in the fight when Davey is knocked down to a sitting position against the ropes, looking stunned as he struggles to get back on his feet. This felt different to me from what usually see in boxing movies.

After losing the fight, Davey is back home on his bed and has a nightmare in which we’re rushing down a deserted city street, buildings on either side pressing in. This is seen in negative image, and is very reminiscent of parts of the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Davey is startled awake from his dream by Gloria’s screams. Davey rushes to the window to see Gloria struggling with Rapallo.

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Davey’s Uncle George has been asking him to visit them in Seattle. Davey has fallen in love with Gloria. They make plans to go to Seattle together. Rapallo means to stop them. Killer’s Kiss is definitely a film noir in style and content. The framing and lighting and the silhouetted figures in the shot below are a prime example.

In this scene, two of Rapallo’s henchmen have cornered Davey’s fight manager, mistaking him for Davey, due to another bit of random chance that Kubrick likes so much.

Another example is the shot below of Gloria climbing the long staircase to the Pleasure Land dance hall. The angle, the light, and her reflection on the walls are just great. Kubrick says the “WATCH YOUR STEP” sign was actually there at the location, a kind of gift, as it were. It’s perfect for a noir narrative.

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Film noirs frequently use flashbacks. The transitions to the flashbacks, signified by the cliché of a shimmering optical effect, are the one really clumsy thing about Killer’s Kiss. But it was only his second feature, so this can be forgiven.

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An extended rooftop chase sequence precedes the final showdown. Kubrick filmed it in extreme long shot, with Davey a tiny figure in the distance. Subsequent shots bring him and his pursuers a little closer, but not much. We are almost clinically removed from the characters and the action. There’s no music, only some insistent percussion, and the sounds of fog horns from the harbor, and the early morning light. Was this an aesthetic choice for Kubrick, or the most practical way to shoot the scene given a low budget? Whatever the reason, the result is great.

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By far the most startling scene in the film, and the one I remembered from seeing Killer’s Kiss years ago, is described by Thomas Allen Nelson as “The film’s most memorable episode, a fight to the death between Davey and Rapallo in a storeroom filled with mannequins, which illustrates Kubrick’s fondness for mixing realist and surrealistic imagery.” The struggle is messy and clumsy, with the two men grabbing anything loose and throwing or swinging it. It feels like the way an actual fight would be. The bizarre setting adds a nightmarish quality.

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Of all the locations used in this film, I think the most distinctive was the original Penn Station. It was torn down in 1963, so most of us never had the chance to actually see it. Killer’s Kiss is framed by scenes shot there. The film begins with Davey waiting with his suitcase in the station. In voice-0ver, he begins to tell the story in a series of flashbacks within flashbacks. We return to Davey and Penn Station for the ending. The shot below, under the main title, gives a sense of what that space was like, which also seems to enlarge the scope of the film.

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Stanley Kubrick on the set of Killer’s Kiss.

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Killer’s Kiss is available for streaming from Amazon, but only in standard definition. I highly recommend the high definition transfer that’s included with The Killing on the Criterion Collection’s DVD and Blu-ray discs.

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This ends my Stanley Kubrick series, for the time being, anyway. I didn’t intend to do four parts, but it took on a life of its own. Thanks for going on the ride with me. — Ted Hicks

 

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Still More Kubrick!

The subject of Stanley Kubrick is a very deep well. After completing my two previous posts, I still had a lot of material left over and thought of putting together another installment. Since then, I’ve come across even more. There’s really no end to it. For the time being, I have to stop looking and start writing, otherwise I’ll never get it done. Following is a random selection of interviews, clips, photographs,  quotes and reminiscences that I think will help illuminate Stanley Kubrick more fully as an artist and as a person. Or at least give some sense of his thinking, how he saw things, how he worked, and his effect on the people around him.

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Kubrick interviewed by Tim Cahill in Rolling Stone, August 27, 1987.

Q. Well, you don’t make it easy on viewers or critics. You’ve said you want an audience to react emotionally. You create strong feelings but you won’t give us any easy answers.

A. That’s because I don’t have any easy answers.

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Michael Herr, author of one of the greatest books on the Vietnam war, Dispatches (1977), was a friend and collaborator of Kubrick’s for twenty years. He was co-writer of Full Metal Jacket (1987). Shortly after Stanley died in 1999, Herr wrote a short book, Kubrick (2000), about their relationship. Here are some quotes from that book.

** Re Stanley in his late teens: ……trying to see every movie ever made. There was definitely such a thing as a bad movie, but there was no movie not worth seeing. (page 25)

** He once told me (Herr) that if he hadn’t become a director he might have liked being a conductor. ” They get to play the whole orchestra, and they get plenty of exercise,” he said, waving his arms a bit, “and most of them live to be really old.” (page 65)

** He’d never talk about his movies while he was making them, and he didn’t like talking about them afterwards very much, even to friends, except maybe to mention the grosses. Most of all he didn’t want to talk about their “meaning,” because he believed so completely in their meaning that to try and talk about it could only spoil it for him. He might tell you how he did it, but never why… Somebody asked him how he ever thought of the ending of 2001. “I don’t know,’ he said, ‘How does anybody ever think of anything?” (page 71)

** Stanley didn’t live in England because he disliked America, God knows; America was all he ever talked about. It was always on his mind and in his blood. …although he hadn’t been there since 1968. In the days before satellite TV, had relatives and friends send him tapes of American television – NFL games, The Johnny Carson Show, news broadcasts and commercials, which he thought were, in their way, the most interesting films being made. He was crazy about The Simpsons and Seinfeld, and he loved Roseanne because it was funny and, he believed, the most authentic view of the country you could get without actually living there. (page 46-47)

** Kubrick thought a particular role for a film he wanted to make would “be perfect for Steve Martin. He’d loved The Jerk.” (page 8)

** Some Americans move to London and in three weeks they’re talking like Denholm Elliott. Stanley picked up the odd English locution, but it didn’t take Henry Higgins to place him as pure, almost stainless Bronx. Stanley’s voice was very fluent, melodious even. In spite of the Bronx nasal-caustic, perhaps the shadow of some adenoidal trauma long ago, it was as close to the condition of music as speech can get and still be speech, like a very well-read jazz musician talking, with a pleasing and graceful Groucho-like rushing and ebbing of inflection for emphasis, suggested quotation marks and even inverted commas to convey amused disdain, over-enunciating phrases that struck him as fabulously banal, with lots of innuendo, and lots of latent sarcasm, and some not so latent, lively tempi, brilliant timing, eloquent silences; and always, masterful, seamless segues, “Lemme change the subject for just a minute,” or, “What were we into before we got into this?” I never heard him try to do other voices, or dialects, even when he was telling Jewish jokes. Stanley quoted other people all the time, people in “the industry” whom he’d spoken to that afternoon (Steven and Mike, Warren and Jack, Tom and Nicole), or people who died a thousand years ago, but it was always Stanley speaking. (page 5)

** Re Full Metal Jacket: There was a break in the shooting of almost five months after Lee Ermey smashed up his car late one night and broke all his ribs on one side. Some of the cast had other jobs lined up and had to juggle… Vincent D’Onofrio had gained forty to fifty pounds to play Leonard, and he had to keep it on through all those idle months. (page 59)

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Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket, was interviewed in 2017 about being in the film. This is quite wonderful. D’Onofrio is really expressive. (Note that it starts over at approximately 21 minutes and repeats the first 8 minutes.)

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Some behind-the-scenes footage from Full Metal Jacket. It’s interesting to watch Kubrick dealing with the crew.

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Two videos from the Stanley Kubrick Archive Oral History

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Stanley’s cats.

Kubrick loved cats. Of course he did. He had dogs and many cats as pets in England. He would leave 15 pages of instructions for whomever was caring for the cats when he was away. You can read about that here, which includes a short video of his daughter Katharina talking about these instructions.

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Stanley’s quest for “just perfect” cardboard boxes.

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“What They Say About Stanley Kubrick” by Peter Bogdanovich appeared in the New York Times Magazine on July 4, 1999, several months after Kubrick’s death the previous March. It’s a collection of comments by those who’d known and worked with him, including his wife Christiane. I’ve selected some of the comments for this post. Then entire piece can be accessed here.

** Arliss Howard (actor, Full Metal Jacket): I remember his saying, “The hardest thing in making a movie is to to keep in front of your consciousness your original response to the material. Because that’s going to be the thing that will make the movie. And the loss of that will break the movie.”

** Gerald Fried (childhood friend and composer of Kubrick’s short film, The Day of the Fight, and his first four features): By the time we got to Paths of Glory, he was already “Stanley Kubrick” and then it was a struggle – I had to rationalize every note. It was fun and stimulating, but he was already sure he knew it all… As I remember, he also heard every single machine-gun sound effect before it went into the picture.

** Richard Anderson (actor, Paths of Glory): Stanley is very psychological to get what he wants. One time he had done about 40 takes and Jimmy Harris (producer) comes and says, “Stanley, it’s now 1 o’clock and we’re in terrible trouble and we gotta break this up.” That was the only time I saw Stanley go nuts. He shouted, “It isn’t right – and I’m going to keep doing it until it is right!” He shot 84 takes. I think he wanted everybody to hear that – he wanted it to get around.

** Adam Baldwin (actor, Full Metal Jacket): One of the things we did to kill time was play chess, play hearts, smoke cigarettes. We would lay out the board and he would kind of waddle over and wipe you out in 15 moves. One time I actually got him to blunder and I won the game – big deal, 1 out of 50. But I said, “Hah, I got ya. You have to resign now.” And he said to me, “The only reason you won, Adam, is because I have so little respect for your game that I made a blunder. Now get back to work.” He had that little wry grin of his and walked away.

** John Milius (director, screenwriter, phone relationship with Kubrick from early ’80s): Stanley had no regard for time. He’d call you in the middle of the night, whenever he felt like calling. I’d say, “Stanley, it’s the middle of the night.” He’d say, “You’re awake, aren’t you?” He’d never talk for less than an hour.

** Arliss Howard: He could come in a room and say, “We’re two stops off in this light.” They’d say, “No, we just checked the camera.” He’d say, “We’re two stops off,” and they’d be two stops off.

** Keir Dullea (actor, 2001): I was always aware that he knew exactly what he wanted. He would invite Gary Lockwood and myself to have dinner at his beautiful home. And he would invite a lot of other people from all walks of life and different disciplines – art historians, authors and intellectuals. And he was as informed as anybody about their disciplines. He was like an onion – every layer you peeled off there were two new ones to be exposed.

** Ken Adam (production designer, Dr. Strangelove & Barry Lyndon): I don’t think I ever had such a close relationship with a director. There was a certain naiveté and charm about him, but you very quickly found out that there was an enormous brain functioning. I think the most difficult part was his questioning, almost computer-like mind. He knew most of the technicians’ work better than the technicians themselves. The only think he didn’t know was design. So, obviously, he was fascinated by it, but I also found myself having to justify practically every line I drew, which wasn’t always easy… He very often changed his mind. After two days of shooting, for example, he wasn’t happy with Peter Sellers playing the B-52 bomber-captain (in addition to his other roles) and he cast Slim Pickens instead and then decided to have him ride the atomic bomb bronco-fashion into the Russian missile complex.

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Ken Adam talks about working with Kubrick in the video below.

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** Christiane Kubrick (wife): He thought it was boring away from home. He liked all his stuff around him, all his telephones and televisions and fax machines. Also, we have a zoo. We have a lot of animals and he liked those and he liked the children and later the grandchildren. He liked being at home. But not like a hermit – he had lots of friends – they just weren’t in the film business. He talked to everybody – he just didn’t talk to the press.

** Sydney Pollack (director, phone relationship with Kubrick since early ‘70s, actor in Eyes Wide Shut): I always think of Stanley literally on the edge of a smile. His eyes always had mischief in them. He always had this sense of the devil in him while he was very calmly asking questions. He read everything, and knew absolutely all aspects of the business, including literally what the box-office receipts of every theater in the world were of the past few years.

** Gerald Fried: I hope his last hour was cool. I played on a ball club called the Barracudas, in the Bronx, and I remember Stanley – he was about 18, 19 – he wanted to get into a game and he wasn’t a good athlete and the guys didn’t want him and I said, “Come on, give him a chance.” We let him play, and his face lit up.

** Christiane Kubrick: Even the most ordinary things, he would give them such extra insight that they became interesting. He talked all the time, and so now I never have this rain of words. I’m very sad now but I was personally very lucky that I always felt very loved and many people can’t say that.

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Actor Sterling Hayden talking about Kubrick, The Killing (1956) and Dr. Strangelove (1964). Hayden is a little odd, but this is interesting.

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Director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy, Intersteller, Dunkirk) talks about Kubrick and 2001.

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David Simon (creator of The Wire) talks about Paths of Glory.

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I’d forgotten about S Is for Stanley, a documentary about Emilio D’Alessandro, Kubrick’s driver since 1971. I saw it in January of last year and quite liked it. Here’s the trailer, which is narrated by the film’s director, Alex Infascelli.

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I recently remembered that somewhere in my randomly stored archives I ought to have a souvenir program booklet for 2001: A Space Odyssey. So I went into the hall closet and was amazed to find it in the first box I opened. I must have gotten this when I saw 2001 for the first time at a Cinerama theater in Sacramento in 1968, when the film opened. It’s one of the artifacts I’ve kept through the years. And here it is!

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Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke on the moon shuttle set for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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A pie fight in the war room was originally supposed to be the climax of Dr. Strangelove. It was filmed, but obviously didn’t make the final cut. Here’s Stanley with one of the pies, followed by a shot of him demonstrating how to throw them. It would be nice to see that footage.

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As previously noted, Kubrick was loathe to talk about his films or “explain” them, but I found an exception to that. Space Odyssey, Michael Benson’s excellent book about the making of 2001, references a quote from Kubrick in a column by Abe Weiler for the New York Times in late April, 1968. 2001 had just been released to fairly hostile critical response. He probably felt some pressure to say something specific. Here’s the quote:

“What happens at the end must tap the subconscious for its power. To do this, one must bypass words and move into the world of dreams and mythology. This is why the literal clarity one has become used to is not there. Here is what we used for planning. In Jupiter orbit, Keir Dullea is swept into a Star Gate. Hurled through fragmented regions of time and space, he enters into another dimension where the laws of nature as we know them no longer apply. In the unseen presences of godlike entities – beings of pure energy who have evolved beyond matter – he finds himself in what might be described as a human zoo, created from his own dreams and memories…His entire life passes in what appears to him a matter of moments. He dies and is reborn – transfigured. An enhanced being, a Star Child. The ascent from ape to angel is complete.”

Actually, “from ape to angel” is a pretty succinct description of what the film is about. I love it.

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One more thing before I wrap this up. Two weeks ago we were on line to see a film at the Walter Reade Theater. I was reading the Michael Benson’s Space Odyssey when a man in front of me asked how I was liking it. He said he used to work for MGM and that he’d known Kubrick at the time. He said they used to talk on the phone a lot. In what I’ve been reading about Kubrick recently, a lot of people mention all the calls they used to get from him at all hours, very long calls. So I got a kick when this guy, whose name was Jim, started talking about phone calls with Stanley. He said that whatever they started off talking about, the calls sooner or later became about gossip. Stanley Kubrick liked to gossip! After reading and writing about Kubrick these past few weeks and having him in my head, I thought it was pretty great that I’d have a chance encounter with someone who’d actually known him.

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Kubrick Remembered, a feature documentary narrated in part by his wife, Christiane.

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There’s more, but I think it’s time to take a break. Besides, Stanley Kubrick isn’t going anywhere. — Ted Hicks

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More Kubrick!

I’d gathered far more material than would reasonably fit in my previous post on Stanley Kubrick, so I’m including some of it in this follow-up. This is a grab bag of interviews, profiles, photos, clips and quotes to pick and choose from.

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A profile of Stanley Kubrick by Jeremy Bernstein in New Yorker magazine in 1966 can be accessed here.

Below is an interview with Kubrick conducted by Bernstein. The sound of Kubrick’s voice is very interesting to me. It lends a human dimension to all that’s been written about him and all the published photographs I’ve seen. Kubrick claimed to hate being interviewed, yet he clearly had no problem speaking at length.

Here is Kubrick at the premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. This aired on Dutch television after his death in 1998.

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Much has been written about Stanley Kubrick over the years, many books and articles. I haven’t come close to reading everything, but books I’ve found useful include The Making of Kubrick’s 2001, edited by Jerome Agel and published in 1970, two years after the film opened. Michel Ciment’s Kubrick: The Definitive Edition (2001) is packed with interviews, photographs, and insightful analysis of all his films. Stanley Kubrick Interviews, edited by Gene Phillips, was published in 2001 by the University Press of Mississippi in their excellent series, Conversations with Filmmakers. Additionally, I’m currently half-way through Micheal Benson’s exceptional Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece (2018), which I mentioned in the previous post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here is a series of videos examining different aspects of Kubrick’s career.

Here is Ryan O’Neal speaking about Kubrick and Barry Lyndon.

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** Kubrick’s interest in science fiction predates 2001 by several years. Here’s a passage from Michael Benson’s Space Odyssey concerning Dr. Strangelove. There’s no way to know if this was seriously considered, but probably not. Regardless, it’s pretty funny.

Dr. Strangelove’s script had contained a sci-fi framing device until shortly before filming commenced in 1963. The film’s opening credits were supposed to start with “a weird, hydra-headed, furry creature” snarling at the camera under the opening title “A Macro-Galaxy-Meteor Picture.” After an effects shot in which the camera moved through stars, planets, and moons, a narrator evidently of alien origin was to have explained that the “ancient comedy” the audience was about to see had been “discovered at the bottom of a deep crevice in the Great Northern Desert by members of our Earth probe, Nimbus-II.” At the end, following the film’s crescendo of exploding hydrogen bombs, scrolling titles were to conclude by noting that “this quaint comedy of Galaxy pre-History” was “another in our series, The Dead Worlds of Antiquity.”

** Kubrick on voice-over narration (from Michel Ciment’s Kubrick book in an interview re: Barry Lyndon): “A voice-over spares you the cumbersome business of telling the necessary facts of the story through expositional dialogue scenes which can become very tiresome and frequently unconvincing… Voice-over, on the other hand, is a perfectly legitimate and economical way of conveying story information which does not need dramatic weight and which would otherwise be too bulky to dramatize.”

** I recently re-watched Jan Harlin’s documentary, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, which came out in 2001, ironically enough. It’s very good and well worth seeing. I was especially struck by something Jack Nicholson says in it regarding Kubrick: “His movies are completely conscious.”

** Kubrick quoted in Vincent Lobrutto’s Stanley Kubrick: A Biography: “I don’t like to talk about 2001 too much because it’s essentially a non-verbal experience. It attempts to communicate more to the subconscious and to the feelings than it does to the intellect. I think clearly there’s a problem with people who are not paying attention with their eyes. They’re listening. And they don’t get much from listening to this film. Those who won’t believe their eyes won’t be able to appreciate this film.”

I really like “not paying attention with their eyes.”

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The following radio interview seems to have been done after Barry Lyndon was released in 1975.

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Stanley Kubrick filmography and awards.

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Kubrick on the set of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), followed by Full Metal Jacket (1987) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

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Kubrick’s 1998 acceptance speech receiving DGA D.W. Griffith Award – with opening comments by Jack Nicholson

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Thanks for going on this ride with me and Stanley Kubrick. I hope you had a good time. – Ted Hicks

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Stanley K Is in the House!

It feels like Stanley Kubrick has always been with us. He hasn’t gone anywhere. This is especially true of late. Through a Different Lens, an astonishing exhibit of his still photography for Look magazine in the late 1940s, is on display at the Museum of the City of New York. A revealing documentary titled Filmworker, about Leon Vitali’s life as Kubrick’s assistant, recently played here at the Metrograph theater. A new “unrestored” 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey is currently being shown at the Village East Cinema. A new book, Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece by Michael Benson, has just been published. For the true believers among us, this is all a gift.

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On display at this exhibit are selections of the thousands of photographs Stanley shot for Look magazine from 1946 to 1950. He was still in high school when he made his first sale. He’s 20 or 21 in the shot below, taken in 1949.

Here is a short film produced by the museum to promote the exhibit.

In the photographs, you can see Kubrick developing his eye, his way of seeing the world. You can also see how these photos inform the look of his early features, Killer’s Kiss (1955) and The Killing (1956). Below are some of the ones I shot at the museum earlier this month. Photos of photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photo below is especially evocative of the visual style of Killer’s Kiss. Note Robert Wise’s great noir boxing film The Set-Up on the theater marquee in the background.

It wasn’t all black-and-white, though. Stanley shot several covers for Look. The one below is a stunning example of what he could do in color.

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Here is an extremely interesting and well-done video about Kubrick’s time at Look and how he worked. It’s part of a series called The Kubrick Files, by a blogger named Cinema Tyler.

Also included in the exhibit is Kubrick’s first film, Day of the Fight, which he made in 1951. He financed it himself, confident he could sell it (which he did). Kubrick produced, directed, photographed, edited, and did sound, as well as being his own grip and setting up lighting. The music was by Gerald Fried, who would score Kubrick’s first four features, Fear and Desire, Killer’s Kiss, The Killing, and Paths of Glory. Two years earlier, Kubrick had shot a photo essay for Look of prize fighter Walter Cartier preparing for a boxing match. He later decided to use Cartier as the subject for a film. A page of the photo essay is below.

Here is Kubrick’s Day of the Fight, narrated by newsman Douglas Edwards.

Something I got a big kick out of was learning that the older photographers at Look watched out for Stanley, and formed a “Bringing Up Stanley” club. They could see the talent.

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Through a Different Lens will be at the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue @ 103rd Street) through October 28th of this year. If you’re in New York during that time, this is not to be missed.

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Filmworker, Tony Zierra’s study of Leon Vitali and his life with Stanley Kubrick is a fascinating and often moving behind-the-scenes view of Kubrick at work and how it was for Vitali. Leon was an actor in film and television when he was cast as Lord Bullington in Barry Lyndon (1975). The experience of being in that film made Vitali want to work for Kubrick, which he ended up doing for over two decades until Stanley’s death in 1998. And beyond, actually, as he continues to be involved with the business and legacy of Stanley Kubrick.  Filmworker vividly shows how impossible it could be working as Kubrick’s right-hand man, constantly on call, expected to do any and everything. You get the feeling it was an all-consuming calling for Vitali, a kind of fulfillment. We learn nothing of his family beyond a few glimpses of his daughters, but that’s it. Vitali’s life begins and ends with Stanley, and that’s just fine with him (or so he says).

Here’s an interview with Vitali talking about Kubrick. This isn’t from Filmworker; it was done for DP/30’s Oral History of Hollywood series.

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Many of Kubrick’s films were poorly received, both critically and commercially, upon their initial release. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Barry Lyndon (1975) are probably the most prominent examples of this. The test of a film’s worth is how well it holds up over time. Once the dust has settled we can see what’s still standing. Both 2001 and Barry Lyndon are now regarded as masterpieces. Along with The Killing and Paths of Glory, they are my favorite Kubrick films. (I wrote previously on The Killing and Paths of Glory, which can be accessed here.) I remember seeing 2001 for the first time in 1968 at a Cinerama theater in Sacramento, California. I’ve seen it many times since then in different formats. Fifty years later 2001 is still being written about, talked about and seen by audiences. I saw it again last week, the new “unrestored” 70mm print. This was initiated and overseen by director Christopher Nolan, a firm believer in shooting and projecting films on celluloid film stock. Images and sounds on film tend to have greater texture and weight than they do in digital formats. As I understand it, the prints were made from new printing elements created from the original camera negative. Per Nolan, there were “no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits” in the making of these prints. He wants audiences to have the same experience seeing 2001 they would have had in 1968. Here’s a link to an interview with Nolan in Film Comment that speaks to the importance of this, as he sees it, in some detail. It’s well worth reading.

The opening of 2001 always makes me feel like something momentous is about to happen (and it is). It gets me every time.

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I’ve just begun reading Michael Benson’s Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece. You’d think the subject had been exhausted after 50 years of books, articles, and documentaries. I don’t claim to have read everything that’s been written about the film, but this one feels fresh. The book jacket boasts rave blurbs from no less than Martin Scorsese, Tom Hanks, Peter Biskind, and others.

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There is a vast amount of material available online about Stanley Kubrick and his films. I’ve collected way too much to include in this post, so I’ll be doing a follow-up in a few days with other items I think are interesting. Stay tuned. In the meantime, just a moment… just a moment… – Ted Hicks

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