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Talk about the world of independent film.
42

Stanley Kubrick - overrated?
Topic by: kamapuaa
Posted: November 23, 2003 - 2:00 PM PST
Last Reply: October 14, 2004 - 2:13 PM PDT

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author topic: Stanley Kubrick - overrated?
kamapuaa
post #1  on November 23, 2003 - 2:00 PM PST  
I've been enjoying the best-of-every-year lists being put out by JEdwards. However, I noticed he put the much-loved "2001" at the top of the 1968 list (ahead of my favorite zombie movie, even!) I don't understand this, or the general regard for Kubrick.

"2001" to me seemed dated, only possible to enjoy in a historical context. The opening scene was just embarassing. Nothing happens and not very quickly, the mixture of sci-fi and classical music is somewhere between pretentious and corny. Its vision of space is firmly rooted in 60's aspirations, which through no fault of Clarke or Kubrick, have now been passed by. The computer was a great idea for a villian, although in practice there isn't much dramatic tension. The view of space & science as humanity's saviour is silly.

And so on, with the other movies of his I've seen. They're often slow, the characters don't seem at all genuine, they're far too pretentious, and there just isn't much there to be grab hold of. My favorite would be "Dr. Strangelove," which I think is childish in its obviousness, but Peter Sellers is really funny.

Anybody care to explain Kubrick? I regard him as an Emporer wearing no clothes, but I'm interested to hear an explanation about why he's so great - usually I just hear an assumption that it's a known fact.
larbeck
post #2  on November 24, 2003 - 8:15 AM PST  
Before I start, I need to see someone about some Japanese steel....just kidding!

First, of all, you really have to consider any film in the historical context it was made. The production of "2001: A Space Odyssey" was over for a year or two over schedule - at one point, Clarke was in despair that Apollo would be on the moon before it came out - and the cynicism and disillusionment that is so commonplace today had not become so pandemic.

"The view of space & science as humanity's savior is silly." That is a *very* interesting interpretation of "2001". One of the beautiful things about the film is that it can be viewed on so many levels and is subject to many different kinds of interpretation. I believe that it provides a little bit of insight into a person, to know their view. But *my* interpretation is that technology shown as definitely NOT the salvation of humanity but that our technology has evolved beyond our ability to apply it wisely and it is in fact, an intervention by some Divine beings (the maker(s) of the Stargate and the other two monoliths) that is required to save humanity from destroying ourselves. I think it was Sturgeon who said that "science fiction not about predicting the future - it is about seeing a future that might come true if we do not watch ourselves". The book had a bit at the end, when the Star Child appears - all out thermonuclear war was beginning and he made the nukes all disappear with a wave of his hand. By the way, Clarke his been protesting for years long that it *is* a work of fiction and does not represent any of his religious or spiritual beliefs.

But I cheated. Arthur C. Clarke was the first science fiction author that I discovered and I have been a total fanatic for his novels for years. I could not wait and read the novel first. Since then, Clark has described the novel as by Clarke and Kubrick while the screenplay for the film is by Kubrick and then Clarke. He almost refused to ever have anything to do with Kubrick again and that is why 2010 is so different. Sometimes I wish I had seen the film first and wonder what it would have been like with a Beginner's Mind.

But I really do love the film. It is so different and unique in it's realism (except for when the monolith appears), in it's pacing. I know that it is too real for many people. I don't like "K Street" for the same reason, in that the pacing and craft is just too real for me but it is in a different world, a world that hate so much

And "2001" is a lot like the music of Mozart in some ways. You listen to Mozart and you think, by god, it is full of clichés - but the thing is Mozart *invented* those clichés and it has only been since he published that those riffs became clichés. From the wonderful makeup job and acting of the primates in the beginning, the amazing special effects by Doug Trumball, a great, great classical score, it remains one of the *only* films in history to actually respect the fact that space is a vacuum and you can not hear sound across a vacuum but you can inside you spacesuit. And the fact that you do not instantly blowup ("Outland" is sooo wrong about that) if you are unfortunate enough to be exposure to that vacuum unprotected. And show that interplanetary travel will not take off from the surface of the earth.

And - this is one of the biggest complaints - that for the most part, the talents that mike one an astronaut suitable for long space missions means that you are rather a boring, flat individual. And Heywood Floyd, that ultranerd of a bureaucrat is so dead on with some of the ultramundune spuds that I have known in the hall of megacorps (and NASA is so much like a megacorps - especially these days), it is so dead on, it is scary.

The breakdown of HAL was troubling to me. Isaac Asimov hated it. At the premiere, Clarke asked him what he thought about it during the intermission. Asimov said, "HAL is breaking First Law!". Clarke response was, "Well, then, Isaac, you need to stick him down with your thunder!". But this was explain rather well, the next movie, "2010", much after the fact, I know. But I think that on one hand, they waited to so that going to Jupiter takes a long, long time - like a wind powered sea voyage in the days of old but then SOMETHING had to happen along the way to keep everyone awake! And I have developed a great fondness for Douglas Rain's voice and I bet that someday, I will have a computer that I converse with just like HAL (goddamn intellectual property laws willing)

In short, I so very much disagree. "2001:A Space Odyssey" is a masterpiece. I might post about some of Kubrick other Great Works later.

ColonelKong
post #3  on November 24, 2003 - 8:50 AM PST  

> In short, I so very much disagree. "2001:A Space Odyssey" is a masterpiece.

I second that as well. I like pretty much everything by Kubrick (I've seen everything except Fear and Desire and his short films). My three favorites are probably 2001, Dr. Strangelove, and Barry Lyndon. I watched Spartacus on Thanksgiving last year (it's the first time I'd seen it since a high school history class, I didn't know or care who Kubrick was until a couple of years later) I found it to be veeeerrrryyyy long. I'd say that it's really the only Kubrick movie I don't like that much (of course, it really isn't "his" movie the way the others are), give me Richard Fleischer's The Vikings any day for a historical movie with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis.
Cinenaut
post #4  on November 24, 2003 - 9:48 AM PST  
What larbeck said.

The realism of the space scenes still holds up quite well. No artificial gravity (outside the centrifuge) or sound in a vacuum.

Total Recall got the "head exploding in a vacuum" thing wrong, too. Of course, if the Mars scenes were not real and just implanted PKDickian memories, then I suppose that would explain things.

What "big idea" Sci Fi movies get made these days, anyway? The big idea is that the nasty alien is going to eat you (or lay eggs in you).
underdog
post #5  on November 24, 2003 - 10:34 AM PST  
I think there's also a tendency to evaluate a director based on his most recent work, which, in Kubrick's case, was not (in my opinion) up to the level to which he's capable. I thought Eyes Wide Shut was a pretentious mess (although beautifully filmed to be sure), AI he's only partially responsible for and most of its worst aspects are more Spielbergian, but still... Even Full Metal Jacket, which I admire quite a bit isn't up to the standards of his earlier work.

But the rest of his canon is pretty consistently brilliant.

I do think Kubrick's films have a cold, clinical feel to them (some, anyway) which puts some people off. I do think 2001 works better as a historical document than as a film today -- find parts of it pretty ponderous, but other parts still hold magic -- and as others have pointed out, it shouldn't be blamed for being copied, influential. It's still a powerful work cinematically, particularly if you ever have the great fortune to see it on the big screen (TV screens don't do it justice)... or stoned. (Did I say that? No.)

Dr Stangelove is still my favorite, too -- and benefits greatly from a wonderful script by Terry Southern (et al). His early work is amazing -- if you haven't seen Paths of Glory, you're missing one of the great (anti)war films of all time, and The Killing is still a kick. A Clockwork Orange is disturbing as heck.

Anyway, like any director, his work is partially a matter of taste and some of his films will leave you cold, as they have me. But I find it very hard to deny his place in cinematic history -- his style, his look, his craft, his ability to weave in music and sound and build suspense, leaves him with few peers.

C
larbeck
post #6  on November 24, 2003 - 5:16 PM PST  
> On November 24, 2003 - 10:34 AM PST underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> A Clockwork Orange is disturbing as heck.
>
OH, YES, BABY, YES!!!

The real McMuffin of "A Clockwork Orange" is the language - although Kubrick did not invent that, it was the work of the author, Anthony Burgess. The novel has a glossary in the back and I think that Kubrick manages to use at least a majority of the words, a slang based heavily on Russian.

But the purpose of the film is to constant two kinds of violence - the viddy horrorshow ultraviolence of Alex and his droogies and the institution violence of the quick-fix brainwashing to serve the politicans. Both are sick, but Alex is retail and the state is wholesale. But like, Orwell Burgess and Kubrick miss the mark - real prep in today's world is not the state but the Megacorp who pull the strings.

And the music! What a great, great score by Walter (who is now Wendy) Carlos! If you collect soundtracks, you have GOT to have "A Clockwork Orange" was well was the two "2001:A Space Odyssey" albums! And in the film, it all just works so very well.
larbeck
post #7  on November 24, 2003 - 5:26 PM PST  
"Full Metal Jacket" is so dead on (pun indeed), I don't know if I ever want to see it again. But like "A Clockwork Orange", we have two kinds of violence - the brainwashing that it takes to take a young man turn him into a willing killing machines - with a causality before we even get "in country". And the battle of Hue - a so very in-your-face realistic look at really ugly side of urban warfare. A story that I am afraid that is being repeated in a new form today.

Also, I was disturbed to hear that in Kubrick's manic desire for realism, he bought actual weapons, M-16's and AK-47's, etc. from international arm dealers for the film. Okay, but then when it was over, he sold them back to save some money. The very weapons you see in the films shooting blanks could very well have been used afterward to actually kill people. That is too much.
hamano
post #8  on November 24, 2003 - 9:36 PM PST  
I'm not a BIG fan of Kubrick. I always get a lot of conceptual and intellectual pay-off from his films, but the films don't engage me on an emotional level. I can understand how he is an important film artist, but I don't know if he'd make it on my list of favorite directors.

My biggest problem with him is that, as written, his characters are more like concepts rather than real people. Especially the women. I guess he's using the characters to explore some aspect of the human condition, but the analysis is cold, like looking at specimens with a microscope. Kubrick is moving the people around like chess pieces, but they don't really come alive for me, usually.

I can only conclude that Kubrick wasn't so interested in acting as a craft so much as a tool for creating his visual world. He basically let the actors do what they wanted as long as it fit within his visual concept of the film. I've heard stories of endless multiple takes, but I believe that was because the "bad" takes failed to please Kubrick visually, not because they were acted in a way Kubrick didn't like.

This means that when he's working with a hot actor, the film is made better, and when he's working with bad actors (however famous...Tom Cruise!) the film suffers. Kubrick got really lucky with the cast of Strangelove, and with Malcolm McDowell for Clockwork and Keir Dullea for 2001. Ditto with the cast of the Shining, to a large extent, and some of the young actors on Full Metal Jacket.

So Kubrick films are like porn for the mind... believable human characters are not essential to the Kubrick experience. Famous actors wanted to work with Kubrick because of his genius certification, but left to their own devices the actors who benefit from strong direction largely failed in Kubrick's films.

However, in a lot of other respects, Kubrick is a film innovator with all his cylinders firing. Juxtaposition of images, camera work (he did his own principal photography), editing, and in particular to me his use of sound and music is excellent.

In fact, I can't think of a music choice he made that I didn't agree with...The only part of Eyes Wide Shut that I liked was the elaborate masked selection-ritual sequence, and that weird Gregorianish chant was a big part of why I liked it. Even little choices are awesome... Do you remember the doorbell ringing at the beginning of the scene in Clockwork where the Writer's wife gets raped? "da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum" ...the beginning of Beethoven's Fifth!

But I DO like my films to engage me emotionally as well as intellectually, and on that level Kubrick fails me. When HAL got turned off, I almost felt sad, but I didn't feel sad. I smiled because he sang "Bicycle Built for Two" and that was a cute idea...
kamapuaa
post #9  on November 24, 2003 - 9:56 PM PST  
Hello. Thanks for the replies - I've also been looking on imdb, there's maybe 8000 reviews there! "Science as humanity's saviour" came out of the movie's apparent disinterest in all things human, instead focusing on long slow-motion shots of clean white ships docking, accompanied by the "Greatest hits of Classical Music, as brought by Time Life" soundtrack. Also the psychedelic ending and ridiculous beginning, which evoked humanity's spiritual awakening coming from what lies beyond the stars. Also, didn't the star-child save the world from nuclear holocaust? Perhaps that was only the book, it's been a ways.

I didn't think of the movie as particularly real - Pan Am in space? The fake-looking zero G sequence? The huge-ass spaceship going to Jupiter in 2001? And it probably would be better in a theater, but I disagree with the "good stoned" comment, in principle - I saw Mortal Kombat 2 stoned, it was great! :)

Perhaps "Clockwork Orange" is another movie that's been hurt over time, in a world where "Kill Bill" is #1 at the box office, the cool kids watch Takashi Miike, and synthesizer-driven classical music evokes "Saturday Night Fever." The Slavic slangs were fun, but I didn't think there was much depth to the movie.

Sci-Fi? It's not particularly my genre, but I think there's more interesting things being done than eggs. Off the top of my head, Sci-Fi is being attached to New-Agey shit ("Contact" or "Signs"), and being used to make existensialism-lite movies (Phillip K. Dick re-makes and so forth). If you consider alternative-universe movies sci-fi, those can be interesting. Sci-fi is used as a form of Magic Realism ("My Sassy Girl"). Sci-fi is used as an excuse for elaborate sets & costuming ("Vegas in Space" or "City of Lost Children") And they give Hrithik Rosan and Preity Zinta yet another excuse to dance in the rain!
thejasonholland
post #10  on November 25, 2003 - 8:04 AM PST  
I couldn't pass up a discussion on Stanley. After spending years with his movies, its beyond fan-dom. With some filmmakers and storytelling you just understand what they're doing most of the time without being aboe to explain why.

I think the more you learn about him, the more you will realize all of his contributions to good filmmaking. If nothing else to respect him for, than at least recognize his status as a revolutionary director. For 2001 and Barry Lyndon cameras and special effects were invented
during the process. We can watch a movie lit by candelight because of his Mitchell camera tweaking. Lolita is a text book example of how to slip subtext under the radar of censors. The Shining brought us face to face with terror and never once in the dark (except the final moments), daylight and snow make it a "bright" film. And Strangelove brought the absurdity of the Cold War to the forefront.


You also have to understand that the music in 2001 was a first. There was an original score written (and pieces still exist in the film), but while filming and screening they put everything to stuff like The Blue Danube. In the end the classical stuff won out in Kubrick's mind. Now, that doesn't make it great "just because", but it really opened up ideas for filmmakers to use music that they and the audience are already familiar with.

People constantly knock Eyes Wide Shut. I'm kind of glad because it creates a smaller society for the rest of us who enjoyed it. Even a lot of critics didn't take to time to think of it as a "dream story" which is the name of the f-ing book its based on. Again, if nothing else hits you in the movie, at least you can finish it and say, "Well, I've never seen that before in a movie."

I think he did get too big in some people's minds and wielded too much power with the studios. From the late 60s on, he was the only director who had total control of his movies- a dream for every other artist in the system. Except for Spartacus, I'm pretty sure he is the only director who could safely say he was making the movies exactly as he wanted to.

There are some great interviews, the last he ever did I think, from around the time he was considering making Napoleon after 2001, but switched his attention to A Clockwork Orange. You get to hear him talk about what is important to him in making movies and its like you were struck over the head with a hammer made of words.

Another thing, most people will watch a movie like A Clockwork Orange one and dismiss it. This is wrong. Any of his movies need repeated viewings to fully soak in the experience. There are a number of filmmakers with the same "problem" I'd say. When I say certain Coen Bros. movies, I didn't "get it." But, after a couple more times, the little things that make it add up to its masterful quality seep into your brain.

It takes a lot of patience and understanding if you want to "get" Kubrick. There is a documentary made after he died which shows a lot of good reasons he may be the only true genius to make a movie other than Orson Welles. Also, there a couple books worth picking up including any with the interviews previously mentioned.

No one's going to twist your arm about it though. Like I said the only way to recieve the full experience is with multiple viewings and time. Let yourself go while also paying attention to the little things that a lot of audiences would miss. Some people have these set ideas of what everything means in his movies. That is the greatest thing about his films, though, is that I don't think any two people have same interpretation of any of his movies, especially 2001. And that essentially is what he is all about.
larbeck
post #11  on November 25, 2003 - 8:21 AM PST  
hamano! I never recall disagreeing with you so much!

> My biggest problem with him is that, as written, his characters are more like concepts rather than real people. Especially the women.

I can see this in several of Kubrick films but not in "The Shining" or "Eyes Wide Shut" or even "Full Metal Jacket" There are people in those films that are just true real for words. Once I met a young woman who remarked about Alex in "A Clockwork Orange", "I could not believe that someone so cute could be so mean". I believe Kubrick did her a service, to teach her that evil is not necessary ugly. Now, at the time, I thought that Alex was an over the top character and I wanted to believe that he could never exist in really. But now, in this day and age, I fear that there are far too many Alexes in reality and I do hope that they are caught!

And yes, Kubrick does not do women like he does men, you have a very good point. The same has been said many times about Arthur C. Clarke. Well, Eric Johnson can play guitar like no one else on earth - I would not expect him to play drums. You do not accuse him of such but I will ask it - But was Kubrick a male chauvinist? He may have very well been. I do see that way that he relegated woman in secondary roles in most of his films as a sign of an attitude that woman are secondary to men. Even, in "Eyes Wide Shut", with Nicole Kidman playing a character central to the film and with great craft, she is still a wife and no other woman in the film has any position of power - and that is simply presentated as a normal reality and accepted as such. Oh, well, he is dead now - and his films are so damn good, I can forgive a little male chauvinism.

>...and when he's working with bad actors (however famous...Tom Cruise!) the film suffers.

Oh, boy - everyone loves to kick Tom Cruise. I did - until "Interview with a Vampire". He won me over. That and "Magnolia". And his work in "Eyes Wide Shut" was GREAT for me. That final scene with his wife, when HE KNOWS that SHE KNOWS - it got to me. And in the morgue, seeing the woman who gave her life for him. Cruise was wonderful in one of the best movies of that year, in my opinion.

> So Kubrick films are like porn for the mind...

Oh, man, now you've done it. I AM going to have to go get some Japanese steel, now.

> However, in a lot of other respects, Kubrick is a film innovator with all his cylinders firing. Juxtaposition of images, camera work (he did his own principal photography), editing, and in particular to me his use of sound and music is excellent.

Okay, it will stay in my, mmm, what is the Japanese word for scabbard?

> Do you remember the doorbell ringing at the beginning of the scene in Clockwork where the Writer's wife gets raped? "da-da-da-dum, da-da-da-dum" ...the beginning of Beethoven's Fifth!

No, all I can remember is that horrible, horrible perversion of "Singing In the Ring" [shudders]

> But I DO like my films to engage me emotionally as well as intellectually, and on that level Kubrick fails me. When HAL got turned off, I almost felt sad, but I didn't feel sad. I smiled because he sang "Bicycle Built for Two" and that was a cute idea...

Well, he was a machine and he deserved it! Especially after murdering everyone else on the ship beside Dave. The tension in that scene for me was not that poor HAL was "dying" but how will the spaceship function without him? Would life support still work? Would Dave be able to navigate without it? And how about when he returned with that body and HAL would not open the pod bay doors. That was emotional for me - followed by one of the best scenes in space movie history (i mention again, sorry)- the unprotected spacewalk. But after HAL's little song, is the payoff - dude, they lied to you all long about your mission - starting with the words, "Now that you have reached Jupiter space" - except that you had NOT yet. The uniqueness about this film, this occurs without the usual manipulative music - we do have the alarms when the people in deep freeze die but the rest, you do have to pay attention and realize the importance of what is going on yourself and not be told spoonfed the fact that the plasma has hit the fan.

But I know, I know - I cheated and read the book first. I really wish I had not - but I suspect that would have only made me love it even more.

I cannot think of any Kubrick film that failed to affect me on an emotional level. True, he does it like no one else does, often in a very unique way. That is magic to me. But the world is big and there are thousands of films that you can enjoy. So it goes. Time for sword practice!
hamano
post #12  on November 25, 2003 - 10:23 AM PST  
> On November 25, 2003 - 8:21 AM PST larbeck wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> "The Shining" or "Eyes Wide Shut" or even "Full Metal Jacket" There are people in those films that are just true real for words. Once I met a young woman who remarked about Alex in "A Clockwork Orange", "I could not believe that someone so cute could be so mean".

But you're agreeing with me, in a way. I think in those examples, Kubrick was lucky to hire actors who could imbue their characters with a little real humanity. But I suspect Kubrick hired them because they looked and sounded like the character he was envisioning, and because they were willing and eager to work with the director, and NOT based on their acting talent. It would be difficult NOT to get some good, interesting acting out of Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson...

> And yes, Kubrick does not do women like he does men, you have a very good point. The same has been said many times about Arthur C. Clarke.

Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein... which is your favorite? Mine - Asimov (Pretty obvious, if you've been reading my posts, neh? Pompous sentimental humanist...) Here, I have to confess that my least favorite of the three is Clarke. The only Clarke novels I really loved were the aquatic juveniles Dolphin Island and The Deep Range, I think. Those woulda made good movies...

> Oh, boy - everyone loves to kick Tom Cruise. I did - until "Interview with a Vampire". He won me over.

Sigh, I wish he'd just had made a career out of playing Lestat in countless Anne Rice novel adaptations. That would have been a wise move for him.

We'll get back to him after seeing "Last Samurai"... I suspect I'll see all his trademark mugging and squinting and that "Wow, I'm completely dumbfounded!" look. Until then, stow your katana in the saya!

>And in the morgue, seeing the woman who gave her life for him. Cruise was wonderful in one of the best movies of that year, in my opinion.

...and the award for "Best Acting with Leading Man Tom Cruise" goes to... unnamed fake female corpse from the hit film "Eyes Wide Shut"!

> I cannot think of any Kubrick film that failed to affect me on an emotional level.

You probably bring a lot of yourself to a Kubrick film that resonate with his artistic vision. I feel no such chemistry with his film making, beyond appreciating his technical gifts. Then again, I prefer the paintings of Mark Rothko to those of Jackson Pollock, too!
Eoliano
post #13  on November 25, 2003 - 3:29 PM PST  
Agreed underdog, Kubrick's late work is certainly disappointing when compared to earlier films such as Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey or A Clockwork Orange. Nonetheless, Kubrick's cinematic legacy is remarkable for its diversity, uncompromising individuality, and that unmistakable Kubrickian stamp which was evident almost from the outset, much of which is now part of our collective consciousness.

Perhaps the special effects of 2001: A Space Odyssey might seem dated by today's standards. However, taken in historic context, in 1968 they were truly astonishing, and are still so today, especially when experienced on the big screen in optimum conditions as originally intended.

I first experienced 2001: A Space Odyssey during its first run in New York at the Loew's Cinerama, in what was then considered state-of-the-art conditions and in full-blooded stereo. To say the least, it astounded me. Suspending disbelief was not an issue for this viewer because the film enveloped me in its spell, transporting me into its metaphorical and metaphysical abstractions, and whether or not I comprehended those abstractions was irrelevant. I left the theater with several unanswered questions, which of course, compelled me to see the film again.

Kubrick's use of time, i.e. his slow pacing in 2001 was deliberate, and as each section of the film unfolded, it did so without losing a beat, and created a tension which seems unparalleled today.

Fyi kamapuaa: There are some very informative articles and essays at The Kubrick Site that you might find interesting.
larbeck
post #14  on November 25, 2003 - 6:50 PM PST  
Okay, katana in the saya, and lovingly placed securely on the nice, wonderfully craved and decorated rack.

> On November 25, 2003 - 10:23 AM PST hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein... which is your favorite?
>
First, we cannot forget the fourth pillar of the Parthenon, the last one still working today, Ray Bradbury (B.A.C.H. is the way to remember it!). But if I had to make a Sophie's Choice here, it would be a tie with Clarke and Heinlein. Asmiov's was probably the worlds best nonfiction author and Bradbury writes wonderful fantasy was well as sci-fi but Clarke and Heinlein *pwn* the Golden Age of science fiction. And yes, there is a hundred others, but these are the four pillars of the Parthenon with many columns.

And if all my appendenges were chopped off and only my neck left, I guess I would have to pick Clarke. He was my first real grownup Science Fiction author - first grownup author of any kind actually. Against the Fall of Night blew my mind like no other experience - even though he himself decided it was flawed and re-wrote into The City and the Stars. Those of you would do not remember the death of President Kennedy might want to start there. Or better yet, "Childhood's End".

Granted, Clarke is an aquired taste, like cigarettes and heroin. And the real Golden Age of Science Fiction is 14. As in years old. And inspite of what any psych professor says, mammals DO imprint - only in a mammalian way. Clarke is forever imprinted on my soul. Love that man.
hamano
post #15  on November 25, 2003 - 9:33 PM PST  
> On November 25, 2003 - 6:50 PM PST larbeck wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> First, we cannot forget the fourth pillar of the Parthenon, the last one still working today, Ray Bradbury

Oh, yeah, Bradbury was one of my favorite writers when I was a teen, but I didn't really consider him to be a hard SF writer like the other three and Niven. He was more like a fantasy science poet... the books I liked the most (Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Illustrated Man) were very NOT SF. At one point I owned every paperback he'd published at that point...

>But if I had to make a Sophie's Choice here, it would be a tie with Clarke and Heinlein.

See, I thought so. Clarke was the writer I liked the least. I started many of his adult books (as I mentioned, I generally liked his juvies) and never finished them. I liked Heinlein's mix of hippie sensibilities and gung-ho libertarian fascism, but I could never get a handle on Clarke.

When they had the 50th anniversary of Clarke's "invention" of communications satellites, I was involved in a New Years Day Greeting project that involved Clarke saying hello, the Thompson Twins performing, and Nam Jun Paik doing a global yodel (with space echo!) all carried around and around the world by satellite (we also had a Japanese actor dressed as Rudyard Kipling running around yelling, "East is East, West is West, never the twain shall meet!" Anyway, the director I worked with on the NY leg of the project had gone to meet with Clarke to set this up. Clarke lives a rather reclusive life in a palace in Sri Lanka, but he likes to participate in these "big idea" projects. This director told me that Clarke lived like a king, and he had lots of pretty half-dressed Sri Lankan houseboys running around the palace to do his every bidding. Apparently, Clarke enjoyed a degree of freedom and privacy that Michael Jackson at this point would definitely envy...

Anyway, I digress... If you'd picked Asimov, I was going to recommend Heat Guy J because it reminds me of the R. Daneel Olivaw SF mysteries. Not that HGJ follows any of the laws of robotics or anything, but just the idea of a robot-human detective team takes me back to those good ol' days...

I don't think Kubrick would have made a film out of any of the Asimov books....
larbeck
post #16  on November 25, 2003 - 11:15 PM PST  
> On November 25, 2003 - 9:33 PM PST hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Apparently, Clarke enjoyed a degree of freedom and privacy that Michael Jackson at this point would definitely envy...
>

He did officially out himself in his biography. And he nickname is "Ego"! Still, not a bad way to enjoy your millions, lived in a mansion on a topical island with lots of boytoys to play with. Why can Bill Gates just go and do something like that? But Clarke probably will not have much longer to enjoy himself as I understand his ALS is progressing.

> I don't think Kubrick would have made a film out of any of the Asimov books....

There seems to be some curse that anytime some makes a movie from an Asimov novel, it reeks, sucks and/or blows. I'm not talking about "Fantastic Voyage", which inspite of the Good Doctor protests that he was just whoring himself for a buck, I actually liked for the time, but dreck like "Nightfall" or "The Bicentennial Man" - which were good stories. Of course, Lukas borrows a bit from the Foundation Trilogy for the Star Wars saga as did others but man, I wish someone would make a really GOOD "I, Robot" movie.

kamapuaa
post #17  on November 25, 2003 - 11:20 PM PST  
I hope I don't come off as too negative a person - my average movie rating is probably 7.5/10, I even love Bollywood movies! BUT: Arthur Clarke's work is poor. He's given to constant ill-considered speech-making. In "3001" the guy wanders around a future utopia, where people are given to delivering long monologues about the evils of the 20th century. Everybody (in the entire world) has stopped being religious, because they were so shocked at the hypocricy revealed when the pope opened the secret files on the second Inquisition. There's no racism in the world of "Childhood's End," because black people have learned to be called "nigger" and not complain about it. Just stupid. It's also worth mentioning that Clarke wasn't the first person to describe geostationary satellites, nor did his write-up contribute to Bell Lab's work on the subject. He was just in a position of self-promotion, after it happened.

I think sci-fi is much more interesting a genre for movies than books. Maybe sci-fi writing is too enmeshed in its cliches, or it's too stigmatized for most serious authors, or the intellectual bar is higher with novels than movies, and plots involving aliens are usually too much an intellectual handicap to clear the bar (am I over-extending my metaphor?). Probably, it's because it's so cool to see big explosions and spaceship chases on the movie screen, and written sci-fi doesn't have a comparable thrill.

That said, maybe my favorites are Frank Herbert, Phillip K. Dick, Margaret Atwood, and William Gibson - although they all have their problems.
kamapuaa
post #18  on November 25, 2003 - 11:32 PM PST  
>(we also had a Japanese actor dressed as Rudyard Kipling running around yelling, "East is East, West is West, never the twain shall meet!"

That's the funniest thing I've heard all week.

> I don't think Kubrick would have made a film out of any of the Asimov books....

I don't think they're given to film (although "I, Robot" with Will Smith comes out next year). On the other hand, I can't believe nobody's made a movie of "Stranger in a Strange Land." I don't think the movie would work now, but it would have been the ultimate 60's hippie cult movie.
kamapuaa
post #19  on November 26, 2003 - 3:07 AM PST  
> Lolita is a text book example of how to slip subtext under the radar of censors.

Ugh. I didn't want to mention "Lolita" because I thought that would be scoring cheap points against Kubrick. If there's a text-book, I think he stole it from 50's nightclub acts - the double entendres weren't worthy of much more. I realize there was a strong morality code, so perhaps what can be best said is that "Lolita" failed at its impossible task of getting an intelligent take on the excellent novel past the censors. Although that scene where Humbert Humbert gets stuck in the foldable bed, with the wacky sound effects, is one of my worst movie moments ever - tied with Kim Novak reading the letter at the end of "Vertigo," a movie I otherwise love.

> You also have to understand that the music in 2001 was a first. There was an original score written (and pieces still exist in the film), but while filming and screening they put
everything to stuff like The Blue Danube. In the end the classical stuff won out in Kubrick's mind. Now, that doesn't make it great "just because", but it really opened up ideas for filmmakers to use music that they and the audience are already familiar with.

On imdb.com, Beethoven (for instance) is shown as being used in the soundtrack to 112 movies from '68 and before.

> f-ing book its based on. Again, if nothing else hits you in the movie, at least you can finish it and say, "Well, I've never seen that before in a movie."

Well that's all changed, now that Greencine offers this. And more honestly, I think reviewers didn't care about the source material - "Lolita" is a well-read book that inevitably influences how the movie is percieved. "Dream Story" isn't. Besides, excusing the movie's flaws as "well it was like a dream so it doesn't count" is too trite, no reviewer would do that.

> Another thing, most people will watch a movie like A Clockwork Orange one and dismiss it. This is wrong. Any of his movies need repeated viewings to fully soak in the experience. There are a number of filmmakers with the same "problem" I'd say. When I say certain Coen Bros. movies, I didn't "get it." But, after a couple more times, the little things that make it add up to its masterful quality seep into your brain.

My sister had the same experience when she decided to join the Moonies, just for kicks. She never "got" the training videos, which dealt with the importance of a traditional family unit, and eventually they kicked her out.
hamano
post #20  on November 26, 2003 - 6:08 AM PST  
> > Another thing, most people will watch a movie like A Clockwork Orange one and dismiss it. This is wrong. Any of his movies need repeated viewings to fully soak in the experience. There are a number of filmmakers with the same "problem" I'd say. When I say certain Coen Bros. movies, I didn't "get it." But, after a couple more times, the little things that make it add up to its masterful quality seep into your brain.

How can you insist that some of your peers here are "wrong"?

If you don't get the good stuff about a Kubrick film the first time around, what I don't get is why you would want to go back and deal with the whole movie again to give it a chance to "soak in". I think people who put themselves through multiple viewings of Kubrick films are satisfying something internal that resonates with Kubrick's choices, Kubrick's vision. People are on different parts of the spectrum for this... I can stand repeated screenings of Coen Bros. films and I get most of them the first time around. I guess it's a matter of "taste" and I feel that there are plenty enough film artists out there that if you don't get pleasure from a Kubrick film you can find a director you like and let their masterful qualities seep into the brain. I OWN dvds by Terence Malick and David Cronenberg and some other favorite directors. I watch those over and over. I don't feel I have any need to own, or even rent, a Kubrick film that I've already watched once. On the other hand, I've never seen Barry Lyndon and I wouldn't mind catching that sometime... I hear he lit a whole scene with just one candle....

I'll go on these boards and write stuff like "You owe it to yourself to see Sans Soleil at least once in your life" but if someone says "I saw it and I didn't get it and I didn't like it" I'm not gonna insist this person is "wrong"... If there is any one "great" director that I think you would be justified dismissing on first viewing, it might be Kubrick.
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