Monday, June 15, 2009

Kubrick Addendum, Or, The Dangers of Flippancy

One thing I should add to my comments about Stanley Kubrick is that my Kubrick-bashing isn't uniform, even when it comes to his later stuff.

Oddly enough, I think I would be less anti-Kubrick if it weren't for Strangelove, which is supposed to be his most accessible movie. There are things I like in 2001 and Barry Lyndon, but Strangelove is one of those movies that has always gotten me upset because every viewing of it gives me a feeling of wasted potential; I always feel like Kubrick wasted the script and performances with his approach. This, of course, is a bizarre way to look at it; as producer and director and co-writer, he's heavily responsible for the quality of the script and performances. But I can never watch that film without thinking that there's something deeply screwed up about the timing and pacing of it. And I have always felt that the Vera Lynn ending is a cop-out, a way of avoiding the issue of whether or not the world actually does blow up at the end. (We're free to assume it did, but we're also free to assume that it's just a montage of stock footage, and more importantly, we're spared the actual horrifying sound of the explosions.)

And this, of course, is the danger of letting flippant Twitter comments cross over onto longer posts without thinking about what one is going to say. A Twitter comment is a hit-and-run thing ("Kubrick is overrated"). Translated directly into a post, it sounds like contrarianism for its own sake, which I try to avoid. (I'm not saying I don't do contrarianism for its own sake; it's hard to avoid completely, especially if you do hold some actual contrarian opinions.)


Thad said...

You can't be flippant about ANYTHING on the Internet. What can I say, people are dorks, and get offended too easily in their dork worlds.

I see where you're coming from on Kubrick, but I don't agree. Contrariwise, I do think that Bergman IS very overrated. ("Saying you like Bergman is like saying you like anal sex... Sounds cool, but the reality is disgusting and horrifying.") How's THAT for flippant?

And I love Facebook. Twitter is ugly.

J Lee said...

Kubrick's film dropped into the public light two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, so the context helped elevate the film's praise above the actual content (the far more serious "Fail Safe" from 1965 falls into the same category of message in part trumphing execution -- the public today may have some fears about a rogue nuke or dirty bomb hitting where they live, but it's still nothing like the threat from nuclear missiles the public had during the mid-60s).

Bill Peschel said...

Interesting that you thought the ending a cop-out. I thought it was pretty clear what happened: that if the plane made it through and dropped the bomb, it would be Game Over. I don't know how you could see it another way, except by overlaying your interpretation of the explosion loop. (But, it's been years since I saw the movie, and I don't think I've ever seen it all the way through.)