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In this listology of the Kubrick canon I think Barry Lyndon deserves more note.

Barry Lyndon works for me as a dark comedy. If viewed as a tragedy, there is not enough redeeming about our characters to get traction. Lyndon is a worthless rogue and we get to watch him scheme and bumble and climb and ultimately undo himself, having made his own bed.

This contradicts Kubrick's take on it. In an interview, he states

I believe Thackeray used Redmond Barry to tell his own story in a deliberately distorted way because it made it more interesting. Instead of the omniscient author, Thackeray used the imperfect observer, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the dishonest observer, thus allowing the reader to judge for himself, with little difficulty, the probable truth in Redmond Barry's view of his life. This technique worked extremely well in the novel but, of course, in a film you have objective reality in front of you all of the time, so the effect of Thackeray's first-person story-teller could not be repeated on the screen. It might have worked as comedy by the juxtaposition of Barry's version of the truth with the reality on the screen, but I don't think that Barry Lyndon should have been done as a comedy.

and also

Interviewer: The feeling that we have at the end is one of utter waste.

Kurick: Perhaps more a sense of tragedy, and because of this the story can assimilate the twists and turns of the plot without becoming melodrama. Melodrama uses all the problems of the world, and the difficulties and disasters which befall the characters, to demonstrate that the world is, after all, a benevolent and just place.


In the same interview, Kubrick states that if he were making a comedy there would have been other "evidence" of the pigeons in the barn where the duel takes place.

The whole thing is a worth a read,

http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/ ... ew.bl.html

but to hell with Barry Lyndon as a tragedy, IMO. It is a great dark comedy in my book.

At any rate, the largely natural lighting used in this film should at least get it on some sort of top ten list. The fast lenses and filming by candlelight make the film required viewing at least from a technical standpoint.


Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:31 pm
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Most Kubrick films have a lot of dark comedy in them.

Filmworker - 7.5/10

Leon Vitali's doc about his working for Kubrick, and his dramatic decision to hang up his acting career to pursue the lucrative line of production assistant. I felt a bit unsatisfied with the result, perhaps because I already knew many of the details, and the archival material isn't nearly as substantive as something like Stanley Kubrick's Boxes (which Vitali curated). A dream doc would somehow combine these two, with Boxes demonstrating the depths of Vitali's work and devotion to Kubrick's process. Still, a very good look at the ubiquitous and unsung executive of thankless tasks.

Widows - 8/10

Steve McQueen lends a lot more maturity and finesse than the script deserves, and an excellent cast manages to make the most of Gillian Flynn's occasionally ludicrous lines. One particularly beautiful shot
follows a limo from the worst parts of South Side Chicago to the brief distance to politician Colin Farrell's mansion while he, hidden behind tinted windows, reveals his utter cynicism.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:22 am
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House of Bamboo was dope and a cool companion to Crimson Kimono. The cinemascope cinematography was gorgeous and the on location shoots really used it to its full advantage. Plus, it's always cool to see Cameron Mitchell in good movies.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:35 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Widows - 8/10

Steve McQueen lends a lot more maturity and finesse than the script deserves, and an excellent cast manages to make the most of Gillian Flynn's occasionally ludicrous lines. One particularly beautiful shot
follows a limo from the worst parts of South Side Chicago to the brief distance to politician Colin Farrell's mansion while he, hidden behind tinted windows, reveals his utter cynicism.

Out of curiosity, did you see McQueen's Hunger? If so, what did you think of it? I consider it to be perfect, but I've always wondered what other people here think of it as I don't see it discussed that much.

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Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:41 am
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Still tying to digest Ballad of Buster Scruggs but man if Dudley from Harry Potter give one heck of a performance. Coens always know how to draw out an actor's strengths.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:07 am
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:
In this listology of the Kubrick canon I think Barry Lyndon deserves more note.

Barry Lyndon works for me as a dark comedy. If viewed as a tragedy, there is not enough redeeming about our characters to get traction. Lyndon is a worthless rogue and we get to watch him scheme and bumble and climb and ultimately undo himself, having made his own bed.

This contradicts Kubrick's take on it. In an interview, he states

I believe Thackeray used Redmond Barry to tell his own story in a deliberately distorted way because it made it more interesting. Instead of the omniscient author, Thackeray used the imperfect observer, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the dishonest observer, thus allowing the reader to judge for himself, with little difficulty, the probable truth in Redmond Barry's view of his life. This technique worked extremely well in the novel but, of course, in a film you have objective reality in front of you all of the time, so the effect of Thackeray's first-person story-teller could not be repeated on the screen. It might have worked as comedy by the juxtaposition of Barry's version of the truth with the reality on the screen, but I don't think that Barry Lyndon should have been done as a comedy.

and also

Interviewer: The feeling that we have at the end is one of utter waste.

Kurick: Perhaps more a sense of tragedy, and because of this the story can assimilate the twists and turns of the plot without becoming melodrama. Melodrama uses all the problems of the world, and the difficulties and disasters which befall the characters, to demonstrate that the world is, after all, a benevolent and just place.


In the same interview, Kubrick states that if he were making a comedy there would have been other "evidence" of the pigeons in the barn where the duel takes place.

The whole thing is a worth a read,

http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/ ... ew.bl.html

but to hell with Barry Lyndon as a tragedy, IMO. It is a great dark comedy in my book.

At any rate, the largely natural lighting used in this film should at least get it on some sort of top ten list. The fast lenses and filming by candlelight make the film required viewing at least from a technical standpoint.


What I got at the time I saw it was more tragedy, like he said, than anything else. But like Jinn says, there's always a sort of dark humor vibe on his films and I also think that's present here. Whether it's upfront or between-the-lines, I guess can be up to the viewer, but some would argue that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand.

I understand your point about the redeeming qualities of Barry, and it brings up a dilemma I've always found interesting in films and TV; does a film need to have a "redeemable" lead character for us to like it? I would say "no", as long as the character is interesting, which is the case here.

BTW, thanks for sharing that link. I'll check it out.

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Thu Nov 22, 2018 8:53 am
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I loved Cop Car. It's a simple story that fits right in with other Southern crime/neo-noir from the likes of the Coens, Nichols and Saulnier. Bacon and Wigham perform magnificently and the boys bestow their characters with authenticity where depth may not be readily available. It's the type of stripped down, simple storytelling carried by a deft cinematic hand for which I am a sucker. I expect this one to catch on much like Blue Ruin whenever it finally hits a popular streaming service.

Between this, Clown and Spider-Man Homecoming, I consider Watts to be one of the more exciting young directors working.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:32 am
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Thief wrote:
What I got at the time I saw it was more tragedy, like he said, than anything else. But like Jinn says, there's always a sort of dark humor vibe on his films and I also think that's present here. Whether it's upfront or between-the-lines, I guess can be up to the viewer, but some would argue that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand.

I understand your point about the redeeming qualities of Barry, and it brings up a dilemma I've always found interesting in films and TV; does a film need to have a "redeemable" lead character for us to like it? I would say "no", as long as the character is interesting, which is the case here.

The main comparison Kubrick is thinking of is the book probably, which so I hear is more of a rollicking picaresque. The movie still has a wry sense of humor, but Kubrick leans more heavily into tragic shades. Like, I don't have even an inward Death of Stalin smirk at Lady Lyndon signing checks like a zombie. Probably one of the toughest gut-punches in all of Kubrick's movies. But we're using the terms impressionistically here. Is Barry redeemable? Does it matter? He seems more redeemable than King Lear to me, but I don't know how that factors in to either being more or less tragic. Lear shows tenderness for his daughter (eventually). Barry does for his son. Both are brought low by their own faults and the venalities of those around them, and they ultimately embrace their failures. Whether we're talking the skeleton or the feel of the film, tragedy seems a lot more appropriate, even if there are some laughs peppered throughout, most of it front-loaded.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:58 am
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Thief wrote:
What I got at the time I saw it was more tragedy, like he said, than anything else. But like Jinn says, there's always a sort of dark humor vibe on his films and I also think that's present here. Whether it's upfront or between-the-lines, I guess can be up to the viewer, but some would argue that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand.

I understand your point about the redeeming qualities of Barry, and it brings up a dilemma I've always found interesting in films and TV; does a film need to have a "redeemable" lead character for us to like it? I would say "no", as long as the character is interesting, which is the case here.

BTW, thanks for sharing that link. I'll check it out.


The film does not work for me as a tragedy--a tragedy that merely has having a thread of comedy running through it. For me, it only works when viewed as inhabiting a different genre entirely. Comedy. The lens of comedy allows us to embrace the caprices of life (tragedy speaks to the pain of a disorder in a world with deeply patterned meaning), it allows us to recognize the baseness of human beings (and laugh at ourselves), and it allows us to enjoy the pain of fools as they bumble.

A tragedy demands more than an interesting character. It must present us with a compelling and yet flawed hero. Barry is not an otherwise good man with some harmatia that dooms him. Rather, he is a base opportunist and a coward who nevertheless loves his son and some moments of compassion. This isn't Roland allowing his pride to be confused with duty when he refuses to blow his horn to bring back Charlemagne's troops to assist the rear-guard.

Keep in mind that if we are to classify it as a tragedy, as you see it, we must view Barry as more than just interesting. He must also have some proper heroic bona fides and I just don't think that he has them.

As to your point, I (personally) didn't find Barry to be interesting as a character. He is understandable, yes, but not really intriguing. He's not a cypher. He doesn't have surprising depths. He doesn't seem to teach us anything about the human condition. As a slice of life, he's not teaching us anything.

I flatter myself by thinking as you do, that I can embrace a character so long as that character is interesting. And I could list a bunch of characters I've invested in to defend this view (a whole gallery of anti-heroes), but the truth is that there must be something I like about the character. They must be clever, or brave, or persistent, or whatever. Interesting is a code, I think, for having some thread of likeability, even if this does not commit us to liking the character as a whole.

That stated, I am firmly committed to keeping the rough edges around characters. I hate it when Fonzies are domesticated (helping Mrs. C bake cookies), when Riddick becomes the killer with a heart of gold, when Lector becomes just another kid with a bad childhood and a code (he only kills the people who piss all of us off). I like Jamie Lannister, for example, but I also regard him as a monster for what he did to Bran. He's not a good guy. I don't want him to be a good guy. I don't like him as a good guy. I like him as a morally ambiguous character - so, I will not cop to a plea of being a simpleton about the identifications I need to make in fiction.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:59 am
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The Homesman

I never heard much about this when it came out (although doing a search, a few people here commented favorably about it), but just watched this on a whim with my family and it really took me by surprise. It's a film that startles you with misdirection and plot twists and tons of tonal shifting, so you never quite get your footing, up to and including the final scene, but despite this uneven texture it's an assured film that takes admirable risks and often succeeds and even when it doesn't quite pull something off it still kind of does. It's a sad film and you don't fully realize how sad until you take the time to reflect on it, and there are unassuming moments early in the film that take on incredible resonance in retrospect.

Its tonal play and its blend of levity, despair, and abrupt violence made me think, at times, of Slow West, but this film is stronger: more daring, more interesting -- and more historically grounded. Some of the vignettes of frontier insanity reminded me vividly of Wisconsin Death Trip.

If you do watch it, I'd suggest going in like I did: knowing as little as possible.

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Thu Nov 22, 2018 2:39 pm
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Ace wrote:
Still tying to digest Ballad of Buster Scruggs but man if Dudley from Harry Potter give one heck of a performance. Coens always know how to draw out an actor's strengths.


The reviews have been kind of mixed, but I get the distinct sense that the reviewers don't know what to do with an anthology. The complaints are about tonal shifts and so on, as if anthology should not have the termerity to be a collection of short stories.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 4:31 pm
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:

The reviews have been kind of mixed, but I get the distinct sense that the reviewers don't know what to do with an anthology. The complaints are about tonal shifts and so on, as if anthology should not have the termerity to be a collection of short stories.

They could have tonally linked them better but then it wouldn't be quite an anthology. Following up the Wagon story with the one of the 5 strangers was so good.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 5:07 pm
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Ace wrote:
They could have tonally linked them better but then it wouldn't be quite an anthology. Following up the Wagon story with the one of the 5 strangers was so good.


The one that punched me in the gut was the happy go lucky music that ends "All Gold Canyon" which also leads into "The Gal Who Got Rattled" - the music is still playing when you see the opening color plate of Mr. Arthur walking back into camp with President Pierce - the music seems to promise something happy go lucky in what we're about to see. It disarms you. And then you get to the end and realize, "Oh shit, he really had no idea what he would say to Billy Knapp!"

The weakest entry in the bunch I think is "Near Algodones," but it is something of a palate cleanser, an amusing gag which isn't extended too long. The simplicity of this piece contrasts well with "Meal Ticket" - once again a bit of a jab setting up the haymaker to follow.


Thu Nov 22, 2018 5:37 pm
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Stranger Than Paradise - ?

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Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:21 pm
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:
The film does not work for me as a tragedy--a tragedy that merely has having a thread of comedy running through it. For me, it only works when viewed as inhabiting a different genre entirely. Comedy. The lens of comedy allows us to embrace the caprices of life (tragedy speaks to the pain of a disorder in a world with deeply patterned meaning), it allows us to recognize the baseness of human beings (and laugh at ourselves), and it allows us to enjoy the pain of fools as they bumble.

This seems fit for the first act, but not so much the second.

Melvin Butterworth wrote:
A tragedy demands more than an interesting character. It must present us with a compelling and yet flawed hero. Barry is not an otherwise good man with some harmatia that dooms him. Rather, he is a base opportunist and a coward who nevertheless loves his son and some moments of compassion. This isn't Roland allowing his pride to be confused with duty when he refuses to blow his horn to bring back Charlemagne's troops to assist the rear-guard.

Keep in mind that if we are to classify it as a tragedy, as you see it, we must view Barry as more than just interesting. He must also have some proper heroic bona fides and I just don't think that he has them.

As to your point, I (personally) didn't find Barry to be interesting as a character. He is understandable, yes, but not really intriguing. He's not a cypher. He doesn't have surprising depths. He doesn't seem to teach us anything about the human condition. As a slice of life, he's not teaching us anything.

I wouldn't call Barry a coward. He challenges a British captain despite being a young Irish buck with no name, fights a lumbering hulk, saves a German captain in battle, takes a serious gamble pursuing a muckety-muck's wife, and at the end literally stands his ground. These are hardly due to fresh-faced nobility and not all of them are commendable, but they aren't exactly the actions of a coward either. He's frailty, he's spunk, and he's all-too-human. And his opportunism, don't forget, is all part of him learning the rules of the game, a colonial subject who manages to worm his way into the system. He starts out starry-eyed, idealistic and naive, but gradually decides that society is a tissue of lies, joining its hypocrisies and donning its masks (soldier, spy, rake and gentleman). That he loses his integrity in the process turns into the defining issue of the gloomier second act. However our genre-chopping pans out and whatever its motivations (I'm not entirely clear on that in your case or mine), all that falls into the picture too. I don't think we're supposed to end up identifying with the haughty condescension of the narrator.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 3:49 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Kubrick:

1) 2001: A Space Odyssey - 10/10
2) Paths of Glory - 10/10
3) A Clockwork Orange - 10/10
4) The Killing - 9/10
5) Dr. Strangelove - 9/10
6) Full Metal Jacket - 9/10
7) The Shining - 7/10
8) Killer's Kiss - 7/10
9) Day of the Fight - 5/10
10) Flying Padre - 4/10

I have a bit of catching up to do.

Eyes Wide Shut?


Fri Nov 23, 2018 7:46 am
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Wooley wrote:
Eyes Wide Shut?

I'll get around to watching it soon. I've heard some critics/Kubrick fans say it was a misstep, but I know that most people here have a strong opinion about it, so I'm more than curious.

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:21 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I'll get around to watching it soon. I've heard some critics/Kubrick fans say it was a misstep, but I know that most people here have a strong opinion about it, so I'm more than curious.

It's a Christmas movie so the season is right around the corner.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:23 am
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ThatDarnMKS wrote:
It's a Christmas movie so the season is right around the corner.

:heart:

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:26 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
I'll get around to watching it soon. I've heard some critics/Kubrick fans say it was a misstep, but I know that most people here have a strong opinion about it, so I'm more than curious.

A lot of others say it's one of his best films.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:03 am
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Wooley wrote:
A lot of others say it's one of his best films.

Yes, but marginally less than most of his work though. However, that doesn't discourage me from wanting to check it out.

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:22 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Yes, but marginally less than most of his work though. However, that doesn't discourage me from wanting to check it out.

No, really, there are a lot of us who would put it in his top-5, for sure. I don't wanna oversell it, but I loved it.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:53 pm
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Eyes Wide Shut is great. Still one of Kubrick's worst films, but who cares. I would consider everything he did to be essential viewing.

It's great.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:58 pm
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Wooley wrote:
No, really, there are a lot of us who would put it in his top-5, for sure. I don't wanna oversell it, but I loved it.

I'm sure there are. Just less than some of his other films (2001, Dr, Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining).

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:20 pm
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:
The one that punched me in the gut was the happy go lucky music that ends "All Gold Canyon" which also leads into "The Gal Who Got Rattled" - the music is still playing when you see the opening color plate of Mr. Arthur walking back into camp with President Pierce - the music seems to promise something happy go lucky in what we're about to see. It disarms you. And then you get to the end and realize, "Oh shit, he really had no idea what he would say to Billy Knapp!"

The weakest entry in the bunch I think is "Near Algodones," but it is something of a palate cleanser, an amusing gag which isn't extended too long. The simplicity of this piece contrasts well with "Meal Ticket" - once again a bit of a jab setting up the haymaker to follow.

Yeah when I realized what he was planning in the end I was like OMG he's going to do it? Yeah I really loved each of the stories and they all contrast nicely. Yeah "The Gal Who Got Rattled" is definitely my favorite. That action scene was perfectly crafted.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 3:15 pm
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Eyes Wide Shut might be my favorite Kubrick film. That or Barry Lyndon.

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 3:33 pm
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Eyes Wide Shut may be my second favorite Kubrick after 2001. I think once he got to the Killing, virtually everything became top tier cinema. I like Killer's Kiss and appreciate him finding his voice through Eisenstein homage with Fear and Desire but they're at a significant disadvantage in being in the rest of his filmography.

I haven't seen Barry Lyndon but I've bought it three times, finally on Criterion Blu Ray. I've been saving it like a fine bottle of wine to pop open and finish his filmography. I'm thinking during Christmas break.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:04 pm
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ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Eyes Wide Shut may be my second favorite Kubrick after 2001. I think once he got to the Killing, virtually everything became top tier cinema. I like Killer's Kiss and appreciate him finding his voice through Eisenstein homage with Fear and Desire but they're at a significant disadvantage in being in the rest of his filmography.

I haven't seen Barry Lyndon but I've bought it three times, finally on Criterion Blu Ray. I've been saving it like a fine bottle of wine to pop open and finish his filmography. I'm thinking during Christmas break.


You're in for a real treat, technically. And as you have a practical understanding of filmmaking I think you'll get a lot out of it (possibly more than us mere mortals who merely watch films). You may be familiar with the production of this film. If not, do a little reading on the lenses he used to make this one. It was cutting edge stuff at the time.

When you get done watching this, pop in your Blu Ray of Ridley Scott's The Duellists in which Scott is basically trying to make his own version of Barry Lyndon.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:26 pm
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I really, really dug on Eyes Wide Shut too.

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:33 pm
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:

You're in for a real treat, technically. And as you have a practical understanding of filmmaking I think you'll get a lot out of it (possibly more than us mere mortals who merely watch films). You may be familiar with the production of this film. If not, do a little reading on the lenses he used to make this one. It was cutting edge stuff at the time.

When you get done watching this, pop in your Blu Ray of Ridley Scott's The Duellists in which Scott is basically trying to make his own version of Barry Lyndon.


The NASA lenses for low level candlelight photography, aye? Tis why I chose not to watch my DVD and then finally bought the regular Blu only for them to announce the Criterion and my need to acquire that: I wanted to see it in the best format available.

I do love the Duellists and have been looking for a reason to watch my Blu of it. Nabbed that bad boy at a Half Priced Books right before it went OOP. Pretty happy about that.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:33 pm
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My Kubrick Ranking

1. The Shining
2. Eyes Wide Shut
3. The Killing
4. Dr Strangelove
5. Full Metal Jacket
6. 2001: A Space Oddysey
7. A Clockwork Orange

Yeah, I haven't seen a lot of his work yet because I'm a philistine.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 6:53 pm
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2001
The Shining
Paths of Glory
Barry Lyndon
Clockwork Orange
Full Metal Jacket
Lolita
Dr. Strangelove
Eyes Wide Shut
The Killing
Killer's Kiss
Spartacus


Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:23 pm
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I always forget about Spartacus. Still haven't seen it.

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Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:33 am
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Tentative as there’s a lot of shifting based on my mood

1. 2001
2. Eyes Wide Shut
3. The Shining
4. A Clockwork Orange
5. Paths of Glory
6. Dr. Strangelove
7. Full Metal Jacket
8. Lolita
9. The Killing
10. Spartacus
11. Killer’s Kiss
12. Fear and Desire
13. The Seafarers


Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:35 am
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:

You're in for a real treat, technically. And as you have a practical understanding of filmmaking I think you'll get a lot out of it (possibly more than us mere mortals who merely watch films). You may be familiar with the production of this film. If not, do a little reading on the lenses he used to make this one. It was cutting edge stuff at the time.

When you get done watching this, pop in your Blu Ray of Ridley Scott's The Duellists in which Scott is basically trying to make his own version of Barry Lyndon.


I don't know much about lenses or cameras, but it is indeed a gorgeous looking film. Probably one of the best looking films I've seen. I always say that every shot looked ready to be framed and hung in a gallery.

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Sat Nov 24, 2018 9:38 am
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Macrology wrote:
I always forget about Spartacus. Still haven't seen it.


It's really good, and you can see glimpses of Kubrick in the film, but for obvious reasons, it doesn't really fit in with the rest of his work.


Sat Nov 24, 2018 9:54 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

It's really good, and you can see glimpses of Kubrick in the film, but for obvious reasons, it doesn't really fit in with the rest of his work.

Exactly how I would describe it also.


Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:48 pm
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Annihilation - 7/10 - This is so unlike the novel that it scarcely qualifies as an adaptation. But I also realize that it's also as faithful a work as could be made from that somewhat problematic story. I think the filmmakers realized that there was no way you could make the Southern Reach Trilogy into three succinct films much less tie them together and make them palatable to the movie going public. Which is why Alex Garland appears to wrap it up in one go. No mention of the most meaningful elements of the book, the Tower or the Crawler or the Sermon. And that's a shame because that would have made for some H.P. Lovecraft level heebie jeebies. But again I think Garland was going for a psychological thriller with a strong undercurrent of horror. Which he efficiently captures. Then again I can also understand why this didn't do well at the box office.


Sat Nov 24, 2018 2:38 pm
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boojiboyhowdy wrote:
Annihilation - 7/10 - This is so unlike the novel that it scarcely qualifies as an adaptation. But I also realize that it's also as faithful a work as could be made from that somewhat problematic story. I think the filmmakers realized that there was no way you could make the Southern Reach Trilogy into three succinct films much less tie them together and make them palatable to the movie going public. Which is why Alex Garland appears to wrap it up in one go. No mention of the most meaningful elements of the book, the Tower or the Crawler or the Sermon. And that's a shame because that would have made for some H.P. Lovecraft level heebie jeebies. But again I think Garland was going for a psychological thriller with a strong undercurrent of horror. Which he efficiently captures. Then again I can also understand why this didn't do well at the box office.


There is a real challenge in representing that which is truly alien. A pure alien with inscrutable motives doesn't make for an intelligible story. Science fiction, therefore, is always a mirror of some sort. In 2001 when Bowman goes through the stargate, for example, we're at the moment where we're primed to meet what has been promised to us. But Bowman meets himself at different stages of life before he is reborn as a starchild and where he goes after that we cannot follow. Annihilation does the same thing, but the mirror is not allegory (Star Trek), but a plot element, fractured reflections. In the end, our protagonist meets... ...herself or rather a reflection of herself.

I like that the film had the courage to be beautiful and disgusting at the same time and not to resolve the "otherness" of the alien with an all too common human resolution (e.g., invaders from X, researchers from Y, Space Jesus dying for your sins). The let down of the film is the unneeded monster movies "OR IS IT?" gag at the end with the eyes, but up to that moment it was all very fitting because it was frustrating (as a truly alien encounter would be - WTF is this?!?!?) and resisted giving us closure about the experience. We have the subtext about the relational stuff, but it was nice to see that they resisted explaining who they were or what they wanted or what the glimmer really was.


Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:58 pm
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I enjoy women who are beautiful in the nude so I enjoyed EWS.

Fear and Desire was also surprisingly pretty decent when I watched it a while back.

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Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:30 pm
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:
I like that the film had the courage to be beautiful and disgusting at the same time and not to resolve the "otherness" of the alien with an all too common human resolution (e.g., invaders from X, researchers from Y, Space Jesus dying for your sins). The let down of the film is the unneeded monster movies "OR IS IT?" gag at the end with the eyes, but up to that moment it was all very fitting because it was frustrating (as a truly alien encounter would be - WTF is this?!?!?) and resisted giving us closure about the experience. We have the subtext about the relational stuff, but it was nice to see that they resisted explaining who they were or what they wanted or what the glimmer really was.


I liked the
glimmer in the eyes at the end. I didn't take it as some sort of Blob-esque question mark but rather as a sign that both characters had been fundamentally changed by the Shimmer. If you take the movie as a story about moving past trauma, with the alien as a metaphor for that trauma/transition (as it "changes" everyone - "It was making something new," Portman says at the end), then it's a great closer to the film that Portman and Isaac, having had their Shimmer experiences and having had their relationship problems, would come out of it as different people.


That was my read anyway.

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Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:18 am
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Annihilation is easily one of the best films of 2018 so far. By not providing us with the answers to The Shimmer's meaning, it ends up being even more thought provoking and unique along with one of the best scenes in recent years. Even better are that the only criticisms I can think of for it
(the affair sub-plot and Josie's lazy death)
are very minor.

As for the ending,
I don't think the glimmer in her eyes means she was changed by the experience. I think anyone can figure out that, if she did survive it, she'd be changed. That's pretty much a given. You wouldn't have to state that to the viewer as such an idea goes without saying. My reading of the ending is that she was, in fact, cloned. I think the final shot is the only insight we get to the intentions of The Shimmer. What is it? Who knows. That part is ambiguous, but I admired the mysterious beauty of the final shot, so I wasn't bothered by it.

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Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:32 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Annihilation is easily one of the best films of 2018 so far. By not providing us with the answers to The Shimmer's meaning, it ends up being even more thought provoking and unique along with one of the best scenes in recent years. Even better are that the only criticisms I can think of for it
(the affair sub-plot and Josie's lazy death)
are very minor.

As for the ending,
I don't think the glimmer in her eyes means she was changed by the experience. I think anyone can figure out that, if she did survive it, she'd be changed. That's pretty much a given. You wouldn't have to state that to the viewer as such an idea goes without saying. My reading of the ending is that she was, in fact, cloned. I think the final shot is the only insight we get to the intentions of The Shimmer. What is it? Who knows. That part is ambiguous, but I admired the mysterious beauty of the final shot, so I wasn't bothered by it.


You're being rather narrow in your interpretation of the ending.

The film makes it abundantly clear that the Shimmer and their experience their is analogous to the experience one undergoes during random trauma. Even the manner in which the Shimmer operates is through seemingly randomized change. Beauty and horror are intertwined through this experience. Saying "it's a given that she's changed" isn't true. Nothing in cinema "is a given" unless it is given to the audience. They push the idea to it's logical conclusion because without the glimmer in the eye, they've dropped the analogy. Her emotional and change of character has to manifest in the analogy which is why the eye glimmer is there. It announces with a microphone that she has been changed by the Shimmer externally, internally and existentially. Even if she were a clone, the thematic purpose is not undermined. In essence, it's the same as the ending of Inception. It doesn't matter whether he's in a dream or not, the idea, inspiration and desire to be happy with his family was incepted into him. The thematic truth of these scenes remains whether or not they are ambiguous in regards to definite events.


Sun Nov 25, 2018 5:55 am
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You Were Never Really Here just got added to Amazon prime, so I started a rewatch and already I'm pretty pumped about seeing how I feel about it a second time around.


Sun Nov 25, 2018 6:19 am
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ThatDarnMKS wrote:

You're being rather narrow in your interpretation of the ending.

The film makes it abundantly clear that the Shimmer and their experience their is analogous to the experience one undergoes during random trauma. Even the manner in which the Shimmer operates is through seemingly randomized change. Beauty and horror are intertwined through this experience. Saying "it's a given that she's changed" isn't true. Nothing in cinema "is a given" unless it is given to the audience. They push the idea to it's logical conclusion because without the glimmer in the eye, they've dropped the analogy. Her emotional and change of character has to manifest in the analogy which is why the eye glimmer is there. It announces with a microphone that she has been changed by the Shimmer externally, internally and existentially. Even if she were a clone, the thematic purpose is not undermined. In essence, it's the same as the ending of Inception. It doesn't matter whether he's in a dream or not, the idea, inspiration and desire to be happy with his family was incepted into him. The thematic truth of these scenes remains whether or not they are ambiguous in regards to definite events.

Fair enough.

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Sun Nov 25, 2018 6:24 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

It's really good, and you can see glimpses of Kubrick in the film, but for obvious reasons, it doesn't really fit in with the rest of his work.

It's hard for me to consider it as a proper Kubrick film. It's excellent, as far as its contemporary sword/sandal films go, but it's very compromised.


Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:04 am
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topherH wrote:
I enjoy women who are beautiful in the nude so I enjoyed EWS.

*shiny keys*

Kubrick chose some prime specimans, but this is only bait for what the film is about.


Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:06 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
You Were Never Really Here just got added to Amazon prime, so I started a rewatch and already I'm pretty pumped about seeing how I feel about it a second time around.

I liked it, but I can't say I'm eager to see it again soon.


Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:07 am
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I've been meaning to rewatch Annihilation, but it surely left an impression. I wasn't that bothered by that last shot, but I agree with Melvin and MKS that it's not necessary. A rewatch might help me process it better, but what I got from it reminded me of a quote I like a lot from a Rush song ("He knows changes aren't permanent, but change is").

The thing is that change is coming for this women, and for the world we must infer, whether we want it or not. Change is part of our process, and in some cases is necessary to move past something, whether it's a traumatic event or any self-destructive behavior we might engage in. All of the characters go through some change, some more willingly than others. Some just give in to it, like Josie, others actively look for it, like Ventress, and others put up a fight, like Lena. But change comes anyway. Some can't deal with the process and are "obliterated", others change into something new.

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Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:46 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
You Were Never Really Here just got added to Amazon prime, so I started a rewatch and already I'm pretty pumped about seeing how I feel about it a second time around.


I saw it was on Prime about a week ago, and I'm looking forward to seeing it.

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