(ca) wrote: "WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST WATCH" will be the main reaction for many people. It is not impresive as a movie, neither as a story, nor as a pretty much anything. It does what it sets out to do: BLOOD, and its insane narrative that reminds me of the most senseless animes and with a level of blood and obscenities that will exceed anyones expectations, it is a fun watch for people who just want to see a 2-hour long insanity ride.
(it) wrote: I have been re-watching a bunch of Stanley Kubrick films after seeing the excellent retrospective at the Contemporary Jewish museum. I have always loved his films, since I was a young lad, even if I couldn't quite put my finger on why. After all these years continuously coming back to Kubrick, my finger seems closer to a few revelations.Feature filmmaking is an artistic genre bent towards entertainment. The Hollywood system has it's stranglehold on this reality more than ever. The irony for me with Kubrick is that it is the uncompromising artistry and vision of his films that is the primary reason I find them so entertaining. Conversely, I recently watched Jaws and realized that it is the best Spielberg film, precisely because it is the only Spielberg film that he doesn't wreck with his own art-killing brand of crowd pleasing sappiness. I don't blame the studios for this. I just don't see Speilberg is an artist, rather, the A-list Hollywood song and dance man.Kubrick was a unique figure in American folklore. He achieved popularity and, more importantly to Hollywood, his films caught on and made money. Another irony; it is when Kubrick left Hollywood and began to make essentially European art films, that Hollywood took interest. Kubrick had the artistic freedom of the English studios and Hollywood distribution. A rare symmetry. Essentially, a filmmaker with a nearly unlimited budget but whom refused to make films as entertainments. The results are, in my humble opinion, the most stunning works of cinema of the 20th century. Not just a few Kubricks. I believe that each film is entirely it's own entity. It's own masterpiece, unrelated to each other, with the crucial exception that they were directed with the exact same level of detail, excellence, massive tireless preparation, technical innovation, one of the great eyes for photographic composition, and most underrated, one of the great ears for music.Which brings me to the most underrated of all Kubrick's masterpieces, and, one of my personal favorites: Barry Lyndon. The first thing I would say about Barry Lyndon is that I went and had a quick look at Rotten Tomatoes and to my delight, it had a score of nearly 100% And why not? It's well known that Barry Lyndon was a box office disaster when originally released in 1975 and that Kubrick was deeply depressed by this tepid reaction. But we are also beginniing to realize that Kubrick was ahead of his time. What was considered his "failure" 40 years ago is now beginning to be seen as one of his great masterpieces.If you look at Barry Lyndon as an entertainment, well, you're looking at it wrong. Go watch Saving Ryan's Privates. If you look at Barry Lyndon as one of the most audaciously existential and masterfully conceived period films, if not the greatest of all, you are getting warmer to the truth of the film. After re-watching Barry Lyndon last night, for probably the 10th time over the years, it seems to me that once again, Kubrick was attempting to re-invent how stories are told using the medium of cinema. In it's odd way, Barry Lyndon almost feels like a sequel to 2001. They both use detachment, just in very different ways. Here, he is literally trying to present a Thackeray Novel on film. He presents the film with the exact same stateliness one would be greeted with opening up the novel, down to the comforting, meticulous voice of the British narrator. In the past, I heard complaints about the narration as messing with the rhythm of the story, however, this time around, I felt the film would lose it's authenticity and its originality without it. it is a film dependent on every ornate detail. Indeed, never has a film been more painterly. Each scene has a visual magic to it. Kubrick is not content with costumes. These are not costumes. These are the actual clothes worn by Irish country folk and European aristocrats of their day. And everything glows - a literal moving picture. The pantings of the era come to life. The camera zooms backwards, flattening out the image to reveal the painting. Kubrick is hard at work here, in the prime of his career. He is leaving no stone unturned, no detail has a lesser value.The other incredibly unique aspect of this film, and back to the Hollywood theme, Kubrick refuses to give us a hero. It's like baroque film noir. Barry bounds around in the first half of the film, and just when we've grown comfortable rooting for him, he ends up disappointing us. Whoring around and "little more than a common opportunist". Kubrick isn't interested in heroes. He's interested in reality. His films are like grandiose mirrors. We see the best and the worst in ourselves there. No one wanted any part of that in a 1975 movie theater.I touched on this before: Kubrick had a great pair of ears. Perhaps the greatest ears in the history of film directing. His period research into the music of the era is absolutely stunning. Each scene works perfectly; the entire picture feels like one epic song with piano accompaniment by Stanley Kubrick. The man knows exactly what he's doing with music and it's role in the art design of the film. It is one of my very favorite aspects of any Kubrick film.Perhaps the strangest irony of all is that in today's word of instant gratification, reality T.V, Netflix, films that never dare go over 2 hours, or never really dare to do anything at all, Kubrick's Barry Lyndon seems to be finally getting it's due. We love Kubrick because there are no more Kubrick's left in this world. We love Kubrick because his films are strikingly unique. We love him because we are tired of films pandering to us. Tired of Hollywood force feeding us on a tin foil platter. Bless Kubrick for giving us something that glows and breathes with the amber aura of beeswax, casting thick shadows over the harsh burn of an LED monitor.