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    #11
    Rockin the Boat
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    Well, Kevin, I guess we’re looking at different things. In none of the scenes you linked to do I personally see particularly subtle emotions explored. Barry Lyndon - falling in love, that’s a pretty big, robust, hardly unexplored emotion; not what I’d call the height of psychological subtlety exploration, although admittedly very nicely shot, the worldless exchanges of glances, very nice indeed, well conceived and executed. Although not my favorite film of Kubrick’s - it’s another instance of Kubrick’s shocking miscasting which he was prone to from time to time - Ryan O’Neal and Marisa Berenson... facepalm. Dreadful choices. In both cases, as in EWS he went for a “star” that was big at the time and it was a terrible decision. That said, on the whole, Kubrick was decent with casting decisions - with those shocking instances being the exception. Barry Lyndon as a film fails for me because again, the design was misconceived and Kubrick’s interests were elsewhere (all that battle formation marches and army movements and various technical challenges with lighting etc. is what truly interested him!) - overlong, draggy, uninvolving. I still cannot get over how awful the casting of Tom Cruise was in EWS - that’s no medical doctor by any stretch of the imagination, all I could think with him on screen was how unconvincing he is, how he can’t mimic a normal home life, how he can’t walk down the street without a sign over him “that’s certainly a long coat for such a short man” and how defined Tom Cruises range is and how he can’t step outside of that range, even though inside it, he’s great (Jerry Maguire and so many other excellent movies!) - he’s not an actor with the range of a De Niro for example, and so casting him needs great, great care in order to get good results, because you’ll always get TOM CRUISE tom cruising it to the hilt and if it doesn’t work for that role, your movie will not work.

    Paths of Glory - fantastic movie, but again, exactly like I said, insofar as any psychology is concerned, Kubric’s interests are in men at war and the war’s impact, which your scene illustrates very well. We’re not talking intimate interpersonal exploration. Very big, big, big on screen understandable emotions with crowds of people, no less, LOL.

    Lolita - I’m at a bit of a loss here... what’s this supposed to tell us? I mean, the wife discovers the filthy diary and she’s outraged - perfectly fine, but not exactly subtle on any level that I can think of.

    I’m talking about those subtle interpersonal explorations of psychological states that often don’t even have a name, something that’s done on the regular by the likes of Almodovar and Fellini. Love, sorrow, anger are all something that’s bread and butter as in the scenes you linked to. That’s not where you reach the deep soul of what it means to be human, a landscape unexplored, something we’re grateful to journey to, and priviledged to be guided by masters. Kubrick has told us nothing new emotionally, or particularly deep - it’s meat and potatoes boiled and thrown on a plate, salt to taste as you wish.

    That he wanted to do Napoleon - yes, of course. Of course. He had a deep interest in Napoleon, and he had a deep interest in war and men at war - just look at how many of his films are either directly or tangentially connected to that - Paths of Glory, Full Metal Jacket, Dr. Strangelove, Barry Lyndon, Spartacus. I rather suspect it would’ve been a more interesting movie than Barry Lyndon, but I’m not sure it would be much better for all that - there would be a lot of marching and fighting, you can be sure of that, and insofar as he’d be getting into Napoleon’s “noggin”, it would be all from that perspective, just another extension of his interest in “men at war”. But maybe it would be a fantastic spectacle - who knows, it’s hard to speculate about unmade movies.

    His Holocaust project - I’d genuinely be interested. Certainly there’s a crying need for it. I don’t believe Hollywood has ever tackled it properly (it’s possible I missed it) - I know Spielberg had his heart in the right place, but, and I’m trying not to be harsh here, he does a very shallow hollywood gloss on the holocaust in Schindler’s List, it’s really kind of tragic... but Spielberg is simply not the man for such a project... his soul is not of the depth required - which is not to say he can’t do a terrific war movie, where the breadth, and psychology is much more limited, as in the excellent Saving Private Ryan. Would Kubrick do a better Holocaust movie - I don’t know. I am always willing to be pleasantly surprised, but I guess at this point we’ll never know.

    But again, it’s all about what speaks to you. It’s interesting that you linked to Ebert. I like and respect Ebert a great deal. That said, the man had his limitations (as we all do!). He was a product of his environment, and his psychological “ears” did not range beyond that. These limitations are on display in his review of Blue Velvet, where it’s obvious that he simply wasn’t understading what Lynch was doing psychogically, because Ebert does not receive on that particular frequency. It’s like so called supertasters who can taste a range of bitter beyond that which most folks can - a guy who is not a supertaster will simply not “get it”. This was particularly acute when I read his reviews of Polanski’s “What” and “The Tenent”. There is a particular sense of humor honed in Eastern Europe that Polanski is using in those movies, which simply fly under Ebert’s radar - as a result, he’s completely baffled and utterly mises the point making ludicrously inappropriate reviews. Nothing wrong with limitations. We all have them. But it’s just a mistake to send Ebert to review an exotic cuisine, when he’s a meat and potatoes guy who just doesn’t have the taste buds to detect those exotic flavors. Sending Ebert to review those particular Lynch or Polanski movies is similarly misguided.

    On the flip side, EWS was apparently just Ebert’s speed. Smack in the middle of his sensibilities - he thought the world of that movie. What I saw as trite and banal to the point of deep embarrasment (I actually had fight the instinct to look away from the screen, so embarrased was I for everyone involved in those Cruise-Kidman stoned convo and others), well, Ebert thought were “deep” I guess, smh. Again, this is not to dismiss Ebert - he’s a very insightful and intelligent critic for the movies that fall into the broad American centered cultural universe, which to be fair is vast. But sometimes he can be rather limited when confronted by different material. But aren’t we all? I know I too have my own blind spots and pyschological limitations, prejudices and biases (f.ex. in general, movies with kids bore me stiff - and that’s a limitation, no question).

    Anyhow, it was not my aim to in any way poopoo the enjoyment of the movie for the fans of EWS. Any time anyone finds art that moves them, it’s an unqualified win!


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    #12
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    Thanks for your response. Too much to tease apart. It wasn't Ebert's review so much - I think I said I agree with Scorsese's take on the film. I guess they shared similar likings for the film.
    Anyway - good to hear yer thoughts.


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    #13
    Rockin the Boat
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    Tarantino famously declared that he will only make a limited number of movies, and that he will not linger on with filmmaking, because the rule is that directors start making sh|t movies toward the end of their careers. Now, there certainly are exceptions (ex. John Huston’s splendid last movie 1987 The Dead, directed when he was very old, or even his previous 1985 Prizzi’s Honor), but the rule does seem to hold for most. And Tarantino doesn’t want to deliver dreck which merely tarnishes the legacy of a filmography. I came across this recent piece, wherein QT muses that he may actually call it quits on the high note of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. As I was reading this piece, I thought of how relevant it is to Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut, a last movie that is a disgrace and why I thought that it would’ve been extraordinarily unlikely that Kubrick would’ve given cinema anything of value post that monument to his artistic decline.

    Quentin Tarantino thinks Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood would be a good movie to end his career on

    One quote:

    “ On an episode of Pure Cinema Podcast dedicated to final films, the famed director explained, “Most directors have horrible last movies. Usually their worst movies are their last movies. That’s the case for most of the Golden Age directors that ended up making their last movies in the late ’60s and the ’70s, then that ended up being the case for most of the New Hollywood directors who made their last movies in the late ’80s and the ’90s.” That’s the last thing Tarantino wants for his own career. “Most directors’ last films are poo pooing lousy. Maybe I should not make another movie because I could be really happy with dropping the mic on Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood,” he said.”

    I agree with this so hard! And unquestionably, as I said in my OP, I regard EWS as Kubrick’s worst film and a truly horrible display of complete collapse of artistic judgment. He should’ve quit on the quite good Full Metal Jacket - or even the materpiece of The Shining.


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    #14
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    Maybe Tarantino is right - as it took me days to scrub off the scum of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. I love The Dead though.


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