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TIFF Cinematheque Presents - Stanley Kubrick

26 Oct 2014

TIFF Cinematheque Presents - Stanley Kubrick

Recently passed on, and arguably one of the best and controversial directors of all time, Stanley Kubrick has made films on a wide range of topics including violence  (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE), war (PATHS OF GLORY, FULL METAL JACKET), war satire (DR STRANGELOVE), horror (THE SHINING, EYES WIDE SHUT, period (BARRY LYNDON) and sci-fi (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY).

2001 will be introduced by its two stars Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea.

The exhaustive retrospective of his films include the seldom seen early works as well as his shorts.  The film retro ties in with the Stanley Kubrick Exhibition running from the October 31st, 2014.

The 5 Kubrick Must-Sees:

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

DR. STRANGELOVE

LOLITA

THE SHINING

For the complete listing of the program, ticket pricing and showtimes, check the TIFF Cinematheque website at:

tiff.net

CAPSULE REVIEWS OF SELECT FILMS:

EYES WIDE SHUT (USA 1999) ****

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

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Beware! "Eyes Wide Shut" is a big budget porno film. With a reputation after making great films like "Dr Strangelove", "A Clockwork Orange" and "2001", Stanley Kubrick can get Hollywood's hottest stars not only to back him up, after his death, but to bare it all for the sake of art!   "Eyes Wide Shut" is about 2 hour and a half long and moves at a snail's pace. The plot can be summarized in one sentence. "Baby, You have done a bad bad Thing", as the lyrics of the Chris Isaac song go, played 15 minutes into the film. But this does, not a bad film make. Cruise and Kidman play husband and wife, a nicely married couple with a daughter. They love each other tremendously. But they do bad bad things. The film is a cross of Kubrick's earlier works. It has the playfulness of "Dr Strangelove" (check the film's funniest scene where the gay hotel desk clerk flirts with Tom Cruise), the nastiness of "Lolita" (the teenage nympho daughter of the costume rental owner), the horror of "The Shining" (the mansion scene, reminiscent of Overlook Hotel), the vulgarity of "A Clockwork Orange" and the posh and pomp of "Barry Lyndon". Kubrick obssession for perfection and closed sets is evident in the film. The takes are often long and the lighting and scenes meticulously done. There is no doubt that much time and expense has been put towards the filming of each scene. For example, the entire film, though set in the US, was shot in the borough of Islington and Norfolk in the U.K.  This film will most likely be hated by the average filmgoer - the one that is interested in watching Kidman and Cruise doing it onscreen or the one eagerly awaiting the orgy scene. The pleasure of the film comes from the acknowledging the way Kubrick has managed to make a really tight ambigous film, full of tension with lots of mind-playing and absurdities.

FULL METAL JACKET (USA 1987) ****
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

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This immensely absorbing war film is comprised of two parts.  The first 45 minutes puts the audience in marine training boot camp under an austere drill instructor, Gunnert Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) and the second, a platoon fighting combat in Hue City, Vietnam.  The link between the two is the character of Private Joker (Matthew Modine), promoted to Sergeant in the combat segment.  The first segment is the better part of the film though there are questionable flaws.  For one, the entire training is focused on just one instructor.  What happened to the platoon section leaders or platoon and company commanders?  Still  Erney, himself an ex-marine steals the show.  Kubrick demonstrates disciplined film making, as evident for example, in the platoon’s singing while jogging in time.   The second battle portion, with bits reminiscent of Kubrick’s PATHS OF GLORY is less disciplined with a story that goes all over the place.  It does settle in the final scene in which Joker and Animal (Adam Baldwin) question a humanitarian decision of putting an enemy out of her misery.  The full metal jacket of the title refers to the kind of bullet covered by metal.  A man’s war film in which the only women present are for the purpose of sex gratification.

THE KILLING (USA 1958) ****

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

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As in the early Kubrick films like PATHS OF GLORY, THE KILLING is meticulously staged giving the film its edge that the film ends up absorbing from start to end.  Noticeably, these two films are devoid of humour.  It helps too that THE KILLING is a heist movie divided into two roughly equal parts - the detailed planning and precise execution.  Of course, one cannot plan for fate with fate raising her mighty hand against the poor robbers.   Sterling Hayden plays a hood just out of the slammer who masterminds a 2-million dollar robbery at a race track.   He enlists a clerk (Elisha Cook) and several others that appear to be more trouble than help.  THE KILLING is an excellent film staged as well as the heist and with almost perfect results.

PATHS OF GLORY (USA 1957) ****

Directed by Stanley Kubrick 

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Heroism and cowardice!  Manipulation of the Courts!   At the height of World War I, in

the midst of the grim trench warfare of World War I, battle-weary lawyer turned soldier Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) is ordered by his status-seeking superior General Mireau (George Macready) to launch an attack on a nearly impenetrable enemy position.  Knowing full well the impossibility of his mission, Dax leads his men into No Man's Land, where they are met by a hail of death. Furious at the failure of the attack, Mireau orders that three soldiers be picked at random and court-martialled for cowardice, compelling the dutiful Dax to break ranks and defend his men against the general's kangaroo court.   This is a film based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb that turned out to be one of the best anti-war films ever made.  The film can be divided into three parts - the fight to capture Ant Hill, the military politics and the court-martial.  Kubrick tells his absorbing tale in less than 90 minutes that encompasses the best and worst in human beings.  The ending in which the men on furlough enjoy their last minutes before going back to the trenches is unforgettable.

THE SHINING (USA 1980) ****
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

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Based on the Stephen King horror novel with a few changes, THE SHINING is a pretty scary movie by horror movie standards.  It deals with madness, isolation, ghosts and a haunted hotel.  The Shining refers to a gift that Stephen King invented.  it is the ability to communicate without talking.  So, two human beings with this gift can communicate distances apart.  Johnny’s boy, Danny (Danny Lloyd) possess the gift and uses it to contact the hotel’s chef (Scatman Crothers) when his dad goes mental.  Despite the reported problems that the film underwent during filming such as constant change of the script by Kubrick and actress Shelly Duvall getting physically ill, Kubrck’s film still ends up a very good chiller.  The film also used the new (at the time) Steadicam technology for scenes such as the boy riding his tricycle at top speed through the corridors of the hotel  The line “Here’s Johnnie…..” is classic and used one of the most quotable.

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