Too Few Times At Bat

What a drag that it all ended with Eyes Wide Shut — obviously engrossing and very carefully assembled but altogether the most lifeless and embalmed Stanley Kubrick film ever made. (Yet another hat tip to Awards Daily‘s Ryan Adams.)

46 thoughts on “Too Few Times At Bat

  1. JLC on said:

    Very nicely done.

    As to the number of Kubrick films, I’ll quote Kubrick player Joe Turkel: The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And Stanley burned so very brightly. I don’t think he could have made the films he did without spending the kind of time on them that he demanded. I’ll be very happy with what we got (though I really would have liked to have seen his vision for A.I.)

  2. I’d rather watch Eyes Wide Shut three times in a row than watch Barry Lyndon again. Stanley’s hermetically sealed English existence caught up with him as far believability of his Manhattan sets (representing a bygone world more suited to the 50s-60s of his younger years), there is absolutely nothing embalmed or lifeless about the subject matter, and it is wholly engrossing.

    If you haven’t seen the newly discovered photos of 1949 Chicago taken for Look magazine, they are wonderful.

  3. Reversing John’s comment:

    Would rather watch BARRY LYNDON again–especially when it comes to Blu-Ray later this year.

  4. After watching all Kubrick’s films many times, it’s still astonishing to me that it’s not commonly agreed upon that THE SHINING and FULL METAL JACKET are — despite their obvious strengths — easily the weakest of Kubrick’s major works. (And that EYES WIDE SHUT represented a tremendous return to form.)

  5. They are all great but I am intensely in love with Barry Lyndon and 2001. Movies don’t really get any better than those two. I too would kill to see his A.I.

  6. YND – how are they easily the weakest? Based on what? Is it really astonishing that others don’t share your opinion?

    I can’t believe that more people don’t despise EWS – easily his most stilted and forced film. Astonished actually.

    Come on.

  7. @arispil – most people do despise EWS. I’d say that’s the majority opinion.

    I’d call Kubrick one of my top 3 or 4 filmmakers of all time, but THE SHINING and FMJ simply don’t connect… with me. (Sorry I left off the qualifier before.) But yes, their flaws do seem so apparent *to me* that they really seem pretty objective.

    I understand that Kubrick intended for Nicholson’s performance to be so huge and over-the-top… I just don’t understand why. That and his (over)reliance on the then-novel Steadicam makes THE SHINING is almost impossible *for me* to connect to.

    As for FMJ, most of even its biggest supporters seem to acknowledge that half the film works better than the other half (though which half is superior seems somewhat up for debate). That right there drops it beneath what I’d consider Kubrick’s true masterpieces, which *for me* are as close to perfect, top to bottom, as films get.

    For me.

  8. And, to be clear, I still respect the hell out of those two films. I just don’t think they’re successful in the way his others are.

  9. I think Scorsese summed up Kubrick’s relatively brief filmography best: “One of his films… is equivalent to ten of somebody else’s.”

    And ‘The Shining’ is a stunning work of art from a master artist deeply in love with his medium.

  10. The Shining is probably the best film about the Holocaust ever made and Full Metel Jacket one of the best war movies and easily the best thing about Vietnam….

  11. This is really nice, so it’s unfortunate that they mangled the English grammar so badly. “A Stanley Kubrick’s Movie” indeed.

    Eyes Wide Shut is great, and there’s no way the stagey artificial feeling of Manhattan’s streets wasn’t intentional.

  12. I’m sure it was, considering the common interpretation is that most of the story is a dream.

    And I’ll take EWS over Barry Lyndon, Full Metal Jacket, The Killing, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, and most especially Lolita, which is for me by far his worst and (with Sellers’ help) makes a mockery of Nabokov’s beautiful work.

  13. I loved Eyes Wide Shut. Saw it twice and wouldn’t mind watching it again. Still need to see Barry Lyndon. Are The Killing and Lolita necessary viewings?

  14. It’s “necessary” that Rashad fuck right off.

    They’re all masterpieces starting with The Killing going forward (albeit Spartacus is a different “kind” of masterpiece). While Killer’s Kiss probably falls well short of that designation, it’s still a very, very strong feature-length film (I give him a mulligan on his “debut” Fear & Desire).

  15. Barry Lyndon is second in stature only to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Dr. Strangelove is a close third.

    This is non-debatable, by the way.

  16. Maybe I’m crazy but I would have liked for Kubrick to live long enough to make one last picture– maybe A.I.– in Los Angeles. Given how much he was able to do with resources in London, I can only imagine how many more he would have had to play with in all of Southern California.

    OTOH, and as I understand it, it wasn’t just that Kubrick worried about Kirk Douglas-wannabees jerking him around again, as if 1960 never passed away. Per LoBrutto’s bio, and besides his supposed fear of flying, Kubrick didn’t like the industry atmosphere in LA, period. It’s possible he could have lived to be 100 and still never returned to the good ol’ USA. Maybe if only someone like Scorcese begged him, and offered to provide comprehensive services as his ‘buffer’… ;-)

  17. Yeah, what’s up with the careless spelling errors in an otherwise beautiful piece?

    I guess I need to learn to stop worryin about these things.

  18. Aw Kaned is angry.

    Typical of his fans. Overrate his entire work and everything becomes a masterpiece for them. Might as well continue with the dilution of the word even further. Fear and Desire is a masterpiece.

  19. No one here believes that Spielberg was the “right” director for A.I.?

    I have serious doubts that Kubrick would have ever directed that one even if he had lived long enough. He’s said multiple times before that he didn’t think his filmmaking style was right for the subject material, and I’m certainly wont to believe him — why shouldn’t I? By and large, his instincts on these matters throughout his career seemed impeccable — borderline flawless, really.

    Now, granted, we probably would have gotten more involvement from Stan (always a good thing, I think) on the finished product, but I think A.I. is probably pretty damn close to the film he envisioned in his mind.

    For what it’s worth, I still think it’s (somehow) tremendously underrated.

  20. I think Scorsese summed up Kubrick’s relatively brief filmography best: “One of his films… is equivalent to ten of somebody else’s.”

    And ‘The Shining’ is a stunning work of art from a master artist deeply in love with his medium.

  21. Choosing between Kubrick films is like choosing between children. Yes, you may have your favorite, but you never say it out loud– you love them all equally!

    2001 remains magnificent. Barry Lyndon is that one gem you still geek out about when new friends tell you they haven’t seen it. And FMJ is easily the most rewatchable of Kubrick’s films– and in many ways, his most human.

    Sadly, EWS didn’t do it for me. There’s so much to love about it, but Kubrick’s continuing refusal to shoot anywhere else but England hurts the movie (why not just change the setting to expats in London? Or heck, use actual Brits in a movie again?).

    And, frankly, even though they’ve both done great work in different films, Cruise and Kidman were the most boring and annoying couple, on screen and off. And they’re BOTH uniquely weird, in a way Kubrick was either too old to see, or too polite to exploit.

  22. @Kaned: A.I.’s reputation is slowly but surely growing. Glenn Kenny’s piece on the film for Premiere back in early 2002 hit the nail on the head.

  23. @Kaned: A.I.’s reputation is slowly but surely growing. Glenn Kenny’s piece on the film for Premiere back in early 2002 hit the nail on the head.

  24. 1) Saw “A.I.” at Cinemax in Amsterdam sort of on Day One of its release and loved it. I think the exhibitors set the tone for the reaction as they didn’t get it. Followed by the critics who got their knickers twisted between two legends of wildly differing types and reputations. Would love to appraise it again.

    2) Andrei Konchalovsky’s analysis always explained the primary drawback of “The Shing” for me, which I’ll paraphrase here: “There is no great horror without great pity.” Jack sets his amp at 11 from the beginning of the film and never turns it down.

    3) Has anyone here ever read F. Lee Ermey’s interview about Kubrick’s last days? I joked at the time that Tom and Nicole drove him over the edge but years later, in this interview, Ermey indicates that there’s a kind of truth in that.

    5) “Full Metal” is two films and the second isn’t as interesting as the first. And in the second, it even felt deriviative of “Apocalypse” (ironic pop music) and Kubrick never felt derivative of anybody prior to that film.

    6) Has anyone here seen “Stanley’s Girlfriend?” Kinda cool. Boo-coo-lee so.

  25. Kubrick was clearly a genius but the depths to which people will stoop to apologize for his flaws is hlllarious.

    Yeah, the “stagey” look of the NYC streets in Eyes Wide Shut was totally there to establish the subtext of the dream. The fact that he was too nutty to get on a plane and go to New York is a huge coincidence.

    I presume the crappy process shots when Cruise is in the car, and the too-obvious second unit/stock shots were also merely Kubrick working a deep visual metaphor

    Oh, and Heywood Floyd flies on a Pan Am space shuttle because Kubrick KNEW that by 2001 Pan Am wouldn’t exist and that we wouldn’t yet be actually flying to space yet so it’s doubly brilliant and ironic. Truly, there has never been such a genius….

    …or MAYBE he wasn’t actually as perfect as God and some of Kubrick’s latter films (including FMJ) were compromised at least to an extent by the fact they were OBVIOUSLY not shot where they were set (though the Hue stuff in FMJ is surprisingly passable, imported palm trees and all).

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