Elizabeth “Eth” Hyman
Stanley Kubrick. If you don’t know the name, you are automatically behind. He is one of the greatest directors of the 20th century, with films that transcend horror into drama, and drama into horror, then takes whatever the hell that is, and then, like a genius, adds notes of comedy. No subject is too dangerous. Sex, death, crime, war, evil, addiction, obsession, infidelity, Stanley has it covered. Too often, when we think of great filmmakers, we talk about Spielberg, Cameron and Nolan, and while all have earned their stripes, Kubrick began before them all, making some of the most earth-shattering, sexy, and fearless filmography in the history of modern cinema.
When I was fourteen, I was given a copy of “The Shining” as a Christmas present. While this was not my first horror film, it WAS my first Kubrick film. Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, a little boy with clairvoyance, and a haunted hotel…that’s all it took for me to become obsessed. Now it is duly noted that Shelley Duvall went through HELL filming this movie, and Kubrick could have only made it harder for her, bullying her on set, ignoring her, and subjecting her to the all too famous “baseball bat” scene, in which Jack Nicholson has lost his mind and Shelley Duvall must fend him off with a baseball bat, all while going up a flight of stairs backwards and sobbing hysterically. Infamously, Duvall had to re-perform it 127 times to Kubrick’s liking in the aim to make her as emotionally exhausted as her character… Damn it, Stanley.
Stanley Kubrick could have been a better man, but he couldn’t have been a better filmmaker.
Fast-forward a few years to another Kubrick picture. My personal favorite, “Eyes Wide Shut” from 1999. Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, a sex romp, and a group of stalkers, it doesn’t get better. This sadly was the last of Kubrick’s films before his heart attack shortly after “Eyes Wide Shut” wrapped, but nonetheless, in true Kubrick style, it’s a masterpiece. The imagery, hazy colors and the all-too famous “Kubrick Stare:” a long, tempestuous, jaw-locking stare, with the head down, usually a maniacal smile and the eyes piercing through flesh. Nicole Kidman does it, Jack Nicholson does it, Vincent D’onofrio does it (in another favorite of mine from the late 80’s, “Full Metal Jacket”), it has shamelessly become Kubrick’s calling card. Batman has a signal, but Stanley Kubrick has a stare, one that is so menacingly sexy, you can’t help but indulge.
So why bring him up? Why are we talking about Kubrick now? Simply because he was the last fearless filmmaker. Hollywood today takes CGI to the absolute max, throwing in a Marvel movie with pretty sounds and calling it art. Show me a clairvoyant 10-year-old riding a tricycle down a hallway into the ghost of twin girls, THAT’S art. Show me a shot of Nicole Kidman up against a radiator telling her husband that she almost had an affair with a naval officer and she wishes she had, THAT is cinema. The nitty and the gritty, not spandex and green screens…in a world so terribly bubble-wrapped, the meat of a story is rarely dined-in, a director like Stanley has the power to reinvigorate the cinema lovers like myself, then THEY could get inspired, and we could all finally put some bite back into what it means to make a movie!
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, featured
Leave a Reply