I engaged Jonathan Rosenbaum, excellent reviewer of films for the Chicago Reader, when he posted a comment on the NYRB assuming Spielberg's version of A.I. Artificial Intelligence largely resembled what Kubrick would have made into film. The comment seemed so outlandish, I decided to to write him directly. After a little back and forth, I offered that Kubrick's films were complementary, that their endings designed to show which films were connected:
The Shining is 2001's mirror. All gestures are reflected. Both films end with staring. EWS is Clockwork's inverse. At their ends: Fucking is shown/The word "fuck" is spoken. They're so mechanically connected, it's obvious.
Kubrick's film of A.I. would never have ended so concisely. You have to look at how the stories connect outside of Spielberg's literalness. The stargate and the eons that David passes in ice are complementary.
Don't forget Kubrick's scripts all ended 'rainbow' which means they were vastly rewritten after day one of shooting.
I personally doubt that Kubrick was systematic about plotting out his own oeuvre so symmetrically--it doesn't gibe with other facts about him.
To see the relationships between his films as symmetric is too simplistic. There's far more blending of symmetry and asymmetry... A pure symmetry would be obvious. Visible. What occurs in his films is below a rational threshold. How many people are conscious Full Metal Jacket shows us "LBJ" [the similarly named Doc Jay who imitates the President for the documentary-in-film] shot by a sniper in a plaza, preceded much earlier by a mention of the sniper who killed Kennedy?
Full Metal Jacket is a mirror of Paths of Glory, both end with men singing. The French soldiers sing a German song, the Americans an American song.
All this is evidence of much energy on your part, but not of Kubrick having any elaborate System. Sorry, but I'm not the one to convince about this.
My rationale for publishing this is to illustrate a divide between criticism and practice. Also, maybe to illustrate a generational divide regarding intention. As smart and articulate as Rosenbaum is, he cannot possibly recognize the connections between these basic gestures of Kubrick's. Nor can he recognize the statistical impossibility of their coincidence. The pat denial, that Kubrick wasn't "systematic about plotting his own oeuvre so symmetrically" is flawed even before the data here is revealed. Kubrick was not merely systematic, but highly meticulous about every reference and gesture that crossed into frame. I'd love to carry this debate further with other critics. Any takers? email@example.com
The greatest animated film of all time is this improbable masterpiece both drawn as manga and directed by Miyazaki. The 'children's version' of the much headier Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa centers around its titular Princess. Visual scales of warring ecosysytems are populated by microscopic humans who battle for extinction. The economy of storytelling is masterful as characters appear with implied backstory and warring groups enter the plot only as they penetrate the current conflict (a far cry from American storytelling where all groups are introduced early in narratives fearing audience confusion). Although ecology is a prevelant theme for Miyazaki, here the conflict's structure is sublimely rendered by extravagant biology using few metaphysical or supernatural devices or motifs. Because threat levels of its transforming ecology are so palpable (they're rendered through processes like emergency cleansings - villagers burn spores from an infected crashed vessel), the film turns the audience into participants of the biome. A miracle in celluloid. Now showing in 35MM through December 20 at NY's IFC Center. Staggered dates and times. Not just a must see, a must see again and again. Voices of Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman and Mark Hamill.
The Wachowskis lift Matrix Revolutions's ending wholesale from Nausicaa.
An Unseen Enemy Griffith delineates storytelling for the century.
Museum of the Moving Image's 2nd annual series devoted to films made 100 years ago. Four distinct programs showcase a masterclass on the beginnings of both genre and format specialization with a special emphasis on New Jersey's role as nature's backlot (a hint that out west of New York was the medium's future). Some key Mack Sennett, Edison, Griffith films will be shown. A must see for any filmmaker with an eye in the past.
Jacob Holdt came to Nixon's United States in 1970, planning to head south for a story about Allende's Chile, when he was held up at gunpoint and befriended his robbers. Hitch-hiking the U.S., using a small range-finder Canon, he took over 15,000 photos of both the impoverished of the south and urban north, and the upper class that surrounded them. What he found was shocking: cycles of oppression he labeled enslavement. By excluding the lower and middle classes from his narrative, Holdt executed extreme contrast. Once compiled as a book, Holdt barnstormed colleges throughout the 80s projecting large auditorium slide-shows, selling the book for cost (14.95). His parallel narrative to the images is interlaced in the book as well as expanded onto Holdt's copiously illustrated site. The story is riveting as Holdt is a profound optimist always on the verge of a religious journey into an ill place. A must-read for any student of U.S. History; the visual equivalent of Emile Zola. What is striking about Holdt's U.S. is how much it has changed and how little it has. The book is a must-have, even though out of print, used versions are easily found.
Howard Odum's Environment, Power and Society is a primer for a macroscopic view of key issues facing us Earthlings. It is must reading for anyone with an interest in saving the human presence on earth. It's impossible to ignore the monstrous totality of human waste in an ecosystem that ultimately destroys species that cannot conserve.
Science-Writer Syndrome in NYMAG.
"Finally and fatally, what ties the narrative together is not some real insight into the nature of Dylan’s art, but a self-help lesson: Take a break to recharge. To anyone versed in Dylan, this story was almost unrecognizable. Lehrer’s intellectual chutzpah was startling: His conclusions didn’t shed new light on the facts; they distorted or invented facts, with the sole purpose of coating an unrelated and essentially useless lesson with the thinnest veneer of plausibility."
Robert Florey was denied the right to direct Frankenstein and was handed the Poe story. His film pushed the envelope in numerous ways. 21 minutes of pre-code violence remain excised from the existing 60 minute film. Showing at the Loews Jersey City, Saturday October 27. Showing with Tod Browning's Dracula.