Messages from Planet Kubrick

Eh. I’m going to stop trying to fit this on Twitter.

I love this quote by Jacques Rivette on Stanley Kubrick (from this list of filmmaker trashtalk about other filmmakers):

“Kubrick is a machine, a mutant, a Martian. He has no human feeling whatsoever. But it’s great when the machine films other machines, as in 2001.”

It sums up how I’ve always felt about Kubrick’s films, which are sometimes pretty but to the last leave me feeling absolutely nothing, and feature humans acting in ways I cannot credit, believe, or support. And since he writes his films too I can lay that at his door safely. (Sadly, that kind of goes for 2001, too–I loved it as a kid, but watching it as an adult I cannot fathom why I loved it as a kid. It’s endless, lifeless, and bloodless. I guess I liked the first half of Full Metal Jacket, which is basically an anthology movie with only two flicks in it, one of which is a tight, amazing short story. The other is entirely forgettable except for a horribly racist patter of dialogue that has entered popular consciousness–that would be the "me love you long time" thing–and the helmet/peace sign line, which is pretty great, admittedly. But I couldn’t even tell you what else happens in the second half.)

Of course, he’s my father’s favorite director, so I grew up seeing a whole lot of Kubrick. And taking it as axiomatic that he’s amazing and I’m just a dumb girl who’s Missing It. And my husband loves Eyes Wide Shut, which actually sends me into paroxysms of loathing, because it is the most mutantmartian of all the Kubrick films, and no one acts like a person, instead, they are a bunch of misogynist douche-powered fuckmachines barfing half-digested plot and turnip-dialogue everywhere. OBVIOUSLY MY KIND OF SHOW. Even Nicole Kidman–who even remembers what their characters’ names were? Was Tom Cruise named Bob? IMDB says Bill and Alice. Whatever. Even Nicole’s character fully internalizes the mountains of total horseshit that Tom Cruise shovels onto her and is all yes, I am a whore. Fantastic. Awesome. Allow me to subscribe to this newsletter.

I guess I’m just relieved someone else feels that way. I suppose I do like Dr. Strangelove, but that’s satire and high farce, people aren’t required to behave normally, and are actually penalized for doing so. I wish he’d stuck to that. Clockwork Orange is the same sort of thing–these are not real people doing real things–and that was all right. But neither of those films touched me emotionally or rank high on my list of favorites, and I doubt I’d volunteer to watch either again.

I do value the Martian perspective. But I’d rather go in for the emotional realism and humankindness of, say, Quentin Tarantino, than ever watch another Kubrick joint.

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