Sunday, January 25, 2015


On a personal note, I just wanted to thank the fine folks at the TIFF/Bell Lightbox for all of the massive effort they expended in creating a truly worthy showcase for, and fitting tribute to, the greatest practitioner of cinematic magic that the world has ever known. I won't soon forget the experience of being able to get so up close and personal with documents, props, costumes and other objects from Kubrick's personal collection. I realize the traveling exhibit is only a small fraction of what is available to see at the Kubrick Archive in London. God willing, I will one day be able to make the trek overseas and spend some quality time there, like my old AMK compatriot Bilge Ebiri (of fame) got to do.


Not much to say about this one. A bunch of game testers at Rockstar Games decided to use their gaming platform to re-create some iconic scenes from Clockwork Orange. It's pretty self-explanatory - to watch it is to get it - although if you still want more backstory, this Indiewire/Playlist article should suffice. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I haven't seen it yet, but if you're interested, you can read Soderbergh's reasoning for this experiment and watch a high def version of his cut at his website.

I'm going to watch it now, and report back what I think of it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


From the IndieWire blog, The Playlist:
“Eyes Wide Shut” was Stanley Kubrick’s last film. It’s surreal, polarizing, somewhat perplexing, and incredibly cerebral. It’s also a total mindbender. So what was it like to work on the film, with one of cinema’s legends? Alan Cumming spoke about his experiences for a dozen minutes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox recently, and the truths he revealed shed a lot of light on Kubrick’s process. ... 
So how, with such a prolonged, carrot-dangling audition process, was Cumming available when production finally began? “Basically, I was like hanging out and doing a lot of drugs, so I had time to do Stanley’s film. Or to wait around for Stanley’s film to happen.”

There's more at the link, above. Cumming is awesome, as always.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Seminal 80's novelist Bret Easton Ellis presents us with a brilliant, incisive, absolutely necessary podcast interview with Matthew Modine, focusing exclusively on the time he spent in England with Stanley Kubrick shooting Full Metal Jacket.
The above is a model sculpt for a Full Metal Jacket project undertaken by model-fiend Peter the Painter.


In July of last year, I wrote a post about Stanley Kubrick's strategic placement of artworks by legendary Canadian painter Alex Colville throughout The Shining. Now, Toronto's most prestigious art gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), is featuring a massive retrospective of Colville's art, and part of that exhibit is devoted to the artist's influence on - and appearances in - films by Stanley Kubrick and others, including the Coen Bros.

Here is a video of the exhibit's "house film critic", Jesse Wente, discussing what Colville and Kubrick have in common as artists:

Thanks to my lovely friend, photographer Kristan Klimczak, for hipping me to this video!

Finally, as I wrote back in July: "See the essential Overlook Hotel blog for more information about where and how four of Colville’s paintings can be found hidden throughout The Shining. As for why Kubrick chose to highlight this artist’s work in his film… your guess is as good as mine."

Saturday, January 3, 2015


This is the second in a series of meditations on Kubrick's earliest works, and the way image and moments from those works echo through his entire career. Click here for the first installment. - MT
Stanley Kubrick's second film was 1951's Flying Padre, a documentary short subject about Father Fred Stadtmueller, a Catholic priest from New Mexico who uses a Piper Cub airplane - the "Spirit of St. Joseph" - to reach all the various far-flung ranches and settlements that fall within the vast territory covered by his parish.

With a skimpy runtime of just over 8 minutes, Flying Padre is a rather slight contribution to Kubrick's oeuvre, and in many ways can be seen as a bit of a step backwards from the promising premiere that he'd made with Day of the Fight. Indeed, the only reason Kubrick made Flying Padre was because RKO-Pathé - who had admired and purchased Day of the Fight - paid him $1,500 up front to do so... with the understanding that all expenses, including travel, film and equipment rental, would be covered by that meagre fee. The legendary "Kubrick thrift" held him in good stead, as he managed to break even!

Kubrick biographer Vincent LoBrutto writes: “Unlike Day of the Fight, Flying Padre is a rather typical human-interest newsreel documentary. Kubrick’s filmmaking skills are assured but reveal less of the cinematic talent that lies within. The photography is evenly lit. Shots are composed in classic photojournalist style, pleasing and artful to the eye.”

Let's take a moment to watch Flying Padre together, shall we?

Considering the massive constrictions Kubrick had placed on him, both budgetary and otherwise, it's kind of amazing that he managed to pack so much information and story into such a tight little documentary package. Also, for all its flaws - the lame attempt at injecting an element of suspense with the "sick baby" bit at the end, for instance - one still can't help but spot images and moments that would continue to echo through Kubrick's oeuvre as his budgets, ambition and pretensions would skyrocket beyond anything his cinematic peers would even dare to dream of. And this, beyond the mere use of a narrator, which was a hallmark of Kubrick's early style. In fact, I found more to remind me of future Kubrick films in Flying Padre than I did in Day of the Fight!

Here are a few of the more defensible cases in point...

For instance, when I first saw the post-title shots - slow panning shots of the dry, arid wastes of the American Southwest - I couldn't help but be reminded of the opening shots of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which were pretty darn similar.


Pretty cool, no? And I love how Kubrick captured Father Stadtmueller looking back over his shoulder in this shot, as occurs a number of times with a variety of characters in Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Of course, the Leper Colony had a few more controls and dials...

Kubrick's love of aerial shots can be seen in Strangelove, of course, as well as in 2001, during the "Stargate" sequence, and of course, during the opening shots of The Shining.

This one's a bit of a long shot, but there's something about the priest leading the funeral party in Flying Padre that reminded me of the priest leading the funeral party in Barry Lyndon.

Another long shot, but I think there's something a little bit "Eyes Wide Shut" about the Church ceremony we're shown.

A bit less of a stretch is how much Father Stadtmueller resembles the Clockwork Orange padre in certain moments.

Here's one that didn't remind me of any future Kubrick framings, but I did think it might be sort of a sly little anti-clerical subliminal cue planted by Kubrick in his otherwise laudatory little spit-shine of a documentary. I mean, it's a priest, visually trapped in a theological or moral "cage", just like his canaries are trapped in a real-life one! And - unlike his canaries, which he breeds for profit - the priest can't even pro-create!

Although Father Stadtmueller is, without a doubt, nowhere near as threatening a personage as Timothy Carey from The Killing, nevertheless, I couldn't help but be reminded of him when I saw this shot.

Heck, there's even something to remind me of Full Metal Jacket in this movie!

And finally, I apologize for the morbidity of this last selection, but when I first saw the awkward stance that the mother took while comforting her "sick" baby, I couldn't help but think of this similarly staged scene from Eyes Wide Shut.

Okay! So with all of the above speculation out of the way, let's bid a fond adieu to a priest who seems like he was probably a pretty swell guy back in the day. So long, Father Stadtmuller! Until next time, when we tackle The Seafarers!


Nice to see Eyes Wide Shut getting some satirical love from those cutting-edge jokesters over at [adult swim]! Lowbrow, but pretty funny too.