Saturday, July 14, 2007

Top 5 Stanley Kubrick Movies

Stanley Kubrick seems to be the consensus best director ever. Some may have qualms with one or two of his movies, but overall I have never met a single person who despised or in any way disliked Stanley Kubrick as a whole.

Tory's Top 5:

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey - I don't see this being number one on any other list, but being a fan of out-there science fiction like this - which puts it as one of my favorite movies of all time, earns it's spot atop this list. Sheerly brilliant with... about 40 minutes of non-dialogue sc

2. A Clockwork Orange - With each of his films it seems he created some sort of controversy. This one the most though, as it was the incredible movie that let him receive the numerous death threats - the trademark of every great director.

3. Full Metal Jacket - The best war movie ever made. It's another movie (like 2001) that showcases his ability to transition perfectly. Like the bone to the spaceship, this goes from a suicide to wartime in an insanely effective manner.

4. Dr. Strangelove - I have only seen this movie one time, which is why it didn't get higher. The best political commentary ever, probably.

5. The Killing - Though the heist seemed a little premature and not really thought out at all, this seems to be the first movie that can be called a signature Stanley Kubrick movie, though I have never seen Killer's Kiss.

Honorable Mentions: Paths to Glory - It was very difficult to decide between this and the Killing.

Dan's Top 5:

(Wow, this is really hard, as everything I've ever seen him make is absolutely brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that I'm quoting each movie.)

1. A Clockwork Orange - One of my all-time favorites, I really should attempt to read the book. A good exercise in the philosophy of morality and justice, and a peek into the criminal mind. McDowell's finest performance and Kubrick's finest movie.

"Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!"

2. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - Laughing in the face of our own nuclear apocalypse. I can't really recall any other time it was done, and if it has, then it can't be anywhere near as good as this.

"I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."

3. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Wow, Tory... I thought I was the only one who actually liked this movie. An insane impact on popular culture, it seemed that this was Kubrick going all in with art rather than going for your standard commercial film. The result is a real treat.

"I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do."

4. The Shining - Still one of the most chilling movies I've ever seen. Pure insanity on show from a remarkable Nicholson. Some points off for not keeping a good pace at times, but otherwise fantastic.

"I like you, Lloyd. I always liked you. You were always the best of them. Best goddamned bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine. Or Portland, Oregon, for that matter."

5. Full Metal Jacket - The jarring contrast between first and second half just makes me pass over it every time as a potential viewing opportunity. I do remember liking this movie, but it never springs to mind when I think "Kubrick." Still good, though.

"I admire your honesty. Hell, I like you, you can come over to my house and fuck my sister!"

Tim's Top 5:
While I disagree with Tory's premise, Kubrick is not the best director, he's in the top 5 (hence a future topic is forthcoming from me), but not the best.

1) A Clockwork Orange - It's my favorite novel, so it's definitely not a movie that can live up to it, right? Wrong. Kubrick is mostly faithful to the novel (except the last chapter), and made an absolute masterpiece from start to finish. It has the best ending of any Kubrick film, and one of the best of all time. "I was cured, all right." There is absolutely nothing wrong with this movie and it features the second most astonishingly great lead actor in a film. The most astonishing? Also on this list...

2) Dr. Strangelove - For brevity's sake, I won't include the entire subtitle. It's one of the funniest films of all time, it features four outstanding performances -- one from George C. Scott, the other three from Peter Sellers (Sellers, in fact, gives what I think might be the greatest performance ever recorded on film, and I'm not even sure that George C. Scott doesn't beat him out in this film). Hilarious from start to finish, loaded with great roles and lines that are pure Kubrick. "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the war room!", "Mein Fuehrer, I can walk!" Slim Pickens, Keenan Wynn, Peter Bull, they're all great here. Most directors would never come close to achieving this kind of greatness, let alone matching it.

3) Barry Lyndon - A 3-hour epic about an Irish rogue played by perpetual pretty boy Ryan O'Neal. Let me just repeat that: a 3-hour epic about an Irish rogue played by perpetual pretty boy Ryan O'Neal. And it's amazing. The visuals are unmatched for a conventional period piece, the acting is surprisingly restrained, and once again, the conclusion makes it well worth the wait. It took me years to see it, given that it is largely forgotten and unseen by most Kubrick fans, but it was well worth seeing. Witty, dramatic, and beautiful.

4) 2001: A Space Odyssey - As a non-drug user, the journey into infinity and beyond certainly goes on beyond my patience, but the truth is, it's worth it. This is what The Sopranos was going for with its bullshit ambiguous ending. If you trimmed the journey into infinity and beyond by about 10 minutes, I'd have a hard time slotting this lower than second, it's such an astoundingly different film, but I get to nitpick the master here. Hal 9000 is one of the best characters ever put on film and the casting of Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood plays perfectly against him, because there are times that Hal appears more human than his cohorts.

5) Spartacus - The Shining is my second favorite novel and what Kubrick did to it is an utter disaster to me. It's a movie that has its fair share of moments, but diverges too drastically from the novel by making Jack Nicholson pure evil from the outset of the film for me to even recommend it to someone who has read the novel. Spartacus is a conventional film, to be sure, and it could very well have been made by Anthony Mann, but it's got too many sterling moments to be written off just because it isn't pure Kubrick. Full Metal Jacket really finishes poorly (let's be honest, Matthew Modine was not meant to be a lead actor) after a tour de force on the front end courtesy of R. Lee Ermey. Kubrick deserves credit just for spotting him as an actor.

Ryan's Top 5:

1. Dr. Strangelove - What Tim said. "We must not allow a mineshaft gap!"

2. Full Metal Jacket - The first half is brilliant, the second half has its moments. "I believe it suggests something about the duality of man, sir!" is one of my favorite movie lines.

3. A Clockwork Orange - Visually stunning. I really need to finish this novel someday.

4. Paths to Glory - We watched this in my History of War class; the professor just turned it on with no introduction, we weren't sure if we were to expect five minutes or something else. We ended up watching the whole thing and getting out of class late, so the fact that I really enjoyed it despite getting out of class late says something. Right?

5. The Shining - Greatest Simpsons Halloween short ever (do I smell a future seasonal Top 5?). Or possibly the one right after it, the toaster time machine. Wait, I lost what list we're on.

Good night everybody.

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