This week we start with number one. The Master;
All of his movies are disturbing in their own way. His subject; the darker parts of humanity and human nature, should be hard to look at, but he frames it so beautifully with each shot, each scene, each film, beautifully paced, beautifully photographed and well crafted with wonderful performances creating cinematic brilliance and showing the audience unflinching, unsettling, unapologetic slices of the character’s lives – warts and all.
My pick for the best director in film history by a wide margin.
My favorite book by my favorite author: Vladimir Nabokov, who also wrote the screenplay for this movie directed by my favorite director (That’s a lot of favorites). The adaptation sometimes gets a bad rap for its changes to characters and events from the book, but – If you want to read the book, read the book (It’s really fucking good). The movie is different but both are extremely well-written. Also don’t make the mistake of watching the remake. It is just awful.
Shelley Winters is wonderful as Charlotte, Sue Lyon is fantastic as the title character (her first film) and James Mason is so marvelously dysfunctional and creepy you may have to shower after watching him.
Paths of Glory (1957)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
This movie is not only a cult classic but a surreal and savage symphony, a brilliant and brutal ballet. It moves and it flows from one disturbing scene to the next with an almost comic pace. Midnight showings at the St. Mark’s Cinema in NYC were a great way to begin a night of misguided mayhem in the Village. One of the movies that helped form my obsession with film and film-making. A truly perfect film (and a novel that I keep meaning to read but I never seem to get around to cracking open)
Pure Genius (with a capital g). From a director not known for making comedies, this is one of the funniest movies ever.
Thanks in large part to the many faces of Peter Sellers
and to the absurdity of the movie’s theme… war and the men who wage it.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Okay you might say, “Hey, that’s not a Stanley Kubrick directed film.” and technically you’d be right but Spielberg did such an excellent job channelling the spirit of Kubrick after working from his idea and his decades of notes on the project and Kubrick’s vision that I consider A.I. more of a Kubrick film than Eyes Wide Shut. Steven Spielberg created a tribute to the man. I don’t see Spielberg at all. I only see Kubrick. It fits on my shelf as the last Kubrick Film (and Eyes Wide Shut isn’t even allowed in my house).
There are more great stories from him available; The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Barry Lyndon, Spartacus etc. and since I don’t consider Eyes Wide Shut as one of his films, there are no duds. The master has made his last film but what he has left us with are works of art that rival Shakespeare’s for their ability to show the darker parts of the human condition and still entertain.
Until next week.