I was very excited for our movie display this month because almost every single movie (!) is on my list. It makes sense, once you realize that we are featuring movies that didn’t win the Oscars, but maybe should have. For this week, I wanted to watch the three Stanley Kubrick films that are on our display, especially because he has been overlooked in many of the Academy Award shows.
The earliest film from my set is Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. This film satires (extremely well) the fear of nuclear annihilation between the Americans and the Russians. The whole film is a comic situation where a General becomes convinced that the Russians are poisoning the water with fluoride, which is affecting the “fluids” of the Americans. He decides to take action and sanctions a nuclear attack on Russia without the President’s authority. All this is reported to the President by a different general, “Buck” Turgidson, who plays the role with remarkable detail. There are many close ups of Buck and throughout his monologues, he incorporates many facial nuances that draw your eye when he is on screen. The other delightful acting is done by Peter Sellers who plays the President, Dr. Strangelove, and Captain Mandrake (which doesn’t become apparent, if at all, until the end).
Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a bizarre movie in its own right. The narration of the film is sparsely distributed across 165 minutes, with a lot of non-action dispersed in between. However, it is a great movie because it accurately portrayed aspects of space before we were even in space. (This movie was created before the Moon landing). It also helped influence the creation of several space movies later, such as Star Wars, Solaris (although indirectly), and even WALL-E. Kubrick’s special effects were incredible for the time, and still hold up even now. Having watched this movie, I can see why it did so poorly at the box office and didn’t get the credit it deserved until much later.
Later came Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange. If you’ve never read the book, then the movie is a huge shock—lots of violent imagery throughout. However, it is also an interesting commentary on social reform and what the consequences end up being for some. My favorite part of the book (which also shows up in the movie) is the plethora of made-up words that Anthony Burgess created for his character in this dystopian future world. Malcolm MacDowell does a fantastic job in his portrayal of Alex, the main character. The main thing that impresses me about this movie (and really all Kubrick films) is his use of music in just the right way. He uses music sparingly but when he does, the viewer notices and it leaves an impression.
My next block of movies will be looking at heist/gangster movies from our “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride” Oscar display so stay tuned! As always, you can start your own film travelogue with Letterboxd list here: https://letterboxd.com/peterstanley/list/1001-movies-you-must-see-before-you-die/ or just stop by the IMC and pick any movie from our display!