Here's how director Stanley Kubrick's signature film still speak to us decades after first gracing theaters.
It’s impossible to forget director Stanley Kubrick’s film canon.
I’m watching David Wain’s “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” for the dozenth time. There’s a scene in the last episode where Michael Showalter is playing President Ronald Reagan. He’s in the war room with his joint chiefs discussing the bombing of Camp Firewood to cover up a government conspiracy.
One of the chiefs chimes in, “Could you try to avoid incinerating the camp across the lake – Camp Tigerclaw. I’ve got my two kids up there and I’ll catch hell from their mother if they die.”
I’m reminded of “Doctor Strangelove” when President Merkin Muffley yells, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the war room!”
Kubrick had his hand on the pulse of a lot of issues, but continually slam-dunked our casual disorder as a government, as people, as a nation. It resonated with other artists (I’m sure including Showalter and Wain) and it still makes us laugh through the tears of our depressing reality.
“A Clockwork Orange” still rings loudly. We’re still suppressed, still laden with destructiveness. We’re not having the proper conversations about toxic masculinity and sexual violence. Our leaders want us to believe we’re in good hands as they spoon feed us.
Most of us know better.
With “2001: A Space Odyssey,” we’re still enslaved by our technology. If HAL doesn’t want to open the pod bay doors, he doesn’t have to. We’re okay with that now. Our phones tell us when to go to sleep and watch over us when we do. It’s a masterpiece above masterpieces for a litany of reasons, but I’ve always found the frightening epilogue to suggest great possibilities in rebirth.
But that’s just me.
FAST FACT: Stanley Kubrick made his cast watch the surreal David Lynch movie “Eraserhead” to prepare them for the tone he wanted with “The Shining.”
“Full Metal Jacket” is akin to “Strangelove” in the sense that it’s still too real. Kubrick kills it here because arguably he’s been making anti-war pictures for most of his career (see: “Paths of Glory”) while we’re in the process of beefing up our military.
It’s oft cited as a “two-act” film if you want to get film school-y about it. I agree in the sense that it’s totally schizo.
Speaking of schizo, “The Shining” is demonstrative of our psychotic male issues. It’s the Frankensteinian frustration of committing to your life’s work while also being addicted, abusive and egregiously un-checked.
Shelley Duvall is truly the hero, which provides the ultra-relevant platform that this world we’re living in could very well be saved by women.
This year, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is partnering with our pals at Mondo for screenings of “A Clockwork Orange,” “2001,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “The Shining” over the course of 2017. Each show comes with a limited edition Mondo T-shirt that you viddy well need in your life.
Steve Bessette is Creative Director of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Denver