Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kubrick's cinema as a former photographer

Kubrick is one of the greatest directors that the film industry has ever had. He lived between 1928-1999 and made 13 feature films in his movie directing career.
Kubrick started his career as a freelance photojournalist at the age of 17, at the highly influential American magazine Look (it doesn't exist anymore) and sold hundreds of photos to the magazine. Fascinated with the color of vision, five years later he shot his first documentary; and cinema became his new passion.
(2001: A Space Odyssey)
As a former photographer, soon his movies grabbed the attention of the audience with their visual characteristics. Kubrick was signing his films with his photographic acuity. Precisely calculated camera movements, wide angle shots, meticulous attention to details, facial closeups and long pull-backs are the trademarks of his cinematography. Technically self-educated with his photography background, he is very famous for being a perfectionist director. He demands hundred of retakes of certain scenes until he approves it. However, his slow method of working leads him to make the cult movies of the movie history.
(A Clockwork Orange)
His filmography includes anti-war movies ('Paths of Glory', 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb', 'Full Metal Jacket'), a science-fiction movie '2001: A Space Odyssey' and the movies with the controversial themes of the time ('Lolita', 'A Clock Work Orange', 'Eyes Wide Shut'). Stories are mostly adapted from novels. Later, before his death, he wants to make an Artifical Intelligence movie with Steven Spielberg. However, the movie was left as a project after several brainstormings with Spielberg. After his death, Spielberg made "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" using Kubrick's notes and drafts.
(Barry Lyndon)
(Barry Lyndon)
For me, Stanley Kubrick is a very special director. I was fascinated by Barry Lyndon seeing Kubrick's intelligence, sense and efforts on the visual side of the movie. The movie was shot in beautiful landscapes of Ireland by using only daylight. You can see that the scenes are nourished with a photographic (period) painting in his hands. Kubrick talks to audience through a visual aesthetics in Barry Lyndon.
(2001: A Space Odyssey)
Besides their visual characteristics, Kubrick also started public debates with his choice of subject at a controversial time. For example, '2001: A Space Odyssey', concerning with space travel and extra-terrestrial life, was released in 1968, during the space race between US and Russia, a year before the first man stepped on the Moon. If you watch the movie with this point of view, you will see its scientific accuracy and pioneering effect on other outer space science fiction movies. Kubrick worked with several technical advisors. Outer space represented without sound unlike most of the other films. I also adore the scenes inside the spaceship that have been shot by providing artificial gravity. You can also see the human-computer interaction interpreted with highly intelligent computers that can learn, can speak with a human voice...(imagine that the movie was released 1968, the interpretation is quite controversial to its time.)
Kubrick was one of the greatest talents in film industry and he inspired several directors. He dedicated himself to every aspect of film production. From editing to costumes, screenplay to mise-en-scène, he was taking care of his movies as if he was taking care of his kids.
(Full Metal Jacket)
I want to suggest you my favorite Kubricks: Full Metal Jacket (at the top of my list), Barry Lyndon (a masterpiece), 2001: A Space Odyssey (a masterpiece), Eyes Wide Shut (a perfectionist photographic film) and Dr. Strangelove (I love the script).

You can also find my Full Metal Jacket review here.

Have fun!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sufjan Stevens - Come on! Feel the Illinoise!: Part 1: The World's Columbian Exposition / Part 2: Carl Sandburg visits me in a dream

I've become immortal.
Happiness is sometimes brought by a rich pile of colorful images into one's mind.

This song is indeed colorful as Sufjan and his band play a rich variety of instruments (Sufjan is a real multi-instrumentalist, check the album info) throughout it. I recommended this song, maybe 3 years ago, to a friend in US and described it as a happy song, which, I thought, would be what he needed at that time:). I hoped, whenever he'd hear it there would be a little, childish smile on his face. This is what has happened to me whenever I've listened to it.

The symphonical use of instruments creates a joyful melody: a basis for the expression of ups and downs in Sufjan's state of feeling.

Well, lyrics.. for the first part, i can say: World's Columbian Exposition 1893, consumerism, art as a tool for capitalism, etc.. For the second, Sufjan questions himself about whether he can sincerely express his feelings in his lines or not.

When the gost of Carl Sandburg asks him if he's writing from the heart, he doesn't even care if Sufjan is 'the Devil'... he just asks: "is it from the heart?"

Monday, January 17, 2011

So much alike for twins...

Diane Arbus was an American photographer known for taking square framed pictures of “freak” people. Although she didn’t want to be referred as such, it was inevitable after her never-ending desire to capture deviant, marginal and seemingly surreal people. Arbus was the first American photographer to have her work exhibited at the Venice Biennale, unfortunately after she committed suicide in 1972.

Looking at this photograph she took in 1967, we see two little sisters side by side. As obvious from the picture itself and its name, the two sisters are identical twins, almost exactly the same in height, weight, hair length and pretty much in all physical aspects. Their parents clothed them equally the same and they became almost like a duplicate of one another.
Diane Arbus, Identical Twins (1967)

However, there is a major drift in the expressions of the two girls that take the photograph to an entirely different path. As one of the girls slightly smiles, the other frowns. As one of them implies that she has a happy, cheerful and optimistic character, the look on the face of the other implies that she has more depressed and pessimistic personality. This situation reminds me of Mona Lisa and the ambiguous look on her face. Only this time, the opposing looks find place on two identical twins, rather than the same person which makes me question: “How much identical are identical twins?”

Identical twins do look very much alike and in most cases they look almost as if they are the same person. However, as Arbus’ photograph shows, they may have completely opposite personalities. Regardless of the biological links between two twins, they are different people with entirely different ways of thinking about and seeing things. The argument can be extended even further. If we can say that identical twins need not have the same characters, it is more than reasonable to think that every single one of us can have different characters, ideas and believes as well. After all we are all different people.

But then, how and why can we appreciate these differences among two identical twins as we look at a photograph, but not among completely different people with different backgrounds when it comes to certain other subjects?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hitchcock's darkest film has never been produced

It is well known that directors have lots of movie ideas, scribbles or sometimes unfinished projects, mostly because of production companies change their minds and interests to the movie.

After the ominous effects of "Marnie" (personally I like it) and "Tony Curtain" (personally, not my favorite Hitchcock either), Hitchcock apparently wanted to try a different style to shake off the suspenses of the time. Hitchcock is famous to be touching to the taboo subjects of the time (such as in Psycho, Topaz...). This time, the movie's main character was a serial-killer and the story was told from his perspective. It was meant to be a glimpse to the story of a killer, a rapist psychopath. Also, the scenes were intended to have more nudity and blood.
The movie's name is referred to as "Kaleidoscope" and intended to be shot with a handheld camera. The footages of the film are shot in 1967. However, horrified by the extreme nudity and explicitness of the movie, this time the production company turned down the project. We can only imagine what it would look like by reading about its script and watching other Hitchcocks, especially "Frenzy". Later, Kaleidoscope inspired his next movie "Frenzy" and some of the ideas are used there.