Dr. Strangelove and Nuclear Bombs Away

DATELINE:  Kim Versus Trump

riding the a-bomb

Slim Pickens Rides the A-Bomb into Oblivion

With all the hubbub about North Korea turning its nuclear weapons upon US and using several dozen miniature bombs to hit the major cities, we thought it was time to reconsider Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 movie, Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Mr. Trump is hardly a dead-ringer for Peter Sellers who played the bald Adlai Stevenson-style president of the country, discussing nuclear destruction with his generals in the War Room.

There we find General George C. Scott fighting with the Russian ambassador, issuing the famous order: “Gentlemen, there will be no fighting in the War Room.”

With nuclear annihilation on the doorstep, back in those days, people knew how to deal with the thought of instant evaporation and annihilation in a mushroom cloud. Today friends from California are saying goodbye to loved ones on the East Coast.

We know that Donald Trump will never tell his generals not to fight in the War Room, and we can hear the placid, slightly sad tones of Vera Lynn as she sang the World War II favorite for fatalists:

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where, don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again
Some sunny day.
Keep smiling through,
Just like you always do,
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know,
Tell them I won’t be long.
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go,
I was singing this song

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,
Don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again,
Some sunny day.

Writer(s): Parker Ross, Hughie Charles, Hugh Charles
Lyrics powered by http://www.musixmatch.com

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Tom Brady on the Yellow Brick Road

 DATELINE:  On the Road to Federal Prison

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When last we left our story, L. Frank Baum was crying like a banshee from the Great Beyond.

Yes, Tom Brady turned to Gronk and said, “I don’t think we’re in the NFL anymore.” Indeed, as the two continued down the Yellow Brick Road, they encountered more weird doings than flying monkeys. Deflated footballs flew with psst coming out of them.

Brady was joined by Belichick the Tin Woodman, who was so stiff they didn’t have enough oil to loosen his jaw pins. He wants a heart. Also along for the long journey is Krafty the Scarecrow whose pronouncements against the Commissioner don’t scare anyone. He wants a brain. And no one in this story has the courage of his convictions.

Trump, the Good Witch of the North, had urged Brady to go to see the Wizard who trumped the Commissioner’s power. And so, the Munchkins of Patriot Place waved him away.

He has been stopped several times by the Wicked Witch of the West, also known as Goodell the Bad. He wants his Super Bowl trophies returned tout suite.

It’s a long journey to find the Wizard of the federal courts. It may take Tom as much as four games to find the place. It’s located in Canton, Ohio.

The main problem with this script is that Goodell the Bad thinks he is playing the Godfather, not a wicked witch. Brady thinks he is Superman, and Gronk thinks he is dancing for the stars.

In fact, this script will be a Kubrick production entitled How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Long Bomb, or 2015: A Strange Odyssey.

Fast and Lucy with the Movie

DATELINE: Kubrick Homage?

Lucy

Director Luc Bresson must have seen Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey too many times as a child. He makes a movie like he alone must love Lucy.

His new movie Lucy begins with an apparent homage to the opening sequence of Kubrick’s sci-fi classic with just one simple simian at the watering hole. It is, of course, the first human, Lucy in Africa a million years ago.

He ends his movie with the same psychedelic trip through the portals of time and space as the long-ago classic. In between these moments, Bresson postulates the old chestnut theory that the world (and universe) will be the oyster of humans if they ever used more than 10% of their brains.

Last time we saw Scarlett Johanssen, we were greatly amused at her catatonic space alien, wandering around Glasgow in an original film called Under the Skin by Jonathan Glazer. This time she starts out as a drug mule for some Chinese mobsters and ends up with a packet sewn into her stomach. When it explodes, the formula does something to her brain.

Suddenly she is more than smart. She has extrasensory powers. Who knew? Well, scientist Morgan Freeman does. Lucy contacts him about her gift, and Freeman has sage advice indeed.

All this opens up the chance for your rather typical car chases, shoot-outs, and violent shenanigans. This time the hero is a woman driver.

Johanssen does it better than most everyone else, and the movie hums along with flashy directorial style dancing on the edge of crypto-science. We half expected Bigfoot and UFOs to join hands at the climax.

It’s not mindless entertainment. It may actually force you to use 10% of your brain.

 

Barry Lyndon Unearthed from the Kubrick Time Vault

DATELINE: Movie Mashup Revisited

Ye Olde Fops

Ye Olde Fops in Barry Lyndon

Nearly 40 years ago Stanley Kubrick made a movie based on a work of literature by William Makepeace Thackeray.

It was not science fiction, but a period drama. For that audiences avoided the movie like it was a betrayal of all Kubrick’s movie genres.

Its length of three hours could have had something to do with the box office poison. We often disparage overlong movies as wasting precious time in our ever-important lives. So, when endless feet of snow outside our TV room reached the window sill, or three feet, we decided three hours is not so long to spend with a classic movie.

The other big criticism for Barry Lyndon was Ryan O’Neal. He was pretty to look at, but hardly a good actor (shades of Tom Cruise and Sterling Hayden). To hold our interest, O’Neal did have a codpiece or something grandiose stuffed into his pants for every scene. This alone would win a stocking stuffer award in the NFL.

O’Neal seems to have an accent vaguely distant from the rest of the Irish and British cast, as if his shanty Irish demeanor was stolen from lace curtains.

Yet, the cinematography of this film is like staring at Turner paintings, and we don’t mean the cable network named Turner.

Kubrick’s film actually uses music and images as if we are in a reverse Clockwork Orange, or speeding uncontrollably backward to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Though fans wanted to see an obelisk in the middle of a redcoat battlefield, Kubrick stayed true to himself. His costume drama looks like a Shining example of his idiosyncratic vision.

Slow, methodical, filled with gay jokes, the movie is, of course, so far in the past that it is now ahead of its time.

 

 

Fear & Desire Equals Twilight Zone Material

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

Stanley Kubrick is gone, but film archivists are digging up his film stock bones because audiences are desperate for fresh Kubrick material.

So, Kubrick’s first movie, a 1953 effort, has been given to the true believers. They may savor and ponder it now for a decade. We took in one viewing—and it was enough for us.

Filmed in the San Gabriel Mountains, this is a war movie in the vein of a Twilight Zone episode. Indeed, both Rod Serling and Kubrick started around the same time with war-themed tales. Each tries desperately to transcend his material.

So, this is really not an anti-Korean war movie, but a ponderous narrator tells us that the armies may speak English, but it could be Anyman’s War at Anytime. It looks like a bad episode of Vic Morrow’s tv series, Combat.

 Without a big budget and special effects, not even stock footage, Kubrick keeps his integrity intact. This film is done on Kubrick terms.

As writer, producer, director, editor, and so forth, Kubrick showed all the promise of a new Orson Welles in 1953. His hand-to-hand murder of soldiers at their supper is stunning, making spilled stew look like black-and-white spilled guts.

However, this is not Paths of Glory.

The storyline becomes extremely talky and totally unbelievable. One actor (Kenneth Harp) plays two roles, the leading officer and the opposing general. It is not to save money on actors.

Mercifully short, the film ends with ambiguity and mystery of life issues floating down the river. Yes, we would have been entranced to see Kubrick and Serling team up, even in their pre-success days.

 Now that would have been something.

Ossurworld’s William Russo has several movie books available on Amazon.com. You may want to sample ALFRED HITCHCOCK FRESHLY SHOWERED or MOVIE MASHUP! for additional reviews.

Shine on, Stanley Kubrick

 DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

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Joe Turkel as the best dead bartender from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon

Though the book by Stephen King was a ghost tale with a few twists, the Stanley Hotel that inspired King became a mere backdrop to the other Stanley.

Kubrick took Tommy Knockers to a new level.

Some dismissed the original film in 1980 as Jack Nicholson on PEDs. It was hypnotic, as are all Kubrick movies, and drew audiences back when VHS and later DVD allowed fans to view and re-view the dark proceedings.

The result is a stunning picture that has audiences laughing out loud at the squeamish scenes—and discovering bizarre details with each subsequent viewing. From the maze to the ominous décor of Native American artifacts to the blood flood out of the elevator shaft, every detail in the film adds to the final effect.

Performances are brilliant, with Kubrick holding his actors in frieze and tableaux as is his wont. The awestruck expressions of Scatman Crothers and Shelley Duvall are priceless, but Nicholson goes into the stratosphere of the movie that made him a living parody of himself.

Whether snidely talking to his wife, smugly chatting with the dead hotel staff, or scaring the bejesus out of his son with his “father knows best” demeanor, Nicholson is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

We came back to the movie again, after six or seven previous viewings, after the documentary Room 237 whet our appetite for another stay at the grand hotel.

We don’t need to see fake Moon landing theories, nor Holocaust references, to tell you Kubrick gives us a resonant movie, complete in its effects—from lugubrious music to startling photography and growing menace.

The Shining leaves the smell of burnt toast—and we never heard a better description of ghostly emanations made by Scatman Crothers in a seminal scene. Every time you smell burnt toast you will look over your shoulder after seeing this movie.

Movie fans will enjoy reading Ossurworld’s views in MOVIE MASHUP and its companion book MOVIES TO SEE –OR NOT TO SEE. Both books are available in ebook and softcover at Amazon.com.

Room with a Point of View

 

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

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Shining stars Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd, and Shelley Duvall

Room 237 may be the greatest way to advertise a film yet devised, despite the fact that no one associated with the movie had any interest in participating.

As a documentary, Room 237 is a clever pastiche of Kubrick movie clips to explain the motives and history of the creepy ghost adventure to end all campfire horror legends. It was Kubrick’s shining example of esoteric storytelling.

Kubrick was never one to kowtow to the material of the equally famous, whether Vladimir Nabovkov, Arthur C. Clarke, or Stephen King. The genius of Kubrick took the material and molded it into his own vision, making it original and distinctive.

The Shining as a novel was not nearly as scary as Kubrick made this ghost story. Stephen King took historical tales about the Stanley Hotel and gave it a fictional lynchpin. Kubrick improved on the maze of the story. Indeed, there was no plot-central maze in the King book.

This movie has caught the imagination of many film aficionados who see Kubrick making statements about the Holocaust, Native American massacres, the corrosive effects of war, or even the 1969 Moon landing. The experts seem to miss the point that Kubrick could have made a movie about any those issues (and he did on occasion).

Kubrick films were always events, happenings, challenges, and stunning achievements even when they failed. He belongs in that pantheon with Orson Welles, as a filmmaker too big for his film canister.

Room 237 fascinates and amuses. It is like reading the annotations on your favorite book. We realized about half-way through the documentary that we had to see The Shining again.

 

 If you like to read about movies, try MOVIE MASHUP and/or MOVIES TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE. Both books are available on Amazon.com.

 

Great Caesar’s Ghost and Great Gatsby’s Spirit

 

DATELINE: MOVIES!

 

Too big for his britches and too pompous for a small indie film, director Baz Luhrmann continues to incinerate celluloid.

 

His latest rendition of a movie on steroids is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of shameless rich folk on Long Island in the 1920s. It is purportedly a remake of The Great Gatsby.

 

The last time we saw a film like this, it was Zabriskie Point directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. He went round the bend and blew up every prop in the movie for his foregone conclusion.

 

Stanley Kubrick tried to go over the top in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it now seems like a pale attempt to tame chimps with a giant monolith. The acid trip back in time brought us to a new place in movie history.

 

Ang Lee gave us a recent candidate for a looney bin of movie madness in A Life of Pi. We kept expecting the Bengal tiger to start to recite Hamlet’s famous soliloquy.

 

Movies living in their own odeur may be powerfully off-putting and stranger than an old 60s Happening.

 

In the old days, studios kept directors in checkmate before they lost all their marbles. Nowadays directors seem like they were plucked out of the Peter Brook nuthouse classic: The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. If you missed that certifiable kookoo fest movie in 1966, it was known in the trade by its shorthand: Marat/Sade.

 

All this goes to prove that Baz Luhrmann’s movie version of The Great Gatsby as a jazzy nightmare began generations ago.

 

Movies like this are definitely dining out tales wherein you can regale your friends with high-falutin’ anecdotes.