Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has been praised as a great filmmaker and artist, one who probes the shades of humanity in such great films as Lolita, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon. Bob Weir, not as highly praised, is certainly recognized for “chasing the music” as he says, on his 50-year journey as rhythm guitarist with The Grateful Dead. And so I was intrigued to watch documentaries on each man this weekend to perhaps gain an insight or two through understanding their trials and tribulations.
It was not to be.Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2007) offers brief moments of filmic analysis amidst a tidal wave of laudatory praise, Steven Spielberg gushing, “He was a conceptual illustrator of the human condition”. And so despite a 50-year career, we are left with the trite summation that Mr. Kubrick worked terribly hard and loved his family, little else.
The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir (2013) is worse. While some fellow musicians offer comments on Bob Weir’s work, the documentary is almost solely guided by bland recollections by Weir – “Here’s my Jerry Bobbblehead” – occasionally, boyishly and evasively hinting toward his notorious off-stage reputation. His band mates are only briefly interviewed, likewise alluding, saying little else. It’s a shame that both of these these documentaries offered so little, not that they should focus on personal scandal, but that they veered so very far from the very same human condition that these men had endeavored to understand and instead settled on empty praise.