Kubrick and Weir: The Laudatory Human Condition

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. Screenshot (994)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.  Screenshot (1020)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.Screenshot (1031)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”. Screenshot (1009)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. Screenshot (1027)His band mates are only briefly interviewed, likewise alluding, saying little else. Screenshot (1017)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.Screenshot (1004)

“Blue is the Warmest Color”: Just Another Film That Needs an Editor

While Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color received controversial press for its stark portrayal of sexuality, the film’s only real problem is in its self-indulgence. Screenshot (276)Choked with scenes of endless dancing, staring into space and, yes, sex, the film needs an editor; at over an hour too long, the film’s essential moments and images are lost in the ego of the author. Lea Seydoux, Abdelatif Kechiche and Adele Exarchopoulos with their Palme d'OrOf course Kechiche is not alone in his onanism; many an excellent director has fallen victim to believing that everything shot is sacred, including Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux, Lars von Trier’s Nymphomanic, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Michael Cimino’s infamous Heaven’s Gate. heavens gateThis is to say nothing of the glut of Hollywood monstrosities such as Titanic, The Lord of the Rings and all of the superheroes piled atop each other.darkknightIt’s the simpler things that ring true, such as a director listening to his inner voice: “Cut!”

Stephen King’s Plagiarism of Albert Camus

One of the keys to the success of Stephen King’s The Shining is the revelation that the main character, Jack Torrance, is going mad: All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.tumblr_lm4fguaftf1qbpsncThe manuscript on which Jack has been working throughout the story contains this same phrase written again over hundreds of pages and is an excellent device to convey his lose of touch with reality.2009shining_chairAnd it this very device that seems to have been plagiarized from Albert Camus’ The Plague in which Grand’s emotional imbalance is realized late in the narrative when Dr. Rieux reads over a manuscript of 50 pages documenting the same phrase again and again:One fine morning in May, a slim young horsewoman might have been seen riding a glossy sorrel mare along the avenues of the Bois, among the flowers…LaPesteAnd while the purpose – and indeed content – is quite different, the device is not. The repeated phrase – a secret held from the reader and all other characters – is only revealed late in the story as a surprise to all. Did King acknowledge his source? Did he give credit to Camus?

Camus Or does he, like so many of the writing workshop gurus, rely on the specious credo that all writers steal from each other. I, for one, am not buying it.