Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Sue Lyon, who is, believe it or not, 66.  Lolita is the one I usually think of as my favorite Kubrick movie, and I pretty much like every Kubrick movie, even the failures.

But enough of that; on to the good stuff:

1. A good Brendan Nyhan column about how the press is covering some Obama campaign claims -- and how they could do better.

2. There are eight -- eight -- contested House seats in New York. Kate Nocera tells the stories.

3. Ezra Klein on the Obama Administration choices that brought them to yesterday's tax initiative.

4. I linked this over at the other place too, but I really like Greg Marx on how reporters should treat politician promises. And not because he uses my WaMo piece, but because he builds on it really smartly.


  1. Out of curiosity, which Kubrick film do you regard as a failure? According to the Tomatometer, Kubrick's worst-reviewed film is "Eyes Wide Shut". Granted that the cult scenes in the mansion are way too weird (and very much rated R), but otherwise that's a fairly compelling movie.

    Come to think of it, Tom Cruise stars as a young professional, enamored of his own interestingness, who gets enmeshed in a web built from his own delusion, until in the end we discover that his wife has been, unbeknownst to him, playing too, and playing him.

    Life, it would seem, Imitates Art.

    1. I like Eyes Wide Shut. I think it's underrated.

      I think 2001 is a failure -- glorious, wonderful, with more great moments and images than some directors could dream of in their whole careers...but still, as a whole piece of art, a failure. And I think Clockwork Orange is a failure, too; it's an interesting exercise in something, and has it's share of great images, but I don't think it holds together as a successful movie.

      The only one I didn't like was Barry Lyndon, but I didn't really see it as properly as I should have, so I'm open to the possibility that I just didn't get it...not really rushing to try again, though.

    2. Your bit about 2001 is some of the most insightful stuff I've read on this blog. Exactly as you say: some of the finest scenes and images in film history. Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal: claustrophobic, terrifying, brilliant, and even a titsch campy, in the manner of the best science fiction.

      You're also absolutely correct about the rest of the movie lacking something (overall), same for Clockwork Orange, but Kubrick had me at open the pod bay doors. He could have done that scene, a few others, and then have the rest be just a blue screen like Derek Jarman's last film, and I think I still would have been a huge fan.

    3. I thought those mansion scenes in Eyes Wide Shut were pretty bizarre, then I found out about Silvio Berlusconi and Dominique Straus-Kahn. Now I view it as more of a cinéma-verité.

    4. Sorry for the overkill, but I think I'd place "Eyes Wide Shut" in the category of 'Interesting Kubrick films (that don't work that well overall).' The really great thing about that movie is the manner in which every character exists in near-complete dissociation, about which, unlike our own garden-variety dissociations, the characters are dangerously unaware.

      My favorite was when Cruise bumps into his med school buddy Nick Nightingale ticklin' the ivories at a seedy, empty NYC nightclub. Cruise is surprised to find him there, since Cruise last heard that Nightingale had a thriving medical practice in Seattle, with a wife and three kids.

      Alas, says Nightingale, that's true, but to pursue my dreams I had to come here to NYC. Its obvious that Nightingale envisions himself a nascent Billy Joel-type. Its also obvious from how Kubrick frames the scene that Nightingale is basically a loser, the indulgence of whose vanity could easily be achieved in Seattle, where his family and professional career are. Throughout Eyes Wide Shut, all characters and their interactions reflect a similar dissociation, which is really quite fascinating, but may not make for the greatest movie.

    5. For me (an admitted philistine in my movie tastes), I find that Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket are Kubrik's best. Strangelove is, well, Strangelove. FMJ, for me, killed the Vietnam war movie genre; no other movie compares (and, for my money, it's much better than Platoon, and I think Vincent D'Onofrio is a woefully underrated actor).

      Clockwork should be watched, but the movie can't live up to its shock value on repeated viewings. For many of his others, I just find the pacing to be too slow (2001 in particular), but I find that I'm generally in the minority on slow pacing; I often find myself complaining about pacing for a lot of directors and finding those complaints reaching deaf ears.

  2. The whole kerfluffle on the outsourcing jobs thing is stupid - any capitalist is for outsourcing, period. The whole point of turning capital liquid is so it can be shifted to where it is more efficient. While this one time may not have been direct outsourcing at Romney's command - every time he invests or sells or moves his money to an offshore account he has outsourced American jobs to another nation.

    And that is true and real and he wouldn't have been the PE fiend he was if he wasn't okay with that.

    Do people think that the US market for steel just got smaller when he sold off assets and closed the factory producing steel? No! They just bought it from other countries instead. This is by design. No capitalist is against offshoring unless they are, by definition, not a capitalist.


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