|UserReviews 2Approval 100%Soundoffs 33Album Ratings 802Objectivity 95%Last Active 09-04-19 3:23 pmJoined 09-24-05Forum Posts 20Review Comments 1,093
|FILM: tectac's Stanley Kubrick, Ranked|
One of the greatest and most influential directors of all time. Even if I don't particularly love every *single* one of his films, they all have valuable merit and worthy contributions to the world of cinema in some way or another.
The Powers That B - Part II: Jenny Death
>> A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
Not his worst film from an objective standpoint (as objective as you can possibly be with art, anyway), but easily my least favorite. One of those films that, somewhat inexplicably, just doesn't and has never "worked" for me. The set pieces are spellbinding, the art direction inspired, the framing meticulous and ingrained. But the narrative proper is so painfully inane to my mind that my aversion can't be quelled by visual splendor. I realize that's an inherent flaw of Burgess's source novel, but the devices here are too silly and convenient and obnoxious to take seriously, but not quite outlandish or heightened enough to value from a purely abstract angle, either. (E.g. that Alex happens upon his old gang of droogs who, surely enough, are now police officers, achieves very little resonance, similar to the likelihood that he'd stumble into the same house of the woman he previously raped, and start singing the same goddamn song he raped her to.) Meh, imo.
|12||Godspeed You! Black Emperor|
'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
>> FEAR AND DESIRE (1953)
For completionists only. Not offensively bad, but not good, either, just incredibly lackluster in about every facet imaginable, *excepting* photography. (I'm convinced you could show someone still frames from this film and easily trick them into believing its a masterpiece.) Acting is the biggest flaw: Way too bawdy and theatrical, simply not palatable under any circumstance. Editing is anti-rhythmic and choppy, the writing lacks subtlety, the few story lines pander, the music is needlessly melodramatic, etc. Just a mess, really, and not indicative of the master Kubrick would eventually become.
>> KILLER'S KISS (1955)
Very clearly a warm-up picture for Kubrick: Short, sweet, and to the point. Not bad, per se, but the amateurish edges are noticeable, both from the director himself to the actors on the screen. There are still occasional blips of greatness that would indicate lots of promise (e.g. the rooftop chase, or the roomful of creepy mannequins), but this is more of a relic of interest to those interesting in studying a master's baby steps. The shooting and editing of the boxing scene is also surprisingly great; maybe the greatest such instance until the release of RAGING BULL in 1980.
Chutes Too Narrow
>> THE SHINING (1980)
I've got a laundry list of issues with this film - in my opinion, Kubrick's most overrated picture, and maybe the one of the most overrated movies of all time - that I won't bother getting deep into here. Jack's descent into madness happens way too quickly and inorganically, the acting is sub-par across the board (yes, even Nicholson at least half of the time), and the supernatural elements are sufficiently lame. But as an achievement of purely spacial awareness, it's exquisite. So exquisite, in fact, that it's frustrating I find so many of the film's other elements actively grating. Possibly the greatest integration of a single set piece ever (The Overlook Hotel, with all of its impossible geometry and disorienting color coordination), alongside various bouts of legitimately frightening imagery (the twins, the bloody elevator, etc.) make this worth watching for visual bravura alone. Truthfully, though, I wish I liked this (overall) more than I do.
|9||Minus the Bear|
Highly Refined Pirates
>> SPARTACUS (1960)
Not my "least favorite" Kubrick feature, but probably his least thoroughly engaging, and maybe the single instance where it actively feels like he himself had very little interest in the material. Still can't deny the spectacle as a period evocation or a utilization of gorgeous set pieces, and it's always a pleasure to see Kirk Douglas at the top of his game. And even while there was a lot of ancillary (studio) interference with Kubrick's adaptive picture, he nevertheless finds a way to make this very much *his* film with various flourishes (symmetric framing, facial close-ups, a few great tracking shots). Pales in comparison to other historical epics of the time (e.g. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA or ANDREI RUBLEV, etc.) but still worthy of a viewing.
|8||The Beach Boys|
>> LOLITA (1962)
A bit too long for its own good - wasting time on a few sideplots and digressions which it has no real intention of paying off - and occasionally littered with eye-rolling trappings (like a man leaving his journal out in the open for his wife to find...you know, the journal where he vividly describes the physical lust he has for her daughter), but still a marvelous exercise in uncomfortable, (purposely) cringe-worthy posturing. Lacks the fluid rhythm and flow of Kubrick's best features (this is maybe his "least impressive" work from a technical/editing perspective, debut notwithstanding) but there's something I love about a teenage girl having the wherewithal to bring a sappy old pervert to tears. Sue Lyon is fantastic here.
Rare Field Ceiling
>> THE KILLING (1956)
The first "recognized" Kubrick feature (if you consider the two that preceded it legitimately disowned) is a gritty and grimy noir with a group of undesirables, a dope clown mask, and an ending that's so caustic (and ironic) it physically hurts. Not much in the way of performances, and sometimes I feel the knottiness of the timeline it more cumbersome than beneficial in any capacity, but at a breezy 82 minutes, it doesn't give you enough time to sulk in the less-pleasurable details.
Barry Manilow II
>> BARRY LYNDON (1975)
Beautiful period piece, both in terms of languid, non-rushed storytelling and visual surface texture. I constantly lose count of the number of frames that could be printed and sold as paintings (I'm sure that's intentional, too). A bit long at three hours, and I wish some of the "bigger" details in Barry's life weren't as glossed over in lieu of minutiae as they were, but that could very well be the point (i.e., highlighting his own focus on unimportant details which ultimately leads to his downfall).
>> DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964)
One of the greatest satires in existence. And what's so great about it is how absolutely jet-black the comedy it. Hell, most people who see this with no foreknowledge could easily be tricked into thinking it's supposed to be *serious* (until Dr. Strangelove himself shows up, that is). Digresses into some outright silliness toward the end, but never loses its scathing edge. Scott is simply fantastic here, and Sellers carries an impressive amount of weight with his three roles. Between this, FULL METAL JACKET, and PATHS OF GLORY, Kubrick was a great director of war and/or political focused films.
Born to Run
>> PATHS OF GLORY (1957)
Absolutely beautiful commentary of the miscarriage of justice, systematic incompetence, and political-driven thoughtlessness: Contemptible virtues that plague our primal, human nature. Assuredly a "war" film by definition, but there's only one, short scene that takes place among any sort of battle; rather, we spend most of the time behind the scenes, and given the situation at hand, it ends up being easily as tense and anxious as any action-packed film could ever be. Props to Kubrick for not taking the "Hollywood" ending with this and choosing to keep things dour and solemn: It's depressing, for sure, but infinitely more powerful because of it.
The Sound of Perseverance
>> FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
The clear delineation of the film is what seems to upset most people, but it's intentional, and serves a very distinct purpose. That is, to dramatically call attention to the differences between "Preparation" for War versus "Actual" War which is to say: There is no possible preparation for war other than war itself. All the yelling, berating, practicing, and conditioning does is give false pretenses about what to expect (while also sending already-faulty machines completely over the edge in Pvt. Pyle's case). It's not until he guns down a sniper that Pvt. Joker finally snaps and becomes truly acclimated to the hell surrounding him. I used to think the first half of this film was hilarious. Now I find it almost as terrifying as the second half.
|2||Johann Strauss II|
An Der Schönen Blauen Donau
>> 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
To this day, there's not a film that expresses such a gigantic scope with such flawless success (please don't say Malick's TREE OF LIFE). This film is technically impressive *now*, I can only imagine how utterly mind-blowing this would've been back in 1968. Plenty of material to chomp on and ruminate over without the cumbersome, drawn out exposition that infiltrates most of today's science fiction films. (Kubrick understood that the audience didn't want to have their hands held the entire way through.) Nearly every sequence is a stunner, either visually, aurally, or conceptually (or some combination). Seeing this in theaters was a transcendental experience.
Fevers & Mirrors
>> EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)
What a swan song, and what a misunderstood masterpiece. I think most people going into this expecting an "erotic thriller" are going to be disappointed after spending nearly three hours neither aroused nor thrilled. But the way Kubrick desensitizes sexuality - and even contextualizes it as a beacon for potential danger - over the course of just a few hours is the work of a genius; every incantation of nudity in the film is excessively sterile and sanitizes to the point of banality *except* for, brilliantly, the visions occurring in Bill's head of his wife being ravaged by the sailor. Comments on fidelity, desire, and imposed social boundaries, as well as masculinity, emotional revenge, and social stature. Such a rich, deep, and complex film that was unjustly written off during its initial release, but has finally been getting its due credit in recent times.
|Expecting flak for 13 being 13, but that's more a case of personal aversion than any sort of comment on its technical achievements or merits.|
|No, I agree completely with 13. Nice description. Ridiculous film, although obviously well made.|
Not a fan of Dr. Strangelove either, and Full Metal Jacket has a pretty bland second half imo. I guess Kubrick is just not for me, as much as I support 2001.
Great write-ups, as always!
|2 is my 1 regardless of director but nice list. I respect the bravery of some of these placements even if I disagree.|
|the shining at 10 is a massive fail tbh |
its no slight on kubrick, he made many classics
|a clockwork orange is actually my favorite though|
nice to see praise for barry lyndon too
it'd be hard to rate kubrick for me i love so many but barry lyndon is in the top tier
|The only ones I actively dislike are 12 and 13. I know a comparatively low ranking of THE SHINING gives a lot of people heartburn, and I still *like* the film, I just think it has more detrimental flaws than everything I've ranked above it. It's probably his best showcase of mise en scene, though, and for that alone it should be considered a classic. |
|yes, Barry Lyndon has often been in contention for my favorite film|
|BARRY LYNDON could easily shoot up a spot or two when I revisit it. I've been meaning to get around to it again for a while now, but finding a 3+ hour chunk of time to dedicate to a film with a newborn in the house is a very difficult task haha. (I could split the film into parts but I would rather do it all at once.)|
|A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, 2001 and THE SHINING are my favs|
|Respectful. On critic lists, it seems like 2001 is always the consensual masterpiece to vote for (and for good reason, obviously), but when discussing Kubrick with fellow cinephiles, it seems like everyone has a different favorite. I know people who would put LOLITA or STRANGELOVE or PATHS OF GLORY as #1. To me, that's always the sign of a great director (i.e., when everyone's ranked lists are drastically different). |
|that's a pretty controversial ranking. |
|Aside from CLOCKWORK ORANGE last and THE SHINING relatively low, what else do you find to be controversial (just curious)? Is EYES WIDE SHUT at first still considered a spicy take? I know ten or more years ago it was, but I thought people were finally starting to come around to it.|
|Eyes is a bold choice for 1, that should be Dr Strangelove which you also have pretty low. |
|To be fair, 1-5 I'd consider all masterworks. The separation between 1 and 5 is not as far as the numbers themselves would suggest. |
|eyes wide shut is great but #1 is definitely a little spicy, i re-watched it recently and it does feel a little week comparatively, emphasis on comparatively cause it is great|
i could almost feel him started to age out of his prime if that makes sense
|2001 is the masterpiece. |
Clockwork is amazing, although the book is better. Barry Lyndon is beautiful.
|damn this is the strangest ranking i've seen, respect. Clockwork is probably one of my top 5 films ever haha|
|2 is 1 objectively speaking |
|When did it become cool for hipsters to disrespect the shining like this? Easily his best after 2001|
|Still amazes me how 2001 was made back then. |
|It's absolutely stunning to this day yeah. So many of those shots are composed so perfectly and in such a timeless way,|
|His use of practical effects was masterful. Honestly wish films were still made like that instead of the cgi over reliance that we have now|
|There's definitely a kind of soul to the art. Kinda reminds me of the hand painted backdrops in star wars which were equally stunning and timeless.|
|Hand painted backgrounds in general was an art in itself. Today it is still (sort of) around through the use of matte paintings, although most of those are achieved through digital compositing rather than actual hand painting/ digital painting|
|>'When did it become cool for hipsters to disrespect the shining like this?'|
It didn't ?!?! As far as I'm aware, most people (hipsters included) love THE SHINING. I was aware that having it so long was a relatively spicy take. Possibly the spiciest take on this list, tbh, as I think the love/hate dichotomy of CLOCKWORK ORANGE is much more prominent.
And yes, I recently saw the 4k restoration of 2001 in theaters and it was a mind-numbing (in a good way) experience. Transcendental. So far I've seen 2001, THE SHINING, DR. STRANGELOVE and EYES WIDE SHUT in theaters. What I would do to see BARRY LYNDON on the big screen. (Or even FMJ or PATHS OF GLORY.)
|I remember Cronenberg tearing Shining to pieces. He dislikes Kubrick in general, I think. Then again, Cronenberg seems to dislike most things|
|the nauseating irony of anything sinternet has ever said|
|1. Eyes Wide Shut|
2. Clockwork Orange
3. The Shining
|Still need to watch Paths Of Glory and Barry Lynden. |
|Clumsee mad respect to anyone who puts EYES WIDE SHUT at #1.|
>'Still need to watch Paths Of Glory and Barry Lynden.'
Yes, yes you do. Dunno if you collect physical media or not, but the Criterion Blu-Ray restoration of PoG looks great, and the BARRY LYNDON disc comes with a ton of extra features. Both worth getting if you can get them at either a Barnes & Noble or Criterion site sale.
|Out of interest from the Wes list, just opened this and fucking hell - 13 is 1, we are over|
|I'm sorry, bb.|
'It's not you, it's me.'