2001: A Space Odyssey

I have seen this at least two times before, but it is one of those films that one must return to every now and then because it is just so darn good, and a real thought provoker. I last watched it in 2008.

It is quite mesmerising from beginning to end, even though it is quite long. The opening scenes involving the apes doing their thing, then going ape-crap over the monolith is superb. The ape suits were very well done, better than those in the original Planet of the Apes.

Behind the scenes photo.

Then there was the spaceship and it’s revolving set, very impressive for a film made 50 years ago. You can read about how it was done here, along with the zero gravity shots.

The highlight of the film though is the last thirty minutes where the astronaut (played by Keir Dullea, now 81), goes on a trippy trip through space and time to a very nicely furnished room, then is reborn as a giant baby in a bubble the size of Earth. What this is all about is purposely not explained in the film, Stanley Kubrick wanted people to come up with their own theories as to what it is all about. The book, by Arthur C. Clark, one of my fave Sci-Fi writers, was a little more clear about this apparently. I have read the book but I forget how the ending went now…must read it again.

I gave this nine out of ten in my last review, however I have decided that a perfect ten is in order this time as I cannot think of any space film that is better than this, there are certainly none anywhere near as majestic.

Date watched: May 29th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 36

Spartacus – part 2

Continued from part 1

After the long intermission, which consisted of more rousing Hollywood orchestra, the story headed for the inevitable battle scene. And it was quite an impressive one as they used eight thousand Spanish infantry soldiers as extras. There were the Roman soldiers all done up in their armour, and the slave army all done up in rags and helmets. The Roman army spent some time doing formation manoeuvres which was impressive to watch (but not as impressive as this).

The battle scene went on for a short time, and had a few scenes cut out as it was deemed too gory by test audiences. One particularly impressive scene was when the slave army pushed flaming rollers made of hay down a hill right into the Romans. The stunt dudes certainly earned their money as they were rolled over or sometimes caught briefly in the flames, which looked to be burning very hot.

Stanley Kubrick was his usual fatidious self in this film. From Wikipedia:
So precise was Kubrick, that even in arranging the bodies of the slaughtered slaves he had each “corpse” assigned with a number and instructions.

The story followed it’s logical, and not so accurate ending (the real Spartacus died in battle, but he was crucified in the film). Actually, historically it was not the most accurate film, but entertainment trumps history. In the film he met a woman and had a baby, all fiction of course because Hollywood needs some romance and kissing scenes.

Being a big Hollywood production there was a lot going on behind the scenes, mostly due to egos clashing, especially between Kubrick and the cinematograher. A screenwriter who was one of the Hollywood Ten was taken on by The Kirkster to replace the original screenwriter, which helped to break the Hollywood blacklist. Spartacus!

Stanley Kubrick ended up disowning this film although why is not clear, probably because he didn’t get his way in how the film was made.

At the box office back in the day it made back five times what it cost to make, but did not win any major Academy Awards. The Kirkster was not even nominated!

Reading about The Kirkster I found that he was an avid blogger and wrote posts on the Huffington Post which you can see here. There have not been any posts this year, but Wikipedia says he is probably the oldest celebrity blogger in the world! Spartacus!

I would not say this is an essential “epic” to watch, but it is still well worth watching, not only for The Kirkster, but also for the excellent supporting actors and the gnarly battle scene at least.

And here is a John K. blog about The Kirkster.

Date watched (part 2): August 28th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2017: 96

Fear and Desire

This was Stanley Kubrick’s first feature film, and in later years he tried to remove this from circulation as he considered it “a bumbling amateur film exercise.”

It was certainly amateurish, and obviously made on a small budget (most of the funds came from his uncle). The production crew consisted of fifteen people including the five actors, and was shot as cheaply as possible, but in the end it lost money. The editing (by Kubrick) was at times lightning fast, some shots would only last a split second. The acting was not too bad overall, but the dialogue was a bit strange at times.

This is not essential watching, and I would only recommend this to Kubrick fans really.

Date watched: August 21st
Score: 3/10
Film count 2016: 136