Author Topic: Stanley Kubrick's Boxes  (Read 4954 times)

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Re: Stanley Kubrick's Boxes
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2008, 12:54:56 AM »
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My life went to hell in hand basket recently with numerous shit so I got away from seriously considering different xixax topics, but I do want to get to this even though I may not have the energy to give you an exhaustive energy.


In my experience, trial and error is the key to everything. I'm talking about all sorts of enterprises, specially artistic enterprises. Acting, writing, and certainly producing and directing films are a matter of trial and error. The thing is, you don't always have the time and/or the money to keep exploring options. Kubrick had the balls and the persistence to do this until he felt satisfied, and I would bet he was as concerned about sound, music, camera framing and movement and everything else as he was about acting and getting what he wanted, and intuition of course, is primordial. You don't really KNOW when something works, you think you know, and you hope it does months later, years later. It is a matter, as they say in shawshank redemption, of time and pressure. Kubrick had a unique position, he could take more time with less pressure, but he was never in some Steven Spielberg position (is Spielberg himself even in this position?) where he could do anything he wanted for as long as he wanted. Time and money were a concern for Kubrick. For every story about his obsession with detail there is one about his obsession with money and using time and resources economically. Finding "something", whatever you call it, magic or whatever, was his concern. He was not kidding anyone nor himself. Why would he?

I understand what you're saying, but it isn't like Kubrick was a filmmaker on a Sam Fuller budget and pressure situation. During his productive years in the 1960s he was still taking four years to complete each project. He had more of a challenge (I believe) with creating everything that went into 2001: A Space Odyssey and he was able to do it in a meaningful time. Has it ever been said that he had regrets with 2001? No, because for a long time he was proud of that film most of all. The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut had less amounts of concern. Neither film had the concern of new technology like in 2001, but both films were made in extended periods of time, especially the last two films. Kubrick's elder age could be a reason, but its said even until his later days he still spent 5 hours a day reading for research purposes.

Kubrick had a perfectionist personality, to a fault. When the Shining was released it was reported that Kubrick was alerted to a number of the theaters showing the film in the wrong ratio. Kubrick himself personally visited each theater he heard was doing this wrong and corrected the errors. This included visiting movie houses in the midwest of America. He didn't have to go to these lengths for mundane things, but he did. He could have sent someone to do these things with specific instructions, but he did it himself. I know some sources have tried to discredit these ideas, but all the sources that do try to also admit that he was willing to go to such lengths to see his film done as it should be.

It's not only that, but numerous sources comment on his perfectionist personality. Most people admired him but they also commented on the fact they could see its pitfalls. I know the book is condemned by some, but Frederic Raphael does make a lot of good points in his memoir. He admires Kubrick but lists numerous comments about how his perfectionism helped to limit the creative process. Raphael wasn't as much of a collaborator as he was a set up man for Kubrick to just see his vision through. There were ideas that Raphael had and Kubrick originally liked but then mysteriously discarded that led Raphael to believe it had more to do with control than inspiration for Kubrick. Making a film is a communal process. The Kubrick estate discredits Raphael for what he said because it was negative, but they only do so in the context he wasn't suppose to speak of private matters. They would have sued for slander if Raphael went out of his way to really lie. I don't believe he did.

People can have any objection they want with his films and/or his progress or work ethics, but really, to claim he became sterile, uninventive, or any other way to put it BECAUSE of his attention to detail and his Will to prepare and just wait for the right thing for HIM...I just don't buy it. In my experience, you work with what you got, even though you never, ever ever have enough. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough people to help you. Never enough. Just because he took a year to shoot a film or two years to shoot another film, doesn't mean that at some point he didn't have to say: "Ok, time's up, let's move on".

You don't believe there is ever a time when someone has too much time on their hand? i understand the idea to exhaust your options when making a film or a creative piece, but making such a project isn't about exhausting your options, it is about making choices in what is good and what is not. The general idea is that you do that in the editing room, but I also believe you have to exhibit it somewhat in the filmmaking process. You can interpret a scene in numerous ways, but it should never be an endless exploration. It should have boundaries and preconceived ideas. If you do have that then you have a workable idea of how a film will take shape and the filming will go a lot quicker.

Kubrick once said he never knew what he wanted, but he did know what he didn't want. It sounds like a rationalization to me because I don't understand how you can't go into filming a movie without good preparation of what you need for every scene. The way Kubrick filmed sounds like he had a general idea but would become so engrossed in changing simple details and never being certain that he could never find an end to what he filmed. Shooting a billiard room scene with Tom Cruise and Sydney Pollack for three weeks is ridiculous. I can understand different ideas of how to play the scene, but not enough to warrant three weeks of shooting.

I believe Ingmar Bergman when he says that the only way to experiment and explore on a film set is when you come into it with a great idea of what you want. You don't have a true idea of what you want and spend that much time on what turned out to be a fairly simple dramatic scene. The script and production choices Kubrick made before filming should have told Kubrick how far he could have taken that scene. The filming he had already done with the actors in the film should have told him how he long should have filmed that scene, but I imagine Kubrick not only allowed for Pollack to go wild with different ideas, but he rummaged through as many technical tidbits as he could for a scene that required little camera movement and little change to the background. Considering the stories I've heard about him on the Shining I believe Kubrick tried to manhandle a basic set as much as possible for specific tones and what not. The problem is that set had little to say for the emotional state of Cruise. The shots on the streets and in the orgy were much more indicative of the themes, but yet all we hear is how a small scene was delayed for three weeks before being completed. That's a little ridiculous to me.


And about actors turning into wooden caricatures after five takes, it's bullshit, and I say this as an actor too. You get yourself in the right frame of mind, you don't get tired after five or 145 takes. If you're a stage actor you do the same stuff for years, and on film that shouldn't be a problem either. Some actors, a LOT of actors are just lazy and used to be told they're awesome for nothing. If you get in some attitude after the 15Th take, your work will be shit. If you take the numerous takes as what that IS, an opportunity to do it differently AGAIN and AGAIN, then, of course, "magic" will happen at some point. Don't even get me started on actors complaining for doing more than five takes. It pisses me off.

I really hope you don't expect me to take you as an authority. No one here is an authority on anything, but you look at my argument from a different angle. It's not just about actors being coddled to by most directors, but directors just realizing that after so many takes wear and tear starts to take on the actor's actual performance. I don't care who you are but you can't play the performance with the same enthusiasm and energy in the 145th take as you can in the 1st take. Even if the actor tries to hide his fatigue it will still come off in the performance. It's a physical reflex in the body that can't be hidden. David Mamet focuses on that when he makes his criticisms of directors who do too many takes with actors.

Of course Kubrick didn't film every scene to such lengths. Its said that R. Lee Ermey only averaged a few takes per scene because of his preparation and his authority on the role, but when Kubrick did it for decent reasons like he did it for Shelley Duvall its said he wanted to tear her down a little bit and release her inhibitions because she played a role dominated by her being terrified. Sydney Lumet did it to Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon to show him physically worn out, but its never been done when an actor is looking fresh or happy. Directors do have the common sense that someone doesn't have the physical strength to look as charming and as happy in the 147th take as they do in the 1st. It's just physically impossible and I've never heard of a director thinking it was possible. Numerous takes happen for a reason, but I don't believe it can always happen with equal success in every scene. David Fincher wanted to mute actors of their normal tendencies when making Zodiac so he too had understandable reasons.

You just don't film a billiard scene of minimal emotional stress within the characters for three weeks. Numerous takes of such scenes are ridiculous and have little logical following.

Alexandro

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Re: Stanley Kubrick's Boxes
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2008, 10:52:04 PM »
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I stand by what I already said. This is going nowhere since the examples you cite are from scenes and pieces in his films that work. Shelley Duvall is almost somebody else in The Shinning, she has a nice screen persona and she can be awesome in non intense roles like in 3 Women, but she excels in The Shinning and her face is pure horror.

The billiard scene in EWS is pivotal to the movie. It's not just a conversation scene. I read somewhere it is the longest speaking scene in his whole output. He really took that scene seriously and the scene also works. Of course to each his own.

About actors and numerous takes, you're saying it yourself. If you want an actor to be energetic, a few takes are ok. If you want him to look and sound and feel like Shelley Duvall, you do what you gotta do. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but it wasn't about being paralyzed by some irrational obsession.

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Re: Stanley Kubrick's Boxes
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2008, 11:22:56 PM »
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I still owe you a monster post about how his films became predictable.

SiliasRuby

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Re: Stanley Kubrick's Boxes
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2008, 11:32:22 PM »
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If Pubrick was still here I think he would have bitch slapped GT by now...just an observation
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Re: Stanley Kubrick's Boxes
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2008, 11:35:46 PM »
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If Pubrick was still here I think he would have bitch slapped GT by now...just an observation

Last time I called out Kubrick with a long post and he was here he complimented me for being thoughtful. Didn't agree with me, but complimented me nonetheless. Doesn't mean what I've said recently is any smarter, but come on, be a little more useful Silias.

 

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