Archive for stanley kubrick

DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #30 – #26

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #30 – #26

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

This list takes me to the mid-point of my project! A few well known directors here; A South Korean, A New Zealander and 3 Americans…

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#30. Chan-Wook Park

What I’ve Seen: Joint Security Area (2000), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003), Lady Vengeance (2005), I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006), Thirst (2009)

South Korean director Chan-Wook Park has contributed some extremely impressive entries for just 9 full length feature films. Oldboy is one of the best films of the past decade or EVER for that matter! Also top notch films I gave high marks to; the unflinching Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, the serenely violent Lady Vengeance, the quirky love story I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Ok, the war thriller Joint Security Area and the delicious vampire tale Thirst. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed all six of Park’s 9 entries I’ve seen. I look forward to seeing anything by Park but I am a little perplexed by his upcoming film. Park just completed the film Stoker which was not written by him (all 6 of Park’s films I’ve seen were written by him) and appears to have been filmed in Tennessee and has no South Korean actors/actresses in it. I will certainly be seeing it nonetheless. Park’s intelligent, violent, well-acted and beautifully filmed stories are worth their weight in gold.

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#29. Peter Jackson

What I’ve Seen: Bad Taste (1987), Meet the Feebles (1989), Braindead (1992), Heavenly Creatures (1994), The Frighteners (1996), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), King Kong (2005), The Lovely Bones (2009)

I have seen all 10 of New Zealand director Peter Jackson’s 10 full length feature films. Jackson currently has two Hobbit films in pre-production and Tintin was just announced. I wish I could get more excited about Jackson’s newer films. It is all about his first five films for me. His films Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and Dead Alive (aka Braindead) are what landed him on this list. Low budget but big hearted extravaganzas of gore, goo, brain eating, foul-mouthed puppets, bad mothers, nasty aliens and lawnmower massacres. So much seriously fantastic fun! Than came the excellent Heavenly Creatures based on a real murder case starring a young Kate Winslet which he followed up with the wonderfully energetic The Frighteners. His attention turned towards fantasy with the epic 3 part trilogy based on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Apparently he is a massive fan of Tolkien’s book and this was a dream project. I just am not really in to the fantasy thing. I can certainly appreciate the achievement particularly where the visuals are concerned, and the Wargs are pretty cool, as are most of the other creatures. I really enjoyed the walking trees! With two Hobbit films in the making I guess he is going to be sticking to this fantasy shtick for a while. I was impressed with the visuals in King Kong and thought Naomi Watts was a great choice in the lead role but was disappointed by the film overall. I felt much the same about The Lovely Bones. I wonder if Jackson would ever go back to basics after these epic projects. Well, it seems unlikely but we will always have Dead Alive. Always.

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#28. Francis Ford Coppola

What I’ve Seen: The Terror (1963), Dementia 13 (1963), Finian’s Rainbow (1968), The Rain People (1969), The Godfather (1972), The Conversation (1974), The Godfather: Part II (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979), One from the Heart (1982), Rumble Fish (1983), The Outsiders (1983), The Cotton Club (1984), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Gardens of Stone (1987), Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), The Godfather: Part III (1990), Dracula (1992), Supernova (2000), Youth Without Youth (2007), Tetro (2009)

Francis Ford Coppola is the first director so far to have one of my favourite of all time and one of my most loathed of all films on his list. The Godfather and its brilliant sequel are so mighty they easily excuse Supernova as merely a pimple. The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, Rumble Fish and The Outsiders are all Coppola films I love and adore. That is an impressive sextet of entries! A good chunk of this list is adapted from books which is always an iffy business. Seems like when you adapt from a beloved book you open yourself to additional criticism. I don’t think any book was more beloved by my classmates and me as a child than S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I loved this movie and seen it at the theatre 4 times! And of course the epic The Godfather 1 & 2 based on Mario Puzo’s book whom also co-wrote the screenplay. Probably a big part of the reason it is one of the best book to screen adaptations of all time. I have seen 19 of Coppola’s 28 full length feature films. I will admit there are films on this list (other than Supernova) that I am not crazy about, but the awesomeness of the entries I do dig (Hello! The mother-fucking Godfather!) gives Coppola solid footing.

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#27. Quentin Tarantino

What I’ve Seen: Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Sin City (2005), Grindhouse/Death Proof (2007), Inglourious Basterds (2009)

I have seen all 10 full length feature films directed by Quentin Tarantino. One of these 10 credits however notes him as a “guest director” (Sin City). What the hell does that mean? Did he direct half of the film? Did he just give his opinion? What the hell? In any case, I really dig Tarantino’s flicks. Reservoir Dogs was my first and is still my favourite, but Kill Bill, its sequel and Pulp Fiction also received perfect marks from me. Tarantino helped to breathe new life into American made films with plenty of retro ideals. Tarantino made old, new again and he even gave one of my favourite actresses of the 70s a lead role in Jackie Brown. It certainly was awesome to see the fabulous Ms. Pam Grier rocking a pantsuit again! Not to mention a great charismatic performance from the lovely actress! SPOILER** I really enjoyed the scene in Jackie Brown where Louis (Robert DeNiro) shoots Melanie (Bridget Fonda)! One of the funniest scenes EVER! I have yet to see a Tarantino film I did not like, although I did have some issues with Death Proof. I found the mess of “super cool” female characters (particular in the first half) rather unlikable. I should have felt bad about what happened to the gals, and just did not. I sure did enjoy Kurt Russell, his bad ass car and the delightful Zoe Bell though! While Quentin Tarantino does “borrow” from days gone by he always makes it his own; intriguing characters grace Tarantino’s quirky, violent, crime capers and revenge flicks and each one is a real treat. I will definitely be seeing Tarantino’s upcoming film Django Unchained in the theatre and Kill Bill Vol. 3 is also listed as “announced” on IMDB! Keep on keeping on my man!

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#26. Stanley Kubrick

What I’ve Seen: Killer’s Kiss (1955), The Killing (1956), Paths of Glory (1957), Spartacus (1960), Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

I’ve seen 12 of Stanley Kubrick’s 13 full length feature films. 13?! The man’s career began in the 50s and continued until his death March 7, 1999 at the age of 70. I assume based on the quantity and quality of successful features Kubrick directed he probably could have pumped out a film every year and someone would have financed it. Clearly the man was serious about his work and the end product reflects that. Strange, disturbing, violent, biographical, hilarious thoughtful and always original; each one of Kubrick’s films have left their mark on me (well, okay, not Eyes Wide Shut…but every OTHER one). The list at its weakest point is good and at its strongest point, monumental and epic! The Shining is one of the best horror films ever made, and Dr Strangelove is one of the best comedies and Full Metal Jacket one of the best of the war flicks. A Clockwork Orange, Lolita and The Killing are also films I rank highly! He took filmmaking to all new groundbreaking levels and it is no wonder he is admired by so many. I suspect Mr. Kubrick is on many film fans favourite lists, as he should be. Kubrick is brilliant. That is all.

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KILLER’S KISS (1955) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in movies, USA with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by goregirl


“Her Soft Mouth Was the Road to Sin-Smeared Violence!”

Seeing that Stanley Kubrick was the subject of The Large Association of Movie Blogs feature, LAMB’s In The Director’s Chair I decided it was high time I took part in this event. Kubrick has just sixteen directorial efforts listed on IMDB (3 of them are short films). A trim list considering it spans 48 years! But the trim list boasts some pretty impressive titles. I probably should be reviewing one of the two films I am intimately familiar with; Dr. Strangelove or The Shining. I’ve seen both films countless times and could probably whip up a review in no time. I decided however to go with a title I had not yet seen. A close friend is a huge fan of classic cinema and specifically Film-Noir. He has recommended countless titles to me, which I have barely dipped into. One of the titles on his list was Kubrick’s The Killing. Off I went to the best place I know to find classic films, the library. The library had quite a few Kubrick titles but not The killing, so I ended picking up Killer’s Kiss. Killer’s Kiss is Kubrick’s second feature film and was also noted as Film-Noir so it seemed like a reasonable alternative. This will mark the first Film-Noir reviewed in the Dungeon, and it definitely won’t be the last.

We begin our tale with boxer Davey Gordon waiting at the train station. The story is told in a series of flashbacks that begin with Davey getting prepared for a fight. While Davey suffers defeat at the hands of his opponent, in another part of town, Gloria Price is suffering her own humiliation. Gloria is a dancer for hire in a reluctant relationship with her boss Vincent Rapallo. Gloria lives in the building across from Davey, and their two apartments face one another. One evening Davey sees Gloria struggling with Vincent and runs over to help. Vincent is gone by the time Davey shows up and he tucks Gloria in for the night and heads back to his apartment. Davey comes back the next day to check up and the two form a bond over breakfast. Gloria shares an intimate story with Davey that she has never shared with anyone and it is clear that the two lonely people are drawn to one another. Gloria decides that her Dance hall days are over and Davey accompanies her to pick up her last paycheck. Davey has also arranged a meeting with his boxing manager to collect on his last match. But Vincent’s jealous actions put a damper on Gloria and Davey’s hopeful plans of a new start. It all comes to a head in an exhilarating chase and fight sequence.

Killer’s Kiss was filmed in Brooklyn New York and features a trio of characters; a boxer, a dame and a gangster/villain type. The plot of Killer’s Kiss is unlikely to wow anyone. The films greatest asset is its visuals. The film is a time capsule of a New York long gone. There are loads of street shots where Kubrick lingers on store window displays as well as shots of Penn Station, Times Square and countless other buildings and alleyways. The city feels like a giant maze and it was easy to see how a guy like Davey could feel trapped by it. In fact, there is a great scene early in the film as Davey is pacing about his tiny apartment in anticipation of his fight. Davey stops to peer into a fish bowl, which Kubrick shows from the other side distorting the boxers face. Davey is not unlike the fish trapped in the bowl. Moving from the apartment scene to the boxing ring felt like I was watching the man jump from one fish bowl into a larger fish bowl. A likable lug with a career past its expiry date must face a younger more fit opponent. He struggles badly and is easily beaten by the other man in a televised match. We watch on as Gloria is being pawed by her slimy manager as the fight plays on the television. Then a humiliating phone call from Uncle George let’s us know, he too, has watched the fight on TV. He suggests Davey take a rest, inviting him to stay at the horse ranch in Seattle. While Jamie Smith may not have the presence of other Film-Noir leads, he certainly looks the part and does a decent job playing Davey Gordon.

The film’s tagline is “Her Soft Mouth Was the Road to Sin-Smeared Violence!” We learn through a story Gloria tells Davey that her family are all dead. She is alone in the big city dancing with men for money and reluctantly involved with her boss. Being she is a woman of “questionable virtue”, would qualify her as a femme fatale. She does have a rather unflattering moment of self-preservation in the film. But most of the time she seemed more damsel in distress. Irene Kane who plays Gloria Price is very pretty but she delivers her lines so flatly at times I thought she might fall asleep mid-sentence. A little more emotion from Kane would have gone a long way. Not the most dynamic of classic leading ladies but she does an adequate job. The final player is Frank Silvera who plays Gloria’s sleazy boss Vincent Rapallo. He has the most panache and gives the best performance of the trio, but then again he gets to play the bad guy. Silvera doesn’t play it too over the top and like any good boss sends his cronies to do his dirty work. But when the boss is called on to step up, he certainly does finds a whole lot of extra energy to embark in a chase and a duel.

The film is a slow boil and it takes a while to get to the meat. Mind you, the film is only 60ish minutes so when I say it took a while, I’m speaking relatively. While neither the story nor performances in Killer’s Kiss rocked my world, the film still managed to keep me engaged. The interesting visual style and some memorable moments left me feeling relatively sated when it was all over. My favourite scene by far is Davey and Vincent’s fabulous and lengthy chase and fight sequence. They run over rooftops, through streets and alleys, ending up in a mannequin factory where the two lead characters faceoff with an axe and a spear, jabbing at each other and the lifeless mannequins surrounding them. Great stuff! However, following up the awesome chase and fight scene with a bland happy ending was disappointing. Killer’s Kiss was quite watchable, and the magnificent chase sequence alone is worth the price of admission. Lightly Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Frank Silvera, Jamie Smith, Irene Kane, Jerry Jarrett, Mike Dana, Felice Orlandi