Games are fun, but sometimes quizzing your friends about games can be just as fun! The Game Boys are back with their fourth trivia episode! Think you’re a video game expert? Test your knowledge with these thirty, tricky questions!
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Stanley Kubrick, Extending the Boundaries of Mainstream Commercial Filmmaking
Stanley Kubrick the Studio Auteur
Throughout the 1960s-early 1970s, a combination of financial desperation, creative daring, and an adventurous movie-going public had produced a creative detonation in mainstream American movies not seen before or since. Each year of the period seemed to bring at least one mightily ambitious visual experiment by a new contributor to the commercial movie scene, the “look” of that effort being as much a part of its identity as its characters and story. One could pick no better representative of the trend than Stanley Kubrick, for no director of the time so extended the boundaries of mainstream commercial filmmaking, or what it meant to be a mainstream commercial filmmaker.
For the most part, Kubrick’s professional ascent was built on the taking of standard genres – the war story, science fiction tale, sword-and-sandal epic – and twisting them into shapes so singular that each Kubrick outing became an acknowledged one-of-a-kind classic. Paths of Glory (1957) deglamorized war in the most emotionally brutalizing of fashions; Spartacus (1960) gave a bittersweet soulfulness to the sword-and-sandal epic as well as – finally — a dramatic heft to match the genre’s grand scale; Dr. Strangelove or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (1964) turned the Cold War nuclear thriller into an acrid, black-humored joke; 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) vaulted the sci fi “space opera” from juvenile status to that of cinematic poetry; A Clockwork Orange (1971) dispensed with the awe and gadgetry of most futuristic fantasies and, instead, delivered a disturbing portrait of a graffiti-marred, violence-ridden dystopia; The Shining (1980) took Steven King’s haunted hotel novel and re-worked it into Hollywood’s first intellectual horror tale, a sensory – rather than narrative – rendering of a “rotten spot” in the spiritual fabric of the world where evil seeps into this existence through the psychological fault lines of its main character, the ambivalently depicted apparitions perhaps being only the psychotic delusions of its protagonist.
A one-time photojournalist, Kubrick had begun his career with a series of small-scale, independently-produced movies the most notable of which was the time-fractured caper thriller The Killing (1956). Paths of Glory brought him to the attention of the majors, and the impressive critical and box office reception of Spartacus provided him with the latitude to initiate his own projects at the studio level. After directing an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove and 2001 followed demonstrating his ability to turn in pictures which, however idiosyncratic and intellectually demanding, still connected with the mainstream audience (with rentals of $21.5 million, 2001 was the 16th highest-grossing movie 1961-1970).
2001 was Kubrick – and major studio moviemaking – at its most courageous, the movie being a complete rejection of typical narrative mechanisms. The story – which Kubrick wrote in collaboration with noted sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke – spans millions of years, from simian pre-humans to a future where mankind takes a quantum evolutionary leap into near-godhood, always under the tutelage of never-seen alien forces. Within the grand scope of the story, the movie is virtually plotless, lacks any meaningful characters, and much of its sparse dialogue is intentionally banal and disposable. Kubrick himself described 2001 as, “…a non-verbal experience…,” conveying its story in the same abstract, oblique manner of, say, a poem or piece of music; hinting, inferring, suggesting, but never explaining. One academic perhaps best described the dynamic of 2001 in a comparison with the more conventional and light-hearted Star Wars (1977): “Star Wars is like rock ‘n’ roll; 2001 is like a piece of classical music, a ‘tone poem,’ like Also Sprach Zarathustra,” referring to the Richard Strauss composition which became the movie’s signature piece of music.
Kubrick’s relationship with Warners remains unique because Kubrick and his work remain unique.
Kubrick continued to test non-traditional narrative forms throughout the remainder of his career, though he would not make another movie as non-linear as 2001 (although Vietnam War-set Full Metal Jacket  would come close). Still, his subsequent movies remained a cross-breeding of mainstream Hollywood and avant-garde film, with the narrative and emotional “information” in his films conveyed by visuals at least equal – if not superior – to the conventional mechanisms of plot, character, and dialogue.
After the success of 2001, then Warners production chief John Calley, intrigued by Kubrick’s growing artistic prestige (and also, no doubt, by the consistent returns of the director’s projects since Spartacus), offered the filmmaker a permanent home at the studio along with complete creative autonomy. Kubrick was allowed to develop whatever projects he chose, take as long as he wanted to bring them to fruition – which ran years in some cases — and even dictate the details of the marketing campaigns for his releases. Even amid Hollywood’s creative explosion of the 1960s/1970s, it was an investment of studio faith and largesse in a maverick talent on a scale yet to be equaled, producing some of the most unique high-profile releases ever turned out by a major studio: A Clockwork Orange, period piece Barry Lyndon (1975), and The Shining. Although Calley left Warners in 1981, the studio continued to provide Kubrick a production home, giving him the opportunity to complete Full Metal Jacket, and erotic drama Eyes Wide Shut (1999), released just after the director’s death at age 70 of a heart attack.
Other filmmakers have had the box office muscle to demand the kind of autonomy Kubrick retained (DeMille, Hitchcock), or buy it for themselves through exemplary commercial success (Lucas, Spielberg), but Kubrick’s relationship with Warners remains unique because Kubrick and his work remain unique. Warners/Kubrick was a one-of-a-kind wedding – an oddity from its first day – between an art-house sensibility and the production capabilities of what remains one of the biggest production/distribution entities in the world; a daring partnership only made practical by a mass audience’s appetite for cinema that entertained by being challenging, even difficult. It’s entirely possible, nay, probable, that such a partnership could only have happened when it happened, and is not likely to ever happen again.
– Bill Mesce
Festival Du Nouveau Cinema 2019: Our Five Most Anticipated Films
The 48th edition of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema announced their lineup on October 1st and as expected, we are extremely impressed with the selection of films. The festival which takes place in Montreal from October 9 to October 20 is screening hundreds of feature films and shorts from around the world (many of which took home awards at other festivals including Cannes, TIFF, and Venice), and with so many films to choose from, deciding what to watch, can be overwhelming.
Our team will, of course, be covering the event once again, and as we do every year, we’ve compiled a shortlist of five movies that we are most excited to watch. Hopefully, this list will introduce some readers to at least one movie that might have snuck under their radar.
There are many enduring truths in moviemaking, and one of them is that Lovecraft is really hard to adapt. I mean, how do you even film something the sight of which is described as so horrifically other as to induce madness in the observer? Maybe this is why Lovecraft’s short story “The Color Out of Space” has been adapted more than most, with movie versions in 1965, 1987, 2008 and 2010. The premise is simple: a meteor lands on a New England farm, its core dissolving into the soil and leading to strange and distorted plant life. The farmer and his family soon begin to change as well, seemingly succumbing to some unseen vampiric force.
What makes this new effort all the more interesting is the presence of Richard Stanley at the helm, his first time directing a work of genre fiction since 1993’s “Dust Devil”. Add in Nicolas Cage and this will probably be one of the most anticipated movies of the festival. The subject matter, director and star all have devoted fans, and the “this, I gotta see!” factor is pretty high. (Thomas O’Connor)
Quentin Dupieux is…..well, he’s an odd one. Mostly known for oddities like “Rubber” and “Wrong”, the French director has a fascination with absurdism, the surreal, the just plain weird. In “Rubber”, the director even addressed this ethos, and the audience directly, with an impassioned mantra of “Why not”. His follow-up, “Wrong”, didn’t state this ethos quite so explicitly but still traded largely on weird for weird’s sake. This approach can and has put off a lot of people, but there is something to be said for the strange atmosphere Dupieux crafts in his films. They’re often funny and, if nothing else, a uniquely odd experience.
Dupieux’s new film, “Le Daim”, seems to have dialed the surrealism down in favor of more quirky antics on the part of the cast. There’s no sign of the paranormal, like pet psychics or sentient tires, but the film does center on an eccentric with a serious crush on his own jacket. Could this shift in gears be the key to Dupieux finding more success? Will audiences find more to like with weird characters, instead of weird plot points? We’ll soon see. (Thomas O’Connor)
According to our staff, Andrew Patterson’s award-winning sci-fi thriller The Vast of The Night was one of the best films to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. And according to Brian Marks, The Vast of Night draws from late-’50s science fiction and radio plays by leaving its thrills unseen and letting the audience create them instead.
What really caught my attention however was a quote from Variety that states its B-movie plot is so familiar that writers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger unabashedly frame the story as an episode of a Twilight Zone-style TV show called Paradox Theater. And from what I’ve read, The Vast of the Night is also being compared to Bruce McDonald’s Pontypool, War of the Worlds and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a good alien invasion movie and so I’m hoping The Vast of the Night lives up to the hype and scratches that itch.
Just in time for the 40th anniversary of Alien comes Memory: The Origins of Alien, a documentary that dives deep into Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi masterpiece. Much has already been written, dissected and documented about Ridley Scott’s classic but according to the press release, the film takes fans on an exploration of the mythical underpinnings of the film, supported by exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, unearthing the largely untold origin story behind the making of the film. The documentary also promises a treasure trove of never-before-seen materials from the archives of Dan O’Bannon and H.R. Giger – including original story notes, rejected designs and storyboards, and O’Bannon’s original 29-page script from 1971, titled “Memory.”
French provocateur Bertrand Bonello returns with Zombi Child, a unique, high-concept horror movie about the legacy of French colonialism in Haiti. It first premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival and ever since the film has received mostly positive reviews. Jordan Mintzer of The Hollywood Reporter called it a fresh if tangled take on a well-tread genre and given Bonello’s reputation, we expect big things. (Ricky D)
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