Wednesday, April 4, 2007

April 4th Log

1975, Stanley Kubrick, United Kingdom
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Barry Lyndon may very well be the most forgotten or overlooked film of the brilliant Stanley Kubrick's many masterworks. To me, this film rates among his very best, and perhaps his most perfectly made film. It's pretty obvious where the strength of master Barry Lyndon lies; in the breathtaking cinematography (provided by John Alcott) and overall visual imagery. In fact, I'd say Barry Lyndon is easily among the most beautifully eye pleasing cinematography in cinema history. Kubrick perfectly recreates the details, look and mood of the 18th Century like few films ever have. Every frame of Barry Lyndon is like a painting: full of spectacular details. Through a heavy use of slow zoom-outs, Kubrick calmly glances upon a variety of palaces, woods, streams, gardens, pools, building, and rooms. At just over three hours long, the film is very slow paced, but it never becomes to boring, and builds in suspense to an unforgettable duel. Adding to the emotional atmosphere is the use of beautiful classical music (including Bach and Mozart) which is quintessential Kubrick. It's a rare experience, and like most Kubrick films unsuited for a particular genre. The stunning imagery of the film is truly unique from anything else I've seen in a film (as Kubrick had a special customized lens used for most of the film). To me Barry Lyndon rates among Kubrick's finest films, which remains a truly breathtaking accomplishment of filmmaking and also one of the masters most personal films. There are many dark human depths to be found within the beauty of the films imagery. Barry Lyndon is a cinematic work of art from a filmmaker who has mastered the combination of images and sound. To see this film is to experience it. The finest and most emotionally involving moments may come in those without dialogue (such as the remarkable scene when Barry first approaches Lady Lyndon), as Kubrick captures the essence of silent cinema through visuals and music to absolute perfection. Much like an art gallery, Barry Lyndon will certainly absorb the viewer into it's 18th Century world of remarkable visual beauty. An absolute masterpiece!!

2006, Larry Charles, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

While I’m still not sure that I like this film as much as many others, I also must say that I don’t think I give it enough credit. Borat (or as the full title goes Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) is a very funny film. I'm not calling this the funniest movie ever, but such a claim is ridiculous anyway (no matter what film it is referring to). There really is very little plot to this film, but perhaps that is where the charm comes from. In his first real cinematic showcase Sacha Baron Cohen shows a real talent for comedy as he takes offensive, gross-out humor to a new level of political and social satire. He has a skill at bringing out the worst in people, no matter where the location or what the situation. More then anything however, you have to give him credit for his Andy Kaufman-commitment to his jokes and willingness to stay in character. From the opening moments in “Kazakhstan”, Borat is stupid, yet ultimately genuinely intelligent in its meaningful explorations of world and national culture (and how different, yet how surprisingly alike they can be). Even though much of the films humor is generated through Kazakhstan and its culture, there is also a sense of capturing American ignorance and misunderstanding that make Borat such a clever film.

>> As a side note I have to admit how brilliant the marketing strategy is behind the DVD release of Borat. As prankingly playful as the films tone the DVD is made to look as if it is a burnt copy. Below is a capture of the Borat DVD. Very clever and hilarious marketing!!


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