Kubrick and Scorsese, not as violent as their most famous films might indicate.

Kubrick and Scorsese, not as violent as their most famous films might indicate. (photo)

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When someone says that Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese are his or her two favorite directors, it doesn’t mean that much. Both are responsible for films of cold, hard, almost universally valued quality — they’re almost unassailable cinematic institutions (there’s always going to be someone around to insist a director is overrated). They’re also dorm-room staples and two of the few directors still identifiable by many people by last name alone. It’s a rare case of critical and popular love getting married.

Here’s a video mash-up of the work of the two godhead directors to get your week started with a bang. Kudos to “Leandro Copperfield,” whose “Kubrick vs. Scorsese” (guess what it’s about) has been picking up blog steam. (It’s mildly NSFW — there are, predictably, a lot of bloodshots and a little swearing):

06282010_kiss.jpgTo Copperfield’s infinite credit, the video includes bits of every single Kubrick feature (including the never-officially-released “Fear and Desire” and early boxing short “Day of the Fight”). He even gets in pieces of 1955’s “Killer’s Kiss,” a treasure trove of unintentional surrealism. This is not the work of someone who’s only dug “A Clockwork Orange,” “The Shining” and “Full Metal Jacket.” Scorsese, too, is awarded his full due: pre-“Mean Streets” material is eschewed, and there’s certainly no Michael Jackson’s “Bad” in there, but you’re basically getting the scope of the catalog.

Conventional wisdom pegs Kubrick as a master technician who was far chillier than anyone in his audience, while Scorsese is a visceral stylist whose propensity for the lurid connects beyond his personal obsessions (even as his relative indifference towards continuity editing can drive technical dweebs off the wall).

A mash-up like this proposes equality. Even as it’s making visual analogies (the “2001” monolith is no less movable, it turns out, than Daniel Day-Lewis in “Gangs of New York”), what it’s really privileging are the flashiest shots, the ones that survive best when cut to durational shreds.

Often, they’re very violent: if you’d never actually seen any of the Kubrick movies in question, you might conclude they’re just as violent as Scorsese’s (and you’d also be forced to conclude Scorsese’s work is almost exclusively violent, which is only what his fair-weather fans wish for).

06282010_age.jpgThat suggests something about the casual fandom surrounding these milestone directors. Plenty of people “like” Kubrick; very few of them are going to sit down and watch “Killer’s Kiss,” partly because it’s obscure and partly because it’s a somewhat inept (if fascinating) mash-up of noir, proto-surrealism and post-sync sound. Likewise, most of those “Goodfellas” fans somehow failed to show up for “The Age of Innocence” (or “Kundun”!).

The most popular films of both directors are the ones that go for full violent overload (except for “2001,” which is too spectacularly anomalous a challenge to ignore). And that doesn’t say anything about the scope of their work, which is broader than most would give them credit for. It just tells us that, even among the masters, people prefer flash and violence.

[Photos: “A Clockwork Orange,” Warner Bros., 1971; “Killer’s Kiss,” MGM/UA Home Entertainment, 1955; “The Age of Innocence,” Columbia, 1993]

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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