American Heritage's Overrated & Underrated (directors & movies)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by SteveGon, Aug 31, 2001.

  1. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    I just got around to reading the September issue of American Heritage which features another round of "Overrated" and "Underrated" articles. Two of those are relevant to this forum. The pick for overrated director was none other than Stanley Kubrick! At first, I was taken aback by this statement as Kubrick is my favorite director. However, the more I read into the article, the more I began to see the author's point.
     
  2. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Well, it seems as if the writer feels that Kubrick is at his best when standing on shakey ground and kicking off with little experience. This is, of course, his right, but seems a bit immature. His early films have a unique charm to them, but, like all artists worth their salt, he learned from his mistakes and used that knowledge to create more ambitious material. I personally feel that Full Metal Jacket is the culmination Kubrick's work.
    I have mixed feelings about Kaufman, but that's more because I haven't seen those movies in so long. The only one I really remember was Quills, which was entertaining.
    Gone with the Wind is overrated. But then I think a lot of stuff is overrated.
     
  3. andrew markworthy

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    I love 2001, but otherwise I'd put Kubrick's movies in the 'good, but not outstanding' category. I find them soulless and the later ones seem far too mannered and precise for their own good (probably this is why 2001 works for me, simply because that movie really did require a precise and mannered approach). With every shot you just know that it will be balanced to a fraction of a millimeter, and after a while all this perfection bores me. My especial hatred is Dr Strangelove. Don't get me wrong - I agree totally with the anti-war sentiments, but the acting at times is pure ham (this may be because I *loathe* Peter Sellers). Oh yes, and The Shining, where I was really disappointed that that ghastly simpering woman wasn't killed.
     
  4. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Sure, the acting was "ham." It was supposed to be surrealistic. Look at Clockwork Orange. Everything's over the top there. Also, the narration in Barry Lyndon.
    Kubrick's approach is to hit one or two aspects of humanity and rip it apart. The end result is successes like Clockwork and, IMO, failures like Eyes Wide Shut.
    Not to pick on Spielberg, but as an illustration, his approach is the opposite. He wants to get everything in every movie, so he gives things to you in small doses, all lumped together in a pretty panamoric view. The result is, at least to me, safe, well done, and boring.
    Anyone who has studied for the Reading Comprehension part of the SATs learned how to read for the General idea vs the Details. Kubrick is the details.
    Hmm, that probably doesn't make sense, but there it is.
    I can understand not liking his work, but we should at least be glad that someone was willing to go out on a limb every so often. He gave movie-making a shot in the arm.
     
  5. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I find it quite amusing when people say that Stanley Kubrick is over-rated. His filming techniques, his tonal (is that a word?) style, his edge of cynicism, and attention to detail mark him as one of the best directors IMHO. And this coming from a non-Stanley Kubrick fan (relatively speaking of course, only people who like 2001: A Space Odyssey can be considered fans). His best work is still The Shining followed closely by Full Metal Jacket. So far I haven't seen the Killing Fields nor Paths of Glory. As a side question, why isn't Spartacus considered part of the Kubrick lexicon whenever he's mentioned? As for overrated, pretty much every director I've heard of has gotten the praise (or mud) they've pretty much deserve. Closest thing to overrated I can think of off the bat is Wes Craven (from all the big fanboy praise he gets).
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  6. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I'll agree that Gone with the Wind is overrated (although I wouldn't put it at most overrated).
    I can't agree about Kubrick however. It seems that half the critique had to do with his politics. Is American Hertigage a right wing magazine?
    My choice would be Elia Kazan. By it's very nature, you can't select an overrated anything without a lot of people disagreeing, and I'm sure that'll be the case here. I've seen 4 of his movies (his most celebrated) and I basically found them to be boring, which in my mind is about the worst sin a director can make.
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    [Edited last by george kaplan on September 03, 2001 at 09:23 PM]
     
  7. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    I'm not a Kubrick fan, but those of you who are might want to check out the current issue of American History magazine. It has a feature on his career as a photographer, along with some examples of his work. The photograph of a busy Chicago street is particularly nice.
    As for American Heritage being a right-wing publication: they probably do lean that way, but if past overrated/underrated issues are any guide, bias is not really a factor. They typically solicit the opinions of people from many different backgrounds and fields. For example, the one I remember the most clearly is Stephen King--no right-winger--who was asked his opinion on music. He listed the Beatles as the most overrated and CCR as the most underrated. At the risk of sounding like a cultural neanderthal after already stating my dislike for Kubrick's work, I wholeheartedly agree with him about the Beatles (I like CCR, but they aren't my favorite).
     
  8. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Greg, thanks for bringing that up! I have a subscription to AH and was planning on mentioning the article here, but forgot all about it... [​IMG]
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  9. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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  10. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Dome,
    I think the reason Spartacus isn't really considered a part of the Kubrick legacy is because someone else started to direct it and he took over. Also, he didn't have control. Kirk Douglas was both the star and producer, so Kubrick had to bow down to his demands. Though he did direct it, Spartacus isn't really his "Vision."
    I don't know much about Paths of Glory or the Killing, but the movies he made after Spartacus are the real hard-core Kubrick. By that time, he had complete control over the process. The first film that had Kubrick's fingerprints all over it was Lolita.
     

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