IDENTIKIT

“So, is this the man who shot you, turned you into a perfume, then hit you with his sled? Well, is it?”

What do these films have in common? That’s right — opera!

Can I do another of these? VERTIGO opening credits eyes — or mouth — or maybe big shiny sunglasses in something — DUNE big mouth (“The tooth!”) — nasal ECUs are hard to come  by though, which is why I resorted to the lamentable Tykwer PERFUME. Lots of style (or “style”) in that movie, lots of imagination even, not enough taste and judgment.

13 Responses to “IDENTIKIT”

  1. How about the Taxi Driver credits eyes + the screaming mouth of Janet Leigh during the shower scene? The problem with Vertigo i that it explores an entire face before going into the iris.

    Don’t forget the iris in Peeping Tom.

  2. Kubrick considered doing Perfume, but passed in order to make his long-dreamed-of Schitzler adaptation.

  3. A lot of the reviews of Perfume focussed on the problem of representing smell on screen, until Philip French I think it was observed that it’s no easier in a book, and Susskind resolved that OK. The difficulty is more to do with the story structure, the character, having a clear approach to the story, knowing what the point of it is. The sympathy with the serial killer was very uncomfortable and they didn’t really know what they were doing with it.

    I’d like to read Kubrick’s unmade scripts, I’ve passed up the opportunity a couple of times when they were online. Is The Aryan Papers available anywhere, without spending hundreds of quid on the big Kubrick book?

  4. Lots of ear ECUs in A Serious Man…

  5. Apparently there’s not only notes on The Aryan Papers but even test footage where Johanna Ter Steege(an actress famous for her work with Philippe Garrel) plays a role. He was interested in making it but decided that he didn’t have it in him to make a movie about the Holocaust.

    I had an argument on the IMDb boards(yes that’s my turf) about Kubrick a few days back regarding AI. Some people talked about how Spielberg messed up a Kubrick masterpiece. I pointed out that Spielberg at least made a film while Kubrick did not. And it got me thinking that Kubrick tended to spend time on projects like Napoleon(which is out on a huge book filled with information) while films like Barry Lyndon or The Shining didn’t take nearly as much time to get off. And it seems there’s a sharp division Kubrick made in films he thought could make and films he wanted to make but felt he couldn’t follow through but satisfied himself with the research. Like I don’t think he was seriously intent on filming Napoleon and with AI he developed that for more than twenty years and worked on other movies in between.

  6. Kubes was serious about Napoleon for a while, but then UA shut it down during one of their massive financial crises (pre-Heaven’s Gate — were they crisis prone BECAUSE they were the most director-friendly studio?) and thereafter it perhaps became a hobby.

    One of the AI writers suggested that it was very important to SK that the kind in AI not be played by a “real boy” because he wanted to make us love a machine, since he regarded machines as humanity’s best hope. But in terms of the flaws in AI, most of them seem to have come from Kubrick’s script. It would be interesting to read a few different drafts of it though. I suspect Spielberg may have reverted to an earlier draft.

  7. It was Rivette who said that while Kubrick was a “machine”, when “a machine shoots a machine” like in 2001 it’s not so bad. If Kubrick did make AI then that would have been the ultimate example of that. On the other hand, I don’t see how casting an actor in that role upsets the film’s conception at all. It only makes it more interesting if an actor playing a machine is playing a machine trying to be a real boy. And machines being dumb things essentially would never be capable of that nuance. I think AI as Spielberg made it is a very fascinating film in that regard.

  8. Kubrick was waiting for CGI, we are told, to reach the right level of sophistication so he could animate the kid. He’d explored animatronics and all that. But I’m not sure I buy the idea he was genuinely waiting, it may have been an excuse to keep thinking about the film without having to make it.

  9. And in the meantime he went ahead with Eyes Wide Shut which didn’t face nearly the same kind of protracted pre-production. During production, Kubrick unleashed his idiosyncracies but he was much more organized and clear about wanting to make that film and what he wanted to say in it.

  10. “It’s mostly two people talking in a room: if we can’t shoot that in twelve weeks, we’re idiots!” said SK. 15 months later…

    For that whole period he hired every New York yellow cab in the UK — 12 in total. Of course, in the finished film, you never see more than three at a time. But better to have them there just in case.

    Frederic Raphael’s book about writing the script seems to suggest that while Kubrick knew exactly what he wanted, FR was slightly in the dark. It’s one of those amusing baffled writer books, like Evan Hunter’s Hitchcock memoir.

  11. Bill Krohn hilariously said that the Hunter memoir sounded like a jilted lover singing the blues to the man that did him wrong.

    Kubrick it must be said was a publicity genius. And Eyes Wide Shut is a very self-reflexive film. Casting Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, a real star couple, as a star couple only to subvert it every step of the way and then of course there were all those rumours during the making that there might be real sex between the two caught on camera. The result of that self-refexivity is the fact that the two broke up after the film came out and it was big news. The main problem with that film is that Nicole Kidman is more interesting as a character than Tom Cruise and she is seen from his eyes and his character is…dull. It’s perfect casting of course in that regard but it upsets the film’s dynamic.

  12. Nicole’s a more interesting actor, on her good days, than Tom, but his self-consciousness is nicely utilized in EWS. So I didn’t find any imbalance there. I think there’s a certain plod to the pace that comes from following one character all the way through, and had he loved. SK might have shortened the movie a fraction, as he did late on with 2001 and The Shining. Few people ever saw the long 2001, but the long Shining is definitely inferior to the tightened cut — although I appreciated being able to see the deleted material in the TV cut.

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