(Not-So) Random Film of the Week: Barry Lyndon

Barry Lyndon duel1

Where it all begins for one Redmond Barry.

Barry Lyndon is a story which does not depend upon surprise. What is important is not what is going to happen, but how it will happen.

Stanley Kubrick

barry_lyndon_ver1_xlgMy first introduction to Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon was via the most likely means most 11-year olds with little to no interest in certain three-hour plus films made by somewhat visionary directors had at the time: MAD Magazine. I do recall that particular issue was confiscated from the classmate who owned it later in the day by a somewhat strict English (Literature) teacher who didn’t appreciate his not paying attention during her class. Fortunately, the magazine was returned the following day with a note that student had to take to his parents about his reading habits during class and oddly (or not so oddly) enough, a public library copy of The Luck of Barry Lyndon for him to read, write a book report on and return to the teacher. It turned out the teacher was a big fan of Kubrick’s film but had never read the MAD version, so she took it home, read it and liked the parody. Thus the somewhat unusual  temporary gift and form of “punishment”.

You gotta love good teachers, friends. Go and hug one today (er, with consent, of course).

I’ve had the feeling for some time that I may have wished for such a tremendous fate back then, as it took quite a few years more for me to actually read the book Kubrick adapted and altered somewhat using groundbreaking lighting techniques and some of the most gorgeous and true to life costume recreations ever put on film. It’s also a film where you can practically hear its director chuckling as he reworked the book into his own style that in my opinion, fits in well with Thackeray’s original writing. Droll, deadpan humor is laced throughout the dramatic scenes, all of which are masterfully composed shots that may have you pausing the film to admire a landscape or painterly composition (of which there are many). Excellent performances from the cast all around also help, as does realizing that Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal) isn’t supposed to “act” here in the sense of a person throwing himself into a part and chewing up the scenery. He’s perfectly cast as a man in a particular point in history where both good to terrible things happen and he reacts as he sees fit (which isn’t always accordingly).

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#TBT: Smart Advice For Stupid People, Kubrick Edition

(Thanks, cladegaard!)
 

It may be hard to swallow for some of you out there, but here’s an uncomfortable (and thankfully, verifiable) fact: “American” isn’t a language. Never was, never will be. I guess some people into speaking their minds at every opportunity in front of a camera won’t ever grasp that being the loudest person in a room doesn’t make you at all correct in what you say. It’s amazing that some continue to get away with this stuff and flock in the irate, gullible sheep because of the VERY oddball belief that someone who has strong convictions about stuff means they’re somehow immune to being dead wrong every time they open their mouths. Of course, if those strong beliefs go against yours, that person is somehow an idiot. Even if they know more and are dead-on correct, too many out there won’t open their brains to fresh ideas because of fear and plain old ignorance.

If you’re somewhat cranky about that news flash above, go find someone who still believes without a shred of doubt (and less proof) that the earth is flat, the Matrix is real, or that Santa Claus isn’t a relative or very good friend running up his or her credit cards (or paying in cash if they have it handy). Holding onto as many untruths as possible as one ages only keeps the crap train alive too long and makes us less smart about things we need to let die off gracefully. Pulling the plug on the old ways is hard, yes. But that necessary mercy killing of dated thinking will surprise you in how it unlocks doors you’ve never even seen in that brain-shaped house in your head.

Also, regarding refugees seeking asylum: Anyone on the “Send ’em back so they can fight!” or other “not in my backyard!” tip should take those words and apply them to the Mayflower landing as seen from the perspective of the natives in that era. The world would most certainly be a far different place if that particular boat full of immigrants was turned away in anger, ladies and gents. Nope, I haven’t a hearty clue or a handy solution to this particular (but not *new* at all) problem other than to say ignoring or flat out erasing history has always been mankind’s main folly and we seem to never want to learn how not to dig these ruts in the first place.

Class dismissed.

Sunday Gives Me Both Barrels, But I’ll Be Quite Alright…

(Thanks, John Thomas!)
 
And how was/is YOUR Sunday? Mine is pretty lousy at the moment, but pretty much everything’s fixable with some time and a bit of money. My home PC decided to flip out and not want to boot up properly, my backup solution isn;t working (thank goodness for the laptop), the connection today is super-slow, I accidentally broke the paper holder on one of the printers here (nothing a little glue can’t fix, but it was a total “DUH!” moment when it happened), my Logitech G15 finally died, I can’t find the driver CD for my gaming mouse, some of the plants I was growing decided to keel over thanks to the temperature changes this past week and I still need to get to that pile of laundry I was supposed to do last week, but kept putting off because of so many games coming in and me needing to get to them. Yaaaaah. There are a few other things going on as well, but those are for me to know and you to not find out.


(Thanks, DreamWorksTV!)
 
Eh, small world problems, but all happening around the same time makes for a REALLY annoying day. Eh, here’s a little laugh for you while I get back to trying to actually be something resembling “productive” today. Back in a bit…

2001: A Space Odyssey Gets a New Trailer. Time Travel Seems To Work After All!


 
Well, if you’re a very lucky resident of the UK with an interest in the classics, you get to see Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece as it NEEDS to be seen – in a nice theater with a huge screen for a short run starting November 28. This trailer is quite nice even though it sort of gives away a lot of stuff to people who’ve seen this one many times. On the other hand, it’s also mysterious and unsettling in a “What the heck is this film about?” manner that may pull in a few younger viewers yet to experience this ultimate trip. Fat chance of this coming out here, as I have no idea who would go see this other than people like me who don’t mind hoofing it out to a theater just to see something already viewed multiple times (to the point of knowing certain lines of dialog and timing almost perfectly. “Ham, ham, ham, ham…”) Eh, given that I’d have to travel far to see this anyway (we’re down to two faraway theaters of questionable quality in this borough, boooo!), in a goofball way, it’s almost worth the airfare to London. But that’s not going to happen, ladies and gents…

TCM Reminds Us That War Is (And Always Will Be) Hell…


 
Ah, there’s nothing like the darkly comic insanity of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) to remind us that painting oneself into a corner before deciding to spray a few cans of Raid around the house, then light up a cigarette to relax is always a terrible idea. Anyway, if you’re up late tonight and into Friday morning, you can catch this classic on TCM at 1am (eastern time – dip backwards on that clock according to your own time zone). I tend to watch this one a few times a year because it’s both hilarious and bracing while showing not much has changed over time except news (and bombs) can travel a hell of a lot faster. While the film is perhaps the bleakest of black comedies, according to one New Yorker article from earlier this year… a good deal of what happened in the film was (and perhaps still is) entirely plausible to some extent. Eeeeek. Um, sleep well, ladies and gents… sleep well…