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Thursday, September 13, 2012

The two Kubrick films you MUST see at the Plaza

  • MGM/WB
  • HAL

Of all filmmakers from the past half century, few have created works better suited to digital projection more than Stanley Kubrick. Which is not to say all of his films are candidates for the digital makeover: I remain steadfastly opposed to the notion that digitally projected black and white can never compete with celluloid. Also, films like Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut and Spartacus—so carefully crafted around specific visual tones, from the beauty of natural light to the inevitable dimness of a pre-elctricity era interior—warrant the visual spectrum of dancing emulsion on a celluloid strip.

With that caveat, let's hunker down and take a viddy at the next two weeks' offerings at the Plaza's Stanley Kubrick Month: A Clockwork Orange screens Friday, Saturday and Sunday September 14 - 16 and 2001: A Space Odyssey screens Friday, Saturday and Sunday September 21 - 23. There is a good case to be made that the two films form a diptych (though the Plaza is screening them out of sequence—Mark Crispin Miller makes the case that ACO's Alex is the embodiment of the starchild at the end of 2001)

As each film employs Kubrick's cold, distant, detached aesthetic, while simultaneously grappling with the complexities of humanity, fallibility, and how mankind fares in a world dominated by science, technology, machines, and computers.

To that end, the tension between Kubrick's original vision and its digitally remastered and rendered exhibition is interesting. It has been suggested that unlike film prints, which degrade, scratch and fade over time that digital projection is flawless, endlessly perfect.

Something, no doubt, HAL's designers also believed.

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