As its director’s own remarkable oeuvre touches the worst excesses of mankind through youth callousness, apes and their killing instincts and cynical warfare games, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 The Shining suggests the worst horrors actually inhabits man’s own deep and hidden recesses.
From the outset The Shining was surrounded by controversy as its director not only rejected the script written by the author of the source material, but also changed the tale’s central thesis. As the film diverges quite a lot from Stephen King’s novel, one feels for him for the butchering of his story. The celebrated writer – whose several tales have been adapted to the cinema – let everyone know he disliked the movie. However, the fact remains that Kubrick’s film is a classic masterwork of horror cinema – even, of cinema, full stop – whereas King’s novel, although a great book, is nonetheless flawed as literature. Continue reading
Both an homage to and a re-working of classic film noir cinema, Roman Polanski’s 1974 Chinatown, a technically superb and multi-layered film about the corruption of politics and morals, stuns its protagonist to the core of his self when he opens a Pandora’s box of shamelessness.
Compare the smiling and radiant face of J. J. Gittes – like the 1930s sunny Los Angeles itself – at the beginning of the film, when he is talking to the allegedly Mrs Mulwray, with the horror at the end, after he has witnessed the reach of human depravity. Never has a private eye been taken for such a ride or taken so many things for granted. The magnitude of the transformation in the protagonist’s face mirrors the disparity between the world before the 1970s and the prevalent cynicism of nowadays. Continue reading
An iconic tale of rebellion and stubbornness, Milos Forman’s 1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, challenges notions of psychic normality and deviant behaviour, while illustrating the explosive meeting of an unstoppable force with an immovable object, and its aftermath.
What is the difference between the group therapy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and a typical dinner party across the land? Are the anxiety and neurosis shown in the film really worlds apart from the ones displayed by ‘normal’, well-adjusted individuals? There is no doubt that R. P. McMurphy is not crazy. More pertinently, is anyone in the group really insane? Billy has a self-esteem problem, but who hasn’t? Cheswick has an issue with self-control. Who somehow does not? And Harding suffers from a form of emasculation. Well, tell me about it… Continue reading
Essentially a road movie that goes well into the past, Bob Rafelson’s 1970 Five Easy Pieces examines class relations in America through the eyes of a spoilt rebel, who is unsure whether to gurgle down beer in bowling alleys or sip wine with sophisticated and yet cold intellectuals.
Who is Robert Eroica Dupea? Is he an egocentric cynic – the unwanted consequence of a counterculture focused on self-improvement? Or a principled idealist, who likes to fight the conformist status quo? Is Dupea’s arrogance a sign of despair or the trait of a truly Übermensch? What is at the core of his dissatisfaction? What is behind his resentment?