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Archive for October 27th, 2014

the20shining20pdvd_008

Note:  This first Halloween entry in the classic Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series is the twenty-second in the series overall to post over the past weeks at WitD.

(US/UK 1980 146m) DVD1 (114m only on DVD2)

Redrum…redrum…redrum

p/d  Stanley Kubrick  w  Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson  novel  Stephen King  ph  John Alcott  ed  Ray Lovejoy  m  Bela Bartok, Wendy/Walter Carlos, Rachel Elkind, Gyorgi Ligeti, Krzysztof Penderecki  art  Roy Walker, Leslie Tomkins

Jack Nicholson (Jack Torrence), Shelley Duvall (Wendy Torrence), Danny Lloyd (Danny Torrence), Scatman Crothers (Dick Hallorann), Barry Nelson (Stuart Ullman), Philip Stone (Delbert Grady), Joseph Turkel (Lloyd, the barman), Anne Jackson (doctor),

Of all the puzzling enigmas at the heart of Kubrick’s bona fide horror masterpiece, the biggest that still plagues me is rather why he saw fit to shorten the film for its UK release from the version that showed elsewhere.  In the UK it is only shown in the full 2½ hour version on TCM, Kubrick himself having had control over his movies in the UK (which of course allowed him to withdraw A Clockwork Orange so famously).  At the time of its release, like Barry Lyndon before it, it was roundly misunderstood and jeered; critics and audiences expected a horror movie and a transcription of King’s novel.  They failed to understand that source novels are merely the bare bones upon which Kubrick fleshes out his movies with something deeper that interests him more.  What is so baffling is that the shorter version, though tighter, misses a pivotal early sequence with Lloyd, Duvall and Jackson’s psychiatrist, which at least goes some way to explaining one aspect of the piece, if not remotely all.

Jack Torrence is a recovering alcoholic who has had trouble in the past getting started on writing a novel and has come to the Rocky Mountain resort of the Overlook Hotel to become the site’s new winter caretaker during the off-season.  He brings with him his wife and his young son, Danny, who unbeknownst to his parents, is possessed with a special gift of sight which the hotel chef, also a possessor of the ability, is the only one to recognise.  Jack slowly begins to feel at home at the hotel, and thinks he’s been there before, but the atmosphere proceeds to send him insane, much like a previous holder of the post, who killed his family several years earlier. (more…)

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Rafa Pérez & Damon Trammell - 2

Rafa Perez and Damon Trammell, lead players in Barry Germansky’s “The Answer-Killing Question Buys A Crisis at the Crown Theater.

by Sam Juliano

Barry Germansky’s Off-Off- Broadway play The Answer-Killing Question Buys A Crisis, which this weekend completed its one-month engagement at the Crown Theater in Manhattan, has been billed as a satire on the the suppression of individuality in American classrooms.  Without any trace of humor -though one scene where the two male leads are seemingly instructed to engage in sex is obviously barbed- this austere and minimalist production can aptly be framed as an allegory on how academic convention (Germansky describes it in an interview as education being far more focused on systematizing knowledge than allowing for freedom of expression) leaves little room for the kind of inspiration inherent in an individual-based educational system.  There is sparse effort to examine what might happen to those who buck the system, but it is clear enough from the implied brainwashing of one of the two students who initially collaborate in resisting, that the system aims to break down and snuff out learning that doesn’t conform to the general order.  A second-season episode of television’s The Twilight Zone, “The Obsolete Man” offered up a scenario where the protester gave up his life to expose the system and the purveyor of its totalitarianism by forcing him to share the same fate.  Germansky’s dystopian premise does evoke Vonnegut and Orwell, but the idea of one bucking the system by not succumbing to the fate of his colleague bears an ideological kinship to Jack Finney’s The Body Snatcher, where all minds were absorbed into communal thinking.  There is a sense of immediacy to the writing- this is not tame criticism but an urgent plea for extensive reform.  Andrew -the anarchic rebel writing his book- is eventually betrayed by his pal Conrad, but not before the dialogue’s trenchant focus is fully exposed.   As Andrew, Rafa Perez gives a powerful and affecting performance as the unyielding idealist, while Damon Trammell as his brainwashed classmate Conrad Warr delivers an intense turn as the student who is eventually worn down by rigid scholastic orthodoxy.  Matt Tracy as the Professor comes off as dehumanized, while Jillian Walters as the Kindergarten teacher who delivers the bookend monologues is skittish and seemingly resigned.  The Answer-Killing Question Buys a Crisis needs few props besides a few chairs, and director Cihangir Duman is wise not to let the basic staging interfere with Germansky’s sharp, accusatory writing.   The play was produced by the esteemed movie scribe and President of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Tim Sika.  This new visionary work deserves an extension in the Big Apple or a second run in another city.  Note:  Broadway Bob, Lucille and I attended the Friday night performance, which commenced at 8:00, running 100 minutes with no break.  The Crown Theater is on the second floor of the Producer’s Club on W. 44th. (more…)

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