More year-end thoughts from fellow Imagination Connoisseurs as they talk about the things they love (including vintage Dr. Who) and how much they hated 2020.
This Imagination Connoisseur has a bad case of the Kubrick’s.
Tail end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 I’m in Kubrick obsession mode. It started with a book that was given to me as a gift for Christmas: “Stanley Kubrick and Me: Thirty Years at His Side” by his driver/former assistant – Emilio D’Alessandro.
I started reading the book early morning on Monday, December 28th and completed reading it by 4:00 am on Wednesday, December 30th. Even though, I was around family for seventy percent of that time – I would go and find any opportunity to escape and read this magnificent book.
The reason it is so good?
Well, for starters – without spoiling it – you Rob, would love the beginning – I won’t give it away. Another portion of the book that is so awesome is when Emilio tells Kubrick what he thought of his films and Kubrick’s reaction is such a surprise.
Through the book – we kind of get to know Emilio, who was a Formula One driver before working for Kubrick. He took the job to support his family, but if you know what happened with another assistant of Kubrick, Leon Vitali, Emilio spent a majority of his life working for Kubrick night and day. It was to the point that he had threatened to quit due to lack of time with his own family, I think he tried 3 or 4 times – I’ve lost count, but by the time he was fifty – he put in three years notice to Kubrick and even though he retired from working for Kubrick almost four years after giving notice – Kubrick still wasn’t convinced he was going to quit.
Now this is where it gets really interesting.
Emilio only saw one film of Kubrick’s before working for him: Dr. Strangelove and he really didn’t care for it. Emilio was a fan of westerns and told Kubrick the moment he would make a western he would be in front of the line. Ironically Kubrick was kicked off a western with Brando – but people forget about this.
Anyways, it wasn’t until Emilio returned to Italy did he realize the impact of Kubrick on the world of cinema. Italians were in awe of Emilio spending so much time with Kubrick to the point that Emilio finally watched Kubrick’s films. Roughly two years out of retirement did Emilio go back and work and for Kubrick which would turn out to be Kubrick’s last film: Eyes Wide Shut.
Now, from a Kubrick film fan this period is when it gets really interesting because Emilio reflects on aspects of the film people may’ve been curious about, plus you learn that Tom Cruise was really a nice and genuine guy as was Nicole. Other than that, you realize Kubrick had such a heart that by the time he passes away in the pages of this book – I started to cry even though, I didn’t know the man and it’s been nearly 22 years since his death – you feel the emotion while reading this book.
Part of the heartbreaking aspect to Kubrick’s life or the media portrayal of him is due to how they manipulated his image of being a perfectionist jerk who was a hermit unless making a film and turned Shelly Duvall crazy. I remember as a teenager buying into this image of the man and at times not wanting to see his films due the media portrayal. Or thinking that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were nuts to work with a man that was such a tyrant to work for.
Books like Emilio’s destroy this image that the media set up and it is due to this; that I would love for this book to be adapted.
I’m convinced this book could be made into a limited series on Netflix – would anyone else see that interest? Who knows, but it truly is a remarkable book and as a result of wanting to learn more – now I’m watching documentaries on Kubrick on YouTube and strongly considering buying the Criterion Collection Blu Ray of Barry Lyndon – even though I already have the WB Blu Ray.
I’m really interested to buy the Criterion version due to the extra features – we’ll see.
Anyways, Rob, I know you’re a fan of Kubrick and thought I would talk about this book so others in the Post Geek Singularity that might be fans can seek out this book and love Kubrick even more by the time you get to the last page.
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Nobody puts DIRTY DANCING in the corner.
Oh no. It isn’t over.
During the PGS New Year’s eve zoom party, a little film debate cropped up. I wasn’t expecting it, it was not about Star Wars, Star Trek or any comic book movie. It was about, of all things, Dirty Dancing. Dirty Dancing!
Specifically how people were taken out of the 1987 crowd pleasing classic due to its inclusion of hit contemporary 80s pop songs. I was puzzled for a moment. What are they talking about?
They couldn’t possibly mean the three original songs in the film? Yeah. That’s what they meant. The problem, it seems is that the movie was set in 1963, thus songs from the 1987 brings less verisimilitude. I thought it over for a minute, and, well, no. I can’t let it pass. Those are fightin’ words. I’m gonna have to say something.
I made a point that original songs in a movie that are played for visual atmosphere and reflect a character’s point of view, specifically Patrick Swayze’s “She’s Like The Wind” could be excused for that reason. It sums up to what Johnny Castle may be thinking. If Dirty Dancing were a true musical, the actor would have sung it on camera. Also, the songs aren’t ‘hits’ of the 80s previous to the film. They became hits after the film’s release.
I wondered if anyone was taken out of 1978’s “Grease” when Olivia Newton John sang “Hopelessly Devoted To You” after all, that was an original song for the film, and thus was a contemporary song for the 70s. The song didn’t come from the 50s.
But then the subject seemed to change at the Zoom party just as I was just getting started. There’s a lot more defending to do. I was hoping it would continue – a film debate amongst the imagination connoisseurs is always welcome I think. It could be a major point of contention, or a minor nitpick. It doesn’t matter. A gauntlet has been thrown down, and I must continue. I am far from done.
First, I’ll give a little leeway here. “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen is played in a montage, and while I’ll concede a little that the filmmakers could have used another song from the actual era, it never really bothered me. I suppose by that time in the 80s, I was used to the practice of filmmakers putting in songs, new and old, over scenes where there is no radio present. It’s also possible that we don’t know the time in which Frances is sharing her memories with the audience, as the opening narration reflects. Maybe a ‘recent’ song captures the mood better, maybe not. It worked for me though. “Hungry Eyes” feels the most ‘80s’ like of the four original songs in Dirty Dancing, with Merry Clayton’s “Yes” being a close second.
“Yes” isn’t a problem, as that song plays out in the closing credits. And of course, Merry Clayton started her recording career in the early 60s.
Now as for the Oscar winning song now recycled for tropical vacation resorts. “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” isn’t a problem because by the time it shows up in the film it is:
* the film’s climax where all story lines are tied up.
* Johnny gets to do his last dance of the season.
*A bad kid’s scandal is brought to light,
*A man admits when he was wrong and is still proud of his daughter,
* Baby gets the dance correct.
And THAT moment when she’s lifted? C’mon folks. A smile went on my face back in 87 and every year since.
Of course, the song is co-sung by Bill Medley of Righteous Brothers fame. So, in this “reality” the song itself is a new song from the 60s in this context. (We know it must be new, as Kellerman asks bandleader Tito if they have ‘sheet music’ for this [song])
The song, in this context, never took me out of the film. I’ll go far as to say by this time if you are ‘with’ the film and the characters, the song is great. It just makes you feel good, y’know?
What’s wrong with that?
Lackin’verisimilitude…? Not here.
Too Legit To Quit,
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That one time, at the school library …
Listening to your episode you told a story about a book being taken off you at school.
When I was in year 5 which I think is grade 4 in America. I started reading the wolf of Wall Street.
However it was at this time I would be taken out of class every week to read to my teacher. I opened my book and started reading out loud. if you’ve read the book or watched the film you’ll remember the bit where Jordan finds out about his butler have a massive gay orgy in his house. Well unfortunately for me that was the bit I read that day.
Well, 2 hours later, after being shouted at for having an inappropriate book in school, I was suspended for the rest of the week for me to think over what I had done. Even though I thought I was completely mature enough to read about this in a book. My parents also were fine with it. Even going as far as giving me the book to read.
I still to this day do not understand what was going through the heads of my school teachers.
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When it comes to a year-end wrap up show, DEATH TO 2020 killed it.
Hi Rob and to the Post Geek Singularity. First of all, I want to say that I enjoyed your episode of Fully Articulated with Justin and Az. It was fun watching it all throughout. I’m not a Hot Toy collector since I’m more of a Funko Pop collector, but I still relate to you guys. I mean whenever Funko releases a new figure of a character that I love, I always say “I gotta have that” and then click add to cart and my bank account drains. But I’m looking forward for more of your toy discussions because I am just enjoying it.
Anyways, in this letter, I am discussing the Netflix comedy special “Death to 2020” which you also tweeted and said that it’s hilarious. I agree with you on that, Rob. I’m actually surprised when the reviews came in and it wasn’t as positive as I thought it was. I watched the special hours after it was released and I enjoyed it a lot.
I thought it was a hilarious mockumentary that really did a clever job on doing commentary about how shitty 2020 was as they recall all the major events around the world. Also, they didn’t take any sides. I was laughing all throughout. I also love the ensemble that they assembled.
Samuel L. Jackson was great as the New Yorkerly News reporter especially when he discussed the Black Lives Matter. Hugh Grant was so funny as the historian who would mistaken the events of Game of Thrones and Return of the Jedi as part of history. Lisa Kudrow nailed the parody of a conservative spokesperson.
Tracey Ullman as Queen Elizabeth II was chef’s kiss. Cristin Milioti was hilarious as a soccer mom who is basically the embodiment of a Karen. But the one who stole the special for me is Diane Morgan, who played average citizen Gemma. I thought she has the funniest talking heads. I just love the ensemble here. Every single one of them was great.
Anyways, thank you for reading this letter. I’m just glad that you also enjoyed “Death to 2020.” I thought Charlie Brooker nailed it and I love their bit at the end when they were kinda predicting the events of 2021. Stay safe and live long and prosper.
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An Imagination Connoisseur rewinds his 2020 viewing and learns something about the value of storytelling in the process.
Hello Rob, I hope you and everyone are doing well. It has been quite a while since my last letter to you, I was hoping to write more frequently but 2020 had other ideas for me. Anyway as we enter a new (and hopefully brighter) year I thought I would discuss with you some of the shows and movies I’ve watched in 2020.
Star Trek: Picard, Discovery and Lower Decks have been utter garbage. Picard was an utter betrayal of the character Captain Picard just as much as The Last Jedi was a betrayal of Luke Skywalker. Lower Decks was lowest common denominator comedy at its best and insufferable trash at worse. Discovery…….. well I stopped giving a shit about Discovery after they turned the Guardian of Forever into Doctor fucking Who!
Speaking of Doctor Who, series 12 and the holiday special “Revolution of the Daleks” have been the straw that broke this camel’s back. I am done watching any new Doctor Who until Chris Chibnall is no longer show runner and Jodie Whittaker is no longer the Doctor. Chris Chibnall’s stories are either mediocre affairs or bloated and convoluting stories that upend the last 58 years of established canon and Jodie’s performance as the Doctor is so generic that I’ve taken to calling her “the Placeholder Doctor” as she’s the type of Doctor that writers use when writing scripts for a new Doctor before the role is given to an actor.
Yes Steven Moffat’s last years as show runner was bad but at least Peter Capaldi was brilliant, fun and entertaining to watch as the Doctor. So until the Doctor and writing team get regenerated I’m sticking with classic Who which I can watch on Britbox, a streaming service that has all of Doctor Who on it and a bunch of BBC and ITV shows on it.
The only movies I got to see in the cinema this year were Tenet and Wonder Woman 84. Fortunately I live in Western Australia and we’ve avoided the worse of Covid so I could see those movies with not trouble with my girlfriend.
I thoroughly enjoyed Tenet even if the dialogue was hard to hear and I loved watching Wonder Woman 84 despite agreeing with you about its many, many, MANY problems. Let’s just say that after the shitshow that was 2020 I needed some much needed reality bending insanity and WW84 had that in droves.
Trust me Rob when I say that I quite enjoyed staying in “movie world 1984” for two and a half hours out of the 365 hellish days of 2020. Also while my girlfriend and I waited for Wonder Woman 84 to begin the trailer for Dune played and I’m so glad that Warner Brothers is keeping it a theatrical run only. seeing that trailer on the silver screen was simply sublime! This is definitely a movie that needs to be seen on the big screen without question.
My girlfriend and I also watched The Mandalorian season 2 and it was a vast improvement over season 1 for me and I loved it, especially Luke’s grand return since 1983.
Speaking of my girlfriend I showed her my top 3 Classic Doctor Who stories “Genesis of the Daleks”, “Earthshock” and “The Caves of Androzani” and the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” and she loved them all. She wasn’t bothered at all by the look of the effects or their apparent cheapness, which goes to prove that you don’t need a 100 million dollar budget to tell a good sci-fi story, you need good writing skills which neither writing teams of modern Who and Trek have.
As you have said many time Rob these jackanapes need to pick up some literary science fiction and take some notes on how to write science fiction.
Well I best wrap this letter up now before I waffle on further, once again I thank you Rob for putting out such great content in 2020 it was a much needed bastion from the madness that surrounds us. I will endeavour to write to you again in the upcoming weeks once I’ve gotten a internet connection back (long story short, I’m moving house in a few days time as of writing this), if you want I can send in reviews of Classic Doctor Who episodes now that I have them all easily accessible. Until then I look forward to watching more Robservations.
Live long and Prosper,
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