to say, first off, that I’m a daily CHUD reader and you’re all doing a great
job. The dry sense of humour is fantastic, and the combination of news and
opinion is fascinating. My personal highlight of recent times was the
multi-barreled execution of Rob Zombie’s Halloween – I have never seen
such a consistent and sustained assault on a movie from just one source, and
the essays echoed a lot of feelings I have about horror remakes in general. I
can only imagine how thrilled you all were its subsequent US chart placing.
Thank you for today’s round-up of views on The Shining. Like you, I love
the film, and am a big Kubrick fan – even though I’m still not sure what to
make of his swansong.
I just wanted to venture my own idea of the film – one that taps into King’s
stubborn distaste for the adaptation.
Broadly, the trouble with King is that he seems to desire film versions of his
books where the directors have attempted to see scenes and characters squarely
from his point of view, to the point where those filmmakers become,
essentially, conduits for a pre-conceived authorial vision. So he will support
the Reiner-Darabont, ‘classic narrative’ approach over anything more
distinctively stylish (DePalma excepted).
Kubrick’s film is as stylised as any Tim Burton effort – but whereas Burton
sees everything through a veil of Gothic expressionism, Kubrick has this knack
of lending grandeur to otherwise ordinary locations while reducing adapted
stories down to bare essentials.
King is on record as saying that his book was an unintentional psychological
self-portrait from his dark years as an ‘overnight’ success in the throes of
I’m pretty sure that Kubrick wouldn’t have been aware of this when he set out
to adapt the book – but I think he bent the story to suit exactly the same
The movie was made at a time when critics and commentators were starting to
notice the ever-widening gaps between Kubrick’s release dates, and the
production of the film itself was where the director’s readily established
perfectionism and control-freakery somehow consolidated themselves and – in the
eyes of the actor-biased gossip press – ballooned to demonic proportions.
Kubrick never missed a trick, and I think he was trying as hard as possible to
stoke this image during the shoot, in order to make a movie that would finally
set that reputation in stone.
For me, it is impossible to separate the lank-haired Jack Nicholson of the
film, staring wildly through dark-ringed eyes at the camera, from the
lank-haired Stanley Kubrick of the publicity shots, staring wildly through dark-ringed
eyes at his actors. They are, to this viewer, the same person. Whether he knew
it or not, Nicholson was thoroughly instrumentalised as an extension of his
The overarching theme of the film is creative frustration, imaginative gridlock,
and a distrust of any conservative institution that holds back artistic
exuberance (in this case, a family embodies an industry). This was coming from
a director who was taking longer to decide upon his projects; longer in
development, where grinding through every script draft must have seemed to him
like a dry typing test (all work; no play – Stan must’ve felt like a dull
boy…); and longer on set fulfilling his vision. For such a committed artist,
this predicament of continued obsession without continuous results surely posed
enough horrors without resorting to many of King’s quainter devices, such as
The Shining on film is as true to Stanley Kubrick as The Shining
in print is to Stephen King. Only trouble is, the two men are utterly different
artistic species – and Kubrick only ever saw the book as a means to an end.
As for King’s assertion that the film isn’t scary, I think what he means by
scary is Edits That Make You Jump – and any old hack can do that. The greater
victory of Kubrick’s film is to disturb. It gets under one’s skin, and
stays there, refrigerating it long after the closing credits. It’s quite
forensic and Cronenbergian in that way – much in the manner of Dead Ringers,
The final shot of The Shining was influenced by Michael Snow’s 1967 art film
Wavelength – a 45-min zoom across an apartment onto a still photograph,
commenting on cinema’s relationship to time. In Kubrick’s version, he imagines
his protagonist trapped in an idealised era like a butterfly pressed under
glass… the black and white shot – as rich with nostalgia as stills from a
Thirties Hollywood premiere – delivering the stark message: ‘You may
romanticise me; you may celebrate me – but you’ll never know the shit I had to
go through in my head to get here. And this afterlife you see before you is
only in your heads: when your time comes, it really will all be over.’
That’s not just scary. It’s downright frightening – because there’s nothing we
can do about it.
Thank you for reading this.
Nick Replies: Nice stuff, man! We tend to have some very fucking sharp readers and you’re proof of that. It’s funny, the response to day one of the Kubrick thing was pretty positive and I think sometimes it’s better to just pull back and discuss films a little more free-form. Who the heck needed another review of Stanley’s works, just jerking him off? and trying to be scholarly? I like the more personal and global nature of the way this thing’s shaping out and if more folks like you pipe up, I’ll be able to fill this letters column with some fancy shit!
For fuck’s sake… I’ve waited about a week for some one
at CHUD to review this box set and today it comes… To nothing. What the hell? I (and I don’t think that I’m alone here)
need to here why The Shining, or any Kubrick film is good, bad, or otherwise
anymore. Tell me about the fucking
discs! It’s a DVD review, so review the
Look, normally I like you and your staff’s reminiscing
and or pontificating and such, but not like this. This review should be a service in that, you
being provided with a copy of the set to review, should actually review it and
not just talk about the fucking movie for 5000 words.
Nick Replies: You’re the only person who piped up in this regard, though I’m sure there are more like you out there. Bottom line is that a collection like this deserves a nice retrospective rather than a long review filled with regurgitated stuff we’ve all read. "OMG, I turn Full Metal jacket soooooooooooo off once CSI kills that guy from The Frighteners! It’s so lame!". The specs and special features are listed all over the place and the web is not bereft of Kubrickian ponderings. I just felt it’d be better to allow the entire staff a chance to be involved. Is that so wrong?
You guys seem to
announce a new one every couple of days without ever posting who won/if any of
the other ones have been completed.
I entered the Rocky and Bullwinkle contest back in June and it’s now November
with still no word of who (if anyone) took home the coveted desirables.
So to close, does anyone ever actually win these things???
Nick Replies: Yes, and my monthly bill from the Soho Hero is proof of such. It’s a lot of work to juggle the content and the contests and the screenings and the daily task of requesting DVDs for the reviewers and then sending the DVD’s out. Way too much of my time is spent stuffing bubble mailers and filling out address slips. It’s too much to compile all the stuff from the contests I run, the ones Eileen runs, and whatever ones are being run by the other folks. Sometimes we’ll email the winners [with the big contests like the Angel Box, which just got sent out to Ken Young in Tampa, we tend to do so] and sometimes they’re notified by a prize showing up in their house [contests with 10+ winners tend to get that treatment].
Why do you have to whittle down the
podcasts. Like this new one from 3 to 1 hour. I would pay to hear the
parts you cut out. The shows have caused me to be seen as an idiot at
work as I uncontrollably laugh out loud when no one else can hear what’s going
on. My only hope is that you make them more often and release some of the
cut out brilliance. Please make fun of my letter. I mean….Pleese MacK
phun ov mai Ledder. And Pute morr Devon onn.
Nick Replies: I never cut brilliance out. I cut out dogshit. There’s a lot of dogshit. What I don’t cut out is far from brilliance but it’s the best we have. Personally, I don’t like long silences on an audio show, nor do I like discussions that either aren’t funny or aren’t informative. We’re rarely informative, but we make each other laugh a lot and that’s the shit I focus on. Believe me, after enduring 3 hours of bad CHUD Podcast, you’ll be an ex-subscriber and that’d hurt my softness in ways I care not think about.
Range is in some ways actually a better western than Dances with
Wolves in my mind."
That, good sir, is because you are not an idiot. Open Range is criminally under
seen and under appreciated. The atmosphere of the film is thick as molasses,
the acting is pitch perfect on almost every front and Robert Duvall says
"It sticks in my craw." The final, sprawling shoot out sequence is
one of the best action set pieces in the last ten years and Charlie Wade is one
of the Baddest Mofos in film.
What did Dances with Wolves give us? Animatronic buffalo created by the
guitarist from Tool? I’d rather listen to Aenima, thank you.
I love the site and check it out daily, so keep up the great work.
PS I sent this email in part cause that email from this missus you posted was
kind of sad. You want a Leak Letter? You got one.
Nick Replies: Dances with Wolves is a terrific movie, don’t get me wrong. I just think, as do you, that Open Range is so badass and underappreciated that folks need to be reminded time and time again.
I only recently discovered your site and am now glued to
it. But in particular, lately I’ve
become hooked on the CHUD show podcast.
When is the next one coming out?
I hope it’s soon.
And I’m not sure who does the "call-in fan"
character [i’m bad with names] but that guy’s fucking hysterical.
Keep it up.
Nick Replies: That’d be Justin. Wait, was that a spoiler? Spoiler (Swipe to Read:That’d be Justin). The next podcast will be recorded sometime in the middle of next week, and for a change we’ll actually have some great movies to talk about. Like Klute. Stay tuned and thanks for listening!
Who the FUCK are you??. You’d think
in a society as advanced as ours Heterosexual Australopithecine like yourself
would be extinct by now.!!
every so often as we the
intellectual non-stunted minded Omnisexual all-loving setientkind of
this world surf the net we find primative brained cretins like CHUD; spouting
B.S. as they see fit. Cause we loving folk to wish we were still hateful enough
to pick up a tire IRON and go around face smashin’ ugly fucks like CHUD.!!!!!!!
Have a Great day
P.S. Sorry if I’ve caused you
need to drag out that ole
dictionary holdin’ up one corner of your round DOG Fighting ring.!!!!!
Nick Replies: After a few email volleys I discovered that this chap was actually sending this hate bomb in response to Devin’s Who the Fuck is Zac Efron article, which made the hate mail precicely 434 times creepier. I mean, I think this is an adult MALE, who must have been Googling the words "fuck" and "Zac Efron" and found the article. I think he definitely pegged the site’s creative interests by suggesting we have a dog fighting ring [I just had not one but TWO trips to the E.R. with my new puppy and cannot stand the sight of blood or stitches on the lil’ gal] as well as our desire to be hit with a tire iron. Sir, adjust your priorities… unless you ARE Zac Efron and if that is the case… buy a few fucking consonants.
Many a people here in
America, and across the globe, are big fans of the show Seinfeld. While I am
not one of these fans, I do enjoy watching the show, It’s Always Funny in
Philadelphia. Sunny has always been referred to, in the promos, as Seinfeld on
crack. Would you agree with this, if you have indeed watched It’s Always Sunny?
It’s not the most perplexing thing in the entire world, but whenever I’ve
talked to people about Seinfeld and how I’m not a big fan, I sometimes say I am
technically because of the promos for It’s Always Sunny. I dunno…. I just
want your opinion if you care to give one.
By the way, keep up the good work for the site, and I look forward to seeing
more information on Meg. I haven’t been able to get to a computer in a while,
so it’s just been nice being able to sit down and go through CHUD and read all
of the great articles you guys have written. Take care.
Nick Replies: I’ve never watched the show, but I must admit that I was put off by the promos for it. I’m not a Seinfeld guy, though I admire what it did and find some of the stuff solid. I tend to skip comedy on television unless it’s really special like Arrested Development or The Office or 30 Rock or BBC’s Holocaust Survivor’s Series. Maybe some day.
As for MEG… Um, let’s see…
I don’t really have much to say about that one these days. I have high hopes for it. Things are evolving in regards to it, and time will tell. It’s a slam dunk of a summer movie and the reasons its not already in theaters range from asinine to bone-headed to just plain foolhardy. I’m focused on some other projects right now. One of which I think you’ll be reading about in Variety in the coming weeks. Something truly special and magical and beautiful. Anyhow, I hope one day to have some great giant shark related news but right now I’ll just remain mum and nurse my emotional wounds from that one.