CLASSICS: Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Written by: Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, & Peter George (screenplay), Peter George (novel)
Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and Slim Pickens

Stanley Kubrick never made an original movie.  What he did was take works of literary fiction and make them his own, whether it was altering the plot altogether (most prominently in The Shining) or simply telling a story visually.

In the case of the latter, he was one of the most gifted American directors the world has ever known.  Dr. Strangelove may be his greatest film, although Kubrick devotees each have their personal favorite.  However, I’ll ask you to consider what he did with this movie.  He made a comedy, a genre that today seems stuck in visual purgatory, that is just as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears.  Considering Dr. Strangelove has one of the funniest screenplays every written, that is quite an achievement.

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Our (Belated) List of Favorite Movie Directors

1. Martin Scorsese- It may seem unimaginable that nearly three years ago director Martin Scorsese had yet to hold an Academy Award in his hands, but it is the disappointing truth. The once would-be Catholic priest entered the film making world with hits like Boxcar Bertha and Mean Streets which put him at the forefront of New Hollywood with his violent, audience-specific films. Though Francis Ford Coppola felt he was unfit to helm The Godfather: Part III, Scorsese quickly overshadowed Coppola to become an icon of his own, creating films filled with themes related to violence, machismo, Italian-American identity, immigration, Catholicism and New York City. Five decades of classics like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Departed, Scorsese set a style of quick editing, rock and roll soundtrack and frequent collaboration with actors and editors who claim Scorsese to be a living encyclopedia of film history. The film that did it for us: Though he’s created modern epics including a personal favorite, Gangs of New York, Scorsese’s talents are most apparent in Taxi Driver, a film with some of the most carefully constructed technical detail and powerful themes of isolation, violence, sex and how they are related and lead to destruction.

2. Stanley Kubrick– One of the unprecedented visual artists in all of cinema, it’s hard to not love movies when Stanley Kubrick makes them.  His gift for telling a compelling story is aided by those infamous distant shots, able to encompass the idiocy in The War Room (Dr. Strangelove) or gravity-defying in the great beyond (2001: A Space Odyssey).  He never told the same story twice, but each film carries with it his distinct visual flair,  helping him to create some of the most fully realized worlds the movies have ever seen.  Kubrick is one of the biggest influences on American cinema not only because of his artistic genius, though.  His ruthless dedication to his vision of the material led to feuds with his actors and the writers of the source material (both on The Shining.)  Perfectionism is costly, but with it he created many things that are, in fact, perfect.  The film that did it for us: There’s never been a more beautifully filmed comedy than Dr. Strangelove, and there are few as horrific.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: In the Loop

In the Loop
Directed by: Armando Iannucci
Written by: Jesse Armstrong & Simon Blackwell (screenplay)
Starring: Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, Mimi Kennedy, and James Gandolfini

Britain has always been a step ahead of the United States when it comes to comedy.  More recently, Ricky Gervais bestowed The Office upon the U.K., and we made a spinoff show to great success.  We borrow their premises and develop them into our own context, sometimes losing the laughs along the way.

With In the Loop, though, we find a distinctly British sense of humor unleashed upon the idiots that run both their government and ours.  It’s probably unintentional black irony that this blazing, brilliant political satire is in the vein of the distinctly American Dr. Strangelove. That’s the highest praise that could be awarded to satire, and this movie earns it.

With one of the most brilliant, hilarious screenplays in recent memory, director Armando Iannucci crafts a documentary-like comedy about how we got into the mess in the Persian Gulf.  No real names are named.  In fact, some smart creative liberties were taken, and the film is all the better for it.

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