Not Kubrick is a film blog that attempts to tread a fine critical line between the kind of high-minded art cinema that teeters on the all-too-precious precipice of pretension and the multiplex-filling, crowd-pleasing entertainment that is frequently dismissed as that thing called ‘the movies’. Being a wholly subjective critical space, Not Kubrick is primarily guided by a desire to expand the ways in which its readership engages with the moving image. Refusing to distinguish between cinema, film, installation, television series, and so on, this blog seeks to promote a promiscuity of image love. Film, in all of its guises is far too mutable a medium to be the preserve of absurd claims to formal perfection and technical mastery, such as that which can be found in the Film School Churches of Kubrick. Hence the title, as the one thing you will never find in these pages is a desire to deify.
The blog has a number of regular category strands that are briefly explained below, as is the sites review rating system.
NOT KUBRICK REGULAR SECTIONS
1. Weekly Reviews – Reviews from the week’s cinema releases.
2. Great Films – Reviews of films that Not Kubrick considers deserving of the utmost attention, replete with a classic scene breakdown and brief production/reception history.
3. 1,000 Word Stare – Brief thought pieces that seek to look at particular aspects of film aesthetics.
4. Interviews – Long form interviews with filmmakers, actors, cinematographers, industry insiders and festival organisers, among others.
5. Festival Coverage – Concentrated daily reports and reviews from key International Film Festivals.
6. Jump Cuts – Specific coverage of promotional tie-ins, and forthcoming special screenings and Q&As.
7. Essays – Long form explorations of current film theory and how it can be related to contemporary cinema.
8. Exhumed from the Vaults – An advocacy piece that seeks to raise the status of an underappreciated film.
9. Cinema Reports – Reviews and histories of different cinema spaces in the UK & abroad.
10. Annual Lists – End of year lists looking at the Ten Best Films of the Year and The Ten Best Films Seen at the Cinema during the calendar year. There is also a companion article looking at the Film Year in Review.
11. Spotlight on African Cinema – As I am presently working with a festival that focuses upon African cinema then quite a few films from the continent come across my desk. To draw a little more attention to this neglected area of World cinema I will be posting up regular reviews of new films from the continent.
10 : This denotes a film that Not Kubrick considers to be of especial interest either because of the manner in which it utilises the moving image, the way in which it has broken the mould of previous films, or the degree of satisfaction to be had in the story it tells.
Example Films: MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937), THE HAWKS AND THE SPARROWS (1966), JAWS (1975), DISAPPEARANCE AT SEA (1996), TOP OF THE LAKE (2013), THE ISLAND FUNERAL (2015)
9 : Some films are delightfully messy affairs and Not Kubrick tends to love these works all the more ardently. Other films are admirably crafted and well-executed works that do little more than impress, but also do very little wrong. This is the rating for such material.
Example Films: VAMPYR (1932), HOME FROM THE HILL (1960), BLACK ROBE (1991), NOBODY KNOWS (2004), THE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS (2013)
7-8 : The great mass of entertaining, or thought-provoking film will invariably fall within one of these two ratings. These are works of enjoyment and pleasure that somehow contrive to leave a slight aftertaste of disappointment. Or maybe they are films that effectively explore very slender premises and small worlds, but do so with an impressive intensity and vigour. Usually, a film that pulls either a 7 or 8 on Not Kubrick is worth paying to go see at the cinema.
Example Films: TWENTIETH CENTURY (1934), THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1945), ASHES AND DIAMONDS (1958), LE BOUCHER (1970), HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE (1987), ONE FALSE MOVE (1992), RED RIDING: IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1980 (2009), GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)
5-6 : These are the solid, stolid and slightly uninspiring films that may well be worthy of your attention, but deserve a little more caution before however many minutes of your life are devoted to them. In recent years it has become common to valorise rather bland works as great moments of modern auteurism. Not Kubrick tends to try and tack away from the love of the auteur and endeavours to call an average film average.
Example Films: A FAREWELL TO ARMS (1932), FURY (1936), LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961), THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS (1966), STRANGE BREW (1983), DIFRET (2014), ALL ABOUT THEM (2015), MAKING A MURDERER (2015)
3-4 : Do not fall under the impression that films that are found within this rating category are abject. Some of them have real virtues, and a great many more are frequently the source of regular dispute upon their merits. When Not Kubrick awards a film these ratings it merely means that it was of limited interest to these eyes, leaving the possibility open that others will find far more to enjoy or become enthralled with.
Example Films: THE POWER OF THE PRESS (1928), RASHOMON (1950), LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971), JAGGED EDGE (1985), EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES (1993), DOG DAYS (2001), CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY (2009), 360 (2011)
1-2 : These are generally films that Not Kubrick finds it very difficult to like, enjoy, or embrace. Whereas the rating category above actively seeks to court debate and dispute, this present rating category is very much a solidification of the films that simply do not pass muster on any real critical metric. What little of worth is to be found here comes at a high price.
Example Films: GUS VISSER AND HIS SINGING DUCK (1925), THE TRIP (1967), DEMONS (1985), CAMP NOWHERE (1994), REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000), CAFE (2011), GONE GIRL (2014), KATTI BATTI (2015)
DREAD : A Dread rating is indicative of the very worst that the moving image has offered us. These might be works of unchecked hubris on the part of their creators, or, more likely, the umpteenth instalment in a long moribund franchise, fatally flogged to death. If there is little to recommend in a 1 or 2 rated film then the levels of abjection attained here should make the work toxic, without actually making it glisten with contrarian glamour.
Example Films: CARMEN (1985), JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987), DANIEL THE WIZARD (2004), THE EXPLODING GIRL (2009), IT’S A PERFECT NIGHT FOR SUICIDE (2009), THE GALLOWS (2015)