Is It Any Good?

The Los Angeles County Musuem of Art doing what it does best, melding Art and Hollywood together.

Given the fact that I’m a Film guy, you’d think I’d be totally, totally into Stanley Kubrick. But you’d be wrong. You might think I hate him…but you’d be wrong there too.

I like some Kubrick works, particularly from his black and white days. I liked Dr. Strangelove well enough, even though it was…you know…strange. I tolerated 2001: A Space Odyssey, mostly for the way it looked. (I’m about to commit a major cinematic sin by confessing publicly that I liked 2010 better.) I liked The Shining and Full Metal Jacket. I dearly loved Spartacus, even though I have since learned that he was brought on at the last moment, and he had the least control over that movie than he did over any in his career. I flat out hated A Clockwork Orange…and A.I. (Dear Lord, I hated A.I.  Yeah, it’s more Spielberg than Kubrick, but I still blame Kubrick) Didn’t much love Eyes Wide Shut, and I never wanted to bother with Barry Lyndon or Lolita.

Wow, that doesn’t leave much does it?

Basically, I admired the craft…but not the movies themselves. He kinda left me cold on a lot of them. The movies were very precise…too precise in fact. There wasn’t a rough edge on them (which is not a compliment).

Which brings us to LACMA’s Latest offering: Stanley Kubrick.

Does Stanley Kurbrick deserve to have his own Exhibition?


Click on the picture to visit our Stanley Kubrick Photo Gallery!

Hell, yes. I think he’s overrated as hell, but even I know and respect his place in film history.

If you wander LACMA, or any of the top flight Art Museums in Los Angeles, you might notice something a bit lacking. That something isn’t quite right about their collections. Instead of having a whole building devoted to Impressionists, they might only have a room…for example. All I’m saying is LACMA doesn’t always get the best of the best of the classic art world. The one thing we can get is the best of the best of the Film world, which is after all based right where we’re standing.

The Kubrick Exhibit follows up another stab at Hollywood Glory, an exhibition of Tim Burton’s works. Like Kubrick, I’m not a huge fan of Burton. Unlike the Burton exhibit, the Kubrick one actually managed to change my mind about the man…if only a little. The Burton exhibit just kind of splashed his work out there, and left me a bit hanging. I felt the Kubrick exhibit was more tied together. Each room led to a specific film. There were generous details about his life which…while there for the Burton exhibit, weren’t as detailed or as fascinating. The Stanley Kubrick Exhibit changed my mind.

Tip number for Museum Curators, start with the assumption that your visitor either knows nothing about your subject or even has a bit of hostility toward the subject. (I know, they do this anyway. I’m just being a bit of a jerk here). The thing that the Kubrick exhibit did  was shed some light on his humble origins. Showing the one photograph that made a difference in his career, and led him to Look Magazine. (For the record, LACMA made Burton seem like a child prodigy from jump, and since I’ve never been convinced of that, it was a hard sell from then on.)

There was also more behind the scenes of Kubrick’s process. More storyboards, more script pages. Heck, there was more lenses on displays, as well as an old camera. Also, since Kurbrick didn’t design every damn thing himself, the collection didn’t get old fast. (There are only so many black and white drawings with extreme splashes of red you can look at in a sitting, LACMA).

The big difference? My Dad was into it. And my Dad isn’t into film at all, and he really liked the exhibit. (I don’t use Dad often as a barometer, so trust me…this really had an impact on my thinking.)

The only criticism (and this may be beyond LACMA’s control to change), they needed to sell the movies. I don’t know what gives, but I was primed and ready to buy me a copy of Paths of Glory at the museum shop, and it wasn’t to be found. Heavy sigh. But the Exhibit caused me to go out in search of it, and…what do you know, I have another Kubrick film that I really like.

Of course, it’s one of his Black and Whites.

Yeah, like you’re surprised.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: No real notes of caution, other than the fact that the Exhibit is free, but be sure to get your tickets as early as possible.

The exhibit is in the Art of the Americas Building, Level 2, and it runs from November 1, 2012–June 30, 2013.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90036
(323) 857-6000

Mon-Tue, Thu: 12–8pm
Wed: Closed
Fri: 12–9pm
Sat-Sun: 11am–8pm