I’m a movie guy. For me, cinema is the ultimate archive of humanity’s last gasp…an archive and a mirror, reflecting back to us our best and worst qualities, impulses, desires and proclivities. On a personal level, the films I’ve seen throughout my life are like mileposts, each movie has a connected memory attached to it; the small story of how I came to watch it, what ways it affected me and where I was at that point in time (physically and mentally). For the next 365 days, I am committing myself to see – at least – one film a day, which I will not only review but also diarize my associated thoughts. Why do I choose the movies that I do? How did I feel when I made the selection? Was some sort of anxiety gnawing at my chest? Did I just ingest a poisonous tuna melt from the unreliable diner down my block?
Here are the rules – there are no rules, journalistic or otherwise. The genre/era of film is of no consequence…only the reason why I picked it. It can be something I see in the theatre, but more likely it’ll be a streaming deal. I don’t have cable…so probably a flick off YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, or iTunes.
It’s a grand experiment, to be sure. At the end, I hope to gain some insight into how our daily lives influence the reasons we watch the movies we do, and in turn, how the movies we watch influence our daily lives. I think I’ll call it…shit what do I call it? Daily Movie? Nah…too mundane. My Movie Year? Nope…too…something. Living With Movies? Sounds like I’ve got a disease. Hmmm…how about, 365: A Cinematic Sojourn? Now, that has a bit of class – and alliteration. I think I’ll go with that…for the time being anyway.
27 June 2017
I’ve got a day job. It involves a fair amount of writing, but a great deal of it is administrative. To tell you the truth, sometimes I feel like a glorified assistant. I’m ok with it. After all, Harvey Pekar was a clerk at a hospital…Bukowski worked at the post office sorting letters…and Herman Melville was a ticket taker. It can wear me out though, some days, the assault on my ego. It’s just not the sort of life I ever envisioned for myself. I guess my aspirations were too lofty or maybe I was too cautious. Most people just never catch their stars. I dunno. Anyway, home now…it’s late and I need a movie. I read an article about this documentary on director Stanley Kubrick’s personal driver. Apparently, he actually wound up being his all-around guy Friday. I’m always interested in the life of a fellow shnook, so I’m totally in. Ok…found it on Netflix…here we go – I’ll see you on the other side.
Review: S Is for Stanley (2015)
Well, it was basically as advertised – a film about Stanley Kubrick’s assistant, an Italian ex-pat named Emilio D’Allessandro. He’s a likable enough fellow, with an easy going demeanor. Always a hard worker, Emilio immigrated to the UK in search of a decent wage, and wound up working as a cabbie. He married an English lass and had a son. To earn more pay, he also got into race car driving, but became dissatisfied. One snowy night, he took a gig transporting a movie prop. He was the only one who would brave the icy roads. It turned out to be the giant white phallus from A Clockwork Orange, which he delivered to Stanley intact. The director was so impressed, he offered him a fulltime job as his chauffeur and thus began an association that would last over thirty years and the course of five movies — A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut.
Documentarian Alex Infascelli tells the story in a deliberate manner, which at times dragged to the point of plodding. Still, I found it quite watchable, if not terribly entertaining. Stanley, as it turns out, was a pretty demanding boss, expecting Emillio to be at his beck and call 24/7. Ultimately, he came to rely on the diminutive Italian to take care of every mundane detail of his existence – professionally and otherwise. Aside from his driving duties, the poor guy was tasked with taking care of the director’s relentless day to day minutiae…from playing handyman to whatever needed fixing to picking up the guy’s groceries. It ultimately became an intimate relationship, about as intimate as these types of relationships get, I suppose. Along the way, they were both there for each other in times of emergency and rejoice. After decades of faithful service, Emilio wanted to move back home to Italy to spend the remaining time he had left with his parents. Stanley wasn’t pleased, and passive aggressively delayed his return. Sadly, Emilio’s father died before he could make it back.
I think the film well-conveys the intimacy that grew between the two men, and generally grows between employer and employee after long periods of time. You get the sense that the men loved one another, despite the lack of parity in their stations. They facilitated each other’s work, however, and after so many years together, they became inexorably intertwined in each other’s lives. What I found most interesting about the picture was how similar they both were in how they approached their respective jobs. They both possessed an indomitable attention to detail and a tireless work ethic. Emilio eventually archived Kubrick’s massive collection of movie ephemera and related paperwork. A truly impressive undertaking.
Final Verdict: Not a terribly uplifting film. As a fellow shnook, I saw myself in Emilio and the way he oftentimes got taken advantage of. Still and all, the man did get to witness the creation of some of the greatest masterpieces ever printed to celluloid, though he says he only got to appreciate them after he retired as he was too busy during the filming.
How I feel: A bit depressed. I’m Emilio without the perks of working for a genius. What will eventually come of me, I wonder? I started out wanting to write books, important books that would impact people’s lives. Instead, I made what I believed was the responsible choice: to forsake my natural instinct to create and trade in my aspirations for the false prospect of security. What I didn’t understand was, I had merely exchanged one pipe dream for another. Life can be so funny sometimes.