Saturday, October 18, 2008

There's a bit of tarnish on THE SHINING

I just finished watching THE SHINING for the first time since childhood, and I came to the startling conclusion that it really did not hold up well over time. In fact, I found it shockingly boring and drawn out.

Let's back up a bit. My fiancee told me that we have to attend a wedding tomorrow up in the mountains at a lodge that reminds her co-workers of The Overlook Hotel, which is actually Timberline Lodge (but you can look that up on Wikipedia on your own). Anyway, I asked if she'd ever seen THE SHINING, and she admitted that it was one that slipped by her.

So I tracked it down, and we watched it. Now, as the film was starting, my memories of watching this movie when I was 6 or 7 came flooding back (the 2 scary dead/not dead little girls in the hallway, the naked lady who gets scabby in the bathroom, poor Scatman Crothers getting hacked up by the concierge, and Jack Nicholson's frozen face at the end). I was thinking about those moments and the fact that EVERYONE seems to consider this a horror classic, so I settled in for a good chill-ride down memory lane.

However, I found myself becoming bored very quickly. Sure, the cinematography was top-notch, and the scenery was stunning...but that was about it. The dialogue was very choppy and uneventful, and Crothers round-about explanation of what "shining" actually entailed and how it related to Danny/Tony didn't really make a lot of sense. People (MANY PEOPLE) credit Stanely Kubrick as some kind of filmmaking prophet, but I really didn't get that from this movie. In fact, the only parts of the movie I actually enjoyed were the aforementioned ones held over from my childhood.

I began thinking of the things that led to my dissatisfaction with the film. First, I started with Stephen King. I loathe the man's books, but once in a while (CARRIE, CHRISTINE, and dare I say it, THE MIST), movies based on his work have an understated, if not cheese-filled charm that make for a pleasant diversion. Then again, since THE SHINING was only loosely based on his book of the same name, I chucked that notion out the window.

Then I moved on to the acting. Of course, you can't fault Nicholson. The guy could be cast in a live-action SMURFS movie and make it convincing (at least his role, anyway). Scatman? Come on, the guy voiced Jazz in the old TRANSFORMERS cartoons. How about Ms. Shelley Duvall? Well, I did enjoy her hopelessly ditzy Olive Oyl in POPEYE (yes, hanging my head, I liked that movie...which probably tells you a little bit about my often easily amused taste). However, I just didn't find her convincing as a weak-willed, yes-man of a housewife. I dunno, her bug-eyes made me think she was more nuts than Nicholson, despite his ski-slope eyebrows and teeth-gnashing.

Okay, so we have one thing that reeked of obnoxious. Also, believe it or not, Kubrick's direction really didn't sit well with me. I know he was trying to push the feeling of isolation and being alone too long with one's thoughts, but everytime they showed Danny barreling down those hallways on his big wheel, I couldn't help but imagine how fun that would have been. Hell, I would have taken it a step further and used the staircases as toboggan ramps, a la GREYSTOKE. Also, Kubrick must have either been short on budget or really wanted you not to forget certain things, because his incessant reuse of several shots -- over and over again -- really started to grate on my nerves. The movie was slow enough as it was; I didn't need another excuse to go grab another beverage (I was drinking hot chocolate, mind you, nothing more).

Ultimately, I was left wondering how I even had the attention span to sit through this same movie during my childhood. I must've either been bolted to a chair, or I wasn't paying close attention to the tv. I'm sure that another 20 years down the line, my memory will abbreviate the film once again back to those fleeting moments. Either that, or I will remember drooling from this viewing.


Eraina said...

"I just finished watching THE SHINING for the first time since childhood, and I came to the startling conclusion that it really did not hold up well over time. In fact, I found it shockingly boring and drawn out."

You've gotta be kidding me! There's an elegance to it that is unmistakable...a slow unraveling...both literally and figuratively!

Of course, I have to admit that I haven't seen it in a really long time...
Who knows, if I watched it today, I might agree with you 100%!

(You've gotta admit, the book with "All work and no play..." is one of the coolest props ever and the tension in that moment is palpable...)

Bitch Balls said...

I think there are two different ways to look at a movie: judge it in comparison with the films of its time, and also, of course, how it holds up over time. The former can tell you much about the relative genius of the filmmaker. The latter lens is a much harsher, however. In my mind, it's very rare that a film actually does hold up over time, (Empire Strikes Back, I'm talking to you!) which should make it that much more of a masterpiece.

Anywho, if it weren't for Jack and Stanley, we wouldn't have "No beer and no TV make Homer something something"
"Go Crazy?"
"Don't mind if I do!"

You should post this review on, too, dude.

terriamachine said...

Dude, as if you don't have enough thoughtscapes gallivanting about on the web, now you have a blog! Your ambition puts me to shame...

Anywho, I would like to take this opportunity to come by your side and thwart any attacks--should they come your way--from dolts who tarnish the good name of Popeye! God will always bless Sweet, sweet Haven! Everything is food! I'm mean I'm mean I'm mean, you know what I mean (he's mean he's mean)! I believe I had a dream of beating myself up. I broke my nose I broke my hand I wrestled myself to the ground and then, I choked myself to death then broke the choke and woke up... ARGH!!!! And the picture of Me Pappy just slays me! Classic stuff that never gets old, no matter how old we get (unlike us... dude, we're almost 35! Can you fucking believe it!).

And BTW, the new Amon Amarth completely rules! I forgot how great they are.

CrazySexyMetalChick! said...

OMG! You're bringin' back crazy memories!!! "It may not be a lot...but he's large"!!! LOL! That's a gem from my childhood I've GOTTA see again! No shame here!

CrazySexyMetalChick! said...

OMG! Would you believe that I JUST got the play on words: "tarnish" and "shining"?! Very clever!

But this ought to give you some clue as to how fried my brain is at this point!!!