A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone, Joe Turkel
By Matt Greene
Kubrick spent his 40+ year career proving that no matter what the genre he will, not only do it well, but will dominate it. The Shining is no exception. A filmed nightmare, it’s a naturalistically still and insistently surreal mixture of thick mood and rich story. A maze of surprises even after multiple viewings, its terror hovers right under the surface before exploding onto our brains. A masterpiece of hypnotic horror that’s as insidiously, mind-bogglingly creepy as ever.
At the center is the ever-menacing presence of Nicholson. Presenting a sobering lesson in how to not be a husband / father (and not just because of the violent climax), his dementia begins unraveling from moment one.
Despite his iconically villainous turn, I’m not sure he’s even the best of the bunch. Crothers brings beautiful lightness when needed, and his darker moments that much more powerful; and Lloyd walks a brilliant tightrope between creepy-horror-kid, average boyhood, and haunting sadness. Above all, Duvall’s compelling and deeply broken turn as forlorn wife / mother is beyond perfect.
These performers are given a directorial assuredness to play in rarely matched outside of Kubrick. The plight of these characters is captured with such empathy, we’re given a personal view of what could easily have been a cold experience.
Every detail is so intentionally and perfectly placed to draw us into the growing madness of the Overlook Hotel: The blood-flood, the dead-eyed stares, the symmetry of the twins, the normally-calm camera ferociously following the swinging axe. Meticulously crafted, intellectually provocative, emotionally penetrating, and dementedly entertaining, though Shining may not be Kubrick’s best, it would be most filmmakers magnum opus.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
By Cole Schneider
Every entertainment sub-group has a GOAT discussion. He says Jordan; she says LeBron. He says Jay-Z; she says Andre 3000. Probably the most commonly debated GOAT question in film nerd circles is “Who’s the greatest director of all-time?” Among the most popular answers is Stanley Kubrick. We might say—and this is insight you won’t get from most critics—that the director of such revered classics as “Dr. Strangelove” and “2001” is the 2Pac of movie directors.
His eerie tone-poem remake of Stephen King’s “The Shining” is set for a limited theatrical re-release this week. Now, 36 years after its release, we can all witness the pool of blood crashing down through the elevator in 20 foot tall glory. Now, Jack Nicholson’s maniacal face will be given the opportunity to truly swallow our sanity. Now, when Danny turns the corner on his Big Wheel, the anticipation will be larger. Now, when the camera moves with Jack’s axe the blunt cinematic force will be greater.
It’s not his masterpiece, but with “The Shining” Kubrick may have best distilled all his greatest strengths: the story of isolation breeding dehumanization; the symbolism-heavy motifs; the symmetric compositions, framed by tall walls; the constant, heightened use of tracking shots; the extreme close-ups, giving a tactile sense to the images; the attention to detail; the sparse, jarring macabre humor; the overpowering music.
If you can find the time, a visit to the Overlook Hotel this week will surely be time well spent. Which other resort offers such an intriguing combination of REDRUM, twin sisters, and necrophilia, not to mention an on-site maze and nightmare-inducing apparitions! Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars