Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thoughts on the Shining...

I don't have cable. Have I mentioned that? It's not an issue, until I'm home for an evening, and there is something out there I want to watch. In this case, it was the Predators/Blackhawks playoff game. No cable, and even if I had cable, I'm unsure the local affiliate would be showing the game, anyway. I listend to the audio feed on the Predators site for a while, but it kept going in and out. Unsure whether it was an issue with Nasvhille radio or my internet connection, I found a movie instead.

So, I popped The Shining into the DVD player. I bought the flick with trade credit from Digital Planet, way back in the Murfreesboro days, even before they'd moved into their new(er) building where it currently sits in The Boro. The disc package actually still had the Digital Planet price tag with a March 2002 price tag. A group of us watched it that night at my friend Julie's house. I don't think I've actually sat to watch the movie since then.

A few thoughts:

It's a very pretty flick, and one I actually wish I had a better teevee than what I do to have watched. Kubrick's flicks are very often about color, for me, and The Shining is all about the reds, blacks and whites. I even paused to go back to look at some of the scenes in the Overlook's hallways a couple of times, simply because there's so much going on visually there. I don't drop the money on a larger TV because I'm not home enough to justify the expense. I'm saving last attempt at this was donated to the Red Cross after the Haiti earthquake. Watching a flick like The Shining me think about dropping the cash, anyway.

This is probably the fifth time I've seen the flick, and again, the first time in eight years. I remember thinking so before, and I decided that I think so now, but I want to qualify the next statement. If the movie The Shining is about Jack Torrance's descent into madness, then I don't like Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance. If the flick is about his descent into madness. At least, I don't like the way the descent is set up with Nicholson. His Jack Torrance is a douche. He is smarmy and untrustworthy at best. He's short with his wife and his kid, and has already had abusive moments with the kid. As it is, he needed only the slightest of pushes to slide headlong down Crazy Street anyway.

But then, I might be comparing the flick to the book, which was the first Stephen King book I read, and still one of my favorites. The book itself is a harrowing look at Torrance as he fights a lot of demons, some within and some without. Watching the movie last night, I don't think the movie itself is as much about the descent into madness as it is the run through the funhouse after the sudden elevator ride down to Crazytown. Which kinda makes the initial interview scenes a bit superfluous and tedious, to me. Honestly, watching Nicholson in those first scenes, and I don't know how you can not expect him to slaughter his family if left alone in a hotel over the winter. Given that something similar happened the previous winter at the Overlook, I'd have to take a second to look at the manager's hiring criteria.

A few things more things I thought as I watched the flick:

I'd like a Big Wheel. And I don't mean a little kid's Big Wheel. I want a Big Wheel that'll fit the frame of a 6'4", 300 pound man. And a giant hotel to ride it around in. Seriously, that looked like something a man could derive a great deal of enjoyment out of. There's a part that I always dig, and it's as Danny's looking at room 237, just after riding past it. He goes to ride away, and so that he's not just spinning that big front wheel by pedalling, he gives the right rear wheel a spin with his right hand, to get the rig moving. I don't know why I like the logistics of such things, but I do.

For some reason, I'd forgotten that Scatman Crothers had a painting of a topless woman with a huge afro in his apartment. It seemed so out of place and damned tacky that it made me laugh. Nothing in Scatman's personality up to that point (which, albeit, we saw in only the briefest of looks) in the flick would point to having such a thing. It just seemed funny, too me. There is a moment, when Scatman's touring the kitchen with the Torrances, and he asks Danny if he likes lamb, to which Danny replies "no," there is a briefest pause where you almost think Scatman's going to say "Well fuck you, anyway" to the kid...or maybe that's just how my mind works....

I've gone back and forth on Shelley Duvall's performance, as well, the few times I've watched it, but I decided last night that I like her performance very much. I decided that Wendy Torrance is a woman who's very likely looking at much in the world for the very first time, and is unsure how to handle it, whether that thing is the Overlook hotel, a CB radio or ghosts following her through the hallway. For me the flick is very much about Wendy, and her maternal instincts in the face of the craziness. There are a couple of points where she's backed into corners, and manages despite her meek nature to fight her way out. I'd have to sit to watch again, but I end up digging Wendy very much through the flick.

Also, can I say that the Simpsons Halloween parody ( ye wanna get sued?) came close to ruining the flick for me. How 9 minutes of comedy gold keep popping up. Whether it's Gimme the Bat, Marge, or No Beer and No TV make Homer...something, something... The Shining had the surprise effect of moving The Shinning up on my list of favorite Simpsons bits, too. Had to dig that one out this morning to watch it again.

Lastly, I wonder how long it would take me to chop through a door with an axe. It's merely gotten me curious how long it would take me. I mean, ghosts aren't telling me to hunt my family down and kill them now, but who knows what the future may hold? Seems like that's valuable information to have at your disposal....


Blogger Jerry in Texas said...

I first saw The Shining on the big screen back in 1980. I went with some college friends. One didn't like it because he liked the book better. I remember being kinda numb at the end, not knowing what I just saw.

I think it is definitely a repeat viewing kinda movie, cementing its cult following.

4:00 PM  

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