Tag Archives: stanley kubrick

COLUMBIA

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Bar the feather filled jackets I used to gawp at, Tom Penny’s fabled boots and the occasional temptation by Vibe ads for Body Jar outerwear, Columbia has never grabbed me like North Face, Patagonia and Arc’teryx did, but that late 1980s collection of ultra tech, interchangeable ski jackets in the insane colour combinations like the Vamoose Parka and the Powder Keg always grabbed my attention. I always assumed that Columbia embraced the fashion crowd a little earlier than most and made the decision to be built overseas long before the majority too, but the story of the brand, from the late 1930s start by fleeing Nazi Germany and purchasing the Rosenfeld Hat Company to make it the Columbia Hat Company to the 1960 switch to the Columbia Sportswear Company, is an interesting one.

The matriarchal nature of the company after Gert Boyle took over after her husband passed in 1970 (the ad above is from 1968) gave it a point-of-difference over other outdoor brands of the era, with Gert and her sons’ battles over the colours and modernity of the 1980s creations (the campaign started around 1984) being a key part of the marketing strategy. Given that an 80-something Gert fought off some wannabe kidnappers a couple of years ago, the ads weren’t too far from the truth. Gert Boyle is also credited as creating the brand’s first fishing vest in 1960 and, while the brand is currently taking on the might of GORE-TEX with Omni-Dry, they were putting the iconic household name membrane into a parka back in 1975, which makes them one of the first to use it on a coat.

Boyle helping steer the brand from near-bankruptcy to a publicly traded one by 1998, and taking in Sorel and Mountain Hardwear along the way, is near miraculous. The copywriting on the ski jacket ads stays classic and 1983’s GORE-TEX and Thinsulate Delta Marsh Parka is no joke.

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Mr Leo Sandino-Taylor a upped an interesting image on his Instagram from the Stanley Kubrick exhibition during its Los Angeles residency of the mystery man posing for a photograph in some Nike Air Mad Maxes. It was so good, I had to borrow it for here, so go follow him to make up for my theft. If the Footscape is the Cassavetes of the Nike line and the AM1 is Spielberg, the recycled rubber and reinforced precision and mild eccentricity of the Mad Max is kind of appropriate for Stanley, even though I’d say the Huarache was a better shoe representation of him. Like the excellent Air Max Racer from around the same time, you don’t see many pictures of the Mad Max and to see them on the feet of a rarely seen man is even better. This one trumps the Jordan Vs on David Fincher and might be the greatest sportswear on a non-athlete moment since Bob Marley wore Marathon TRs. Especially since Saville in Air Max became less of a cause for celebration, given recent revelations. Seriously, if any one image sums up what this blog is about, it’s STANLEY KUBRICK WEARING A PAIR OF NIKE AIR MAD MAX.

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First of all, fuck you if you didn’t like Devin the Dude and, while I can understand you not hearing the cult classic that is the Odd Squad album where his career commenced (though its been ZIP and RAR filed heavily since people used YouSendIt links), you should track it down. There’s not too many albums you can pitch to the next generations, because the younger heads won’t care for the sameness of Hard Knocks’ long player regardless of how wide-eyed you are about it, but there’s too much going on with 1994’s ‘Fadanuf Fa Erybody’ to ignore.

It’s so creative and funky (yeah, I said it and I make a point of never using “funky” in vain), that it’s the perfect accompaniment to Outkast’s debut from the same year. In fact, this Rap-A-Lot classic is so good that Rob Quest from the group being blind was largely rendered irrelevant by the strength of the music (check out this excellent Noz interview with Rob from earlier this summer). The mooted follow-up that ‘Rap Pages’ discussed back in 1999 never happened, but it’s worth noting that what constituted a serious brick in 1994 is different from 2012’s failures — ‘Fadanuf…’ shifted just under 70k and the group despaired, but Nicki Minaj’s ‘Roman Reloaded: the Re-Up’ shifted 34,501 last week and still landed at 28 on the Billboard 200. Tokyo’s DJ Muro is shifting some of his own gear on his DIGOT site and he’s selling this promo Odd Squad t-shirt that’s awesome enough to get married or buried in.

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KUBRICK'S FIRST FILM

“Perhaps when everything is beautiful, nothing is beautiful.”
Stanley Kubrick, 1968

I’m a terrible interviewer. I wish I could wade in ready for war and ask the questions that need to be answering, but I just don’t — I’m more keen to engage in a genial conversation and keep the subject happy. That frequently leads to sycophantic laugh-alongs. Having said that, in my sector, generally there’s no call for anything particularly probing — bear in mind that I operate in a realm where saying that something is good but not a classic is deemed insightful and scathingly critical. Introspect forsook the realm in which I dwell. Imagine if Alex Haley had laughed along with George Lincoln Rockwell’s baseless racist theories to keep him happy, and Rockwell was staring down the barrel of a gun laying sideways between interrogator and subject. Transcribing myself is equally excruciating, as it reveals that not only am I a sycophantic, chuckling goon, but I also have the nasal voice of a simpleton who punctuates points with an irksome “like” at least twenty times in forty minutes.

Mr. Pardeep Sall is my favourite source of book recommendations, and he put me onto each volume of ‘The Playboy Interviews’ — a useful collection of compendiums, shorn of distracting masturbation fodder and filtered for the very best conversations. As you might have noticed, I’ve never had any formal journalistic training but Mr. Sall was correct when he recommended these, explaining that they’re “Better than any course” of you’re looking for a masterclass in professional but probing technique. ‘The Directors’ and ‘Movers and Shakers’ are particularly outstanding. Lawrence Grobel’s 1985 chat with John Huston and Eric Norden’s 1968 conversation with Stanley Kubrick are currently fresh in my mind, but I have to pass on a second-hand recommendation with regards to these tomes. Especially if, like me, your interview game needs stepping up beyond, “Why are you so great?

The Kubrick piece also reminded me about his earliest moving picture, a bombastic 1951 short, entitled ‘Day of the Fight’ documenting middleweight fighter Walter Cartier’s pre-fight build-up, with an excitable Douglas Edwards voice over. At 16 minutes long, it’s strange to see that there was even a poster for this film (seen below courtesy of www.postermountain.com). I wonder as to how Kubrick fared in a documentation environment where his meticulous nature was tethered by real-world movements, but while subtlety and deliberate pacing are a no-go here, the lighting’s on point and there’s some tracking too. ‘Day of the Fight’ is a follow-up to Kubrick’s 1949 ‘Prizefighter’ photo-essay for ‘Look’ which you can read right here in its entirety. I’m obsessed with the aesthetic of old world boxing, from Nat Fleischer’s work to these kinds of moving and static pictures.







‘Look’ was a ‘Life’ imitator in many respects, and ‘Life’ briefly covered Walter Cartier too in ‘Fight Trainer’ — a photo-essay by the excellent Eliot Elisofon focusing on the work of Polish-born, Brooklyn-raised trainer Charley Goldman. While the focus is on a Rocky Marciano — a significantly more successful fighter trained by Goldman, there’s some shots of Cartier in training mode under the great man’s tutelage. The ‘Life’ piece is dated February 12th, 1951 — just under a year after the 1950 bout that Kubrick documented. Cartier’s prizefighter career never soared and he fared better as an occasional actor, but Kubrick’s decision to use him as a study afforded him a certain immortality. Four years later, his breakthrough of sorts, ‘Killer’s Kiss’ would use gyms and boxing rings as a setting with the same shadowy intensity, and as with ‘Day of the Fight’ it was imbued with a punch drunk sense of melodrama that wasn’t indicative of the director’s more cerebral vision. Still, Kubrick at his worst was, like Cartier, not a bad prospect at all.

STANLEY KUBRICK & RODNEY DANGERFIELD

I’ve watched some crap this week. The ‘Conan the Barbarian’ redux was far-from-entertaining and lacked the lead, script and score that gave the 1982 version such presence while ‘The Devil’s Double’ was neither trashy nor truthful enough to be of any point whatsoever. If you can’t make anything out of barbarians or psychotic dictator’s sons what kind of filmmaker are you? Still, I hope that the box office dirty bomb that ‘Conan…’ and ‘Fright Night’ activated wipes this relentless trend for remakes out.

Still, I was heartened to hear that the rumours of Rodney Dangerfield appearing in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Killing’ back in 1956 — the heist film that’s been homaged time and time again —- were actually true. I heard the bug-eyed king of the self-deprecating one-liner was an onlooker in an uncredited role, but I’d never been able to spot him. So I assumed it was apocryphal — after all, two of my heroes crossing paths is a significant thing that must have been too good to be true. Someone once told me that Antipodean folk-hero Alf Stewart from ‘Home & Away’ was in ‘Abba the Movie’ and it turned out to be bullshit. As a result, I approach these early sightings with the same skepticism we approach yokels claiming to have seen alien transport. That was until Criterion upped this excellent Chuck Stephens essay a couple of days ago, taking the reader through ‘The Killing’s cast — from the lead to supporting roles, the narrator, and including a still of Mr. Dangerfield in full onlooker mode, peering over a shoulder at a an impromptu bout of race track fisticuffs. This is easily my favourite uncredited cameo of all time since Robert Duvall sat on a swing in the 1978 ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.

On a similar subject, the New Yorker is talking up a spot of beef between another deified director and Mr. Sean Penn, with Sean claiming that the ‘Tree of Life’ script never made an accurate leap to the screen when Terrence Malick directed it, and reinforcing the popular consensus that the film is anaemic in the narrative department. I’ve got a lot of time for ‘Milk’ but I preferred the Penn that starred in awesome films like ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘At Close Range’ (with an excellent Walken turn too — I never realised how based on a true story it actually was). Having grown up gawping at the ‘Bad Boys’ VHS sleeve with a vivid illustration of Penn sat on another teenager and about to drive a shiv into his neck, this crappy US-poster makes this 1983 teen prison flick look like ‘Beat Street’ — what’s up with that covered lettering?

I’ve long tried to stop this blog straying too far into retro territory by implementing a retro offset section when I feel I’m a little too lost in rose-tinted Cazal territory. Simon Reynolds’s excellent new book ‘Retromania’ takes on that issue head on and explores our fetish for the past. He’s especially taken with the early to mid 1960s’ work of André Courrèges, who brought a defiant futurism to women’s fashion, and — according to Reynolds — represents one of the last stands against reverse thinking before the 1960s (thought by so many to be the progressive decade) began to look back. I love this LIFE profile of Courrèges from their May 21st, 1965 edition, entitled ‘The Lord of the Space Ladies’ (referencing the 1964 ‘Space Age’ collection) where he spits some superior soundbites, steeped in progression (“Le Corbusier is my only master. If I had the guts, I would leave it all today to become an architect”) and is pictured playing Basque pelota in some court sport whites. In stark contrast, his silver, intergalactic creations for the Munich Olympics were eccentric and amazing too.

It’s interesting that Supreme referenced Courrèges as early as 1995 in Suprème ads and logos (with the lettering frequently misunderstood as a Macy’s homage), possibly to represent their future-proofed vision, complimented by that box logo in contrast to the more garish skate and street wear of the time, treating their tight-knit team and employees like a Weber Calvin Klein shoot was something different. I’ve never known whether that B&W treatment was linked to the brief controversy over box stickers stuck to Calvin Klein ads that’s referenced on the much-faked and still-imitated Kate Moss t-shirt. Courrèges remains legendary.

As I age and lose touch, I’m clinging on, white-knuckled to some semblance of the new before I lapse into a permanent “everything’s shit” mode and the gradual Benjamin Button style reversal back to a happier ideal of years past that’s historically rewritten to make even the most mundane releases look definitive. That’s why I have to shout out Nick Bam —my advisor on all matters of waviness — for putting me onto Nakim’s ‘Swervin’ remix. I can’t stop listening to it and those visuals are some budget brilliance.

Shouts to team Leisure on the launch of their site, offering month-long online explorations of a chosen topic, seemingly in retort to the insubstantial canapès of Tumblr and the blank-eyed global spread of the low-attention epidemic. There’s plenty of content on the new site that’s relevant to my interests, dwelling on psychedelia until the 15th of September. This piece on Ricky Kasso (a longtime personal preoccupation — see also Anthony Jacques Broussard and James Vance) is fun.

KUBRICK, CANINES & LEE MARVIN

I have no idea what the central idea behind this blog actually is. It’s not about clothes, music, reading matter or movies specifically, but they certainly recur. It’s just another self-indulgent outlet on the internet, hoping to snare the occasional reader with a like mind in, rather than gunning for the masses on some fancy shit. I only launched with that to fill this paragraph and because I’ve stalled twice on camera explaining what I actually do. I leave this WordPress out of it because it complicates things even more. But I do seem to dwell on films a lot more than any other subject here because most of my interests are borne from a cinematic preoccupation.

That still doesn’t mean I exercise much quality control. Out of boredom, impatience and the crappiness of my local multiplex, I’ll watch films in some really bad pirate quality. Not on the level of the ‘E.T.’ bootleg from my childhood or the unwatchable ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘Die Hard II’ bootlegs brought round by excitable buddies in 1990, but I’ve sat through iPhone 2 camera quality takes on blockbusters, all tinged by the cautious periodic wobble of a fearful ‘director of photography’ who’s wary of a fine and rejection. I even watched ‘Captain America: the First Avenger’ via a Megavideo link in that quality. I am a fool. But some movies deserve the pristine Blu-ray treatment or they’re pointless. ‘Barry Lyndon’ is a perfect example.

Stanley Kubrick’s second best film (behind ‘A Clockwork Orange’ but way ahead of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’), is one of the most beautifully shot motion pictures ever (John Alcott’s work is masterful), and while some have criticised Ryan O’Neal’s performance, I love his deceitful pomposity. Kubrick using NASA technology lenses to give the film a natural, old world look is a glorious paradox that sums up the master’s unorthodox mode-of-thought. Yet inexplicably, like as with Martin Scorcese’s After Hours’ on DVD in the UK, the only way to get ‘Barry Lyndon’ on Blu-ray is to fork out for a box set — in this case the ‘Stanley Kubrick: Visionary Filmmaker Collection’. Still, there’s worse things to spend your hard-earned on than seven Kubrick films and a bonus disc. If Blu-ray hadn’t happened, Stanley probably would have made something similar to display his work to his standards.

Recent talk of William Devane here – reinstated to the director’s cut of ‘Payback’ which was a remake of 1967’s ‘Point Blank’, which I was watching at work today for inspiration via the club scene with Stu Gardner’s psychedelic funk wailing — has got me thinking about the many hard-boiled novels of Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark), which depicted Parker getting up to no good. Violent, pulpy and amoral, they’ve been the source of inspiration for vengeful anti-heroes on screen ever since. Godard’s ‘Made in U.S.A’ was an unofficial remake of Stark’s ‘The Jugger’ but the opening credits and trailer are the best things about the film compared to the brutal fun of Boorman’s masterpiece, or 1973’s ‘The Outfit’. I’ve been enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s Parker comic book adaptations too. Having grown up on Howard Chaykin’s X-rated ‘Black Kiss’, I’ve long had a taste for the more uncompromising approach to noir when it comes to words and pictures.

As the fine ‘The Ivy Look’ book mentions, Lee Marvin kicks arse in ‘Point Black’ in a fine pair or Florsheim Imperials, and I recommend reading the ‘Playboy’ interview here and the ‘Esquire’ interview here to appreciate the depth of Marvin’s character. Too manly for macho posturing, his opinions on sexuality are particularly enlightening. I’ve also been browsing this Parker fansite a lot — the archive of paperback covers is incredible.






I had an epiphany recently. I don’t actually like Kenneth Anger’s films. I love them conceptually and his attitude’s fun, but I can’t help falling asleep and having bizarre visions during the ‘Majick Lantern Cycle’. Maybe that’s the point. I prefer Kenneth on paper I love his made-up ‘Hollywood Babylon’ books and I’d been looking for a copy of Alice L. Hutchison’s book from 2004 – a definitive text on Anger — for a while, and while trying to get a status update on the oft-delayed ‘Italo Disco — A Secret History of Modern Pop’ from Black Dog Publishing, I noticed that they’re reprinting the Anger book in September too. That should dead some of those hefty Amazon Marketplace prices.

Most mornings I’m woken by a spaniel. The dangly eared buffoon doesn’t care for the sanctimony of sleep and seems to become odder and more immature as the months pass. I’ve long wanted to understand what goes on in its head- I always imagined it was a cover of Hot Butter’s ‘Popcorn’ played using the dog bark effect on a crappy keyboard played perennially until bedtime, but it turns out that it might be more complex than that. I just started reading John Bradshaw’s scholarly ‘In Defence of the Dog’ that talks about the complexities of the canine, their modes of communication and their evolution. It turns out that we’ve been underestimating them a lot. Bradshaw never mentions their love of snapbacks, but I’m still besotted with the Chimp team‘s lookbook for caps. Everyone else should just give up. This shoot (shouts to the Bedfords, Joseph Dawson, Jonathan Paine and Snowy and Bailey) is just perfect to me. Dogs in hats stays classic.

I hate everyman rap. It’s even cornier than the fantastical duck tales that the platinum spitters peddle, but Stalley seems to strike a balance between keeping it real and just being aspirationally cool, calm and collected. He has the Maybach co-sign, but the packaging for ‘Lincoln Way Heights’ (the David Chang art makes it worth grabbing as a physical copy) and videos dropping from it have been tremendous. ‘Pound’ is classic — icily lyrical but deep in the production stakes courtesy of Rashad. The video’s crystal clear clarity of elevator journeys, the artist and lo-fi snippets of real-life panic and ‘Gummo’ gives budgetary limitations the finger. It manifests the Stalley sound. The homie Nick Schonberger is at least 25% cooler in my eyes for knowing this Ohio legend-in-the-making.