Monday, December 1, 2014

Kubrick and discomfort

The Actual Grady Twins' Dresses From The Shining
or: The Real Reason I'll Never Bear Children

I went to see Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition at TIFF yesterday. Aside from the gentleman whose dandruffy shoulder I was doomed to peer over for the duration of my tour -- (Can you just... If you don't mind scooching just a bit to... Excuse me, sir, but... Outta my way, old man!) -- it was a wonderful experience. Black and white production photographs, profit/loss sheets that read like gossip, threatening/entreating letters from Christian groups, costumes from Spartacus, a model of the War Room from my all-time favourite Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, HAL from 2001... there were more than enough goodies to satisfy even the most fanatical fan.

What Kubrick did better than anyone else, in my opinion, is imminent doom. Every second of every one of his films makes me feel like I'm standing on the lip of a volcano, just waiting for the perfect moment to fall in. If I had to sum up his genius in one sentence, this would be it: Stanley Kubrick makes me want the very bad thing to happen.

His films remind me that good art often makes people quite uncomfortable. And that maybe even the artist him/herself needs to be uncomfortable with it, too. Or at least that's what I chose to take away from this exhibit because I've been feeling very uncomfortable about my idea for my second novel. So uncomfortable, in fact, that I haven't been able to bring myself to begin to write it, or even blog about it here. But now I think I'm finally ready to go there. If Stanley can do what's uncomfortable -- and make it sing -- I think I'll give it a try, too.