Friday, July 31, 2009

DJG / Lolita

Lolita * * * * ½
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick / 1962

For the longest time something in me screamed to steer clear from Stanely Kubrick’s “Lolita” and I have no definite idea why. Quite possibly it was an early branch of “controversial” and the undertones of risky pedophilia business radiating as I grew that kept me a-drift of this ‘60s film classic. Also, I may confess I was quite distracted and a bit scared of the image of a very young Sue Lyon as Lolita with seductive lollypop in mouth on the film’s promotions (not too dissimilar, I was taken a-back for years by Lou Reed’s freak Frankenstein monster appearance on his “Transformer” album…odd how I have formal design training and the powers of said designs persuaded my distance and intimidated me so!). All things aside, I’m glad I’ve waited so long to fully appreciate yet another one of Kubrick’s big hits! I’m not sure how he felt about the final product, but how did he pull this off with such masterful execution? This is especially my question in the playfully comedic and sassy tone of male sexual obsession with an underage girl in “Lolita”? This film shouldn’t have worked. But, it did and has held and worked the test of time extremely well, I think (Side Note: I realize there is a late ‘90s remake and I don’t really care to see it. I’d rather watch Kubrick’s again!). I’m not a scholar in the history of Kubrick or of the time and circumstance surrounding this film, but I imagine it was a headache to get “Lolita” made, with censor laws and all (This is something the director didn’t have to worry about with “Eyes Wide Shut”!). But, Kubrick marvelously helms and leaves much up to suggestion for the audience’s imagination. I like this and advise directors who can get away with virtually everything now to try as it lets the characters live in that place between the screen and viewer and keeps the viewer even more involved and provoked. Though, before the sexual revolution of the late ‘60s, I could see Kubrick’s handy work a little discomforting for some to stomach. Nowadays this film is a treat with undercurrents of “wrong”. As much as I am impressed by “Lolita”, I am left equally wanting more from it, especially the subplot of Peter Sellers’ Clare Quilty (Sellers is in another multi-layered performance of great appeal) and his desire for Lolita. Perhaps that too should be left up for suggestion in my head? In the mean time, I think I’M in love with “Lolita”! -djg

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