Does it stay or does it go?
Only Kubrick's first two features are worse than this.
I'll say yes.
People keep saying this is Kubrick's worst film (which is ridiculous). But a worst film from Kubrick is still a Canon worthy film nonetheless. But I like the idea that the normal Canon is not THIS Canon. I think it's ridiculous the obsession with comparing a film to the book. An adaptation should always be different from the novel. Kubrick made it his own and differentiated from the source material and that as a complaint is so ridiculous to me. He did exactly what a good adaptation is suppose to do. I do hate the book open and end though. Although I actually mostly agree with both of you in other criticisms, I still have to say yes.
I'd like to propose EYES WIDE SHUT for The Canon. Kubrick's true overlooked masterpiece.
Definitely a no
The almost complete absence of content that made the book so challenging make this one an easy pass.
As someone who worships at the alter of Kubrick, LOLITA does not belong in the canon. It's the only Kubrick film I dislike. If we're going to bring a Kubrick film into the canon, it should be one of merit. Not one that Kubrick himself practically disowned after its release.
No times infinity.
LOLITA is one among many of the proto-sexual revolution films that explored and reveled in the breaking down of sexual barriers and mores beginning in the late 40s. But it is not the best by any means. It is not the best Kubrick film. Its cache is based on the gravitas of the book and its author. As you guys pointed out, it is not THAT book.
I'd say no, but it's much closer for me than Amy or Devin thought. I think they massively under appreciate the censorship limitations at the time. I also agree with the comments above which talk about the prospective of the film coming entirely from an unreliable narrator.
Also Amy (because you would give it a fair shake) do yourself a favor and revisit Eyes Wide Shut, your comments were off on that one. Just be because the studio marketed it as titillating/erotic to put as$es in the seats (and subsequently added cgi to cover sex acts to get an R rating after he died..) doesn't mean that's what Kubrick was going for. I think most were misled and befuddled when it came out, much better than the initial reactions to it
I am a huge Kubrick fan and maybe an even bigger Peter Sellers fan...but I vote NO. This is one of just three Kubrick movies that I really don't like (along with EYES WIDE SHUT and BARRY LYNDON). And I agree with Devin in that the changes this movie makes in the source material ruin the meaning and the depth of the story. I'm sure the studio had a lot to do with that, but regardless LOLITA is not Canon-worthy.
I'll vote a strong YES in favor of LOLITA's inclusion in the Canon.
I certainly don't imagine many would rank it as highly within Kubrick's oeuvre as I do (somewhere in an ever-revolving top three along with BARRY LYNDON and EYES WIDE SHUT), but I was surprised to hear many of Devin and Amy's criticisms, as to me many of them add to the implicit tension of the story--the fact that Lyon is a more sexually developed female than in the book forces viewers to see her sexually, approximating how Humbert might, and makes it harder to remember that even if she is older than in the book, she's still incapable of giving consent; likewise with Kubrick portraying Lolita as more of a pursuer, while she may think she's in control of the situation, and may be right, it doesn't change the fact that she is merely a child, but rather forces us to work that much harder to bear that in mind; and so on and so on.
I'll be the first to admit that it's a very different work, with very different interests, from either Nabokov's novel or screenplay, but I love all three for what they each are, and would consider them all masterpieces. As for the film, even when considered purely on its own merits (if possible), I think it gets under-appreciated as a Kubrick black comedy because of the follow-up of DR. STRANGELOVE, which is odd because much as I enjoy that film, I find LOLITA to be much funnier and darker (I mean, nuclear winter is bleak, but still pales in comparison to ephebophilia). I'm used to being in the minority on this, though, so can't say I'll be surprised if this Kubrick doesn't make the cut.
No. There's plenty of room in The Canon for half a dozen other Kubrick films. Lolita isn't essential viewing by any measure.
Heads up to Amy and Devin: it seems the Wolfpop.com domain is directing people to Earwolf.com and some people don't know this forum is still active and they're voting over there: http://forum.earwolf.com/topic/31172-episode-67-lolita/
I am a huge Kubrick fan. I've seen all of his films multiple times, and they've been very important to me throughout my life. But I must vote no for Lolita. I find it one of Kubrick's weakest works, and yes, it does miss the point of the novel in very crucial ways. I think the strongest case one can make for Lolita's inclusion is that it was a major influence on David Lynch. He has not only named it his favorite Kubrick film, but he's called it one of his favorite films of all time. If you explore the film in the context of Lynch's films (especially in regard to the way it portrays suburbia), perhaps its value as an influential work will become more apparent and make it canon-worthy? I don't know Lynch as well as I know Kubrick, so I'm not the one to make this argument. Personally, I'd like to see a true Kubrick masterpiece like Barry Lyndon make it into the Canon first.
NAY. I'm already not a big Kubrick fan and this was a disappointing adaptation of such an impressive book. And yet the episode was still really strong and interesting to hear you guys discuss what elements didn't work for you.
I'm sorry that I got about a month behind on the show because I would have definitely voted yes for Broadcast News. Great string of episodes to catch up on, though. Keep up the great work.
No way. Mediocre film. Terrible adaptation. Among Kubrick's least canon-worthy.
No. It's a straight up bad movie, imo.
That said, I wish you both had spent more time talking about the movie on its own merits outside the context of it as an adaptation. But I get why it's hard to approach the movie from any other angle.
Side question directed at anybody in this thread, how much influence do ya'll think Kazan's Baby Doll had on the approach Kubrick chose to take adapting Lolita? I think it's kind of striking how similarly pitched both movies are at times.
(Yikes, realizing most of my questions & comments were addressed later in the episode. Damn these impatient typing fingers!)
I'm going to admit right out of the gate that I'm a Kubrick nut. The best summary I've heard of his genius: he was pivotal in bringing movies out from under the umbrella of dramatic art and into the realm of visual art. He believed people mistakenly saw film as an evolution or offshoot of theater, thinking rather it should be treated more like an evolution of photography.
I feel like Devin and Amy are more narrative-oriented critics. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but Kubrick's whole filmography is more about an evolution in visual storytelling than narrative storytelling. I can see why people whose brains aren't wired that way wouldn't be as hopped up on the Kubrick KoolAid as I am personally.
I do have one major grievance with their discussion: Kubrick didn't "miss the point" of A Clockwork Orange by omitting the final chapter. That chapter was re-added by the American publishers to the displeasure of Anthony Burgess. Whether Alex's rehabilitation was lasting was supposed to be left unclear. The story is meant as a seed of doubt, and we're meant to be deprived of closure.
Err I feel like I've barely mentioned anything about the film at all, so I will say that I appreciated the humor, at turns dark, awkward, and squirmy, a la The Office, even if it was a bit on the nose sometimes, but that was only in the first third or so. And it was probably as risque a movie as you could get away with at the time, which deserves its own weird respect in my book (we got swingers, for chrissakes!) And agree Shelly Winters was awesome, I really did feel sorry for her more than anything.
But yeah, I agree it's too long and drags in parts, it lets Humbert off the hook too much and mistreats other characters where it shouldn't, didn't like the death of Quilty as a framing device (I love Sellers but he isn't used well here). I'd love to believe it was all from Humbert's unreliable perspective, as some defend, but I just don't see any indication in the film.
This was a brilliant episode btw - aside from the discussion, you treated multiple touchy subjects with care, and I love that y'all aren't afraid to against the grain when it comes to Kubrick (or anyone else). To quote the Simpsons: you don't care whose toes you step on!
Soft yes. I gave this one much thought: It comes down to the question some in here have been asking for a while: Can a film be canon-worthy that contains a couple of brilliant sections, while the rest of it is kinda flawed? Because, I understand most of the criticism made by you guys in the discussion. Yes, it is over-long, and after Shelley Winter's character dies, the film kind of dies with it. Yes, it ignores all the sexual content, and Sellers is over-used.
I don't think Kubrick made a mistake describing Humbert as a romantic lead, because that's pretty much exactly what the character in the book sees himself: A tragic hero. I agree with the hosts, however, that portaying a protagonist in a film as unreliable narrator is kind of difficult, and I don't think Kubrick succeds in this.
I think this film is just as much a time capsule as is Working Girl or Breakfast News.
It's the first film after Kubrick swore to himself to only make movies he wishes to make, and naturally, that went totally wrong. It's pre-mature, not only in its content but also in the way it handles it. Also, that book is a masterpiece. A film-adaption can pretty much only end up in faliure.
But here's a failure on the highest level. I'm an existentialist enough to realize that most of us won't fail on the level Kubrick did with this picture. This is the Venus of Milo of movies, if you will: Not perfect, and kind of lacking in some important parts, but boy, some parts are pretty amazing and lend themselves for some discussion.
And as for Kubrick being a bad adaptor of books, I'd like to bring on evidance A, eyes wide shut, which is a masterful adaption of Arthur Schnitzler's Traumnovelle, with about 80 percent of the dialogue and narration directly taken from pre WWI Vienna setting of the novel (Ok, that Sidney-Pollack-Billard-scene is a bit long. But hey, he died befor he could edit it down... who knows what would have happened...)
Man, this was an interesting one. I feel so vindicated now, having coincidentally watched this a few weeks ago for the first time and leaving it feeling, for the first time, that I mostly disliked a Kubrick movie. (admittedly, there are still a few lingering gaps in my watch list... I'm almost dreading Barry Lyndon)
I agree with everyone of y'alls points, but it left me wondering - Kubrick treated The Shining virtually the same as Lolita, as far as faithful adaptations go, but the former is still a stone cold horror masterpiece to me and I'm obviously not the only one (although I still like King's novel, for different reasons). So why should it matter Kubrick's Lolita is less than faithful? I know mine, and I'm a big NO on Lolita in The Canon btw.
Also agree that those foot guys are total weirdos... am I right everyone? The image of Amy's allegedly "exceptional" feet, is, er, uh... not one I want in MY head, that's for, uh, sure. shifts eyes Yep, total weirdos.
No of course.
I'm so glad i listened to this episode, because after watching Lolita for the first time I had no idea how to express I didn't like it. I knew it was kinda bad, but i had no idea why it was. Thank you for doing this episode both of you, especially with the tactful way you talked about the subject.
One of the best episodes in a while
I vote no. Of all the Kubrick movies you could have nominated...
Really want to say yes, but it's an obvious no. A great film, everyone involved did better work elsewhere though. I think Kubrick even said something like he wouldn't have made the film had he known the level of censorship the film would receive. Kinda sucks that this was the Kubrick film they chose to discuss, would have loved to hear their take on Eyes Wide Shut.
No, it's not good enough for the Canon, but I think it's still pretty good and certainly a lot better than Amy or Devin think it is. i think as a movie it is an interesting interpretation of the source novel. Even if it's a misread of the source text I like that it's standing on its own two feet rather than being a credible translation from one format into another. I prefer movie adaptations of books that use the books as springboards to create their own unique thing.
I also very much agree with this previous comment, "And honestly, when I watch the film, I tend to believe you ARE seeing the tale through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, only the images on the screen are equally unreliable. " Watching the movie, I thought it rendered his perspective pretty well (certainly as well as could be done in that time). It's a first person movie without tipping its hand overtly that it's coming from that perspective. But everything in the movie is as Humbert would wish it were, even with the tragic ending. He'd elevate the tragedy of her leaving him to such absurd romantic heights, believe that she was the problem for all men who would encounter her, and so on. It never occurred to me that the movie was doing anything but sneering ironically at Humbert the whole time.
Yes, of course.
I agree that it doesn't tell the story the same way, but I think Kubrick actually freed itself up to make use of the cinematic medium in ways that are just as revolutionary as the literary form was for Nabokov. One thing which wasn't really addressed on the podcast was a massive leap forward in tonal complexity for the time it was made; yes, you might have to ignore about half of Sellars' screen time, but otherwise every character is allowed this range of naturalistic, self-aware lows and melodramatic highs which aren't compartmentalized into archetypes. You learn that Mrs. Hayes isn't just a caricature, and there are times when Mason's face is telling a totally different story than his dialogue and narration.
And honestly, when I watch the film, I tend to believe you ARE seeing the tale through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, only the images on the screen are equally unreliable. I think she really is twelve, and the real gut-punch is that you're actually seeing a man go to his grave WITHOUT admitting that his pedophilia is a problem. I think Nabokov's tendency toward poetry caused him to soften his Humbert (the guilt, the girl who died, etc), but Kubrick's is more cynical: You can't convince someone he's wrong if he doesn't want to be convinced. The times he tips his hand are the things he's just too proud of to keep secret (the death of Mrs. Hayes, for instance). He sees Lolita flirting with everyone because he thinks he sees her just the same as everybody else, and he uses that exaggerated perception of these swingin' nouveau riche to justify himself. The winking in-jokes and eyebrow-raising moments get you to question what you're seeing, and I think that captures the spirit of Nabokov's story without repeating it beat-for-beat.
No. I've never read the book so I don't have that to compare it to, but it's too long and most of the characters are insufferable. It has its moments but it's a solid no for me
I hadn't revisited this movie since going through Kubrick's oeuvre some years ago. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. One element not discussed that always took me out of the picture is the soundtrack. I can understand the parody of a romantic film comedy and the time in which the soundtrack was made, but compared to some of Kubrick's other films where the soundtrack plays such an integral role, Lolita pales harshly. Bernard Hermann composed two great film scores for Vertigo and Psycho before this movie came out. I think the music took its inspiration from the Peter Sellers portions more than anything else.
No. There are only a few movies by Kubrick I would include based on quality: The Shining, The Killing, Paths of Glory and Barry Lyndon. Dr. Strangelove and 2001 get in only based on cultural historical significance. Only other one Kubrick-adjacent is A.I. I really want you guys to do an episode on that one--it was unfairly maligned upon release, is absolutely brilliant and would be a slam dunk for the Canon for me.
NO. I am a member of the cult of Kubrick. His films awakened the cinephile within me. Lolita is the dividing line for me on him being nearly infallible. This is his last film that I don't consider a masterpiece. Amy and Devin were spot on with their criticisms. I too got around to the book in a college class, and it really brought down my opinion of the film. You could say that we should judge the film on its own merits, but this is Lolita. An argument for Lolita being the greatest novel in the English language is a plausible argument. Given the masterful directing Kubrick already displayed in The Killing and Paths of Glory, he cold have been capable of creating a worthy film adaptation. However, as Devin points out, Kubrick cannot stay faithful to the source material. I consider this a plus in most cases. The Shining is a better movie than it is a book. As for A Clockwork Orange, it's the most faithful adaptation. The final chapter was not present in the first British printing of the book, hence Kubrick's omission of it in the film. If Kubrick had stayed as faithful for Lolita, we might all have a different opinion. Consider this film a display of early hubris. Had he undertaken this film in the '70s we would have seen a different, and probably much better, piece of cinema.
No to this one.
not in the canon.
Nope. Definite no.
Winters is magnificent. Mason is well-cast (and typically sleepwalky.) This film fails as an adaptation and fails on its own terms. It has also not aged well.
This is one of Kubrick's worst films and one of the few of his I would vote no on for The Canon. It's a weird muddled mess of a film with Peter Sellers seemingly giving a performance from a different film all together.
I had never seen this until last week (one of my Kubrick holes) and I was kind of relieved during this podcast, much in the way that I was with BLADE RUNNER. Two different animals in terms of legacy, but there's something culturally about Kubrick where I go in thinking I should love each film in some preordained way. I liked Lolita, as someone who read the book and was a literature major, I agree with Devin and Amy's points, but the main takeaway for me is, outside of a poor adaption and just as a movie, it doesn't feel like a Canon film; which is interesting to me because at one point I was sure Kubrick would be one of those directors where every film could make it in (I guess he still could be since this was up for it in the first place)--I just thought he could have been the one who did it. Now, let's get some Paul Thomas Anderson love.
A weak NO.