As my class on the art of film directing studies Stanley Kubrick, some of his works that we’ve watched in class or on our own were new to me.  That especially goes for “The Killing,” which I hadn’t heard of before.  Also, one of the textbooks we are using is called “Stanley Kubrick,” by Bill Krohn; it’s from a series of books called “Masters of Cinema.”  So if we want, we can also find books on other directors within the series for a good price.  Something else I like about my film classes is that they are allowing me to catch up on watching the talent of many classic Hollywood stars.  For instance, until watching “Paths of Glory,” I had only seen Douglas in one other film.  Overall, we watched these films for the cinematic techniques used throughout and why they were chosen in relation to the stories.

“The Killing” (1956)

This film is all in black and white as a narrator tells the story of a robbery attempt at a racetrack.  What I liked about “The Killing” was the surprise moment here and there:  karma striking back at one man and a sudden interference that changes another man’s fate.  It’s somewhat relatable because things don’t exactly happen as planned for the characters, including moments all along the way.  Of course, that’s how things are in real life.

“Paths of Glory” (1957)

Our professor gave us some history of this film: that there was some controversy surrounding it, in terms of differing war-related views.  After learning that and then watching “Paths of Glory,” it’s one of those films for discussing military history and how the big screen depicts it.  There is also great acting by legendary leading man Kirk Douglas.  As he walks through trench scenes, the camera shows the soldiers on either side as though the viewer is walking there.  Another interesting view is that of one looking through binoculars from the trenches.  The decadent architectural details of buildings used by high-level military personnel reflect the imposing situation of three soldiers who are chosen to be put on military trial.

“Spartacus” (1960)

Another film starring Kirk Douglas, this time with fellow Hollywood legend Laurence Olivier, to depict ancient Roman times.  In discussing and watching this film, I recognized one of the younger stars (Tony Curtis).  And while I didn’t know much about Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov, it was mentioned in class that they were big names just as Douglas and Olivier were by then.  In terms of the film itself, I love the amount of details that go into epics like this.  Douglas was great as Spartacus, whose honor could be seen in his respect for other humans and in his fight for the slaves’ freedom.

Are you a fan of Stanley Kubrick films?  If so, which one would you say is your favorite?

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The following films were watched in my film appreciation class focusing on cinematography.

“Run Lola Run” (1998)

I’ve heard of this film many times, yet never caught it on television.  Finally having the opportunity to see it for an in-class writing assignment, I was curious what “Run Lola Run” was going to be about.  Early on, I thought that the main characters were going to begin a life of crime together and run from the law from that point.  But then, something unexpected happened instead and the film goes into a what-if-this-happened mode to ask what the new outcome would be.  The camera and music are used in a way that brings out the intensity of the characters’ situation.

“Visions of Light” (1992)

After watching this documentary, I decided that I’d really like to get my own copy of it on DVD.  The history of filmmaking technologies, camera use and incorporating sound and vibrant color into movies fascinates me.  If you love history, movies and related technologies, it’s worth checking out.

What films do you think have great elements of cinematography, whether lighting, camera angles, sound, etc.?