Thursday, May 7, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: The Shining (1980)

I'm a big fan of Stephen King and The Shining is one of his darkest and most powerful novels.  My respect for the book initially kept me from appreciating this wonderful film from one the greatest directors ever, Stanley Kubrick.   If I had written this review a decade ago, I may have given this one a "C" or worse.  Truthfully, if one reads King's book and then views the film expecting a faithful adaptation, disappointment is on the horizon.  Kubrick took the basic premise from the novel and did his own thing with it, making a great many substantial changes along the way.  Yet time and my appreciation of quality filmmaking have dramatically softened my stance on this landmark horror movie from 1980.  Despite taking a different approach to the material, Kubrick delivered one hell of a fright flick that is greatly enhanced by Jack Nicholson's most impressive performance.  The energy and the menace that he brings to the role of Jack Torrance is legendary.  I know some think he hammed it up a bit too much, but I can't criticize his work here.  Who has seen this film and somehow managed to avoid quoting it at some point?  Anyone?  Okay, give me an example of a scene in the picture where Jack isn't entertaining as hell.  Go ahead, I'll wait.  No, it isn't a nuanced performance that plumbs the depths of an alcoholic's descent into madness, and I understand why that ticks some people off.  Let's just not ignore the fact that it's a brazen take on a demented character that is incredibly intense and wildly compelling.  Opposite Nicholson, Shelley Long also delivers the goods as Wendy, and it's her excellent portrayal of a battered wife, a role that is ripe with torment and misery, that serve to embellish Jack's reckless abandon and his demonic zeal.  It's also this disparity that pulls the audience in, heightening the struggle taking place in the creepy hotel.  Speaking of the Overlook--man, is this film atmospheric or what?  The cinematography is amazing, the music is full of dread, and the sets are wonderful.  The end result is an ominous and scary film bolstered by rich performances and a director who was a true master of his craft.  It may not be faithful to the book, which is an iconic terror yarn, but this visionary film is also a legitimate masterpiece.

Final Grade: A
This is what you get when you make out with strange women in haunted hotels.

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