Lolita

I got over to the office and prepared for my first class of the semester. I was glad to be done with the first lecture, and I headed home. JoBeth Williams was on the Johnny Carson show talking about the experience of filming “Poltergeist.” She ended up smelling bad. I watched the DVD of “Lolita” because it was a Stanley Kubrick film that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. James Mason made a strong impression on me as Humbert Humbert. His possessiveness was a bit frightening but funny at the same time, as he was consumed with every detail of this teenage girl’s life, right down to the toenails. I had forgotten that Shelley Winters was in this movie, and I had always thought of her as the heavy woman in “The Poseidon Adventure.” I liked the brief scene at the drive-in movie because it reminded me of a time that is now long past. Sue Lyon was very good in her role as Lolita, although her relationship with Clare Quilty seemed unlikely even in this warped world. Peter Sellers changed his appearance in different scenes, previewing what he would do in “Dr. Strangelove.” Charlotte disappeared from the movie rather like Janet Leigh did in “Psycho.” Humbert certainly should not have kept a diary, and he definitely should have been more careful with it. What was funny was that it seems like Charlotte was in the wrong about reading the diary even as Humbert was being his devious self. It is amazing that this movie could even get made in 1961 even you think about its content. Humbert marries Charlotte, and goes off on this trip with Lolita. Sue Lyon’s facial expressions suggest quite a lot is going on. I liked some of the shots of the car being trailed across the country. I noticed that one of the nurses was Lois Maxwell, who was Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond movies. She kept telling Humbert to move his car. Humbert’s obsession reminded me of Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull,” substituting a European manner where there was a boxer’s roughness. I’m not sure why Humbert would think that would want to read a James Joyce novel while in bed. I kept wondering how the two could leave the house for long periods, and what was happening to it during all the events. The last scene with Humbert and Lolita is rather remarkable. It speaks to anyone whose affection for another person has been futile. This man who was barking out orders a few years before is reduced to a crying mess. Vladimir Nabokov wrote the screenplay, and I thought it was a good script, at least what was left of it after Kubrick made cuts to it.. It seemed like it was a seed for “A Clockwork Orange” with its mix of warped behavior and dark humor. I’m not sure I would want to see “Lolita” many more times because of all the arguments and Humbert’s suffocating actions. It was painful to see him drag Lolita away from the school play. I kept asking myself why people don’t simply tell the truth more often. I didn’t really like the structure of seeing the ending first and then going back in time. I rarely like seeing that happen, in fact, so even in the hands of Stanley Kubrick. This is one of those black and white films that you hardly notice is in black and white. I don’t see it as a color movie, really. The music was a cue that you shouldn’t take the movie too seriously. The last shot is rather chilling. The epilogue tells you that Lolita was rather perceptive in what she saw in Humbert that was like something she read in Reader’s Digest. It did seem tragic that she was wasting her life in this hopeless trip to Alaska. That’s what everyone else when they age, go from a colorful and eventful youth to some nondescript life raising some child who will reach only mediocrity. I would rank “Lolita” above such Kubrick films as “Barry Lyndon,” “The Shining,” “Full Metal Jacket,” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” but below “Paths of Glory,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “A Clockwork Orange.” I wondered what Kubrick and Sellers could have done together beyond “Dr. Strangelove.” Maybe that movie reached the plateau of their collaboration. I fell asleep and found the disc frozen in the scene with Lolita with a big belly and wearing glasses. She had gone from eating chips with soda to drinking beer and watching television. A few years earlier, she had more energy. I took the disc out and cleaned it before watching the end again. It is surprising to me what a couple of fingerprints can do to the playback of a DVD. This is a movie that could have used a commentary track, but there was none. Most of the time the movie is so empty that you actually don’t want a commentary track, especially since everyone talks too much about what happened during the filming. I don’t need to know which scene was shot first. I heard on the news that someone had stolen a truckload of bull semen. I wonder what the thieves are going to do with it. The possibilities are nauseating. The discouraging weather report is calling for heavy rain on Sunday. What I care about, of course, is whether or not it rains on the next Sunday. I heard about the death of Abe Vigoda and was sorry to see him go. I don’t care about what Jackie Cooper might have said about him. One thing I know about human beings is that their opinions are totally unreliable, as they’re not paying attention to anything, not listening, and they’re self-absorbed. I don’t care about what Tony Curtis said about Robert Mitchum, either, or what Bing Crosby’s son said about his father. I don’t care about what Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, or Oprah Winfrey have to say. I can make up my own mind about things. Some of the people who died on January 27 include Giuseppe Verdi (1901), Mahalia Jackson (1972), Andre the Giant (1993), Claude Akins (1994), Tige Andrews (2007), J.D. Salinger (2010), and Charlie Callas (2011). Today is a birthday for Rosamund Pike (37), Mimi Rogers (60), and Mikhail Baryshnikov (68). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind segment for January 27, the Elvis Presley single “Heartbreak Hotel” was released in 1956. In 1984, the John Lennon and Yoko Ono album “Milk and Honey” was released in the United States. In 1992, Michael Bolton and Paula Abdul were winners for favorite artists at the American Music Awards.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s