I was standing next to a wall covered floor to ceiling with Stanley Kubrick movie posters when I overheard a woman ask, “Where’s the poster for my favorite movie? Oh there it is! The Shining.” Kubrick’s classic movie that practically defined “scary” has that affect on people. Even if The Shining is the only Kubrick film you’ve seen, the retrospective of his work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is worth a look to catch a glimpse inside the mind of a film genius and auteur.
I’ve seen only four of Kubrick’s movies — The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut and Lolita. But after the LACMA exhibit, I want to watch his other movies, especially Full Metal Jacket, and Spartacus to see a young Kirk Douglas.
I started in a room with two large screens that were looping clips from his movies. It was a helpful introduction to the movies I wasn’t familiar with, especially the early ones, and provided context as I read about them later. I liked the quote from him that flashed on the screen at one point: “The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it.” It informed my understanding of what made his movies so powerful.
Next, looking at photos from Kubrick’s early career as a photojournalist, I could see why he became such a great filmmaker. He was a smart observer of people and emotion (like the sad, exhausted newsvendor next to a newspaper announcing “F.D.R. dead,” a photo he sold to Look magazine when he was just 17).
It’s a comprehensive exhibit but not too big. I liked reading his hand-written manuscript notes (like the changes he made to the classic scene in The Shining when Wendy discovers Jack’s been typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over). It also was interesting to read about the controversies surrounding his movies, like church leaders writing letters deploring his turning Lolita into a film, and censors in Europe pulling A Clockwork Orange from theaters.
After about an hour or so in the Kubrick exhibit I left to finally see Levitated Mass (the boulder you can walk under that was installed last year after a popular voyage from Riverside County). I didn’t quite see how it was art but it was still fun to take photos of.
After that, I tried to get the most out of my $20 ticket by seeing more of the museum, but I was hungry so it was a rush job. I looked at some American paintings, Arts and Crafts furniture, and a creamer made by my 10th-great grandfather Paul Revere (yep, I’m name dropping!).
I left around 2 p.m. and was happy to find that the food trucks were still parked on Wilshire across the street from the museum. I got two fish tacos from The Surfer Taco because I’ve been kinda obsessed with them lately (the whole leaving Cali soon thing), and sat on the grass in the warm sun. Behind me was a section of the Berlin wall that was random but cool nonetheless. It added more culture to my artsy day!
Next up, the space shuttle Endeavour!