Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Ghost of Kubrick Loiters in Times Square

By Steve Evans

Stanley Kubrick was on to something.

When the late director filmed 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), he had the brilliant idea to use a shiny, black monolith as the medium for triggering an evolutionary advance in the intelligence of Primitive Man. The awestruck apes encountered the monolith, touched it, and the next morning were seen using bones as rudimentary tools. The monolith sparked enlightenment in their little monkey brains, causing neurons to fire and bridge the connection between synapses heretofore unused.

I was reminded of this while exploring Times Square on Halloween with my wife and infant daughter, who got her mind blown by the animated billboards for which this “Crossroads of the world” is justly famous. Annabelle stared, mouth agape, at the illuminated Spectaculars, as the billboards are known, towering hundreds of feet overhead on the skyscrapers. At one point she seemed to go cross-eyed, just like astronaut Dave Bowman during the climactic stargate sequence in 2001.

The next morning, Annabelle began to crawl, used a spoon to feed herself for the first time and said “daa-daa-daaaa...da-da” whenever I entered the room. Not exactly "Thus Spake Zarathustra," but it caught my attention.

While the child may not be ready for interstellar flight, she unquestionably changed overnight, perhaps as a result of seeing one of the most famous landmarks in the world pulsating with light like a forest of gargantuan Christmas trees. Something clicked in her baby brain, which became open for the first time to … possibilities.

Yup, and Manhattan is a lovely place to be in late fall, with the wind whistling through the concrete canyons and the trees in Central Park glowing orange, amber, burnt sienna and golden brown, like Gordon Willis’ memorable cinematography in The Godfather (1972), Annie Hall (1977), The Godfather Part II (1974) and III (1990)... and….

Right. That’s enough.

Copyright © 2009 by Cinematic Cteve // dba Cinema Uprising. All rights reserved.

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