“Dr. Strangelove” and the Paradox of Absurd Logic

A Year of Masterpieces: The Filmography of Stanley Kubrick

Introduction

Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a satirical masterpiece.  In this piece, we will discuss the germination of the great film and then detail how the director combines a serious camera (Part I), genuine but exaggerated characters (Part II), and a farcical tone (Part III) into one of the greatest condemnations of the military state of all time.  Kubrick’s aim is simple:  to subvert the grim seriousness of the Cold War by showcasing the absurdities that arise from taking concepts like “mutually assured destruction” and “nuclear deterrence” to their logical conclusions.

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“Free Fire” Attempts Farce, Ends Up Boring and Haphazard

In a strange paradox, executing a proper farce demands preternatural planning.  Stray but a little from the knife’s edge, and the tone can spiral out of control as the conflicting elements of the film separate like a broken sauce.  Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire suffers such a fate, though it isn’t for lack of effort or a gripping central idea.  The film tries to position some idiosyncratic characters in a bottle, shake everything up, and let them shoot guns at each other for 75 minutes, but too many of these elements are just a bit off the mark.  The characters and the performances mostly hit, and the inciting event feels reasonable, but the organization and the length of the fight strains comprehension and ends up being to repetitive to hold the spectator’s interest.  Free Fire does a better job than most genre-bending farces, but ultimately it just feels too boring for a movie centered around a free-for-all firefight.

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