A Christmas Kubrick | Bleader

A Christmas Kubrick

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The whole gauzy, cozy feeling, darkening the edges to make your vision more myopic ... it's a prescription for a bad 60s porn movie. —cinematographer Ellen Kuras in Vanity Fair on Thomas Kinkade's instructions for filming The Christmas Cottage

Thomas Kinkade likes Barry Lyndon a lot. Or enough at least to reference it twice in the space of 16 guidelines he devised for establishing an appropriate "painter of light" mood for his inspirational debut feature The Christmas Cottage (out on video last week under the DVD rubric Thomas Kinkade's Home for Christmas).  

Would Stanley Kubrick be flattered? Consider guideline four: "Create an overall sense of soft edges, strive for a 'Barry Lyndon' look. Star filters used sparingly, but an overall 'gauzy' look preferable to hard edge realism." Which turns Barry into a luminous Hallmark greeting cum Kodak commercial, all soda water and fuzz, not much "darkness visible" behind the guttering candelabras. Or guideline nine: "Intimate scenes [should] be balanced by deeper establishing shots. (I know this particular one is self-evident, but I am reminded of it as I see the pacing of the depth of field in Kubrick's 'Barry Lyndon')." Say what?—as in "Take 20 paces and fire when ready, gentlemen." But presumably Kubrick had more on his interior-decorator's mind than the tit-for-tat functionalism of the shots.

A Riverside Art Museum curator says that "putting Thomas Kinkade in an art-historical context is like trying to put Jack Chick in the context of the illustrated comic strip," but I say that's just being nasty. And arguably Kinkade's guideline 16 has the ineffable last word: "Remember: 'Every scene is the best scene.'"

Uttered like a true beginner ... eat your heart out Warner Sallman.

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