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Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures" review

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001)

Directed by Jan Harlan

Tom Cruise.... Himself (Narrator) (voice)
Arthur C. Clarke.... Himself
Alex Cox.... Himself
Keir Dullea.... Himself
Shelley Duvall.... Herself
James B. Harris.... Himself
Michael Herr.... Himself
Nicole Kidman.... Herself
Anya Kubrick.... Herself
Christiane Kubrick.... Herself
Gert Kubrick.... Herself (archive footage)
Katharina Kubrick.... Herself (as Katharina Kubrick-Hobbs)

I've always been fascinated by Stanley Kubrick. Everyone knows he's a genius, made great movies etc. But the thing I found most intriguing about him was how intellectually interested he was in almost every subject matter under the sun. He could talk your ear off about whatever topic was on your mind. War, science, philosophy, you name it. In many of the books I've read about him, most people talk about how Kubrick always kept in touch with them yet they hardly ever saw him in person. Kubrick would constantly be asking them questions to see what knowledge he could get out of them. I also thought it was interesting how he always seemed to be sending books to people whenever something struck him as interesting and how you should drop what you're doing and read what he sent you.

Another aspect of Kubrick I admired was how he wanted his movies to be seen by as many people as possible. It seems like some directors make movies only for themselves. Kubrick wanted mainstream success but made his movies as challenging as possible. I wonder if he ever saw a contradiction in making movies as intelligently as he did and the desire of the mainstream film going public for simplistic entertainment.

"Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures" goes through each one of his movies and talks to various participants about their memories of working with Kubrick. But clearly since the documentary was put together by Kubrick's friends and family, it's not going to take an overly critical view of him or his movies. Ask Stephen King how he feels about Kubrick and you might not get the glowing praise that everyone else lays out. But overall, I found the documentary to be interesting. It's just unfortunate that Kubrick never took the time to set the record straight on anything. It would have been nice to hear him speak for himself instead of having half of Hollywood do it for him. That, of course, is his appeal. In an age of blah, blah, blah celebrities, here's a guy who doesn't care what you or I thought about him or his movies. His job was over when the movie came out. You liked it or didn't and life went on.

For people who don't know anything about Kubrick, the documentary is a good overview. But for others who do know a little something, it doesn't really add anything new to the Kubrick picture with the exception of a few home movies. This is not the last word on Stanley Kubrick. There probably never will be a last word.

One last thing, check out the "making of" documentary on "The Shining" DVD. It has a lot of scenes of Kubrick at work. It gives a fascinating look at Kubrick dealing with the actors, especially poor Shelley Duvall. He was the kind of boss who never raised his voice but you could tell by looking at his eyes that he was fed up with you.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 4 Kubricks at work

2 comments:

^_^ said...

Kubrick is probably the greatest filmmaker who ever lived. Paths of Glory, Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever be disappointed by one of his movies. All hail the king of cinema!!

Dr. Gore (drgore@hotmail.com) said...

Kubrick is the role model that all directors wish they could be. They never wil be though. He was unique. Can't say I loved all of his movies but I found all of them to be interesting.