Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick is my second favorite director, next to David Lynch. All of his movies look like things you've never seen before (unless, of course, you've seen the zillions of imitations). They have a combination of cold rigidity and warm fluidity that I've become addicted to.

Killer's Kiss (1955) -- Embryonic Kubrick, it's nice to watch (particularly for the few Kubrickian elements that surface from time to time), but only a mild suggestion of things to come. C

The Killing (1956) -- I guess Quinten Tarantino wouldn't have existed without this movie. Pretty engaging stuff for one of those crappy ol' noir pictures. B

Paths of Glory (1957) -- A wonderful anti-war movie that shows both the humanity and lack of humanity present in us, with a fantastic and inspired ending that makes me want to cry with the soldiers. A

Spartacus (1960) -- Not bad for one of those big epics. Peter Ustinov was the best thing about it. B

Lolita (1962) -- Maybe a half hour too long, but the movie manages to dig into the feelings pretty well: especially of the just-out-of-reach unattainable (and, eventually of course, attainable). A very subtly funny movie too. I'm also convinced that the restrictions placed on the subject matter because of the time period only made it a better film. B

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) -- This is probably where Kubrick really hit his stride which lasted until his death. This movie about the higher-ups when it comes to war is very funny: Peter Sellers and his three great roles, George C. Scott's excellent General Jack D. Ripper, and of course the highlight of Slim Pickins bullriding the bomb to his death. A

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -- The ultimate Kubrick movie and my favorite (also one of my favorite movies by anyone), this movie proved that a science fiction movie could be artistically legitimate, but it did a lot more than that since it showed what any movie was capable of being. The slow pace of the movie is completely captivating in a way that many flashy fast movies are not, from the prehistorical beginning to the space waltzes to Dave vs. HAL to the amazing ending. A movie everyone should see. Probably the most referenced movie in history. (See Peter Hyams for the sequel, 2010.) A

A Clockwork Orange (1971) -- From the opening shot of the classic "Kubrickian stare" till the end, this is pretty captivating, especially today when we're used to a particular kind of acceptable violence. A movie that refuses to give you many hints or analyze itself, also jumping from genre to genre, being like a horror one second, then a comedy, then just silly, then totally serious. A

Barry Lyndon (1975) -- An odd choice of a movie for Kubrick to make at this point, but I like it a great deal. The story is fantastic, all of the little events in Barry's life, one thing after another; and the way it is shot is great, with a slow rhythm, lots of slow zooms, slow acting. Everything nice and slow. A

The Shining (1980) -- A scary movie, second only to The Excorcist. The first half or so of this movie is the best, with Danny's visions, shot with a steady-cam and very quick shots. Once Jack Nicholson starts chasing Shelly Duval around the house, it turns into normal horror, but it doesn't take away from the movie as a whole. A

Full Metal Jacket (1987) -- The drill sergeant first half, leading to Private Pyle's "major malfunction" is the best part of this movie. The second half is good for a war movie, but a war movie is just a war movie, especially when the climax is "It's a girl!" I'm just saying that I'm not sure it has as much of a drive as some of his other films, like his other war movie Paths of Glory. But it's still a delight to watch. B

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) -- The criticism for this movie seems to be that in 1999, adultery isn't that big a deal anymore, so it's not worth making a serious movie about. Of course, it is a big deal--it's just been done to death the same way over and over. My defense of this movie is that this isn't done the same way, just as his sci-fi wasn't done the same way. So what we have is a couple who really don't want to cheat on each other, as much as they are tempted, and the real terror is admitting to each other and to themselves how much they are tempted. Nicole Kidman's admission of her feelings for the navy guy to Tom Cruise is worth the entire movie, and her terrifying laughter, Tom Cruise's brooding drives, and of course the creepy masked party doesn't hurt. A

Copyright (c) Dec 2000 by Rusty Likes Movies