Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

When Stanley Kubrick died on 7 March, 1999, it was some twelve years since the release of his last film, Full Metal Jacket; but all was not lost. He’d been working for some time on a new movie, and just days before his passing, he had screened a cut of it to some executives and […]

Everybody thinks everything is overrated or underrated. That’s the fun of it: it’s why we get to latch onto certain books or movies or video games or whatever as the objects of our special, private passions, and why we get to feel superior to all the people who like… that. In the career of Stanley […]

We now hit the point where Stanley Kubrick, Methodical Auteur, turns into Stanley Kubrick, The Hermit Artist. Four years, almost to the day, separated the premieres of 1971’s A Clockwork Orange and 1975’s Barry Lyndon, not quite enough to make it the biggest gap in his career to that point; and given the complexity and […]

I’ll ask you to forgive me for being perverse enough to start a discussion of the most notoriously impersonal and inhumane film of Stanley Kubrick’s career with a personal statement, but I don’t really know what else to do. The thing is, y’see, I love Barry Lyndon – not because it is great, but because […]

By no means is it an accident that the 1971 dystopia thriller and blackhearted social satire A Clockwork Orange opens – after the disorienting title cards, blocky white text on screaming primary color backgrounds with droning electronic music in the background – with a shot of its protagonist, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) staring directly into the […]

2001: A Space Odyssey is the sort of movie that frequently gets called “difficult”. Which is, ultimately, never true of a film that costs that much money laid out by a major studio (MGM, in this case), though I’ll concede that if by “difficult” one means “the ending is a deliberately obscurantist explosion of borderline […]

The story is well-known, as such things go: how, adapting the serious-as-cancer thriller Red Alert into a screenplay (the book’s author, Peter George, and satirist Terry Southern also worked on the script), Stanley Kubrick got to thinking that the fact that all of humanity, in the 1960s, was being held back from nuclear annihilation only […]

“How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?” screamed the breathless, wink-wink ad campaign in 1962. And this question was obviously meant to ask: how did they ever make a movie, under the moral auspices of the American film industry at that time, based on the 1952 novel about a middle-aged literary scholar and […]

1960’s Spartacus was the third and last feature film of Stanley Kubrick’s career that he would later disown, for the best reasons of any of them. Unlike Fear and Desire and Killer’s Kiss, it wasn’t humiliation at a half-formed talent of youth that led him to later (and “later”, in this case, means “almost instantaneously”) […]

Typically, Paths of Glory is described as an anti-war movie, but this is accurate only to a degree. It is, certainly, a movie that has fairly intense negative feelings about the act of warfare and what it does to the people fighting in them, with American cinema’s first really horrifying depiction of what was once […]

With The Killing, we arrive at a very exciting moment in the career of Stanley Kubrick, just shy of his 28th birthday when the film premiered in June, 1956: his third feature and sixth project overall is the very first work of the director’s career that he’d acknowledge existed in later years. That’s not entirely […]

For anyone with much investment in Stanley Kubrick as a cinematic stylist – and it’s hard to imagine anyone being significantly fond of him as a director without having a lot of specific affection for the surface-level elements of his style – his sophomore feature, 1955’s Killer’s Kiss, is somewhat of an ideal case study. […]