R, 142 min.
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, directed by Kubrick’s brother-in-law and long-time executive producer, Jan Harlan, is an evocative, eulogistic overview that offers a terrific, reference-understanding of cinema’s all-time greats. Narrated by Tom Cruise, and made shortly after Kubrick’s death in 1999, A Life in Pictures explores the notoriously reclusive and difficult—but, more importantly, ingenious, inventive and uncompromising—filmmaker through archival footage, film clips and interviews with people in Kubrick’s orbit. Absent is Kubrick himself, who, for the most part, let his films speak for themselves. But this lacuna only adds to the mystique of the artifacts left behind. Below, you’ll find two such splendors you may have missed.
PG, 184 min.
Ryan O’Neal stars as Barry Lyndon, an Irishman who ascends to English nobility in this epic period piece based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1884 serial novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon. Kubrick’s overlooked, relative commercial flop won four Oscars in 1975 for cinematography, art direction, original score and costume design. Using a lens that was originally intended for NASA but adapted by Kubrick for motion pictures, Kubrick was able to use the widest aperture ever in film and, thus, he took incredible pictures by candlelight alone. Barry Lyndon is a true time machine, transporting viewers into incredibly conceived tableaus reminiscent of Thomas Gainsborough paintings.
Paths of Glory
NR, 87 min.
Kubrick released the war film classic Full Metal Jacket in 1987, but, back in 1957, he made the trenchant anti-war film about WWI trench warfare, Paths of Glory. Kirk Douglas stars as a French colonel who defends his men in a cynical, court-martial show-trial. Great camera work, acting and writing, plus a perfect ending make this exposé of the futility of war an enduring classic.