Can we ever say enough about Stanley Kubrick? The director of Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining — to name only a few of his entries into the canon — generated a depth of interest still explored to this day by his fans and critics alike, not that he has many outright detractors. Those who praise Kubrick praise him to the skies, and even those who consider that a bit much still have to admit his powerful influence, never likely to dissipate, on cinema as a whole. Released in 2001, just two years after Kubrick’s death (which itself came just days after he completed Eyes Wide Shut), the 140-minute Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures reveals the life and work of the man who now stands almost as a Platonic ideal of the auteur, and it does so film-by-film, one at a time — surely, I like to think, the way the intensely focused craftsman himself would have preferred it.
To speak upon the impact of Kubrick’s pictures, the incomparable experience of working on them (not to mention the often incomparably trying experience of working with him), and the nature of the usually well-concealed personality that drove them, the documentary recruits actors like Jack Nicholson, Nicole Kidman, Keir Dullea, Shelley Duvall, Malcolm McDowell, and Tom Cruise (who narrates); other important collaborators like designer Ken Adam, composer Wendy Carlos, and science-fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke; colleagues like Woody Allen, Alex Cox, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Sydney Pollack (who also acted in Eyes Wide Shut); and, one advantage of having Kubrick’s brother-in-law Jan Harlan in the director’s chair, various friends and family members. An especially telling observation comes from a high school classmate of Kubrick’s, who remembers what the filmmaker-to-be told him when he asked why, instead of doing his own homework, Kubrick copied it from him every morning:: “He said to me, very simply and in what I learned was his characteristic quiet way, ‘I’m not interested.’”
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, literature, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Facebook page.