Just about every one of thirteen feature films Stanley Kubrick made in the half-century up to his death in 1999 provoked public controversy or was marked by major disagreements with his creative collaborators. This body of work, from 1953’s Fear and Desire to 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut, cemented Kubrick’s position as one of the masters of modern cinema and his reputation as an exacting perfectionist who drove actors and crew mad with his insistence on detail and endlessly repeated takes. It’s true: the Shelley Duvall / Jack Nicholson baseball bat sequence in The Shining was shot 127 times!
Gregory Monro’s riveting documentary upholds the received reputation to some extent but also reveals Kubrick as something short of the icy control freak of repute. He also emerges as a pragmatist and as a great believer in the creative potential of serendipity. Kubrick was notoriously reluctant to talk to the press, so the exceptional basis of this film – candid interviews given to French film critic Michel Ciment (“Kubrick tolerated me for a while”) in 1980 – is surprising and all the more so as it reveals the human side of genius. In its balance of interview extracts, talent talking heads, film clips and a tableau of memorabilia from the films (the latter staged in a reconstruction of the C18th interior at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey) it’s near-perfect. Pure gold for the Kubrick admirer and a great place to start for those unfamiliar with his films.
“…it’s the words of Kubrick himself, eloquent and precise, that give this documentary its driving pulse.” - Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter.
“…a fascinating portrait of a filmmaker who was – to a large extent – all brain, but could never totally conceal the tough New Yorker beneath.” - Meredith Taylor, Filmuforia.
“Kubrick By Kubrick is an hour or so of bliss for any cineaste” Nick Holdsworth, Modern Times Review.
CIFF audience comments:
‘It’s fascinating to hear Kubrick talk about the creative process.’
‘I feel compelled to watch his films again now that I am fully armed with new insights about the story behind them.’