(continued from Stanley Kubrick: A Cinematic Odyssey Part One)
It would be over a year before I got to see another Kubrick film on the big screen. The Museum of the Moving Image held its annual NY Film Critics series in January 2005 (a NY film critic picks a movie according to that that year’s theme and introduces the screening). One of the films chosen that year was 1962’s Lolita. I actually arrived late at the Museum, but luckily I only missed approximately the first 10 minutes of the movie (James Mason just arrived at the house where he would soon meet Lolita and her mother). I wasn’t very familiar with the source material, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying Kubrick’s film. Peter Sellers was a particular standout for me.
Seven years later would pass before I got another chance to see a new Kubrick film on the big screen. In April 2012, the annual New Directors/New Films festival took place at MOMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. For the first time ever, the festival would screen a classic film that was also a first feature. The film chosen was none other than Stanley Kubrick’s debut feature, 1953’s Fear and Desire. I had actually missed out on the chance to catch a rare screening of the film at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater in May 2003 (sadly the theater closed down in late 2007), so I did not want to pass up another opportunity to see it. I would attend the screening held at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center, and the film was as good as I knew it would be. Watching the film, I could sense the foreshadowing of themes Kubrick would later explore in 1958’s Paths of Glory, 1964’s Dr. Strangelove, and 1987’s Full Metal Jacket.
It was only a few weeks before I got to see another Kubrick film, this one being 1975’s Barry Lyndon. In May 2012, the Academy Lighthouse Theater (on 59th St. off Lexington Ave.) screened a brand new 35mm print struck by the Academy (yes, the same A.M.P.A.S. responsible for the Academy Awards). It would be the first time in over six years that I attended a screening there (the last time I was there I saw 1963’s Hud, which was introduced by Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne and Oscar winner Patricia Neal), and it would be a wonderful experience. The screening was introduced by Oscar nominee Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball). As for the film itself, I was surprised at how good Ryan O’Neal was, and I was in awe at the beautiful cinematography.
10 months would pass by before I found out that the IFC Center was going to have a week-long complete Stanley Kubrick retrospective in March 2013 (they were even going to screen A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which I had already seen at Symphony Space in May 2003 as part of a double feature with Minority Report). The retrospective was part of the IFC Center’s promotion of Room 237, a new documentary about several theories regarding Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining (which would open at the end of March). Knowing full well that I’d never get to see every Kubrick film shown that week, I decided to concentrate on the six remaining ones that had not yet seen on the big screen.
The first of the six films I saw in the Kubrick retrospective was 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut, his final masterpiece. I’ve read some production info on it over the years as well as seen the portion from Jan Harlan’s documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures (a film that should’ve been included in the retrospective) that dealt with this film. The print that was shown was of the U.S. theatrical version, which featured some digitally added people to block some of the sexual content (which would’ve been against Kubrick’s wishes as the MPAA misunderstood those scenes; the unrated version was available internationally and is the only version available on the Blu-ray and 2-disc DVD). I was still surprised by the film (in a good way) and before I knew it the 160 minute running time went by in a flash.
(To be concluded in: Stanley Kubrick: A Cinematic Odyssey Part Three)