(continued from Stanley Kubrick: A Cinematic Odyssey Part Two)
The next Kubrick film I saw at the IFC Center was 1958’s Paths of Glory. I had actually missed out on a screening of this film back in November 2004 at MOMA, so I was thrilled to get another chance to see it. I had been aware of Kubrick’s anti-war film for a long time, and everything I had read about it did not stop me from absorbing the film’s impact. I had high expectations going into the screening, but this was one of those times where all of the praise the film had earned over the years still hardly did it justice. I cannot overstate how powerful and heartbreaking this film is.
The next Kubrick film I saw during the retrospective was one that I had been much eager to see on the big screen: 1971’s A Clockwork Orange. This was one Kubrick film I had actually seen on DVD a few times, but that didn’t ruin the experience for me (not one bit). I still can’t believe that Malcolm McDowell wasn’t nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. He managed to make such a despicable character so entertaining and, dare I say, endearing. Kubrick did such a great job with this film that it still has the power to shock even today.
In the summer of 2004, the Film Society of Lincoln Center held a special retrospective showcasing the best in widescreen cinema. Among the films shown was Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 classic Spartacus. I was unable to attend, but I would be given another chance at the IFC Center nearly nine years later. Although I’d already seen the film on DVD (courtesy of the Criterion Collection’s 2-disc DVD set), that didn’t diminish the enjoyment to be found seeing it on the big screen. Although Robert Harris did a terrific job with his 1991 restoration of the film, I was disappointed that Universal hasn’t done any further restoration work (especially with the technological advancements that have been made in the field of film restoration in the last 20 years). Nevertheless, that small complaint of mine is nowhere near enough to ruin the film for me. I was glad to see it as it was meant to be seen.
The next Kubrick film I got to see was 1955’s Killer’s Kiss. This film was actually shown at Film Forum this past January as part of a double feature (which itself was part of the New York Wave retrospective being held). Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, and I wasn’t quite sure I’d be able to see it at the IFC Center during their Kubrick retrospective (the showtimes for the two scheduled screenings weren’t exactly accommodating to my schedule), but I barely managed to catch one of the screenings. I was extremely exhausted, but I was able to stay awake to enjoy Kubrick’s film. Seeing what New York used to look like was pretty refreshing, and the film featured a well-told story.
By the time I got to 1987’s Full Metal Jacket, I was tired and physically drained due to a combination of work, lack of sleep, and long trips on the NY subway (especially when coming to Manhattan all the way from the last F train stop in Queens and beyond). It is then perhaps appropriate that Full Metal Jacket would be the final Kubrick film that I would see at the IFC Center during their Kubrick retrospective. Going to see the first five films (Eyes Wide Shut, Paths of Glory, A Clockwork Orange, Spartacus, and Killer’s Kiss) felt like the boot camp while going to see Full Metal Jacket felt like going off to the Vietnam War. I almost didn’t make it to the last screening, but I put in the extra effort and was able to still catch a couple of trailers before the film began. The effort paid off as I watched this excellent Kubrick film (this war film in particular is the reason I never wanted to join the military and never will).
Well, what’s left? I have now seen all 13 features of the master filmmaker known as Stanley Kubrick on the big screen. I’ve already seen A.I. as well. It was unfortunate that Jan Harlan’s excellent Kubrick doc Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures was not a part of the IFC Center’s Kubrick retrospective. After the retrospective, the IFC Center brought back The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey for weekend midnight shows (I was able to attend one of the midnight screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey). I’ve also gotten to see Room 237, the newest documentary that explores some of the theories behind 1980’s The Shining. This has been quite a cinematic odyssey I’ve been on. My decade-long odyssey is over, but the experiences I’ve had along the way will last forever. Thank you, Stanley Kubrick. I will enjoy and appreciate your films for years to come (as will others).