Friday 22 November 2019

Kubism, Epilogue:
Stanley Kubranked

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You probably thought you'd seen the last of my Stanley Kubewaffle, what with Eyes Wide Shut being his last film and all. Well, I didn't come all this way just to make phenomenally incisive and original observations into each of his thirteen features and three shorts, you know: this is a film blog, so I am bound by convention to rank each of those films in order of my irrelevant preference. So here we go, and if you want to start at the start, head this way!

Catatonically boring corporate video for life on the ocean waves, shot entirely on dry land. It's literally ridiculous that you have to include this in the films of Stanley Kubrick, yet here we are. Completists gonna complete. Review

A dull and amateurish doc about a priest with a plane that struggles to wring interest out of its dry subject matter. Little wonder that this wasn't the film that would help Stanley Kubrick's career... (*puts on sunglasses, leans into mic*) take offReview

There's a clear eye for the dramatic and an experimental approach to temporality in this short documentary, but Kubrick's first foray into filmmaking reveals more about his past as a photographer than his future as as a cinematic genius. Review

Stan's first feature is an admirable failure: saddled with ponderous, preposterous dialogue, Fear And Desire examines the absurdity of war through a filter of pretentious pseudo-intellectualism. Primordial elements of Kubrick's future are there to be discovered, but my goodness you have to shovel a lot of shit out of the way first. Review

Kubo finds himself accidentally in charge of somebody else's film, and the results are predictably unhappy. Kirk Douglas looks great in his spray tan and weird underpants, but after three and a quarter hours you wish the film had concentrated on its real MVPs: Peter Ustinov and Charles Laughton. Review

The Kube's Cold War-era-defining satire is admirable and often brilliant, but its uneven comedic tone and one-note characters make it a tough sell. I'm virtually alone in this viewpoint but give it a few more decades and history will doubtlessly catch up with me. Review

A second-rate film noir with a standout visual aesthetic, Killer's Kiss shows Stanley Kubrick very much learning on the job. It looks fantastic, but in a genre where most films do, that's not enough. Review

A film of two halves, the first of which is top-notch, balls-out, classic Kubrickian eye-and-ear-candy that's arguably the last truly great thing he made. The second, sadly, is a bog-standard war flick which, in the shadow of Part One, could only ever disappoint. Review

Slow, boring and totally lacking in incident are just three of the wrongest opinions about Stan's artfully realised, 18th century take on toxic masculinity. A lavish treat for the eyeballs, Barry Lyndon contrasts visual beauty with mannered beastliness in minute, subtle detail. Review

A decent budget and a savvy producer helped Kubo make his first great film: a taut, experimental heist movie laced with the themes of hubris and absurdity that would distinguish much of his career. Characters sleaze off the screen and you could crack the dialogue with the back of a spoon. Review

Kubrick ponders free will, state control and the effects of violence on screen in the cinematic equivalent of a ferocious kick in the yarbles. Absolutely unique in concept and execution, A Clockwork Orange is the work of a fearless filmmaker that really make u think. Review

Stan signed off with his most mature, and arguably most misunderstood, work of art. Far from the A-list fuckfest its (mis)marketing suggested, Kubrick's meditation on marriage, fidelity, temptation, jealousy and sex people in daft masks took him in a new direction but stayed true to his lifelong preoccupations. Review

Stanley Kubrick makes you pity a paedophile in this indefinable oddity. Controversial, sure, but more importantly funny as fuck, with fully-drawn characters that blow The Kube's false rep as a cold, dispassionate director out of the water. Review

The Kube's first masterpiece is a devastating, furious assault on the injustices committed in wartime in the name of patriotism. Staggering in all the best and worst ways, with Kirk Douglas magnetic as one of Stan's few heroes. Review

Aided by a holy trinity of flawlessly OTT performances, Kubrick crafts the purest expression of psychological horror in all of cinema. The setup might have become cliché but the execution is timeless: after forty years every scene still oozes dread, every shot still spawns unease. Review

It's impossible to overstate the mesmerising fear and wonder 2OO1 elicits on every viewing: Stanley Kubrick's greatest achievement is a beautiful, terrifying mindfuck that asks all the biggest questions and answers precisely none (except how to do a poo in zero gravity). When highly evolved mankind looks back at its own primitive daubings, this will be the only clue that we belong to the same species. Review


OK, that really is it for Kubism. Thanks for your indifferent tolerance!

Title cards stolen from Christian Annyas

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