Almost 20 years after his death, American director Stanley Kubrick is still revered as one of the best directors of Western cinema. For the first time in Melbourne, every one of his feature films will screen as part of the Stanley Kubrick Film Festival at Cinema Nova in October.
Every Kubrick film is worth seeing in a cinema. But with 14 to choose from, you’re going to have to be picky. Everyone knows Kubrick’s greatest hits; so here’s a list of his underrated works still worthy of your attention.
What you’ll want to see: A Clockwork Orange
What you should see instead: Paths of Glory
Throughout his career, Kubrick was interested in the ways people are dehumanised. While the teen violence of A Clockwork Orange made it controversial at the time, Paths of Glory – a grim look at the insanity and violence of World War One – hammers the same point home with even greater impact.
What you’ll want to see: Spartacus
What you should see instead: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Kubrick stepped in during filming to take over directing Spartacus (the original director, Anthony Mann, was fired after the first week of filming), and A.I. was a long-term project Steven Spielberg took over after Kubrick’s death. While neither is “pure” Kubrick, they both show his approach filtered through others’ eyes – and with A.I. you also get Spielberg deconstructing his own obsession with childhood.
What you’ll want to see: Lolita
What you should see instead: Eyes Wide Shut
For a director so often focused on death, his rare forays into sex are often dismissed. In the case of Lolita, the morals of the early ’60s were an obvious handicap; for Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick’s death prevented the last-minute tinkering he did with all his films. But it’s still a compelling, dream-like film that's perhaps Kubrick's most mature work. It's a film that deserves more respect than it usually gets.
What you’ll want to see: Full Metal Jacket
What you should see instead: Barry Lyndon
The often candlelit Barry Lyndon, a vivid period drama about a gambler and duellist, is perhaps Kubrick’s most visually stunning film – and its frequent stillness is a stark contrast to Full Metal Jacket's constant, noisy action. Also, it rarely gets a run on the big screen; whether you're a completist or a casual fan, the chance to see what’s been described as “a moving 18th-century painting” is too good to pass up.
What you’ll want to see: 2001: A Space Odyssey
What you should see instead: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Okay, there are some films that really do have to be experienced on the big screen.
The Complete Features of Stanley Kubrick Film Festival runs from October 6–19 at Cinema Nova, 380 Lygon Street, Carlton. Tickets on sale at the box office or online.