In my opinion, Stanley Kubrick is the only director to have never made a bad movie. To be fair he only made 13 films over 40 plus years with other greats like Hitchcock making 50 plus during his run. Kubrick is the G.O.A.T. in my book. Behind the scenes Kubrick was an absolute nightmare to work for, but he is an undeniable genius. He was the Michael Jordan of filmmaking. These are my Top 7 Stanley Kubrick Movies.
7. “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999):
Many people do not understand what Kubrick was doing with “Eyes Wide Shut”, his final film. The man was so meticulous in every endeavor that truthfully he did lose a bit of being a person during each go-around. However, “Eyes Wide Shut” turned out to be the most exquisite example of how painstakingly grinding it is to be in a marriage. You can be incredibly attractive while feeling each other up in the mirror like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman do. What you cannot overcome is emptiness. Money, regret, and devious thoughts will only lead you towards a dark place. Too bad we all do that. Fortunately, Kidman’s character has the perfect solution to end the film; “Let’s Fuck”. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
6. “Full Metal Jacket” (1987):
There are several better war pictures in existence, no question. Yet nobody had the balls to take war and make it their own in cinematic form the way Kubrick did with “Full Metal Jacket”. The first segment centers around an actual former drill sergeant (R. Lee Emery) grilling the fresh recruits heading into the Vietnam War. This leads to a soldier being beaten by the platoon both physically and mentally and deciding to kill his platoon leader and himself late at night in the bathroom. Now we get to actual war. Vietnam was similar to an acid trip for so many soldiers on both sides. It was a war for no reason. Star Matthew Modine and the rest of his platoon hit the battlefield and find that real war is not what they believed it would be. You have your nights of heavy drinking and foreign hookers. You also have nights unable to sleep. The final part which most former soldiers will not admit to, understandably, showcase men committing unbelievably disgusting acts of inhumanity against people they do not even know. You’re talking stuff that a word does not come close to describing how this actually happened. And the worst part morally, it wasn’t necessarily their fault! You could not sum up the Vietnam war better than Kubrick closing out “Full Metal Jacket” with soldiers singing the Mickey Mouse theme from Disney Land. Because we’re ‘EMERICA’!
5. “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964):
It is impossible to sum up “Dr. Strangelove” better than a simple phrase. “GENTLEMAN, NOBODY FIGHTS IN HERE! THIS IS THE WAR ROOM!” Could not have said it better myself. In the midst of a Cold War between America and Russia (something I have zero experience first hand) Kubrick decided to make the ridiculous conflict a satire. And he was right. This conflict between the two countries was total “who has the bigger dick” terminology. In “Dr. Strangelove” a Brig. General (Sterling Hayden) goes nuts and decides to launch nuclear weapons against Russia. This does not go over well with the big wigs in the proverbial ‘War Room’ beneath the White House. The amazing Peter Sellers steps playing the President, Captain, and the title character who are all trying to stop the apocalypse. A phone conversation with the fictional Russian president Dmitri claiming we did nothing wrong seems very timely now. “Dr. Strangelove” is a film that predicted how ridiculous both foreign and domestic politics would continue even after the Cold War ended. Why is simply getting along while riding a giant nuclear bomb like a badass cowboy so difficult?
4. “Barry Lyndon” (1975):
In terms of sheer beauty visually, “Barry Lyndon” is hard to argue. This is like going to the Louvre in France and simply being floored by a painting for hours. Kubrick set out to make a painting on screen, and he did so with “Lyndon”. This is one of the strangest epics which is on brand for Kubrick. It has all of the elements of say a “Ben-Hur” or “Braveheart” in terms of sprawling battles and tricky romances combined with meticulously designed costumes. But what is really going on? There have been plenty of costume dramas made. What is the difference? Oh of course, Kubrick is at the helm and things will not be your normal. This guy had N.A.S.A. create a new lens that could shoot in literal candlelight. He also forced actors to learn how to do an old school traditional standoff one-on-one shootout. And then you have the war scenes juxtaposed with the hilarious robbery on the side of the road in a forrest taking place. Pure brilliance. Both giving a tip-of-the-hat and making fun of a time passed all at once.
3. “The Shining” (1980):
Horror is one of my least favorite genre’s. A world based on trying to scare you first instead of trying to establish a true story. Enter in Kubrick to blow open the curtains on the genre with some real stuff that has meat on the bones. No wonder Stephen King, one of the most overrated writers ever, did not like this interpretation of his work. The intelligence level of the film is so much higher than the source material could ever dream of. “The Shining” is a journey into insanity. With Jack Nicholson playing Mr. Torrance, a man who brings his family to a winter town to oversee a hotel during the winter, the idea of losing ones mind slowly becomes closer and closer with each day passing by. Torrance’s wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) has rising fear about her husband’s crazy behavior that may or may not be influenced by either booze or evil spirits. Everything comes down to a horrific chase between father and son around a beautiful garden maze in the snow. There are multiple stories behind the real life horror it was making “The Shining”. Doesn’t matter. Kubrick made, in my opinion, the greatest horror movie ever.
2. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968):
“2001: A Space Odyssey” was a movie way beyond its time. I do not mean that just in terms of how visually beautifully it is, particularly the visuals that saw space unlike anything ever nearly 10 years before “Star Wars” hit the scene. “2001” questioned who we are as human beings and what is truly our place in the universe. Obviously those questions are unanswerable, but Kubrick came pretty close by showing three different scenarios which span thousands of years. Prehistoric apes, moon-landers, deep space travelers, and a psychedelic trip through space and time are all a way to just try and crack the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the reason why any of us are alive and how we arrived on this planet. Who knows. But if the robot ‘HAL’ can teach us one thing, do not trust robots.
1. “A Clockwork Orange” (1971):
What else can I say I have not already with this one? “A Clockwork Orange” is, in my opinion, the greatest movie ever made. It is iconic, just ask the dude wearing a white suite with a top hat at your next Halloween party. It will happen even if they are wearing a freaky mask. What speaks to me most about what Kubrick did here is to define the sadistic side of humanity we refuse to admit is a real thing. Choose to believe or not in current issues like global warming, climate change, or #blacklivesmatter movements. Human beings are destined to destroy ourselves. Kubrick saw that it 1971. A sadistic killer given sympathy because the government goes through a process that makes him incapable of harming a person yet the public feels that it is his right to swing a cane whilst torturing and murdering people. That is crazy right? One would think. That is the reason why people become violent. When they see someone forced to do something it is time for freedom. Has nothing to do with our 2nd amendment rights B.S., it is about deep seeded anger that is in all of us. Alex Delarge (Malcom McDowell) represents the core of what most people are. Angry at something and will get revenge if the opportunity comes around. This character is the original ‘Slim Shady’.