Stanley Kubrick was a culture hero before the counterculture made that a common phrase. Bright city kids revered him for the iconoclastic wit of "Lolita" and "Dr. Strangelove" and they were the ones who started the ground swell for "2001" after its initially spotty business and reviews.
I was a suburban kid -- and I revered him too.
This week's deluxe Kubrick package from Warner Home Video includes every movie Kubrick made from 1960 on -- "Spartacus," "Lolita," "Dr. Strangelove," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "A Clockwork Orange," "Barry Lyndon," "The Shining," "Full Metal Jacket," and "Eyes Wide Shut."
So it does not include his first masterpiece -- 1957's "Paths of Glory," which is available on a superb Criterion Collection release -- or his terrific heist movie "The Killing," which opened 55 years ago this week. Criterion will put out "The Killing" on August 16.
But the Blu-ray set does contain one big plus: Jan Harlan's documentary "Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures" (Harlan is the brother of Kubrick's widow, Christiane). The title is a pun. Kubrick poured his life's blood into pictures, but this picture's greatest fascination is its visual record of his off-screen life.
We see the future director as a bright-eyed Bronx boy with a doting mother, a kid sister, a physician father well off enough to build and stock a darkroom, and the confidence to feel he didn't have to do his homework if it didn't interest him.
In later years, his relentless, analytic temperament led to movies that had a sometimes unbearable heaviness of being. Yet in clip form they come off as grand adventures in moviemaking. Biographically spotty (there's no mention of his first wife) and reverential of Kubrick's oeuvre to the point of absurdity (it's of the-master-only-makes-masterpieces school of art appreciation), the film is still -- for its entire one-hundred-and-forty-two minute length -- intriguing and enthralling.