Kubrick festival at Aero

Most of the cult director's films will be shown in restored digital prints

Nine of director Stanley Kubrick's films will be shown from Nov. 1 to 4 at kino Aero in Prague's Žižkov district. The entries range from The Killing, made in 1956, to Eyes Wide Shut, his swan song from 1999. All of the films are in restored digital prints.

Several films are missing though, including Spartacus, which Kubrick did not have full creative control over, and the anti-war film Paths of Glory. Some early works like the almost-never-seen Fear and Desire and Killer's Kiss are also absent.

The festival begins with two of Kubrick's lesser-known films, The Killing, a complex crime drama set in the world of horse racing, and Barry Lyndon, a three-hour costume drama starring Ryan O'Neal and model Marisa Berenson.

The Killing, with dialogue by crime novelist Jim Thompson, was not a success when it was first released on the bottom half of a double bill with a western. Over the years it has earned cult status. It has been cited as an influence by Quentin Tarantino, and listed as a “Great Movie” by Roger Ebert.

Barry Lyndon, released in 1975, also had mixed reviews and did relatively poorly at the box office, as it was not what the audience expected after A Clockwork Orange. But again, its critical assessment grew over the years and Martin Scorsese claims it is his favorite Kubrick film. The cinematography often re-creates famous paintings of the late 1700s, and much of the film was shot indoors with natural lighting, which was difficult at the time. The story is about an Irish rogue who tries to catapult himself into high society during the reign of King George III in England.

The second day of the festival at Aero gets into more familiar territory. Full Metal Jacket, released in 1987, takes us to the Vietnam War. It is basically two films back to back, with the first half about basic training and the second set in combat in Vietnam. Mathew Modine stars as Joker, who eventually becomes a war correspondent. The film is remembered, though, for R. Lee Ermey as the drill instructor.

The second film on Nov. 2 is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which hardly needs an introduction. The 1968 science fiction film traces mankind from the first invention of weapons to a manned mission to one of the moons of Jupiter. The talking HAL-9000 computer has become a part of popular culture. The film polarized critical opinion, with some noted critics finding it very dull, but it is currently the only sci-fi film on Sight and Sound's top 10 list.

The third day of the festival has Lolita, a 1962 film based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The story of a teacher in love with a rather young woman had to be toned down a bit due to restrictions in the 1960s. It was controversial at the time of its initial release, but it did make money at the box office.

That is followed by A Clockwork Orange, another film that needs little in the way of introduction. The 1971 film follows a group of misfits on a crime spree in a slightly futuristic world. The violent film originally received an X rating in the US, and was banned from screens in the United Kingdom from 1973 until 1999 due in part to some copycat crimes blamed on the film.

The festival closes Nov. 4 with three films. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a 1964 Cold War–themed comedy with Peter Sellers in multiple roles. The plot involves a deranged officer who orders a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union, despite the lack of a threat. The film was a popular success and is on several lists as one of the best films of all time.

The Shining redefined screen horror. The 1980 film, based a bit loosely on a Stephen King novel, follows a family in an isolated hotel in the winter. Jack Nicholson has one of his best roles as the caretaker who descends into a spiral of madness. The failure of Kubrick's previous film, Barry Lyndon, was a factor in Kubrick turning to the popular horror genre for a change. Filming was a grueling experience for all involved. The film actually was nominated for Razzie Awards, a sort of worst-film prize, but like many other Kubrick films, its reputation has grown.

The festival's final film is Eyes Wide Shut, which is also Kubrick's final film, although A.I. Artificial Intelligence made by Steven Spielberg after Kubrick's death is based on some of his ideas. Eyes Wide Shut, released in 1999, took a record 15 months of filming. Several parts had to be recast as the actors had other commitments. Kubrick died four days after showing his final version to Warner Bros. Tom Cruise and his then-wife Nicole Kidman starred in the odd tale of sexual obsession that culminates in a masked orgy. It was not what people expected, but was a box office success and had mostly positive reviews.

For more information, visit www.kinoaero.cz

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