cover image Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker

Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker

David Mikics. Yale Univ., $26 (248p) ISBN 978-0-300-22440-5

The life and work of movie director Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) are briefly glossed in this compact, informative work from literature scholar Mikics (Bellow’s People). Drawing on Kubrick’s archive, interviews with his friends and family, and previous studies of his work, the book skims the filmmaker’s Bronx childhood and early photography career, and focuses on his films, from his first short, Day of the Fight, to the posthumously released Eyes Wide Shut. In Mikics’s account, Kubrick was a perfectionist, demanding from his financial backers, in his own words, “complete total final annihilating artistic control.” However, he could also harness the power of spontaneity; his film shoots resembled an “experiment on his actors, [with Kubrick] waiting to see where more and more takes might lead them.” Off set, he was equally attentive and obsessive; a screenwriter on Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick’s film about the Vietnam War, described their working relationship as “a single phone call lasting three years.” There are welcome insights into Kubrick’s career, from his unrealized desire to make a film about the Holocaust to his decision to leave the eroticism out of his 1962 adaptation of Lolita, because otherwise “the film could not have been made.” Kubrick fans will enjoy this brisk but thorough biography of a consummate filmmaker. Agent: Chris Calhoun, Chris Calhoun Agency. (Aug.)