For nearly as long as I can remember and certainly for as long as I’ve taken cinema seriously ,I’ve been a follower of the auteur theory. Even at a young age, I realized how influential a director was to the overall development and final artistic vision of a film. To this day, I tend to refer to films by their director rather than their stars or plot lines. The best directors leave their stamp on a movie no matter the genre.
Stanley Kubrick was truly an auteur in every meaning of the word. You can tell its one of his films by just watching a few minutes of the picture. His use of long tracking shots, distinctive music, lighting, meticulous mise-en-scène, and many other aspects all make his films very singularly Kubrickian. Though his movies vary in plot and genre from historical drama to horror, from anti-war film to sci-fi epic, they all encompass themes about human nature and the thin line between civility and barbarism.
That Kubrick was one of the great masters there is no doubt. He is well revered by pretty much everyone who is anyone in the world of film. This new boxed set brings together eight of his best films (Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut) plus three new documentaries (Kubrick Remembered, Stanley Kubrick in Focus, and Once Upon a Time…A Clockwork Orange - which is new to the U.S.). There are also two old documentaries (Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures and O’ Lucky Malcolm!) and a new 78-page hardcover photo book. That’s a pretty awesome collection of stuff.
Here’s that part where I remind everyone that my pick of the week has me pretending that my job includes me getting a free copy of whatever I pick each week. If that were true, this set would absolutely be the thing to pick. However, since no one has been so generous as to make good on that particular fantasy I have to back away a moment and note that while this is a very nice boxed set, the pricing for it is a bit much. The list price sits right at $200. That’s a lot of money to throw down on a ten-disk collection even if it does include a nice big book.
This is especially true since all of these films have already been released in various formats. It seems like the sort of people willing to dish out big bucks for a Kubrick box are the sort of people who likely already own these movies, which makes it a double or triple dip. The documentaries look interesting and the book sounds amazing, but I can’t really justify that kind of cost. But hey, it's Christmas season so maybe Santa will buy it for me.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Hercules: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as the mythical hero in this fun summer popcorn flick. They attempt to get a little meta with it by making Hercules nothing more than a man surrounding himself in the myth but they aren’t really serious about it. It's not really good, but if you are looking for some dumb action/adventure-having, it's not a bad waste of your time. It comes in a variety of formats including a 3D Blu-ray on down to the standard DVD.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: I wanted to love this trilogy as much as I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the first one was so full of filler that I didn't have the patience to sit through the second one. I’ll likely wait until the last one comes out and then buckle down one weekend for all three. Like Hercules, this one comes in Blu-ray 3D and the lesser formats.
Maleficent: Angelina Jolie’s take on the iconic Snow White villain was less interesting than it could have been. Here’s my review.
The Newsroom: Season 2: Aaron Sorkin’s ambitious take on a cable-news program is wrought with problems, but it's got enough of that Sorkin magic to keep me watching.
A Most Wanted Man: One of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s last pictures is a spy thriller set in Germany where Nazis have been replaced by the modern boogeyman - Islamic terrorists. I’ve not heard much word on this one, but I’ll watch anything with Hoffman in it.
Reno 911!: The Complete Series: I’m weird when it comes to comedy. I have very specific tastes when it comes to making me laugh and often that doesn’t line up with the rest of the world. This show is a good example of that. I have lots of friends who love it, but the little I’ve seen just leaves me flat.
Film Noir 10-Movie Spotlight Collection (Double Indemnity/Touch of Evil/This Gun For Hire/The Glass Key/Phantom Lady/The Blue Dahlia/Black Angel/The Killers/The Big Clock/Criss Cross): That is a terrific looking collection of great movies right there.
Quantum Leap: The Complete Series: I loved this show growing up but I have a sneaking suspicion it hasn’t held up over time. It's streaming on Netflix, so I think I’ll watch it there before I even think about buying.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E: The Complete Series: You can tell we are into Christmas season with all of the special editions and complete series coming out way. I’ve never seen anything from this series, but I’ve always heard good things.