American cinema's least Hollywood-like director never quite emerges from the shadows in this biography, but many useful...

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STANLEY KUBRICK: A Biography

American cinema's least Hollywood-like director never quite emerges from the shadows in this biography, but many useful career details do. LoBrutto (a film editor who teaches at the School of Visual Arts) freely admits to being ""totally obsessed"" with his reclusive subject, and his obsession shows as he traces Kubrick from Bronx child to Look photographer to London-based filmmaker famed for the vision and perfectionism of movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Full Metal Jacket. Along the way, every available fact is thrown in: not only Kubrick's school report cards (he was deemed ""unsatisfactory in social areas""), but a handwriting analysis that unsurprisingly reveals him as a ""perfectionist."" Fans of the ""master"" (as he is sometimes adoringly called here) will enjoy the wealth of detail, some based on new interviews, some on exhaustive canvassing of previous research. But the Holy Grail--an original interview with the director--is not here, nor are answers to such personal questions as what went wrong with his first and second marriages. Most of the people interviewed know Kubrick only superficially, and are unable to offer intimate insight. In place of that, LoBrutto provides ample behind-the-scenes coverage of each Kubrick film from conception to exhibition, exploring such matters as his early low-budget ""guerrilla filmmaking,"" troubles with Kirk Douglas on Spartacus, and the use of the Steadicam in The Shining. The prose is occasionally purple or obscure (what does it mean to say ""Wartime Lies is a penultimate Stanley Kubrick project""?), and some passages are repetitive, particularly when discussing Kubrick's penchant for many takes of the same shot. But on the whole, the book is readable and informative, both for devoted fans and casual admirers. A brave, and often successful, attempt to chronicle the life of a filmmaker famous for his noncooperation with chroniclers.

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 1996

ISBN: 0306809060

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996