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Music Box Gifts Us With A Kubrick Christmas

By Joel Wicklund in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 22, 2014 4:30PM

Kirk Douglas in "Paths of Glory" (Photo: © MGM)

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like a masked orgy among the decadent rich or a father trying to murder his family with an axe, right? Well, maybe not, but if you're ho-ho-ho'd out and want to spend your Christmas evening a little differently, the Music Box Theatre is offering "A Very Kubrick Christmas."

Actually, although Eyes Wide Shut (with the aforementioned costumed shenanigans) and The Shining (with the axe-happy poppa) will play on Christmas night, the humorous moniker is really just an excuse for an outstanding retrospective of 12 of the 13 feature-length films directed by Stanley Kubrick. From Christmas through New Year's Day, two to three different Kubrick films will play each day, with The Shining getting additional midnight screenings on Jan. 2-3.

I have personal reservations about A Clockwork Orange; its social commentary has always seemed too obvious to justify its more unpleasant sequences, though it is brilliantly made. And Spartacus, though enjoyable as epic filmmaking, doesn't feel very "Kubrickian" — not surprising, as it was an outside project he took over when star Kirk Douglas had original director Anthony Mann fired. Still, any Kubrick film is worth seeing on the big screen and celluloid purists should take note that all the features showing are 35mm prints.

Kubrick has such a following that many of these films do get revived fairly frequently. If you want to prioritize the lesser-shown features, try and get to Killer's Kiss (1955) or Barry Lyndon (1975). Killer's Kiss is a raw, early feature (his second), but impresses with stylistic touches that show a filmmaker on the verge of greatness. Many find the 18th century period drama Barry Lyndon to be dull, but its rich visual design and muted emotions carry a lot of impact if you give yourself over to them in the right setting. This is definitely a movie that plays better in a theater than on a television screen.

If you haven't seen them yet, my picks for the most essential viewing on this schedule would be The Killing, Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining; though Lolita, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut all boast some unforgettable sequences.

The complete schedule for "A Very Kubrick Christmas" is available here.