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Sunday 19 August 2018

Unpacking the life of Stanley kubrick

STANLEY KUBRICK'S BOXES (More4) HEIST (RTE1)

Was Stanley Kubrick the Howard Hughes of the film world? Did the director of 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket go mad in the final years of his life, holed up in a house in St Alban's in the English countryside and living the life of a recluse?

His family and fiercely-loyal assistants don't think so, and neither does Jon Ronson who made this documentary.

Kubrick's people got very annoyed some years ago when satirical magazine Punch suggested that the great American director, who'd completed just six films in the 30 years before his death in 1999, was clinically insane.

All those wonderful films aside, Kubrick left a second legacy: his boxes. Half his home was taken up with cardboard boxes filled to bursting with notes, location photographs and memos, mostly related to the films he'd made but occasionally related to other, less obvious matters.

It Kubrick's assistant Tony Frewin who summoned Ronson, who'd had some previous, fleeting contact with the director, to the Kubrick estate to look at the boxes. Kubrick's widow, Christiane, gave Ronson permission to open and root through them before they were donated to the University of London. Kubrick's daughter, Anya, was a little more fearful of what Ronson might find and what he might do with it. She needn't have worried.

Ronson began by opening a box marked 'Islington', where he lives and where Kubrick's last finished film, Eyes Wide Shut, was set.

He found a photograph of a doorway near his home. On the back, Kubrick had unflatteringly scrawled 'Hooker's Doorway'.

Kubrick's photographer nephew told Ronson how his famously-obsessive uncle had sent him to photograph every single doorway and shopfront on that particular Islington street.

When he returned with thousands of individual pictures, Kubrick told him to Sellotape them together to make a panoramic view, which he dutifully did. When it came to film Eyes Wide Shut, however, the 'Hooker's Doorway', like many of the film's outdoor settings, was recreated on a soundstage in Pinewood.

There were fan letters, too. Though Kubrick rarely replied to them, he read every single one and scrupulously filed them away.

This was a wonderfully-quirky documentary, made with care and obvious affection. In its own way, the story was unfathomably affecting. I'm guessing Kubrick would have approved of it . . . though he probably wouldn't have written to Ronson to tell him so.

l Eyes Wide Shut was a film about sexual fetishes. I'm beginning to think someone in RTE has a fetish about crime and criminals.

Heist is a new but not especially original series which recalls famous, well, heists. This opener covered the raid by six members of the Real IRA on a Securicor van carrying IR£250,000 near Ashbourne, Co Wicklow, on the day in 1998 when 4,500 gardai -- fed up with low pay and little regard for their worth -- threw a collective sickie due to the 'Blue Flu'.

Unfortunately for these criminal masterminds, the Garda National Surveillance Unit had been tracking their every move. Replete with the coy dramatised reconstructions and unenlightening talking heads, it was bland stuff.

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