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It's been a while since I last saw Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon." It's a film that demands attention be paid, and I so rarely find that I can sit down and settle in with it. But it's a masterful piece of work that deserves a couple of looks over the years, to be sure.
The Academy is offering one such look as part of its "Member Selects" series on Monday, May 21 at the Lighthouse International in New York City. "Capote" and "Moneyball" director Bennett Miller will be on hand to introduce the film (as "Member Selects" is a series where Academy members introduce one of their favorite films).
"Barry Lyndon" landed at an interesting time in film history. It was part of a dying breed of film, done with a certain magnificence that was becoming rarer and rarer (and, indeed, is one of a kind for the way Kubrick approached the material). It landed seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Of course, it lost those top tier categories to Milos Forman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," so it shouldn't hang its head. But the film did win a quartet of below-the-line honors for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (an element of the film which is legendary), Best Costume Design and Best Music Scoring (Original Song Score and/or Adaptation).
I say 1975 was an interesting time in film history because of one particular accomplishment: Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," which, three years after "The Godfather" and two years after "The Exorcist" showed what was truly possible at the box office and heralded the age of the blockbuster. That and the other nominees for Best Picture ("Dog Day Afternoon" and "Nashville") filled out one of the better slates in the Academy's own history. It was a treasure trove, really.
Then, a year later, "Rocky" beats the likes of "All the President's Men," "Bound for Glory," "Network" and "Taxi Driver." Go figure.
Tickets for the event are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. They can be purchased online at www.oscars.org or at the box office prior to the event (subject to availability).
Meanwhile, in case you hadn't heard, Kubrick's early films are set for home video release by Kino Lorber in the fall. Included in the set will be the short documentaries "Day of the Fight," "Flying Padre" and "The Seafarers," as well as Kubrick's first feature, "Fear and Desire" (which recently aired on TCM for the first time). Completists will want to spring for that. I actually just happened to watch "Day of the Fight" yesterday, as it's available on YouTube. It's embedded below if you'd like to check out Kubrick's first try at the moving image.
Elsewhere, "Barry Lyndon" star Ryan O'Neal recently released a memoir that's worth mentioning: "Both of Us: My Life with Farrah," which details his passionate but turbulent relationship with Farrah Fawcett over the years.
Oh, and one more Kubrick note. Rodney Ascher's documentary "Room 237," which explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings of the director's 1980 adaptation "The Shining" and was picked up by IFC Films out of Sundance, will be screening at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21. The same day as the "Barry Lyndon" screening, in fact. Coincidence? I THINK NOT. *Twilight Zone Theme*
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