What's on at Phoenix Picturehouse - Vintage Sundays
Heralded in 1968 as the most striking sci-fi film ever, Stanley Kubrick’s epic meditation on human evolution shines brilliantly almost half a decade later. The film opens with the discovery of a mysterious monolith by prehistoric, ape-like hominids. The narrative then jumps to the 21st century, when a scientist (William Sylvester) landing on the moon discovers an identical obelisk. Eighteen months later, a pair of astronauts (Dullea and Lockwood) journey to Jupiter in search of the monoliths with the aid of their omnipresent speaking computer, known as HAL 9000 (eerily voiced by Douglas Rain). The mission is fraught with tension and murderous intent as HAL begins to endanger the astronauts’ lives. Often regarded as a metaphor and moral allegory, Kubrick’s film is a visual tour de force with a stunning soundtrack.
A brilliant atom-bomb farce, endorsing with suspense and dark comic aplomb Kubrick’s characteristic vision of human fallibility and stupidity. It’s famous for Peter Sellers’ triple role, but George C. Scott, Peter Bull and Sterling Hayden give equally superb performances, the last as the unhinged air force general who launches a war of Mutually Assured Destruction.
Kubrick’s first film in epic mode (the sole occasion he worked as director-for-hire) recreates the slave revolt led by the Libyan gladiator Spartacus (Douglas) which panicked Rome around 73 BC. Written by left-wing scriptwriter (and former blacklist victim) Dalton Trumbo, SPARTACUS features a superb cast - particularly in the Roman roles - and displays a political and historical intelligence absent from most Hollywood epics. Recently restored in 70mm, the film climaxes with a memorable battle with avenging Roman cohorts positioning for the attack like pieces on a giant chessboard.
Thackeray’s titular 18th-century Irish rogue – energetically played by a young Ryan O’Neal – shoots a love rival in a duel and flees for Dublin, but convoluted mishaps soon find him fighting for both sides in the Seven Years War. His bravery and good fortune then lead him into a gambling career alongside the shady Chevalier de Balibari (Magee). Barry later meets, seduces and marries the beautiful Lady Lyndon (Berenson) against her family’s wishes, only to fritter away her fortune along with his chances of becoming a true member of the aristocracy. After the success of 2001 and A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick’s next film was another discursive, albeit very different, work – sumptuously filmed, meticulously scripted and performed with gusto. Following initial critical indifference, it is now recognised as a genuine masterpiece.
Contains moderate violence, sex and nudity.
Struggling author Jack (Nicholson) is installed as winter caretaker in an empty, snowbound hotel in the company of his wife Wendy (Duvall) and psychically gifted son Danny (Lloyd). But the hotel has a grim history, and as its dark soul begins to possess Jack, Danny too becomes enmeshed in its terrors. Based on the novel by Stephen King, Kubrick's superb essay on fluorescent-lit horror, with its combination of bleak comedy, creepy atmosphere and sumptuously horrible visuals, became an instant genre classic.
The quintessential chase film, digitally restored. Cary Grant gives one of his finest performances as the self-satisfied, suave ad exec who is mistaken for a spy and pursued across the country by enemy agents.
Director: Alfred Hitchock.
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr. USA 1954. 112 mins.
When James Stewart’s photojournalist is confined to his apartment with a broken leg in a sweltering summer in New York, he begins to observe constantly the lives of those around him. Passive activity evolves into voyeuristic obsession, until he thinks he has witnessed a murder… One of Hitchcock’s most celebrated and morally complex films, with the camera restrained as tightly as the incapacitated protagonist and aligned to his privileged and restricted point of view. Mordant wit, nail-biting suspense and a gallery of superb performances, not least from Raymond Burr as the victimised murderer across the way.