Kubrick Retrospective Brings Big Screen Masterpieces Back Where They Belong

All movies are better on the big screen, but only some movies need to be on the big screen. This year’s best film, Dune: Part II falls in the latter category; last year’s best, Past Lives, probably falls in the former.

As I wrote recently, this tradition dates back decades, particularly with certain directors whose cinematic output just isn’t the same on a TV, laptop, or god forbid on an iPhone on the subway riding to work. David Lean is one of them, Akira Kurosawa another. And then there’s Kubrick.

Stanley Kubrick, the chess player turned photojournalist turned master filmmaker, produced thirteen feature films in the course of a five-decade career. Of those thirteen, at least ten are masterpieces. But then I haven’t seen them all yet, an oversight I aim to correct over the next month, thanks to Cineplex and its recently announced Kubrick Retrospective.

Anyone remotely interested in big screen spectacle – and that includes anyone who loved Dune, Oppenheimer, or any number of other recent special effects extravaganzas – owes it to themselves to check out at least some of these screenings. Read on for summaries and my thoughts on which ones to prioritize…

Kubrick Retrospective Brings Big Screen Masterpieces Back Where They Belong

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): Saturday, April 6; Sunday, April 21 and Wednesday, May 1
The greatest movie of all time, you say? Just go with an open mind and enjoy the trip.

Fear and Desire (1952): Friday, March 29 and Saturday, April 13
Kubrick would later disown this, his debut feature, and it’s easy to see why. A clumsy anti-war allegory, Kiss is most notable for featuring future director/writer/actor Paul Mazursky in a supporting role.

Paths of Glory (1957): Wednesday, April 3; Sunday, April 14 and Tuesday, April 30
Kubrick’s second anti-war picture is an unequivocal masterpiece, starring Kirk Douglas as a WWI colonel who must defend a group of soldiers at a court-martial hearing after they refuse to carry out suicidal orders.

Dr. Strangelove (1964): Monday, April 1; Sunday, April 14 and Friday, April 26
The funniest anti-war satire this side of In the Loop, Kubrick’s pitch-black nuclear comedy remains (sadly) timeless.

Full Metal Jacket (1987): Thursday, April 11; Monday, April 22 and Tuesday, April 30
Kubrick’s final anti-war film ups the stakes, the violence, and the insanity. From its opening training camp sequence through the hazy psychedelia of the Vietnam scenes, it’s a fascinating and deeply disturbing commentary on military culture.

The Killing (1956): Tuesday, April 2 and Wednesday, April 17
Kubrick’s first major work, The Killing is an exciting proto-Tarantino thriller about a group of very incompetent criminals getting themselves in very big trouble.

Spartacus (1960): Tuesday, April 23 and Sunday, April 28
Kirk Douglas also stars here, in the best sandals-and-toga flick ever made, about the heroic figure who led a slave uprising against the Roman Empire in the first century BCE. An all-star supporting cast includes Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons, Laurence Olivier, and Peter Ustinov.

A Clockwork Orange (1971): Friday, April 5; Thursday, April 18 and Sunday, April 28
Bleak, haunting, and not for all tastes, this is Kubrick at his most cynical. The opening act is particularly off-putting, though it does improve from there as unlikely protagonist Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell)’s saga gets stranger and stranger. Viewer caution is strongly advised.

The Shining (1980): Wednesday, April 10; Friday, April 19 and Thursday, April 25
One of the scariest movies ever made, The Shining has lost none of its, well, shine, in the forty-four years since it was released. Essential for horror aficionados.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999): Friday, April 12; Saturday, April 20 and Saturday, April 27
Kubrick’s final film, released after his death, is an imperfect but fascinating depiction of a deeply flawed marriage, featuring two Very Beautiful People (then-married couple Tom Curtis and Nicole Kidman) behaving very badly.

Finally, there are the three films I’ve never seen, so I can’t comment (yet!):
Killer’s Kiss (1955): Friday, March 29 and Saturday, April 13

Lolita (1962): Sunday, April 7 and Tuesday, April 18

And, I can’t believe I’ve never seen it, the multiple Academy Award-winning Barry Lyndon (1975): Sunday, March 31 and Sunday, April 21

Tickets for Cineplex’s Stanley Kubrick Retrospective can be purchased here. On now through May 1, 2024.

Participating cinemas in Ontario include:
Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas and VIP, Toronto, ON
Cineplex Odeon Eglinton Town Centre Cinemas, Scarborough, ON
Cineplex Odeon Ajax Cinemas, Ajax, ON
Galaxy Cinemas Barrie, Barrie, ON
Cineplex Cinemas Winston Churchill & VIP, Oakville, ON
Galaxy Cinemas Peterborough, Peterborough, ON
Cineplex Odeon Niagara Square Cinemas, Niagara Falls, ON
Cineplex Odeon South Keys Cinemas, Ottawa, ON
Galaxy Cinemas Guelph, Guelph, ON
Cineplex Cinemas Vaughan, Woodbridge, ON
SilverCity Burlington Cinemas, Burlington, ON
SilverCity Sudbury Cinemas, Sudbury, ON
SilverCity Thunder Bay Cinemas, Thunder Bay, ON