With the holidays nigh, you might be at a loss trying to find just the right gift for that special person in your life. You know, the kind that scoffs at sweaters, gift certificates or throws the fruitcake back in your face, as if to say, “Is that the best you can do?” What could be better in sating the soul of that hard-to-please person than the gift of Kubrick?
By bestowing presents that both honor and expound on the legend of the master storyteller, you’re sure to score beaucoup points among your intelligentsia friends, with the extra bonus of exuding that indelible aura of exceptional taste. (Although money always works wonders as a gift, too.)
Limited Edition Collection (Blu-ray)
(Warner Home Video)
Nine films on ten discs, covering forty years of work. ’Nuff said. Oh, sure, your annoying cineaste friend (you know, the one who keeps trying to convince you to watch a Tarkovsky film) might grouse that everything pre-1960 is missing (The Killing, Paths of Glory, Killer’s Kiss), but what is represented here is the essential Stanley. The set also marks the first time Lolita or Barry Lyndon are available on Blu-ray, although, sadly, both films lack any extras. Odds are everyone probably owns at least one of these titles, but all grouped together, and on Blu-ray, no less, makes this THE BOMB — one that Slim Pickens would be proud to ride! ($60-$80)
Room 237 Necktie (Zazzle)Looking for the ultimate power tie for that male exec on your list? Who would challenge a man wearing the rug pattern that runs outside The Shining’s notorious Room 237 on his chest? Available in both large and small patterns, this is a great reminder that fashion statements come in all shapes and sizes, and are especially significant when they commemorate a place where a decaying dead woman planted a lusty smacker on Jack Nicholson. ($35 per tie, from zazzle.com)
The Stanley Kubrick Archives (Taschen)/
Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon:
The Greatest Movie Never Made (Taschen)
Never mind that the size and weight of either book legally constitutes them as lethal weapons, there is enough Kubrickiana here to turn even the casual fan into a fact-spewing maven of minutia. At well over 500 pages, Archives is a visual feast, neatly divided into two parts. The first half contains over 800 stills (taken from originals) of every Kubrick film (sans Fear and Desire), presented chronologically, while the second part has essays, articles and a boatload of archival material. For those fortunate to have picked up the first edition, there’s also a seventy-minute audio CD and a 70mm actual film clip strip from 2001. That version has sold out, although it does pop up from time to time on the internet. But be warned — it’ll cost you almost as much as a couple of car payments.
Napoleon is loaded with overwhelming detail, including photographs, notes and drawings encompassing the countless years Kubrick spent researching the project and amassing volumes of information. Clocking in at over 1,000 pages, it also comes with a key card that gives you access to an online library of over 15,000 images that were assembled for the film that never was. A complete draft of the screenplay is also included. No one knows how the film would have turned out had it been realized, but this mammoth book certainly gives you an idea of what it might have looked like. Like Archives, Taschen released an initial premium edition, which included ten separate books, placed inside a hollowed-out larger book. It sold for $700, and now fetches four figures, easy, but some are still out there. Either way, these collections are the ultimate in coffee table books — that is, if the table doesn’t collapse under their hernia-inducing weight. (The Stanley Kubrick Archives $45-70, while Napoleon can be had for around $45 with shopping diligence.)
The Shining Skateboard (Think Skateboards)
Thrashers will go crazy for this Shining-inspired skateboard that features a drawing of the Grady Girls, Danny on his bike and “redrum” splattered on the walls. It’s part of a horror-themed series specially designed by Think. And what sk8terboi wouldn’t look cool doing ollies or fronstides on this deck while risking multiple fractures. Now that’s the real horror show. The board measures 32” long by 7.875” wide, and is made of seven layers of maplewood. Available in most major skate shops. ($49.99, also available at thinkskateboards.com)
Fear and Desire (Kino Classics)
The Completist. We all know one. You know, that guy who absolutely must have that unaired episode of some obscure show that was canceled forty years ago…in Gaelic. Or whose life won’t be complete until he owns every bootleg of every Pearl Jam concert ever performed on Earth. For a lot of Kubrick completists, this 1953 war film was the missing link — but now, thanks to Kino Classics, the wait is finally over. It is available for the first time ever on any home-video format, and has been dutifully restored by the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation (we’re not sure what that means, but it sounds damn impressive.) It also contains The Seafarers, a Kubrick documentary short. Now that’s it out, could everyone please just get on with their lives? Thanks. ($29-35 on DVD and Blu-ray)
Iris 9000 Voice-Control Module (Think Geek)
When Siri was first introduced a little over a year ago, the idea of the intelligent personal assistant that Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke first injected into the public consciousness in 1968 with the release of 2001 had finally come full circle. A talking program that sounded like a female HAL, it was now a consumer’s reality. Now, the clever craftsmen at Think Geek have taken it one step further by designing the Iris 9000 (Siri backwards, get it?), a module to link to your iPhone 4S. And not just any module, but one with the same kind of glowing LED red eye that reminds you of HAL and pulsates with Siri’s responses. It comes with a built-in mic, speakerphone and you can trigger it up to fifty feet away. No more screaming or extended button-pushing to get Siri to plan your day. Just a click and talk. The only question that remains is: When will Siri revolt and turn on you, just like HAL did? Oh, come on, you know it’s coming. ($60 at thinkgeek.com)
Paths of Glory (Criterion Collection)
If you’re searching for the turning point where Stanley Kubrick emerged as a world-class filmmaker, look no further than this anti-war classic. Sure, The Killing was pulpy fun, but Kubrick the artist emerged in Paths of Glory, the story of a French colonel (Kirk Douglas) who, during World War I, refuses what is basically a suicide mission for his soldiers, and then winds up having to defend them at a court-martial. Unflinching and raw, the film classic created controversy in Europe and was not even shown in France and Spain until years later after its release. Criterion delivers its usual class upgrade, with an audio interview with Kubrick from the ’60s, a TV interview with Douglas from the ’70s and new interviews with the brain trust of the Kubrick estate, producers Jan Harlan and James B. Harris, and Kubrick’s wife, Christiane, who also has a small part in the film as a singer. Most importantly, the black-and-white film has been spruced up with a new hi-def digital transfer and restores the aspect ratio to 1.66:1, as it was originally shown, instead of the 1.33:1 of the first DVD release. Along with Full Metal Jacket, this remains Kubrick’s definitive vision of the dehumanization of war, and is a welcome antidote to the proliferation of Hollywood pro-war films of the ’50s and ’60s. Take that, John Wayne.