(The following essay was written days after Kubrick's death on March 7, 1999.)
Stanley Kubrick's swan song, to be released posthumously on July 16, will be Eyes Wide Shut, which many people otherwise know as the new Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman vehicle. Had the notoriously exacting director finished it in time? Yes. According to industry reports, Kubrick's cut of the film was screened on March 2 for Warner Bros. executives, then shipped back to Kubrick in England; on March 7, he was dead. I can imagine him holding out just long enough to receive the reels back into his waiting hands; I can further imagine Kubrick, after two tortuous years of tinkering, recasting and reshooting, finally letting go of his movie and his life in the same breath. Not quite a Kubrickian notion (the image owes more to Welles), but a comforting one to us nonetheless.
I will spare you the conceit of Kubrick on his deathbed, pointing at the monolith and ascending to the heavens, born again as the star child. Few deaths in his films were so poetic; people tended to die abruptly, violently, even comically, but seldom romantically. "I can hack it," sputters the dying Arliss Howard in Full Metal Jacket, spitting bile from a sucking chest wound. Those are his last words -- nothing profound, just the fear of death disguised as unfounded optimism. For Kubrick, death was a sick joke; life was a sick joke. The protagonists of his films over the last 30 years have all been detached in some way, removed from all suffering except their own -- a direct line connects the blank astronauts in 2001 to the blank soldiers in Full Metal Jacket, and both Dave Bowman and Private Joker perform what can only be called mercy killings. Death: the big switch-off, the ultimate trigger-pull. Kubrick himself was something of a private joker: Only the initiated, the sardonic like-minded, could really dig his midnight-black view of humanity -- though underneath it beat a true humanistic heart, the sensibility of a man who felt we could be better. His job wasn't to provide answers or suggestions as to how we could be better; he just illuminated the areas in which we have a lot of work cut out for us as a species. As saddened as I am by Kubrick's passing, to get sentimental about him now would be to violate the lessons of his work, which will survive all of us.
The main program on Kubrick's hard drive was dehumanization -- men devolving into beasts or being turned into cold hard machines (which is another kind of devolution). In Kubrick, we are given intellect and will, only to use it to dominate and control others, to indulge in some ultraviolence or the old in-out in-out. The use and misuse of language also fascinated Kubrick -- the lingo that distances us from the implications of what we're doing, and dehumanizes others so we can justify victimizing them. "Enough of words. Action speaks louder than," says a politician in A Clockwork Orange, and there is a definite tension in Kubrick's films between the word and the image; almost all his movies feature narration (fittingly, The Shining -- about a blocked writer -- is a notable exception). Clockwork offers the most delirious linguistics, with sights to match (Anthony Burgess, author of the original novel, is responsible for the lingo), but Kubrick was just as pleased with real-life doublespeak, particularly the military sort heard in Dr. Strangelove, Paths of Glory (a Kubrick masterwork sorely due for reappraisal), and Full Metal Jacket.
Kubrick's movies, especially Dr. Strangelove on, are distinguished by an intellectual rigor as well as a dynamic purity of design. No movie announces itself quite so boldly as a Kubrick film; they get in your face right at the start and then pull back -- literally, in the case of A Clockwork Orange, which opens with plain credits against bright mod colors, accompanied by Walter Carlos' mischievous Moog-rape of Purcell's "Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary," the first image being Malcolm McDowell leering up into the camera (the famous "Kubrick crazy-face"). The camera then zooms out slowly, encompassing the whole of the Korova Milkbar. It's as if to say, Here is your guide, and here is his world. I am willing to say that nobody started a film better than Kubrick; think of the Dawn of Man sequence in 2001 (what the hell does this have to do with space travel? we are compelled to watch and find out), the ominous mountain shots in The Shining (with the credits oddly scrolling), the borderline slapstick head-shaving montage wedded to the mournful country-tinged "Hello Vietnam" in Full Metal Jacket (what the hell kind of war film is this? we are compelled to watch and find out). Kubrick hooked you and kept you hooked.
He wasn't too shabby at endings, either. For here was where Kubrick's mordant wit really came out to play; he took care to seal things with a perverse joke, usually accompanied by an incongruous yet somehow brilliantly appropriate melody. He killed us all off to the tune of "We'll Meet Again" in Strangelove; he reprised "Singin' in the Rain" at the close of Clockwork, leaving us to imagine the cured Alex loose in the streets, kicking his heels (among other things) in a cracked mirror image of Gene Kelly; he left us with two shots of Jack Torrance in The Shining -- one mortal, frozen in the snow, one immortal in a roaring-'20s photograph, with period music to match; the soldiers in Full Metal Jacket marched out singing the "Mickey Mouse" theme song, which faded into the Stones' "Paint It Black" -- as good a summing-up of Kubrick's philosophy as any. Then, of course, the baffling final reel of 2001, destined to be debated long after Kubrick and the rest of us are dust.
In a Kubrickian circular motion, then, we return to Kubrick's own ending -- the master falls after completing his last work. As a director's fantasy, this perhaps runs a close second to actually dying on the set after calling the final "Cut!" The sad ironies pour in: He never got to see the movie open, never got to see Warner's batch of DVDs of his films come out, never got to finish that much-talked-about A.I., which he was rumored to be filming four months at a time every five years. And he never got to make his dream movie, a biopic of Napoleon, in which Jack Nicholson was once interested, and for which Anthony Burgess had written a screenplay rejected by Kubrick. No matter how good Eyes Wide Shut may turn out to be, one can't help feeling that Napoleon would have been a much grander finale. Damn him for being so slow! The movies he never made would wipe the floor with most movies that do get made. Unlike Welles, Kubrick couldn't point to unfriendly studios as an excuse for his lack of productivity; he had Warner Bros. by the balls, having earned their hands-off, unequivocal support for any project he chose to pursue.
That he chose not to pursue much over the last 20 years is as much a blessing for us fans as it is a curse. There were no Kubrick bummers, no movies he did for the money, no movies he didn't have his black heart in. Eyes Wide Shut might seem the exception, a conscious sell-out with two big box-office stars, but it's important to remember that Jack Nicholson wasn't exactly an obscure dinner-theater actor when Kubrick hired him for The Shining, and Kubrick must have caught the first faint whiff of the mid-'80s Vietnam craze in the air (initiated, one could argue, by Rambo) when he began production on Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick was a businessman as well as an artist. As for Eyes Wide Shut, it's said to be based on the Arthur Schnitzler novel Rhapsody: A Dream Novel, which he had talked about adapting since the early '70s. Why not cast Hollywood's cutest couple as a debauched psychotherapist couple having affairs with their patients? The endlessly perverse Kubrick would have cast Tom Hanks as a leprous child molester -- and Hanks, like Tom Cruise and every other actor in his right mind, would have leaped at the chance to fondle toddlers for Kubrick's camera.
Kubrick was also, it must be said, a pain in the ass. If there is any comfort in his prerelease death, it is that he won't be around to micromanage every aspect of Eyes Wide Shut's distribution, marketing, and exhibition; he won't be around to inspect each theater and approve the footlights, the projectors, the cushions on the seats, the tiles in the bathrooms. Above all, he won't be around to demand yet more reshoots or diddle with the footage for another two years. Then again, maybe it isn't a comfort. All wise-ass comments aside (and wise-ass comments are appropriate when eulogizing our premier wise-ass filmmaker), Kubrick gave a damn. He took years and years between projects, and he took years on each project. He took hundreds of takes, he took the energy of his cast and crew, he took and took. But he also gave. The proof is on your shelf, if you own most of Kubrick's films on video. Stack them side by side and scan the titles; ask yourself if there's a turkey in the bunch. There isn't. Eyes Wide Shut will be his final gift to us; some will inevitably slam it as an unworthy swan song, while others will lionize it as a fitting coda. Either way, the fact of his death will only add weight and anticipation to the movie. Stanley Kubrick's final film! Way to steal George Lucas' thunder, Stan! Good planning!
After the movie is gone from theaters, we may feel his passing a second time, a pang of renewed grief when we see the sad words EYES WIDE SHUT: FINAL DAY in the theater listings. Then, some months later, it will take its place alongside its siblings, on the shelf with Kubrick's other films. After that, there will be no more. Having broken his decade-long silence, Kubrick has fallen silent forever. His work will continue to speak eloquently on his behalf.
With the exception of a few early newsreels and Fear and Desire, Stanley Kubrick's output is readily available in VHS and DVD formats. In the summer of 1999, to capitalize on the double whammy of Kubrick's recent passing and the release of Eyes Wide Shut, Warner rushed out the first Stanley Kubrick Collection, a roundly despised boxed set of DVDs (they came out on VHS too, but few Kubrick fans cared about those, as they already owned the films on tape). The main complaints: not much in the way of extras (save for the Shining disc, which contained the excellent making-of documentary by Kubrick's daughter Vivian); most of the films weren't letterboxed; and the transfers, taken from old laserdisc/video transfers, were horrible, especially the botched Barry Lyndon disc. A positive review of the set was harder to find than a black character in Eyes Wide Shut.
In 2001 (nice synergy), with the help of Kubrick friend Leon Vitali, Warner put out a second collection, this time incorporating Eyes Wide Shut as well as an only-available-with-the-set documentary, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. The critics were much kinder to this version 2.0, praising its rejuvenated visuals but still carping a little about the dearth of bells and whistles, along with a new complaint: the audio remastering of the films in stereo, a format Kubrick reportedly disapproved of. In answer to these complaints, the much-interviewed Vitali said that the discs contained few extras because Kubrick apparently felt the movies should speak for themselves; as far as the stereo controversy, Kubrick only used mono because he didn't trust the capacity of most theaters to deliver an accurate stereo mix the way Kubrick designed it (whereas with mono the margin for error was almost zero). Since DVDs are a home format, and since most DVD buffs are also audio wonks, Vitali felt confident that Kubrick would have approved of the use of remastered stereo for home versions of his films in the digital format.
Even the digitally challenged, however, can catch up with most of the Master's work on VHS. The major exception is Fear and Desire, Kubrick's 1953 feature debut, a war movie which Kubrick later dismissed as "a bumbling amateur exercise...a completely inept oddity, boring and pretentious." Gee, sounds like a recent war movie by a similarly hermitlike director....
KILLER'S KISS (1955)
Kubrick also didn't much care for this second feature, and one can't blame him. It's a bit of hard-boiled juvenilia (he was 27 when it was released) with corny, ludicrous narration. Trying to fit Killer's Kiss in with Kubrick's later masterpieces is really stretching it; it's best viewed as an early exercise, like Robert Altman's potboiling 1957 debut The Delinquents. Jamie Smith is a boxer who falls in love with Irene Kane, angering her boss Frank Silvera. There's some hilarious drawn-out footage of a ballerina played over the leading lady's endless story about her family -- it's obvious padding. Eventually the hero and the villain face off in a warehouse full of mannequins, in the movie's most memorable sequence; Kubrick nerds have linked the scene to 2001, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining, but it reminded me more of Kalifornia. The movie inspired 1984's Strangers Kiss, probably a more interesting film. Kubrick also did the editing and cinematography. Howard Sackler wrote the screenplay, but Kubrick gets sole writing credit onscreen.
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: Probably that ballerina scene -- Kubrick's movies are nothing if not balletic. Later, he would find more graceful ways to incorporate his love of classical movement.
THE KILLING (1956)
For many fans, Kubrick's ouevre truly begins here, in this witty, ironic, structurally complex heist movie. Sterling Hayden and a group of losers plot to rob a race track. Hayden plans it down to the split-second, but the heist isn't immune to human frailty and error; Kubrick sits back and watches the desperate, short-sighted men rush to their dooms. He also shows us the heist from varying and successive viewpoints, putting us (and himself) in the position of an all-seeing God. (This isn't an inquiry into truth like Rashomon; the events remain consistent throughout.) Despite the overly portentous narration, which almost plays as parody, the movie is fast and engrossing, with first-rate performances from Hayden, Timothy Carey as a hipster marksman, and Elisha Cook and Marie Windsor as a hapless married couple. Reservoir Dogs, by the way, owes more than a little to this movie.
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: The bit with the horseshoe.
PATHS OF GLORY (1957)
In Kubrick's best meditation on war (yes, Full Metal Jacket fans, you heard me), a platoon assigned to take "the Anthill" in World War I is decimated. The French commanding officers, convinced that the platoon failed to act heroically, single out three of the surviving men and court-martial them for "cowardice in the face of the enemy." Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas), the frontline leader of the men, must defend them in court. Kubrick emphasizes the difference between the fat-cat desk jockeys and the soldiers in the foxholes; he looks at the vast chessboard of war and dismisses it as a game only fools play -- especially the fools who don't fight it themselves, who send pawns out as cannon fodder. The movie asks the opposite question of the simplistic Saving Private Ryan: What does "cowardice" mean in war? Is it terribly logical to die so that history can record that your country took control of a hill?
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: The tracking shot of Kirk Douglas walking between parallel rows of soldiers in a foxhole is almost exactly duplicated in Sgt. Hartman's intro scene in FMJ.
Easily the greatest American costume epic ever, and possibly the ballsiest Hollywood film ever. Consider: It was the most expensive production of its time, costing more than its studio (Universal) was worth; Kirk Douglas, the star and executive producer, picked not only Kubrick as director (Kubrick had four small non-hits under his belt) but also the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, and allowed Trumbo to keep his own name on the credits; the story of Spartacus, by its very nature, is downbeat (it ends with him on a crucifix); there are constant allusions in the dialogue to homosexuality; and the action is gory enough to get the film a PG-13 when it was re-released in restored form in 1991. Aside from all that, it's a hell of a thrilling spectacle, with battle scenes that seem to contain the entire world population. Douglas is in fine, strapping, teeth-gnashing form, and the impressive cast includes Laurence Olivier (dubbed by Anthony Hopkins in the restored bathtub scene), Jean Simmons, Tony Curtis, Woody Strode, Charles Laughton, Herbert Lom, and the scene-stealing, Oscar-winning Peter Ustinov. Kubrick was never fond of this movie, which Douglas hired him to direct after firing Anthony Mann. For his part, Douglas had no great affection for Kubrick, especially after this movie; in his autobiography he famously called Kubrick "a talented shit." Score by Alex North, who later wrote a rejected score for 2001. Based on the novel by Howard Fast.
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: The gladiator scenes -- the absurdity of men who have nothing against each other being forced to kill each other for the amusement of the elite.
People who say Kubrick couldn't deal with sexuality in his work are wrong. He dealt with it -- just not in ways that Americans are usually comfortable with. Like the tech wonk he was, he liked to take sex apart to see how it worked, and in this low-key riff on Nabokov -- the first of many Kubrickian attempts to confound audience expectations -- Humbert Humbert's lust for Lolita is almost incidental to Kubrick's total view of people as poseurs. Sue Lyon's Lolita is calculatedly deadpan, shrugging off the helpless adoration of James Mason's respectable-seeming professor Humbert; Shelley Winters' Charlotte Haze (she's excellent in this) needs to be loved just as much as she needs to seem sophisticated. Kubrick adored working with Peter Sellers, who arguably did his best work for Kubrick. A case could be made that the real Kubrickian hero of the piece is Sellers' Clare Quilty -- detached, hip, somewhat dorky, obsessive. Pauline Kael described him as "Humbert's walking paranoia, the madness that chases Humbert and is chased by him." Essentially, Kubrick uses Nabokov's story, and sexual fixation in general, for a meditation on people driven mad by what they can't have; the movie is funny, but there's also considerable pain in it -- perhaps Kubrick's last film to be truly emotionally accessible.
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: The opening sequence, which begins the story at the end; it features some wonderfully suggestive ping-pong business, and finishes with a justly celebrated image of a painting.
DR. STRANGELOVE, or How
I Learned to
Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
"You can't fight here! This is the War Room!" Just about nothing bad can be said about this beautiful sick joke on humanity, except that the scenes without Peter Sellers don't have as much zing. Sellers, of course, plays three roles: the ineffectual President Muffley ("Dimitri, I'm as sorry as you are"), the frightened Captain Mandrake ("I'm going to stand here and...perhaps guess the code"), and the twisted Dr. Strangelove, who estimates that the post-apocalypse Americans living underground will only feel "nostalgia" for aboveground life. The real main character is General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), who wants to nuke Russia because he thinks his recent sexual inadequacy is a result of the fluoride that the Commies have been putting in America's water supply. This is where Kubrick really started getting down on the human race -- he presents nuclear holocaust as an absurd, inevitable triumph. It's as if mankind were simply too stupid to live. Hilarious work, too, from George C. Scott ("But he'll see everything! He'll see the Big Board!") and Keenan Wynn ("You're going to have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company").
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: Slim Pickens riding that bomb like a bucking bronco.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
Arthur C. Clarke's story "The Sentinel" was the launchpad for this groundbreaking, bewildering sci-fi epic, the first of its genre to demand serious artistic appraisal. Superficially, it's about a small crew of astronauts going where no man has gone before and getting sabotaged by their spiteful computer, HAL 9000. But what about the deeper levels? What does it mean? What's the deal with the monolith, the star child, the ape prologue, the weird ending with Victorian furnishings? Some have said the monolith is a radio transmitter placed there by aliens monitoring the progress of mankind; others insist it symbolizes an indifferent god.
This is the movie that made Kubrick's rep as a mysterioso genius; it came at just the right time, and it was popular among those partial to hallucinogens. Me, I think it's the greatest boring movie ever made -- so arrogantly static as to fixate your attention and enthrall you even when literally nothing of interest is happening (think of those endless conference scenes aboard the space station). Cumulatively, it has an impact unmatched by any other science-fiction film except maybe Metropolis, yet it plays better in memory. I recognize its greatness, but it's not a movie I can watch over and over; it's only two minutes longer than Clockwork, but feels a whole lot longer. Purists bitched about Peter Hyams' sequel -- reacting as if Robert James Waller had written a sequel to Catcher in the Rye -- but I didn't mind it for what it was; the actors were certainly a livelier bunch.
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: HAL 9000 trying to stay sentient by singing "A Bicycle Built for Two," as Dave pulls its plugs one by one. Douglas Rain's voice as HAL is so neutrally creepy that Anthony Hopkins based Hannibal Lecter's intonations partly on HAL. Some would also vote for the bone-tossing moment, very likely the most famous transition ever.
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
Your response to Kubrick's masterpiece depends largely on how much jovial sexual violence you're prepared to watch before the movie turns moralistic. I can honestly understand why some would detest it; Pauline Kael, a critic I respect, dumped all over it, while Rex Reed, whom I generally don't respect, surprisingly proclaimed it "one of the few perfect movies I have seen in my lifetime." Rex at least got it right this time. Heavily indebted to Anthony Burgess' novel, the film has a classical dramatic arc; Alex the punk (Malcolm McDowell in the performance of his career) becomes a nonviolent citizen (though, it's important to add, "incapable of moral choice"), and then is "cured" of his "cure."
Does the movie glorify rape and brutality? Yes, for its first third we are asked to share in the glee of our narrator, who at one point even addresses us as "my brothers and only friends." But when he's helpless to defend himself against the victims and victimizers of his former life, the movie certainly makes the point that tolchocking isn't so horrorshow after all. In Burgess' original British edition, there is an additional chapter (left out of the American edition until 1987, and left out of the movie as well) in which Alex forms another gang but eventually grows weary of the old ultraviolence; given his freedom again, he is able to make a moral choice to stop being vicious. Kubrick, hearing of this ending while shooting the movie, rejected it as being false to the rest of the story -- or at least false to the story he wanted to tell, in which evil is encouraged by the government to blossom in the name of freedom. The point seems to be: If we want true freedom, we will have to take the Alexes that come with it.
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: Kubrick's fiendish editing makes the row of Jesus statues appear to dance.
BARRY LYNDON (1975)
A huge joke -- a three-hour-plus epic about an utterly useless man. I certainly don't mean that as a criticism; this is perhaps Kubrick's most unexpectedly funny film. As Redmond Barry, who slimes his way up the social ladder to become Barry Lyndon, Ryan O'Neal may seem to be miscast, but I think that's part of the joke, too. If you say O'Neal doesn't have the chops to be the star of an epic -- well, does Barry Lyndon really have the chops to be the hero of one? The exquisite formality of the 18th-century costumes, decor, and dialogue (the movie contains perhaps the most polite armed robbery in film history) is refreshing and, at the same time, so belabored that one senses Kubrick's tongue firmly in cheek. He was daring people to take it seriously; he was daring people not to take it seriously. The best way to approach it is as a formal satire whose very style -- all those painterly landscapes, all those dozens of slow zooms backward -- points up the message that all this opulence and attention to manners conceal a moral emptiness, a world where a compassionless jerk like Barry can rise and thrive. All this, plus scenes that made me laugh harder than anything in most comedies these days. A true neglected jewel in the Kubrick crown, and deserving of a fresh audience with its debut on remastered DVD.
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: Any of the candlelit scenes; every shot in the movie is breathtaking, but the candle scenes are amazing. It took Kubrick three months to find a lens suitable for filming scenes entirely by candlelight; the one he ended up using had been developed by NASA for filming on the moon.
THE SHINING (1980)
The thing to remember is that this is no more a Stephen King movie than Lolita was a Nabokov movie. It got bashed upon release, by King and most critics, though I think every Kubrick movie since 2001 has suffered from inflated expectations. People came to see "a masterpiece of modern horror" (as the poster described it) and got a very odd duck indeed -- an arid, arch, stylized chamber piece in which the vast halls and rooms of the Overlook seem to mock the narrow imagination of the blocked Jack Torrance. Aside from the famous blood-gushing elevator, which has always struck me as a rather crass and obvious image, the movie is a subtle symphony of irritations and repressions, with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall coaxed to give shrill, bug-eyed performances, while little Danny Lloyd seems near-catatonic. The purest pleasure Kubrick gives us is entirely technical: Danny riding his Hot Wheels across carpeting and hardwood floor alternately, making that unaccountably satisfying brrrrr-clunk brrrrr-clunk sound. Otherwise, the movie has an undertow of strangeness and deliberately disorienting details (contradicting lines of dialogue, etc.), delivering chills with much more staying power than your average Jennifer Love Hewitt slasher flick. As usual with Kubrick, it has its moments of pitch-black humor, too: "Wendy? Darling? Light of my life ... you didn't let me finish my sentence. I said I'm not going to hurt you. I'm just gonna bash your brains in."
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: That whole prolonged sequence beginning with "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" -- wherein Kubrick perversely goes against the grain of what a horror movie demands, i.e. Jack suddenly appearing and startling us. Instead, he cuts to Jack slowly approaching Wendy. (He trashes our expectations throughout -- think of how much screen time he spends on Scatman Crothers making his slow-ass trek to the Overlook, leading us to expect him to rescue Wendy and Danny.) What follows, as Jack playfully stalks the baseball-bat-wielding Wendy up the stairs, is both funny and infinitely menacing.
FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
It's fashionable to say that the second half doesn't live up to the stunning, monomaniacal first half, but every seed of evil planted on Parris Island comes to fruition during the Tet Offensive. The movie's parallel characters -- Joker/Cowboy, Pyle/Animal Mother, Snowball/Eightball, Hartman and the commanding officers in the field -- link the two halves, so that the latter half comments on the former. The process we see is the reverse of the Ludivico Technique in Clockwork -- here, young men are conditioned to be murderers. "A weapon is only a tool -- it's a hard heart that kills," insists Sgt. Hartman, who soon finds out just how right he is, just how well he's taught at least one of his "maggots." Whenever possible, especially in the second half, sex is equated with killing and combat. The soldiers' impacted sexuality is released through orgasmic gunfire (as well as the occasional harsh boom-boom with local hookers). As if to seal the joke, Kubrick films the gunshot wounds during the tense sniper sequence in lush slow-mo -- the blood squib as cum-shot. I still get shivers during the climactic scene, when Joker pulls the trigger and Kubrick holds the camera on his blank face for an eternity. "Hardcore, man. Fucking hardcore." Indeed.
TEXTBOOK KUBRICK MOMENT: Practically every shot -- my pick is that great zoom-out of Joker staring down into the lime-pit while Rafterman snaps photos for "Stars and Stripes." That eerie music you hear in the scene -- one of the most offbeat and original soundtracks ever heard in a major motion picture -- was composed by Kubrick's precocious daughter Vivian (using the name Abigail Mead), who had also made the fascinating BBC documentary Making the Shining when still in her late teens.
EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)
For a full-length review of Kubrick's swan song, click here or on the image.