From the Radio Times (UK), June 1996

by Barry Norman

Just 12 films in 43 years of movie-making -- whats Stanley Kubrick up to?

Stanley Kubrick is probably the world's most infuriating movie-maker. At his best he has few peers; but unfortunately he hardly ever is at his best, simply because -- and this is what infuriates -- he hardly ever makes any films.

His twelfth and most recent was Full Metal Jacket back in 1987. Twelve pictures in 43 years hardly suggests nose-to-the-grindstone dedication to his craft. So what's he been doing all this time?

Rumours about him abound, largely because he is a reclusive figure, who refuses to fly or even travel (he hasn't left Britain since he made Lolita 30-odd years ago), shuns publicity, won't allow A Clockwork Orange to be shown in this country in any form because, allegedly, it spawned a copycat killing, and refuses to appear on television.

According to gossip he is immensely rich and, instead of working on film projects, spends his days seated at a computer moving his money around the world, thereby growing even richer.

For all I know, that could be true, not that it matters either way. What I do know is that, despite appearances to the contrary, he has never lost interest in the cinema. When I last spoke to him -- to congratulate him on Full Metal Jacket -- I aked what he planned next and he said: "What do you suggest?"

I said, "Come on, you must have a million ideas."

And with a note of horror in his voice he said: "No, no, ideas are a trap! You can't make a film based on an idea -- you must have a story."

Well at last he seems to have found one or even two.

This month, at Elstree Studios, he begins work on a picture called Eyes Wide Shut, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and then plans a futuristic thriller entitled AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Of course, we've heard tales about Kubrick's next movie before -- almost every year, in fact -- until now none of them has come to pass. But about one thing we can be sure -- practically any film he wants to make, he can.

Warner Bros, with whom he has an agreement, have been positively panting for a new Kubrick production for ages and would probably back almost anything he suggests. The question is: whatever the subject matter, will it be worth waiting for?

My prediction is yes, but maybe that just reflects my pesonal taste.

There is a school of thought which insists that Kubrick is merely a supreme stylist with no interest in characters or storyline. I disagree. Despite his slender output, I regard him as one of the most gifted directors in the world, and would argue vehemently that, for instance, Paths of Glory is among the two or three finest anti-war films ever made.

It's a great pity that it is not included in Channel 4's tribute season (which starts on Thursday with a Cinefile documentary, followed by Killer's Kiss). On TV it would be a better reflection of his talent than, say, 2001: a Space Odyssey, which shrinks into insignificance on anything less than the full-scale cinema screen for which it was made.

Still, let's not complain. This Kubrick retrospective offers numerous pleasures, from The Shining, with the outrageously hammy Jack Nicholson, to the underrated Barry Lyndon, quite simply the most beautiful looking film I have seen yet. Most of all, though, I welcome it as a harbinger of things to come.

Kubrick will be 68 next month and must be aware that if he is ever to add more films to his CV he can't hang about. Let us be grateful then that Eyes Wide Shut (written by Frederic Raphael, who won an Oscar for his screenplay of Darling) presumably represents a complete story and not just an idea.

That being so we may well be in for a cinematic treat about 18 months from now.