David Mikics’s Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker is a cool, cerebral book about a cool, cerebral talent. This is not a full-dress biography — there have been several of Kubrick — but a brisk study of his films, with enough of the life tucked in to add context as well as brightness and bite ... Mikics is an adept student of Kubrick’s uncanny art ... This book’s subtitle notwithstanding, Kubrick was in many ways the least American of American directors ... This book captures his control-freak side. It also captures why people wanted to work with him. He had a feel for every aspect of what made a film work.
Mikics recognizes Kubrick's ethnoreligious background as crucial to his development as a filmmaker, but he also foregrounds many other influences: his early career as a photographer, his years spent methodically seeing every movie shown in his Bronx neighbourhood, his voracious appetite for literature, and his love of chess ... At times the book reads like less of a traditional biography than a chronological, biographically-centered study of Kubrick's films. Each film Kubrick worked on is dealt with in turn, including a detailed account of production and an extended commentary on the film's themes ... Mikics' judgements on some of the films are utterly different from my own ... At other times it feels as though Mikics' evident admiration for Kubrick can cloud his judgements ... Mikics' readings of the films are never dry or bogged down with academic terminology. They are sensitive to the fact that while Kubrick's films are the product of a singleminded vision, that vision is collaboratively realised.
The life and work of movie director Stanley Kubrick...are briefly glossed in this compact, informative work from literature scholar Mikics ... There are welcome insights into Kubrick’s career, from his unrealized desire to make a film about the Holocaust to his decision to leave the eroticism out of his 1962 adaptation of Lolita ... Kubrick fans will enjoy this brisk but thorough biography of a consummate filmmaker.