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Filmworker Review

"A personal and compelling look at one of the greatest filmmakers"
Stanley Kubrick is arguably one of the greatest film directors ever to have lived, making highly regarded films like Dr. StrangeloveA Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket. He was a director many actors wanted to work with - including Leon Vitali. Vitali was a young actor in the 1970s - appearing on the stage and British TV - when he was given the opportunity of the lifetime by being offered a role in Kubrick’s costume drama Barry Lyndon. It led to Vitali become an in-demand actor getting offers from the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre: but he chose a different career path by becoming Kubrick’s personal assistant. I am a fan of Kubrick’s films yet I will confess I did not know about Vitali and what he did until watching this documentary. He was the man behind the talent. As a Kubrick fan the documentary was a fascinating look at the man and his work. Filmworker focused on Kubrick’s professional life with Vitali working on Barry LyndonThe ShiningFull Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut. Vitali told stories what that many Kubrick fans know that he was a perfectionist who gave specific demands and orders to his actors and crew, took multiple takes and if actors didn’t know their lines they were out. Vitali stated that Kubrick replaced the actor playing King George III twice: a character who only had one scene in Barry Lyndon.  Whilst I am a fan of Kubrick's work I wouldn't have wanted to meet him. Vitali was a jack-of-all-trades for Kubrick. He worked as a casting director, acting coach (working closely Danny Lloyd and R. Lee Ermey), location scout, acted as the go-between for Kubrick and Warner Brothers and pretty much did whatever Kubrick asked of him. Vitali worked 24/7 and even after Kubrick's death still works for him. Vitali received a film education most would people would kill for - learning about photography, cinematography, casting, location scouting and editing - and he had the knowledge to direct or produce his own films yet he mainly acts as the preserver of Kubrick's work. Yet Vitali's loyalty came with some personal expense, particularly with his family, and did not getting some of the recognition he deserves. Director Tony Zierra got to interview many people who have worked or knew this filmmaking duo - from actors like R. Lee Ermey, Ryan O'Neal and Matthew Modine, executives from Warner Brothers and Vitali's children. It was a documentary that balanced out Kubrick and Vitali's professional lives with more personal aspects.  Zierra also used a lot archive footage to great effect from Kubrick and Vitali's productions and behinds the scene footage that most people wouldn't have seen like Ermey audition tape and home video of Kubrick with Vitali's children. Filmworker is an interesting look at the filmmaking process and being a touching tribute to the man who worked behind the director's chair. Yet even at 90 minutes does go on for slightly too long during its second act because there are so many ways the film can say Kubrick was difficult to work with.
  • A must see for Kubrick fans
  • Interesting look at filmmaking
  • The heartfelt and sympathetic look at Leon Vitali
  • The large number of talking heads
  • The use of archive footage
  • A bit repetitive towards the end of the second arc


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