There's folks out there who feel he's never made a bad film which is a clear indication to me that they've never actually seen Killer's Kiss or sat through Barry Lyndon in its entirety.
I guess Barry Lyndon isn't completely bad. It's just painfully boring. But Killer's Kiss is kind of bad (and if it's not bad it's one or two tiers away from bad). But because it's an early film that Kubrick didn't distance himself from (like Fear & Desire), certain folks treat it like it’s the holy grail of early masterworks.
Killer's Kiss was initially met with mixed reviews but almost 60 years later it sits on rotten tomatoes with an 84% fresh rating. Sorry but this is hardly a B-grade film (I have additional issues with this rating when modern noirs like Demonlover & Fear X sit with a 49% & 58%, respectively).
Killer's Kiss is just another noir/love triangle story from the mid-1950's centered around a beautiful woman, a gangster and a boxer (with an incredibly awkward climatic fight scene between our protagonist boxer and antagonistic gangster where they frantically swing axes & mannequin limbs at each other while trying not to fall over).
The fact that people try to defend this film makes me want to dislike it more than I should (I once saw The Killing at IFC with one of the most pretentious repertory crowds who treated it like some kind of gem. I mean seriously, am I missing something?) Stanley Kubrick's “second debut”/sophomore feature always gets a pass with movie fans. He hadn't completely found his footing as a director yet (that's putting it lightly) or The movie really shouldn't count in his filmography when you really think about it (yes it should). It's like when people try to defend Interstellar's lukewarm reception by comparing it to 2001 (no, dude, people didn't even like 2001 at first but they finally came around. The same thing is gonna happen with Interstellar. Just watch.)
And hey, you could very well take a lot of what I'm saying and turn it around on me. Some of my personal favorite films are early works like Eraserhead & Shadows. I know plenty people who consider those films to be sloppy amateurish casualties of a limited budget. But what films like Eraserhead & Shadows lack in craft or budget, they make up for in subject matter (Shadows) or the fact that there was an honest attempt at tackling a serious subject, like man’s fear of fatherhood in Eraserhead, in a somewhat abstract way. Killer's Kiss is no different from the hundred other old timey noirs that play on AMC on a random Sunday afternoon.
|Killer's Kiss / Maniac|
My gripe with people's acceptance of Killer's Kiss isn't that much different from Monte Hellman's Road To Nowhere - another subpar movie that gets a pass because it's directed by a legendary veteran filmmaker (read my rant concerning Hellman's Road To Nowhere and the momentary back-and-forth it brought on between myself and the film's producer).
To be fair, Killer's Kiss did plant the seeds for what eventually became The Killing (another crime noir centered around dames, gangsters & sports) and it did inspire some imagery in recent films that I do kind of enjoy, so I can't completely dismiss it. Only in the last decade or so has The Killing been put on the same pedestal as some of Kubrick's other 2nd tier classics like Paths Of Glory.
Imagine if Stanley Kubrick revisited the noir genre after finding his signature style of bold colors, polarizing hallway shots and cryptic stares. All that time & energy spent on Barry Lyndon & the second half of Full Metal Jacket could have been used on a super cool stylized crime flick (admit it, a lot of you zone out, lose interest and start surfing the internet after Vincent D'Onofrio's "Private Pile" makes his exit in Full Metal Jacket).
I guess we have to take Nicolas Winding Refn's movies as conciliation...