This intimate portrait by his former personal assistant and confidante reveals the man behind the legendary filmmaker - for the first time.
Stanley Kubrick, the director of a string of timeless movies from Lolita and Dr. Strangelove to A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, and others, has always been depicted by the media as the Howard Hughes of filmmakers, a weird artist obsessed with his work and privacy to the point of madness. But who was he really? Emilio D'Alessandro lets us see. A former Formula Ford driver who was a minicab chauffeur in London during the Swinging Sixties, he took a job driving a giant phallus through the city that became his introduction to the director. Honest, reliable, and ready to take on any task, Emilio found his way into Kubrick's neurotic, obsessive heart. He became his personal assistant, his right-hand man and confidant, working for him from A Clockwork Orange until Kubrick's death in 1999.
Emilio was the silent guy in the room when the script for The Shining was discussed. He still has the coat Jack Nicholson used in the movie. He was an extra on the set of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's last movie. He knew all the actors and producers Kubrick worked with; he observed firsthand Kubrick's working methods, down to the smallest detail. Making no claim of expertise in cinematography, but with plenty of anecdotes, he offers a completely fresh perspective on the artist and a warm, affecting portrait of a generous, kind, caring man who was a perfectionist in work and life.
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Kubrick's unfinished masterpiece: Horrible Bosses
This is one of the better audible books I've purchased, as I wasn't anticipating the level of emotional involvement that came from the bond between Emilio and Kubrick. As an overall tale, it's very interesting if only to know the in's and out's of a life of director, but if one is already a Kubrick fan, then I'd say this is a must because it fleshes Kubrick out as a three-dimensional, complex character: An animal lover that treated his employees like slaves at times, a warm and affectionate man that wanted control in nearly every facet of his life, a complete perfectionist that could be completely messy and absent-minded.
This is one of the best stories of brotherly love I've ever encountered. Even if you are not a fan of Kubrick, the slow and sure unfoldment of the unbreakable bond between Stanley and Emilio is utterly absorbing.
That said, the frustrating part was how Kubrick acted as a boss: manipulative, petulant, absurdly unfair while demanding extreme hours and dedication from his team around him. This no doubt emanated from both Kubrick's complete lack of trust in others as well as his utter absorption in his work, but, by god, if I were an employee of his, I would have quit after one film.
Perhaps the most frustrating anecdote in the book was how much Kubrick cared about not wanting to kill ants coming out of the drain. When this was juxtaposed next to his utter unwillingness to give his employees time off -- and he acted completely oblivious to the fact that he was driving his employees to ill-health from his work demands -- it's as frustrating as it is maddening. This is a running counterpoint throughout the book that balances out the brotherly bond between director and personal assistant.
Kubrick and Emilio both.
As the review tagline implies, "Horrible Bosses". To be less tongue and cheek, "Stanley and Me"
I found it odd that Leon Vitali wasn't mentioned once in the book (at least, that I could recall). If Emilio was Kubrick's right-hand man in Kubrick's business and personal affairs, that was Leon Vitali's role in Kubrick's film productions. How he doesn't play a bigger role in this book is perplexing, unless Vitali requested not to be included in the book.
- Bill Streett