(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
(#21) Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Comedy • dir. Stanley Kubrick • 1964 • USA
Stanley Kubrick was reclusive and weird. He had a bad case of O.C.D., and would drive hapless actors up the wall with endless, unnecessary retakes. He was intense, brooding, and brilliant: a chess player who made intricate, labyrinth movies full of hidden truths and elaborate misdirection. There are so many conclusions you could come to about Kubrick that all too often we forget the most obvious and interesting one. Forget all that other stuff: the man made a fuck-load of fantastic films. Big ones that everyone has seen – Spartacus and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Amazing early ones you might just have missed – The Killing and Paths of Glory. And still more that will be discussed and debated long into cinema’s flickering future – A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut.
But, hey, what’s better than one mad genius at the top of his game? That’s right: two. Kubrick made a pair of films with Peter Sellers – the other being Lolita – and in Dr. Strangelove especially the combination proved irresistible. The cautionary tale of an accidental nuclear apocalypse, Dr. Strangelove is as pitch-perfect a black comedy as you’ll ever hope to see. If comedy is a whole lot of spinning plates – keep ’em moving, keep us laughing – then few other films ever demonstrated a surer touch. Everyone knew exactly what they were doing, and everyone did it well: Kubrick, our director poised to claim the lion’s share of credit, and Sellers somehow nailing not one but three of cinema’s great comic roles (the eponymous Dr. Strangelove, most of all, a sublime marriage of player and part). Killer ending too, huh?