We just passed what would have been the 85th birthday of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Website Kottke found a lengthy and fascinating interview with the director's friend and colleague Michael Herr, who cowrote the Full Metal Jacket screenplay. His articles for Vanity Fair on Kubrick were compiled into an intimate biography about the director simply titled Kubrick. Herr's memoir on their 20-year friendship reveals a mutual artistic and intellectual admiration, shedding light on the famously reclusive filmmaker — whom Herr calls "a complete failure as a recluse." Despite his reputation for solitude, Herr describes Kubrick as "gregarious," "endearing" and "melodious" to listen to.
The two men met at a 1980 screening of The Shining. Stanley complimented Herr's book Dispatches — an account of the Vietnam War. The director said he wasn't interested in making a movie about it, but seven years later they collaborated on the intense war drama Full Metal Jacket.
The Vanity Fair article includes numerous anecdotes about the director, including this one about his attire:
"Even back in the late '50s, when he was working in Hollywood, the insouciance of his attire was remarked upon by many producers and actors, who thought that he dressed like a Beatnik."
And this passage about his distaste for photographs:
"He hated being photographed, and the few glimpses of Stanley on film, in his daughter Vivian Kubrick’s documentary The Making of The Shining, show a man who clearly doesn’t want to be there at all. He never had the impulse to slip around to the other side of the camera like Orson Welles or John Huston or Hitchcock. I think he felt that he impressed quite enough of himself on his films without that."
For a personal look at one of cinema's most private men, Herr's article is a must.