It’s 50 years since Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ opened in cinemas – a good time, then, to enjoy this gossipy insiders’ doc about an anonymous but key player in the intense moviemaking world of the man behind ‘A Clockwork Orange’, ‘The Shining’ and ‘Full Metal Jacket’. The British actor Leon Vitali started off playing a small role in ‘Barry Lyndon’ (1975), after a short career in television (he looked a bit like Robin Askwith of the ‘Confessions…’ movies). Then he decided to quit acting altogether to work on Kubrick’s production team, doing all sorts for the great master over more than two decades, from helping with casting to tracking prints being shipped off to cinemas. All of which means that Vitali – now bearing the weathered look of a former cult member, complete with transatlantic drawl and bandana – was a first-hand witness to the making of every Kubrick film from ‘Barry Lyndon’ to ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, the director’s last movie, finished shortly before his death in 1999.
Vitali’s post-‘Barry Lyndon’ work with Kubrick began with Kubrick sending him to the US to cast the role of Danny in ‘The Shining’. He became so embedded in Kubrick’s camp that Matthew Modine is able to joke on camera that half the cast of 1987’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’ assumed Vitali was working as a ‘spy’ for the great man. Kubrick himself rarely spoke about his work – which means this is a valuable insight into Kubrick's character and filmmaking process, as well as a frank look at what it means to give up your life to work at the side of a difficult creative genius.