Review: Filmworker

DVD: Filmworker (2017)

An abusive relationship? No, I was quite willing”, so says Stanley Kubrick’s assistant Leon Vitali after the release of Filmworker, and it’s a telling quote as at times, this 2017 American documentary film directed by Tony Zierra about Vitali, can be a hard watch.

After being hand picked to play the part of Lord Bullingdon in Kubrick’s ‘Barry Lyndon’, this very handsomely sultry looking actor promptly gave up his acting career to work, for decades, as Kubrick’s assistant. But Vitali was more than just an assistant, it appears that this man did just about everything he could for Kubrick and got little thanks for it. Indeed there are instances where Kubrick would take his ire out on Vitali in spectacular fashion and Vitali’s reply would be…to continue working 18 hr days filled with love and gratitude for his ‘maker’.

Vitali worked tirelessly for Kubrick for over 20 years, and this is shown in the film through his personal reminiscences, told to camera. It’s rather shocking to see how time, work, and illness have ravaged this once stunningly beautiful man, to the point where you wonder if working for Kubrick is the basis for his decline (probably).

Director Tony Zierra was working on another Kubrick related project when he met Leon Vitali. After interviewing Vitali, Zierra decided that his story should be told and began shooting Filmworker. The film took three years to complete and was shot in California, New York, Kentucky, UK, and Sweden, as it includes many former Kubrick collaborators including actors Ryan O’Neal (‘Barry Lyndon’ in Barry Lyndon), Danny Lloyd (‘Danny Torrance’ in The Shining), Matthew Modine (‘Private Joker’ in Full Metal Jacket), Lee Ermey (‘Gunnery Sgt. Hartman’ in Full Metal Jacket), Marie Richardson (‘Marion’ in Eyes Wide Shut), Stellan Skarsgård, Pernilla August, Brian Capron, Treva Etienne (‘Morgue Orderly’ Eyes Wide Shut).

Previously unseen photos, videos, letters, notebooks, and memos from his private collection are discussed, and it’s hard seeing just how much Vitali is thankful to Kubrick, it’s almost like he’s offered himself as a sacrifice to this greater being.  So seeing his absolute abandonment by the company/family at Kubrick’s death is rather shocking, and it’s also somewhat skirted over.

This has a sort of happy ending – Vitali has been welcomed back into the fold and as I write is currently working on 2001 A Space Odyssey 70MM print and 4K rescan.

A really interesting, heartbreaking love story about a man who sacrificed himself to film.

Unmissable.

Filmworker is released on 23rd July 2018 and you can buy it by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes.

Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Aim Publicity.