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Barry Lyndon (1975)

Review

Stanley Kubrick’s minor masterpiece is often overlooked — even scorned — by those who claim it to be pretentious and slow. Well, it is pretentious and slow, but it’s still an exceptional film. In fact, it’s probably my favorite period piece ever. Kubrick paints this film to look like an Old Master, with nary a hair out of place to take us from its early 1800s setting. It’s gorgeous to look at, even if you don’t dig Barry’s story. But Ryan O’Neal turns in his best performance ever, bar none, as the title anti-hero, a middle-class Irish lad who joins the British army, finds success as a gambler, marries into money (and a heady title), and ends up duelling his stepson to the death. Barry — over the course of decades — ends up far worse than he began. His tragedy is a cautionary tale that speaks volumes even today. Hell, set it in New York in the 1990s-2000s, and you could make the exact same movie about Martha Stewart.