Killer's Kiss ★★★½

Yes, my 200th film of the year just happens to be a Stanley Kubrick movie.

Killer's Kiss, in story terms, is pretty much your standard noir. It focuses on a young but unlucky boxer who gets tied up with a mysterious woman and the thug who wants to control her. But the story almost takes a backseat to Kubrick's eye for detail and visual imagery, which was present even in this, only his second film (after the disowned Fear and Desire). There are so many great moments: a point of view shot of someone getting knocked to the ground in a boxing match, the flashback within a flashback, a tense rooftop chase scene. The movie is packed to the brim with incident despite being a tight 67 minutes. And while the story and characters never really connect in any meaningful way, it's worth it for the superb climax, a drawn-out brawl in a dingy mannequin warehouse.

Because of all the diverse happenings in Killer's Kiss--a boxing match, murders, chases, a ballerina performance, and a surprising romance--it feels like a pretty patchwork movie. But there is real talent on display here, and you can definitely see how this feature leads into The Killing, a more fun and narratively ambitious noir that proved to be Kubrick's first major success.

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