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Russ

Eyes Wide Shut

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Geez, I'm #19?

Alrighty, on topic:

It

Edited by Jason Bortz

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Persona   

This film copped out. Who can't walk around naked with a mask on?

-s.

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I was asking Peter a month or so ago whether we had a thread on the film, because I wanted to start one without getting AHEM-ed.

But now I think I

Edited by Christian

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Russ   

Well, I for one would like to put some real thoughts in this thread. I wonder whether I should rewatch the film first.

And w.r.t. being "ahemed," the extra asterisks I stuck in the thread title should go a long way toward ensuring that no one will have to suffer the indignity of being ahemed with this thread.

The film really might be one of the best examples of a cinematic Rorschach. I hate to use that term lest it fall into cliche, but it might fit here better than on anything else. I remember watching it the first time and thinking it had all sort of wonderful insights into the intersection of sexual desire and human behavior, but then I started wondering whether my recitation of those insights wasn't simply my explication of my own infirmities.

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Ken, I just read your review. Great stuff.

Russ, let me think before I post anything here. I'm not sure I have much to add to what Ken says.

Edited by Christian

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Ron Reed   
Pat Morita

P.S. Can a list be far behind? Paging Ron Reed...paging Mr. Ron Reed...

Too busy laughing at Jason Bortz.

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gigi   

Right, time to rewatch it. Luckily I borrowed it from a friend a few months back and still haven't returned it.

I do remember being both relatively impressed and somewhat let down by it. I.E. much better than standard fare out there/not as good as other Kubrick films.

I am somewhat surprised that there isn't already a thread about this, though. Any other Kubrick films lacking an A&F thread?

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Darren H   

Here's a link to my long essay. I was planning to distill the thing into a few sentences here, but found it a bigger challenge than I'd anticipated. The long and short of it, though, is that I have a hard time buying into any reading of the film that takes it as a work of realism. For me, Eyes Wide Shut is pure fantasy or fable or dreamstate (or whatever you want to call it); it's a portrait of psychology, and of a specific psychological condition -- what Lacan calls the split consciousness. (Like I said, my essay is tough to distill.)

Edited by Darren H

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gigi   

Funnily enough I'm having an ongoing email discussion about Lynch & Cronenberg and the 'uncanny' was raised in the last email about 5 minutes ago. Made me think about the ending of EWS which is definitely comparable (though I don't think anywhere near as effective as) to these two directors's. In which case, yeah, I'd agree, fantasy/delusion. Which raises a whole bunch of questions about masculinity & paranoia.

Right. Definitely must re-watch [and read your essay which may, for all I know, say something totally different!]

Edited by gigi

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kenmorefield wrote:

: Peter: I was swayed the first time I saw it, but by the second time I thought it was

: laughable.

Actually, it's more like ... well, why not quote what I said in our thread on this film three message boards ago:

I have seen
Eyes Wide Shut
three times now -- the first time, when it was brand new, I was mesmerized; the second time, I went to the theatre with a friend and my brother, and I found myself bored; the third time, watching it in my living room with a friend of mine who had never seen it before, and watching it at the tail end of all the other Kubrick films I had seen, I found myself thinking Kubrick had finally become the caricature of himself that many critics had accused him of becoming, and my impressions were not exactly deterred by the fact that my friend laughed all the way through the film. (Granted, my friend has a strange sense of humour sometimes...)

I went on to say:

Seriously, the first time I saw the film, I was spellbound, creeped out, the works. But the second time I saw it, I dunno, I was surprised to see how uninteresting the film was -- now that I knew where it was all going, it seemed to me that the film took forever to get there. And the third time I saw it, after seeing all of Kubrick's other films in chronological order, it definitely struck me as a lesser effort. I know it would be wrong of me to slam the film for its utter lack of realism, and I don't mind slow, methodical films in general -- I loved
2001
,
A Clockwork Orange
and
Barry Lyndon
, and I even find
The Shining
somewhat watchable though it seems a pretty empty experience to me. But
Eyes Wide Shut
just feels like a slight premise for a story that got stretched out much longer than the premise warranted. I can certainly appreciate the attempts various critics have made to decipher the film, but none of that stuff helps me to get anything new out of watching the film itself.

Russ wrote:

: And w.r.t. being "ahemed," the extra asterisks I stuck in the thread title should go a

: long way toward ensuring that no one will have to suffer the indignity of being

: ahemed with this thread.

Not sure what that's supposed to mean, since this thread does show up in the search engine.

Darren H wrote:

: The long and short of it, though, is that I have a hard time buying into any reading of

: the film that takes it as a work of realism. For me, Eyes Wide Shut is pure fantasy or

: fable or dreamstate (or whatever you want to call it) . . .

Indeed, isn't it based on a short story or novella, the title of which roughly translates as "Dream Novel"? (Sorry, haven't read your essay yet, or any of the links in this thread.)

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my impressions were not exactly deterred by the fact that my friend laughed all the way through the film.

I had a similar experience both times I watched the film: once in the theater, where people went from a few titters beginning midway through the film, to practically howling by the time Cruise entered his bedroom and saw the mask on the pillow (I'm convinced it's the piano soundtrack, cranked up even louder in the theater, that proved too much), and again with my wife, who chuckled a few times during the early going. She watched the second half of the film without me. I don't know if she laughed, but she's notorious among some of my friends for letting out loud guffaws when somthing strikes her as absurd. She told me after she'd finished the film that she thought it was "stupid."

FWIW, I did think that repetitive piano was too much the first time I saw the film, although it didn't make me laugh. The second time, the piano didn't bother me one bit, and I wondered why it had drawn such a strong reaction with the crowd at the theater.

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I actually like that piano. I've had rhythms like that going through my head ever since I was in elementary school, and it was kind of nice to actually HEAR them for once.

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Interesting piece in today's Guardian about Eyes Wide Shut:

Stanley Kubrick regarded Eyes Wide Shut as a "piece of ****" that had been ruined by the interference of its A-list stars, a friend of the director claimed this week. The character actor R Lee Ermey starred in Kubrick's 1987 film Full Metal Jacket and remained in close contact with the director until his death in March 1999. He described the film-maker as a "shy, timid" man who was effectively bullied by his stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

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Ermey supposedly says that Kubrick didn't like working with big stars ... but didn't Kubrick himself specifically hire Cruise & Kidman partly for the voyeuristic quality of watching two married stars do some of their private stuff in public? And what about his work with Peter Sellers (on two films) and Ryan O'Neal (who I gather was big-ish in the early 1970s) and Jack Nicholson?

Hmmm. As I think this through, it occurs to me that Sellers co-starred in the first two films Kubrick made after Spartacus -- i.e., in the first two films Kubrick made after his success with a blockbuster had guaranteed him SOME power over his films, but perhaps not quite enough marketability to KEEP that power -- whereas Nicholson starred in The Shining, which Kubrick made reportedly because he felt that, after the box-office failure of Barry Lyndon, he ought to make something a little more "commercial".

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Ermey supposedly says that Kubrick didn't like working with big stars ... but didn't Kubrick himself specifically hire Cruise & Kidman partly for the voyeuristic quality of watching two married stars do some of their private stuff in public? And what about his work with Peter Sellers (on two films) and Ryan O'Neal (who I gather was big-ish in the early 1970s) and Jack Nicholson?

I guess there's a difference between needing big stars, at least sometimes, and actually enjoying the process. I understood that Kubrick wanted Cruise and Kidman for the fact that they were married more than the fact they were stars. But being the megastars they were/are, it probably guaranteed him some good box office which then makes the financing of the production easier.

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Spielberg was close to Kubrick; I wonder if he’d ever reveal his discussions with Kubrick about the film. Probably not, but maybe we can learn something from his actions. We know that Spielberg had great respect for Kubrick, so why would he have cast Cruise, the great “interferer,” in “War of the Worlds”? Did Spielberg crave such “interference”? I doubt it. Honestly, this sounds like another swipe at Cruise, who’s had a bad year.

Good point. But if this report really is how it was, it might be possible that Spielberg thought he was able reign Cruise in, rather then be 'bullied' like Kubrick. I'm not saying that it was like this, just that it's one possible way of understanding Ermey's comments and Spielberg's actions.

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Tony Watkins wrote:

: Good point. But if this report really is how it was, it might be possible that Spielberg thought he was

: able reign Cruise in, rather then be 'bullied' like Kubrick. I'm not saying that it was like this, just

: that it's one possible way of understanding Ermey's comments and Spielberg's actions.

All of this is made even more intricate by the fact that Spielberg and Cruise were rumoured to be ex-friends this past summer.

And FWIW, yesterday I saw The Queen, and was a bit surprised to see the archival footage of celebrities attending Diana's wedding -- footage of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, with Tom Cruise walking right behind them. It occurred to me afterwards that, of course, Hanks and Spielberg were shooting Saving Private Ryan somewhere in that vicinity (Britain? Ireland?) around the time of Diana's death, and -- to show how on-topic this is -- Cruise was probably in England too at the time, working on Eyes Wide Shut.

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Diana's wedding -- footage of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, with Tom Cruise walking right behind them. It occurred to me afterwards that, of course, Hanks and Spielberg were shooting Saving Private Ryan somewhere in that vicinity (Britain? Ireland?) around the time of Diana's death, and -- to show how on-topic this is -- Cruise was probably in England too at the time, working on Eyes Wide Shut.

Diana's wedding?? I had no idea that SPR and EWS had such long production schedules. ;)

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