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Eyes Wide Shut

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Weddings, funerals, what's the difference? ::blush::


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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

I'm not going to repeat the rumors surrounding this tift, but I trust you're aware of the main reasons for this disassociation, which has little to do with Cruise as an actor. (It's possible that, these being rumors, they ain't true.)


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Tony Watkins wrote:

: : Weddings, funerals, what's the difference? ::blush::

:

: I think it depends on what kind of a participant in the proceedings you are. :)

Actually, that reminds me of a line from one of my three favorite films of all time, The Family Way (1966), quoting from memory (and thus possibly getting some of the words in the wrong order): "Weddings and funerals, it's all the same, lad -- the last ones to enjoy them are the principals."

Christian wrote:

: I'm not going to repeat the rumors surrounding this tift, but I trust you're aware of the main reasons

: for this disassociation, which has little to do with Cruise as an actor.

As an actor, no -- unless "as an actor" includes one's behaviour on publicity tours and how these things affect box-office performance, etc. But I am aware of the allegedly more personal factors, too.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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But this incessant, "Well, we've all heard rumors, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, teehee...maybe it's true" makes me not wonder why people have such a dim view of Christians in general and "Christian film criticism" in particular.
I think if I were to draw up a list of things that make me not wonder why people have such a dim view of Christians in general and "Christian film criticism" in particular, "we've all heard rumors, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, teehee...maybe it's true" would probably not make the top 10.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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kenmorefield wrote:

: But this incessant, "Well, we've all heard rumors, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, teehee...maybe it's true"

: makes me not wonder why people have such a dim view of Christians in general and "Christian film

: criticism" in particular.

You say this as thought Christian film critics were worse than non-Christian film critics in this regard -- or, for that matter, as though any of this winking and nudging was taking place within our actual film criticism.

The graver problem here is that the Spielberg-Cruise relationship has nothing to do with Eyes Wide Shut, and is therefore off-topic. (Well, except maybe for the fact that Spielberg somehow got himself interviewed for the Eyes Wide Shut DVD's bonus features. But anything I said about the rumours I've heard regarding the Spielberg-Kubrick relationship would be more appropriate for a thread on A.I. Artificial Intelligence.)

Getting back to Ermey's original quote, I have a hard time imagining that Cruise would have "bullied" Kubrick. Cruise can be very controlling, of course; he's a notorious micro-manager, especially on films that he produces himself. But Cruise is also the kind of person who craves challenges, who wants very badly to be taken seriously, and who craves the opportunity to prove just how hard he can work and how determined he can be to get the job done, whatever that job may be. And I think working with Kubrick -- a director notorious for his own control-freakishness, for shooting dozens of takes of any given shot, and for being very demanding of his actors -- would have totally fed Cruise's desire to prove that he was up to the challenge.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I have no idea whether or not Emery's quote is accurate, and I doubt that whatever stories about Cruise I haven't heard provide any solid evidence one way or the other. My reading of this thread is that we appear to be saying that speculating about whether or not some rumors we've heard about Cruise are true is relevant and productive because it makes the possibility that some interpretation of a possible cause for Emery's quote is slightly higher or lower....come on, people, I've never been one to call the discussion on A&F elevated, but this seems base even for this web site.

Fine, Ken, take it to a higher level. Forget about Cruise. What do you make of Ermey's remarks about Kubrick's view of his own final film (these remarks involve Cruise, but nevermind)? Are they at all relevant? How do you react to Ermey's comments? Do you think what Kubrick thought about his own film has any bearing on whether or not the film should be perceived as an artistic success or failure, or is that such an evaluation completely separate from a director thinks of his own work?

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Just came across this interesting first paragraph from Philip Strick's review of A.I. Artificial Intelligence:

For years, rumours emerged infrequently from the Kubrick domain that he was planning a film about artificial intelligence. A safe assumption seemed to be that the story of HAL 9000, the misunderstood computer of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), would in some way be continued. Given the prevalence of pre-programmed, zombie-like characters in Kubrick's work (think A Clockwork Orange or Full Metal Jacket), an exploration of possible tensions within a part-robotic society seemed an entirely logical route for him to take. We now know that the launch-pad for the project was a Brian W. Aldiss story written in 1969, 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long'. We know too that Kubrick, unlike Aldiss, saw this as a version of Collodi's classic fairy-tale Pinocchio, and that he developed it (under the title Supertoys) in parallel with what became his final film, Eyes Wide Shut. Already hampered enough by other distractions, Eyes Wide Shut will be little enhanced by a Pinocchio comparison, although the curious odyssey of its frustrated hero, concluding in a Christmas toy shop, is not without its resonances. What appears to overflow directly into Eyes Wide Shut from the Aldiss text, however, is both its sense of bereaved passion and, more fundamentally, the question asked by the story's robot three-year-old (aged nearer 11 in A.I.): 'How do you tell what are real things from what aren't real things?' To which, at story's end, the all-knowing robot 'supertoy' Teddy replies: 'Nobody knows what 'real' really means', a typical Aldiss aphorism. In Eyes Wide Shut, the big scene of revelation in which the terrified husband is assured that nothing of the previous night was 'real' casts an overpowering uncertainty across his adventures. And in A.I., illusion and pretence are the only perpetual realities, and fakery is entirely forgivable in direct ratio to the amount of happiness it generates. At heart, A.I. and Eyes Wide Shut prompt the same questions. . . .


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Ken Morefield finds some interesting parallels between this film and Eric Rohmer's Chloe in the Afternoon (1972).


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I don't know what got me to thinking about Eyes Wide Shut earlier this week, but PTC's last post and the following article that was featured at IMDb just yesterday, puts me in a mind to give this film another look.

Eyes Wide Shut an essay by Jamie Stewart


Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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I don't know what got me to thinking about Eyes Wide Shut earlier this week,

Could it be Elliott Spitzer?

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Eyes Wide Shut is ten years old this week. David Poland has posted a PDF file containing his analysis of the film at that time. It's heavy on the colour symbolism, and pretty interesting.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Eyes Wide Shut is ten years old this week. David Poland has posted a PDF file containing his analysis of the film at that time. It's heavy on the colour symbolism, and pretty interesting.
(d

I'd be curious to hear assessments of how this film has held up among critics. I don't remember where it fell on the "tomatmoeter" (which probably didn't exist at the time of EWS's release), but there were several high-profile negative reviews in major paper, IIRC. I do remember that the critical reaction to this film is what drove Janet Maslin off the film beat and into the New York Times Book Review.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I've always thought EYES WIDE SHUT more than a little underrated. It's by no means top-of-the-line Kubrick, in the league of such excellent stuff as PATHS OF GLORY, DR. STRANGELOVE, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, or BARRY LYNDON, but it's a decent enough final note for Kubrick to go out on, one that's unusual and interesting. I've seen it three or four times, and each time, I find something more to appreciate about it and its complexities. Yes, EYES WIDE SHUT is undeniably flawed. EYES WIDE SHUT stretches on too long, and the scene with Sydney Pollack ultimately serves little point, but I think the film also has plenty of merits worth considering. I love the first act; from the titles to the party to Alice's confession, it's all dynamite.

But we also have to remember that Kubrick wasn't finished with EYES WIDE SHUT when he died. He'd premiered this cut to some studio brass and friends, but it was far from unfinished (Kubrick often wouldn't "finish" with a film until a little after its release, even). So it's likely that the finished film, had Kubrick lived, would have been much tighter than this rather unwieldy cut.

Anyway, I notice that in this age-old thread, there has been some discussion of Ermey's comments about EYES WIDE SHUT. I offer Todd Field, Kubrick's close friend and protege, as a rebuttal witness: "The polite thing would be to say 'No comment'. But the truth is that... let's put it this way, you've never seen two actors more completely subservient and prostrate themselves at the feet of a director. Stanley was absolutely thrilled with the film. He was still working on the film when he died. And he probably died because he finally relaxed. It was one of the happiest weekends of his life, right before he died, after he had shown the first cut to Terry, Tom and Nicole. He would have kept working on it, like he did on all of his films. But I know that from people around him personally, my partner who was his assistant for thirty years. And I thought about R. Lee Ermey for IN THE BEDROOM. And I talked to Stanley a lot about that film, and all I can say is Stanley was adamant that I shouldn't work with him for all kinds of reasons that I won't get into because there is no reason to do that to anyone, even if they are saying slanderous things that I know are completely untrue."

Edited by Ryan H.

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That's a fascinating quote from Todd Field. Have you got a link for that?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Jonathan Rosenbaum has re-posted his review.

 

January 18, 2015 update: His review is now here.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Hey Peter, in the future a NSFW note on such links would be appreciated.


That's just how eye roll.

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David Smedberg wrote:

: Hey Peter, in the future a NSFW note on such links would be appreciated.

Oh, sorry, I didn't read past the first few paragraphs, mainly because I'm pressed for time and I remember reading the review when it was brand new. (Ordinarily I read the entire thing first and pick out a few paragraphs to quote here, but this time I didn't. My bad.)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Bringing the conversation re: interpreting EYES WIDE SHUT over here. Here is the link to Darren H's grad school essay on the film.

I think it's an intriguing, and valid, way of approaching EYES WIDE SHUT, and I largely agree with it (it carries more than a few echoes of Lee Siegel's reading of the film, which I've always liked). Our disagreement stands largely on how the ending plays, on whether or not it is a statement of unbridled despair, an absolute retreat from the uncomfortable realities Bill and Alice have uncovered about themselves, or something more hopeful (interestingly enough, one friend I watched the film with was adamant that the film's ending was nothing but hopeful). I'm more inclined to honor the ambiguity of the conclusion than read it as resoundingly negative/despairing. I don't think Alice/Bill's conversation in the department store, or the equivalent conversation in Schnitzler's novel, can wholly be considered the retreat from reality that Darren paints it as.

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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.

Thanks Christian. The review you've mentioned has since been moved (and the post that held the link to it deleted). Here is a new one.

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Scouting New York has a brilliant post (inspired in part by Room 237!) on the film's fake New York set. If you thought Tom Cruise was going in circles the whole time... it's because he was.

Incidentally, I've been listening to the soundtrack for this film quite a bit lately. I still love that piano bit.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Some interesting pics of behind the scenes Kubrick life, posted by estranged daughter Vivian. I didn't know about her involvement with Scientology, that had led her to break away from the family. Edited by John Drew

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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