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Once again, there was a huge gap between Full Metal Jacket and the next Stanley Kubrick film. 1999's Eyes Wide Shut was based on Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 novella Traumnovelle (or Dream Story) and proved to be Stanley Kubrick's last ever film - its release posthumous. There hadn't been a new Kubrick film for twelve years at the time and when word filtered out that Eyes Wide Shut was going to be a daring erotic thriller starring real life husband and wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, expectation and anticipation were relatively high. The end result - as usual - met with a mixed reception. However, while earlier Kubrick films found their status and reputation increasing year on year the same is not true of Eyes Wide Shut. Thirteen years (at the time of writing) on from its release, Eyes Wide Shut is not regarded to be one of the great Kubrick films or a cult classic. If anything, it's one of the Kubrick films that no one even remembers or have never seen. While Kubrick loyalists (including Martin Scorcese) maintain that Eyes Wide Shut is a great film, the general perception is that it's an interesting picture but not one that approaches his best work. Rather like later Roman Polanski films. Frantic. The Ninth Gate. The Ghost Writer. Very watchable and competent but not a patch on Chinatown or Rosemary's Baby. Actually, Frantic and Ghost Writer are probably better than Eyes Wide Shut. The film mostly revolves around Dr Bill Harford (Tom Cruise). Harford has made a good living as pysician to some wealthy clients and lives in a swanky upscale New York apartment with wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) and their young daughter. The film begins with them about to attend a Christmas bash hosted by Bill's friend Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack).
At the party, Alice is propsitioned by a suave European bloke while Bill becomes the target of two models looking for a tryst. They want to take him to the end of the rainbow apparently. Neither encounter goes beyond flirting but it makes them both question fidelity and and infidelity, even on a purely imaginary level. Alice (under the influence of marijuana) becomes piqued when Bill declares at the next day later that he knows she would never cheat on him. Woman are faifthful he says. Alice, iritted by his lack of interest or jealously in the thought of other men being attracted to her, announces that she once nearly cheated on him purely out of lust. Bill is mentally devastated by this bombshell and called away on an urgent medical emergency. Later, he walks the streets and gradually becomes drawn into a nether world of prostiutes and strange costumed gothic orgies organised by rich and mysterous people. Blimey. Eyes Wide Shut sounds more interesting than it ultimately proves to be. Despite the hype the film is neither shocking, erotic or a thriller. It's a meditation on sex, power and money, how people live with the knowledge that they have no insight or control over the inner life/mind of even those closest to them. The recurring motifs here are the dehumanising of society and the individual and mirrors. Lots of mirrors. The orgy scenes are a bit risible at times (whenever I'm presented with gothic cult groups and secret societies I unavoidably start thinking of Hammer House of Horror or something and find it hard to take seriously) and when Tom Cruise was rumbled and asked for a second secret password at one of these parties I was unfortunately reminded of a scene in the Marx Brothers classic Horse Feathers where Groucho has to supply the right password to bootlegger Chico to enter a bar. "Swordfish!"
The general story is watchable enough. New York looks beautiful here at times. Maybe too beautiful, like in a romantic Woody Allen flm. Harford's debauched adventures strain credibility somewhat but the look of the film almost suggests this is some sort of dream state (I believe the novel veered towards this structure) although that might just be Stanley Kubrick. As you would expect every single frame of the film looks as if it was planned for years. Long tracking shots, the camera constantly moving, Kubrickian colour schemes. More red. Even Sydney Pollack's billiard table is red! The big question here is can Tom Cruise carry the film and make you take it seriously? The answer is yes and no. He does well at times but then at other times you are always just aware that this is Tom Cruise doing a turn in a Kubrick film. He never completely loses himself in the character and makes you forget who he is. I do struggle to take Cruise seriously in dramatic roles. I think he's more of a star in popcorn fare than a serious actor despite the good work he has done in films like Rain Man and (maybe) Magnolia. One problem with Cruise here is that he always looks about fifteen years old with his spookily youthful looks and diminutive stature. He's hard to take seriously sometimes in dramatic films. Nicole Kidman is better as Alice and more convincing. There is an obvious anti-consumer message in the film, the picture festooned with Christmas imagery which Kubrick makes tacky and overbearing. The first line in the film by Cruise is teling. "Honey, have you seen my wallet?" Bill spends a preposterous amount of money in the film (his wallet is like the TARDIS) but we see that he is a small fry when he is confronted with real wealth and the secret underworld of New York.
Early on he meets an old friend at the lavish Christmas party named Nick Nightingale (Todd Field) who dropped out of medical school while he was there and now plays piano at posh parties like this for the rich. "Yes, or in my case, never a doctor, never a doctor..." It's an awkward meeting because the two men are no longer equals in terms of status or money. The message is of course that it shouldn't really matter. The money drenched shadows behind the secret parties have all the money in the world but they have to wear masks at their orgies. There is no communication or intimacy. It's all aloof and distasteful. There are some things money can't buy. Eyes Wide Shut feels more glossy and mainstream than some of Kubrick's other work despite the darkness. There is much going on and Kubrickians could spend years poring over the film looking for different meanings but it is the one film in his back catalogue that hasn't attained some sort of cult status. It's a decent film but considering the director and the long gestation an unavoidably disappointing one. There is something strangely superficial about Eyes Wide Shut and it's not a film that you ever find yourself curious to return to guage your initial impressions again. You can get a basic extras free version of this for a fiver or a two disc version which includes a Channel 4 Kubrick documentary and also a look at some of his lost projects, most notably his never filmed early seventies epic about Napoleon. Two years of research were undertaken and 17,000 slides of Napoleonic imagery amassed but it never happened - the studio pulling the plug after the failure of Waterloo (a 1970 Napoleon themed epic starring Rod Steiger).
Eyes Wide Shut is the final film ever directed by the great Stanley Kubrick who sadly died within days of completing this which was released in 1999. It is an erotic thriller starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in the lead roles.
William Harford played by Tom Cruise is a prosperous, well off Manhattan doctor with a lovely wife, Alice played by Nicole Kidman. He also has a child and some very demanding patients. Alice runs an unscuccessful art gallery and is pretty frustrated with her life in general. Their marriage seems perfect from the outside but is far from it when you are on the inside. It's almost as if she is jealous of how well he is doing and his confidence.
During a fight one night between the pair of them she makes a confession about something that sends him off out into the night. On his journey that night he meets people with sad fixations or secrets of their own. He also runs into a jazz musician with a bizarre story to tell. He is haunted by images of his wife and is almost is in state somewhere between dreaming and wide awake.
He comes to the conclusion that everyone else is having a hot time while all he can think about are images in his head of Alice. One of the central things he comes across in his wanderings is a strange orgy of masked swingers.
Tom Cruise is great in the movie, but I think Nicole Kidman is better and overshadows him somewhat. She has a smaller role but is more outspoken than Cruise's character. The film gets across a message about the ultimate vulnerability of relationships and paints a cold view of them. There are references throughout to marriage, fidelity, desire and jealousy, all traits that we all have to face normally over a course of a relationship.
Eyes wide shut si an erotic thriller directed by Stanly Kubrick and starring Nicole kidman and Tom Cruise who's marriage is on the rocks due to temptation and jealousy.
Cruise stars as doctor who is jealous over his wifes confession of considering a night with a man and throwing there marriage in jeapordy, Cruise is shocked but is called at that moment to tend to do to a dead patients house, here he goes onm a journey of neat temptation and witnesses a dreamlike orgy.
The film is good but it goes at a slow pace. Cruise and Kidman give good performances but the characters are hard to like.
The ending is left open for the audience to decide if what happend was a dream or actually happened which leaves much room for debate. Over al for the last film of Kubrick its somewhat of a dissapointment.
One of the stranger elements is the orgy scene where items are placed in appropriate places but seems pointless.
The dvd features are Ok with interviews and an insight with working with Kubrick.
One to buy for the curiousity of it all
Though under a different username, this review was written by myself here: http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=2422814
Through a very clever piece of marketing - though some claim it was not his intention - Stanley Kubrick managed to attract members of the public who were curious of the relationship between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who were married at the time of the release of Eyes Wide Shut. This theory of mine that Kubrick purposely attracted an audience who were expecting a film completely different to the outcome is reflected in the films poster - a mirror held up to society to expose their perversions. A great deal of interest was taken over the film - not only because of the aforementioned relationship between the two leads, but also because of the sheer length of time it took to film it; around eighteen months. Several rumours also persisted, one in particular about a certain incident between the original lead actor Harvey Keitel and Nicole Kidman. All this interest gave Kubrick the opportunity to tell the audience his ideas through the film.
The film has generally received panning from critics and audiences alike, with many considering Eyes Wide Shut to be a disappointing finish to a rather exceptional career. However, it is worth noting that many of Kubrick's film were not thought of as of great quality upon initial release, The Shining for example was nominated for several Razzie awards, including Worst Director. It is quite possible, then, that time will eventually show Eyes Wide Shut to be right up there with Kubrick's best. Many think that the film is a dull 'affair', and at two and a half hours centred on one scene, it is an understandable criticism.
The film begins with the married couple at a party hosted by Ziegler (played by the late Sydney Pollack). The relationship between this scene and the famous 'masked ball' sequence later on in the film is touched upon here. Two young girls who attempt to seduce Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise's character) mention that their destination is "at the end of the rainbow." The shop at which Bill purchases his costume in preparation for the ball is indeed called the Rainbow, therefore hinting that the two young girls attended both events.
Social status is a key theme of Eyes Wide Shut. It becomes apparent that Dr. Bill (a likely purposeful pun) does not appear to be a particularly intelligent man - rather that he achieved his career path through his social class and his conformist beliefs. The orgy scene is described by Ziegler late on in the film as being made up of those of a high status - lawyers, politicians etc. The secrecy surrounding the party - through passwords and masks - suggests that the identity of the members of the 'club' is worth hiding.
Almost every scene in the film contains Christmas trees or lights. As Christmas is not part of the plot, and the fact that Kubrick is in the chair, suggests that there is a hidden message. My theory on this is that, due to the upper/middle classes being a key theme, Kubrick is telling us that Christmas is simply a time when people are forced to purchase unnecessary items and give business owners a nice profit out of 'goodwill.'
Another anti-authoritative message (key throughout Kubrick's latter-day works) is the treatment of women in society. During the first party, Kidman's character Alice mentions how she was invited for one reason. Ziegler has a prostitute with him whom he is having trouble with, thus showing that Alice's ponderings were indeed correct. Though seemingly the more intelligent of the couple, Alice stays at home to look after the children whilst Bill earns his money by working in a doctor's surgery. It was after a re-watch that I realised that my dislike for Kidman's character was in all likelihood Kubrick's intention. Her sins in lusting after men were equalled by Bill's ventures, though I initially thought his actions were justified.
Many conspiracy theories have been raised surrounding this film. These range from Kubrick being murdered as he died 666 days before the first day of 2001 and his exposure of the Illuminati through symbolism to Kidman and Cruise themselves being involved in his death. Though some are quite preposterous, there are plenty of suspicions regarding the two leads as they clearly pretend to be upset by his death in several interviews. There is also no denying that Kubrick did include Illuminati symbology in this film, as he did with several of his other pictures.
A hugely under-rated film, for the moment at least, Eyes Wide Shut shows Kubrick's true genius behind the camera. It certainly has more to offer than the much recalled dream sequence at the Somerton mansion, to both fans and non-fans of Kubrick. Like many other Kubrick films, 2001-onwards especially, viewing the film on multiple occasions is a necessity in order the see the whole picture and uncover Kubrick's true intentions.
The DVD itself contains several special features (the DVD in question here is the two disc DVD, not the single disc edition as shown in the picture). These include a documentary on Stanley Kubrick's career; interviews with Spielberg, Cruise and Kidman; and a featurette on the unfinished films which Kubrick intended to make, i.e. AI and 'Aryan Papers.'
Eyes Wide Shut is often unfairly criticised as unfocused and overlong - many expected Kubrick's final film (which didn't premier until after his death) to be some sort of ridiculous masterpiece that could live up to the epic scale of 2001: A Space Oddysey. I contest, though, that it is one of his best films, and I sincerely hope that it is re-evaluated in the coming years for the masterpiece that it is.
The film begins with Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) and Alice Harford (Nicole Kidman) having a discussion, resulting in Bill learning that Alice once considered committing infidelity because of Bill's self assured, overly confident nature. This causes Bill to lose his cool demeanour, resulting in him going on a night-long oddysey through the sexual underbelly of New York, where he ends up in a mansion, where a creepy, orgiastic night of indulgence takes place.
Eyes Wide Shut is a film of great psychological consequence - it considers the male and female perspective of sexual relationships, along with other notable motifs such as sexual possessiveness and jealousy. Only a director with such a smart mind (as no doubt honed on psycho noir works like A Clockwork Orange) could create a work so deep and complex, yet to this extent it does also run the risk of being rendered inaccessible to most viewers, not helped by the fact that it is incredibly long, running in at about three hours, and is also very slowly paced (particularly the mansion scenes).
Stanley Kubrick's final film is among his most challenging and divisive works, yet certainly justifies its lengthy run-time and slow pace with smart psychology, robust performances, and austere direction from Kubrick. The film's treatment of emotional infidelity encompasses myriad other themes - high-society boredom and desperation, sexual possessiveness, and the power of love. An unrelentingly compelling bookend to Kubrick's illustrious career.
'Eyes Wide Shut' has tremendous potential. Created by the highly acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick and featuring the real-life couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, I expected high things of this film. I was very disappointed.
Cruise and Kidman play a wealthy married couple who fall out after a marijuana-fueled argument. Cruise, tormented by visions of his wife with other men, wanders off into the night and ultimately ends up at a Masonic sex ritual. It takes about 90 minutes to get this far, and the final 60 unearths the explanation for the bizarre series of events he has been through. As plots go it's a clever if slightly thin idea, but nonetheless a psychological drama that promises to be very enjoyable.
It fails to entertain primarily on grounds of it being cripplingly slow. That so straightforward a plot should take two and a half hours to complete is ridiculous. Everything takes so long to happen that by halfway through the film you find yourself checking your watch and wishing the characters would do something of interest. Long stretches of the film drag on for no apparent purpose - at one point we watch Cruise entering his house, turning off the lights on his Christmas tree, opening the refrigerator and pouring himself a drink. This takes five minutes and serves no purpose whatsoever - not even as a device for prolonging the inevitable and increasing tension. Tense films like this are not supposed to be constant action but the few scenes of high interest could have been far more compelling than they were.
Kidman's character is impossible to warm to, and as a consequence Cruise's plight seems pointless. In her two major scenes - the argument and after her dream - she portrays her character as unpleasant and resentful. The suggestion that anyone could stay married to her for nine years becomes a little difficult to accept. This is in some part due to the ridiculous length the argument scenes continues for as Kidman delivers her lines very gradually with huge pauses in between, tormenting her husband and making uncomfortable viewing.
The pivotal scene in the sex ritual is performed with a complete lack of imagination. The intrusive music jabs at your consciousness at every turn while Cruise meanders between various predictably decadent sex positions. Even the menacing masked Masonics are sterile and uninteresting.
'Eyes Wide Shut' is neither tense and compelling in its' psychological drama, nor erotic in its' sexual scenes. Put simply, it is dull and indescribably tedious. A wasted opportunity.
I must start this review by stating that I'm more than aware that I'm in the small minority that love the movie Eyes Wide Shut, I'm not trying to get you to invest cash in this movie, the chances are if you have not seen it you might not enjoy it. Strangely, or maybe not so strange this review of Stanley Kubrick's last, and in my opinion finest movie. As thus all I ask is that with some years passed since its release the next time you see the movie on TV, or are stuck for a DVD rental you give this film a shot; now all the controversy and expectation has passed you can enjoy the movie for what it is.
Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) and his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) are a reasonably wealthy couple enjoying the fruits of many years hard work, they have a beautiful home and have an active life networking at parties. It's a night out at one such party that rocks a change in the relationship, while Bill heads off to resuscitate a prostitute in the care of the parties host Victor Ziegler (played by Sydney Pollack who died recently), Alice is left downstairs with a man who has obvious designs on taking things beyond a dance. Both over the course of the night are thrown into a world far different to their own, Bill more so than Alice.
What starts as a simple kitchen sink spat over expectation, and presumption takes Bill out into the streets of New York and into a world of sacrificial orgies, murder, and corruption; Bill's eyes are opened to exactly how sexual the world around him has become, but will he escape unscathed?
Of all the movies of the late director Stanley Kubrick, I find this movie the harshest; the reason being is that it is very real, you can see the world that Bill has stumbled upon rather unexpectedly is the sort of life that given the right circumstances you could fall into. I for one know that in my home town of Cheltenham Spa, there are certain underground parties in large estates where sex is very much on the cards, parties that both husbands and wives attend (sadly never invited); and if we read out papers, and online news articles truth of the matter is that you know these things exist too.
This is a deeply disturbing movie, and I need to be careful when I say this; it's not frightening, it's not overly thrilling, in fact story wise on the surface its quite bland. But under the surface something really nasty is slowly boiling away, something that you can sense but not understand or explain, though you can feel it 20 minutes from the movies offset right through to the conclusion.
Eyes Wide Shut is like a woodpecker, with the unusual sexual misadventures of Bill, and Alice in past reference being pecked away at slowly, fragmenting the marriage into a shadow of its former self. Bill slowly reflects on the sexual thoughts and desires of his wife whom up until where the movie joins the characters he has always been so sure of in respect of fidelity. And it's that typical pig ignorant damaged male ego that sends him off into the night looking for sex simply off the back of the fact that Alice considered having an affair.
This is a very beautifully shot movie, so much time and attention is put into every single shot, Kubrick having been so picky with his choice of filming locations that for some scenes he waited two years for the right permissions to become available. It is also said that the intense filming style caused the real life marriage of Cruise and Kidman to melt down, though also suggested is the fact that Kidman was a paid employee of Cruise contracted to be his wife to cover aspects of his personal life, in exchange Kidman gained status as a Hollywood A-lister. Given the basis of this last fact (if true) the choice of Cruise and Kidman in this movie seems entirely appropriate.
Eyes Wide Shut has scenes that burn into your brain, the country house orgy I mentioned earlier being one of the most memorable of the movie, not due to any gratuitous behaviour but simply down to the fact that this strange sexual practise almost goes hand in hand with religion, and is strangely occult. More unusual is that all the participants are masked, yet some of the party goers are very much aware of whom Bill is. When Bill is discovered as being not from within the circle, things get really creepy, and you have serious concerns about what awaits for Bill. But it's the intimidating nature of the characters richer and more powerful than Bill, that really provide the movies biggest menace, along with an incredibly intimidating musical score by Jocelyn Pook, portions of which UK audiences will be all too familiar with thanks to TV show The Apprentice.
As the movie concludes a series of side stories are pulled together to create a picture bigger than you could ever expect, it seems everything is relative; and it's this point that makes the end of the movie seem far more harsh.
Personally as an actor I admire Tom Cruise; his films are more often than not of superior quality, few of his movies bombing in the terms of box office success. Outside of the actors role however, I think that Cruise is insane. Here he offers a robust hardened performance, perhaps so hardened that he seems almost alien to his audience. Kidman on the other hand, pre plastic surgery acts well up until a lengthy monologue, at this point to me her credibility is lost in one of the most faked and humiliating laughing scenes I have ever seen. Luckily the story allows this element to pass by rather quickly. Of our remaining cast Sydney Pollack is unnervingly creepy, or slimy for want of a better word. Todd Field is charming as the old friend of Bill, and a young Leelee Sobieski gets a sobering lift to her at the time flagging career.
Unusually Eyes Wide Shut for the most part was shot in England, while certain buildings in the States were used, the sprawling and magnificent shots of Bill and Alice's New York home area were all shot in exclusive London locations like Fitzrovia, Clerkenwell, Chelsea, and Regent Street; and when you watch the movie it's virtually impossible to believe that it could be anywhere other than Manhattan. Even Kubrick's St. Albans home was used in filming the movie.
The recently released two disc version of the DVD has few features, though they are incredibly good.
The Last Movie: Stanley Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut - This documentary was made by Channel Four and coincided with the release of the movie in the cinema, and the untimely and unexpected death of Stanley Kubrick. This lengthy documentary looks first at the impact of A Clockwork Orange and exposes the reasons why Kubrick himself chose to ban the movie. Kubrick's wife talks about Kubrick discovering the book Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler which Kubrick turned into Eyes Wide Shut, Christiane (his wife) talks of her hatred of the book and how she implored Kubrick not to make the movie. While ultimately a tale of the movie that turned out to be his last, and how work on the movie A.I. (eventually made by Steven Spielberg) was postponed while Kubrick waited for inspiration picking up Eyes Wide Shut; the documentary tells us about the man himself known as a sort of hobo in his St. Albans hometown. Kubrick's two daughters tell of their love for their father, and about his unusual behaviour. The documentary ends with a look at Kubricks grave.
Lost Kubrick looks at the movies Kubrick wanted to make but never finished a life story of Napoleon and a tale of the Jewish Holocaust, it's amazing to see how close these movies came to being made.
There is also a series of interviews with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Steven Spielberg (Kubricks good and trusted friend). An award acceptance speech by DW Griffith, and a series of trailers and TV spots.
Eyes Wide Shut (at the time of writing) is available as part of a 3 for £20 deal from HMV.
Spencer Hawken 05/08
In the eyes of some, Stanley Kubrick was the last of the classic directors, and Eyes Wide Shut marks his final effort. Possibly the last great film of the 20th century, yet oft overlooked, Eyes Wide Shut -- despite its distorted reputation and commercial failure -- shows Kubrick not only working at the height of his technical genius, but also introduces something quite rare for a Kubrick film; an emphasis on human emotion. Although the emotion isn't overdone (Kubrick was always a minimalist in that sense), it does make Eyes Wide Shut stand out from the rest of his films, which is a pity considering the reception it received.
Indeed, much like its star, Tom Cruise, its reputation precedes it; apparently a gratuitous art house porno; stories of endless takes over its two year production, Kubrick's attention to detail reaching new levels of perfectionism, whilst the stress of production apparently not only led to the divorce of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, but also to Kubrick's death just days after he had finally completed it. But, again, the reputation of the film tragically distorts the finished product; a meticulously crafted work of art, a vivid dreamscape that even exceeds the weirdness of its source material, "Dream Story", by Viennese secessionist, Arthur Schnitzler. Kubrick takes Schnitzler's work, simultaneously making it his own, but also staying incredibly loyal to the book, in addition to actually deepening the story. Its a basic premise; Doctor Bill Harford (Cruise), a charming and successful practitioner, embarks on a dreamlike sexual odyssey in the depths of New York after a fall out with his equally charming but not so successful wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), following her admission of past longings for other men. Harford's journey takes him to the darkest recesses of the city, whether it be seedy back alleys or extravagant apartments, the night itself bearing many life-changing revelations. This story is modern day New York, but Kubrick never forgets his source, imbuing it with the grandeur and eccentricity of early 20th century Imperial Vienna. There is a parallel between the two cities, the bourgeois classes distinctly reflecting each other.
The character of Harford epitomises such people, comfortable and wealthy, but not necessarily content, with repressed sexuality seeping out over the duration of his journey. Cruise anchors the film and plays Harford exactly in this way, but he realises that the secrets of he and his wife are nothing compared to what lurks just under the pristine surface of New York society, to which he has been completely (and naively) oblivious. The humanity of the story lies in Cruise, his Harford a man the audience can relate to, whilst Kidman's Alice is almost the opposite of this. Although like Harford in the sense that she is comfortable and wealthy, happily married, and blessed with a young child, she is frustrated and secretly selfish. However, these traits are actually rather overdone by Kidman, whose acting occasionally borders on parody throughout. Whilst she excellently conveys the enigma of Alice, playing her with a distant, distracted quality, she often goes too far. Sometimes Alice is distant and distracted to the point where she becomes quite irritating. Kidman tries to make her naturalistic, her dialogue long and drawn out, but her character almost becomes a parody. Her dialogue is spoken at the speed of a tortoise, her quality of distance exaggerated to the extent that she seems to be stoned the majority of the time (which in one scene she is), a flaw in her acting that comes close to ruining a vital scene. It's not always the case, and to Kidman's credit she does make Alice alluring and mysterious, only she indulges in excess rather too much at times.
But the key player to the film is Kubrick, though his presence is subdued because of the combined weight of Cruise and Kidman, as well as Sydney Pollack in a supporting role. The quality of his direction, however, is stunning in the dreamscape he creates. Effortless, fluid tracking shots; cinematography that is crafted with such care that every shot is like a framed painting; an atmosphere that brings the dream story to life through all of these qualities, as well as the sets and his brilliant use of music (the Shostakovich piece is a throwback to the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack); all of this makes Eyes Wide Shut a feast for the senses, much akin to the rest of Kubrick's films, being both flamboyant and minimalist in style. One scene in particular stands out as possibly the greatest sequence Kubrick ever filmed, a scene which completely envelops the viewer in its atmosphere, surrealism, eeriness and downright excellence. It would be unfair to give it away, as Eyes Wide Shut is about revelation in every sense of the word; everything unravels slowly, leaving the audience to basque in Kubrick's world. If Eyes Wide Shut were to be categorised in a genre (which is difficult to do considering how many levels it works on), it would be as much a mystery film as it is a love story, but this simplification undermines the film. That said, Kubrick's direction is not without the occasional flaw. Although not necessarily a bad thing, Eyes Wide Shut is quite an old-fashioned film, and this is seen most prominently in Kubrick's editing. Between shots, the editing is fluid, but Kubrick does tend to struggle when moving from one event to the next. Because the film, like the novel, is a stream of consciousness, when there is an abrupt fade out to the next chapter as it were, it breaks up that stream of consciousness. The editing could have been more seamless, as it would have tied the film together more tightly, which would have been especially appropriate considering that dreams are not fragmented in the same way.
The story itself also suffers from not being taken to its fullest extent, although that flaw is to be attributed to the novel more than the film. Nonetheless, for all of the mystery surrounding the film, it is not fully explored. That doesn't mean that all the questions the film poses need answers, but one does not feel completely fulfilled by the conclusion to the mystery, as it could've done with some more exploration. Indeed, despite the fact that the film is long (150 minutes), it might've benefited from an extra half hour to add a bit more tension to the storyline. The very end, moreover, feels very much like a cop out (again, this fault is to be attributed to the novel), although it can be interpreted in numerous ways. And that's one of the reasons why Eyes Wide Shut stays with you long after the credits, because, like the very best films, the questions it poses and the general brilliance of it leaves you to interpret its meaning and ponder over it for days after. It's only a shame that Kubrick's erotic final masterpiece, despite having some flaws, is so drastically overlooked.
Stanley Kubrick is without doubt my favourite film director. This is my review of his last, and perhaps most misunderstood film. The story concerns a well off New York couple, married for 9 years, played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. They go to a posh society party, each indulges in flirtation, which later leads to a confronational conversation between them, which in turn leads to feelings of insecurity and jealousy in the relationship. Bill (Cruise) is then called out into the city, starting an adventure that will take him through the night to confront his feelings and desires. What strikes you first about this film is the way it looks. It's totally unlike any Hollywood film, almost having a glow about it, but a glow with a grainy edge. The sets, the costumes, the tracking shots as Nicole and her european admirer wheel around the dance floor, everything makes the film visually mesmerising. This culminates in the infamous orgy scene, which is almost pure visual impact ,though not at all in an erotic sense. The visuals aren't there just to drool at though, there are many instances of colours and lighting being representative of what's going on behind the story. Also immediately noticable are the performances. There is a naturalness to the married couple's relationship that you don't usually see in a film, maybe because they are really married, maybe due to the filming process of many rehearsals refining a scene until it feels natural, whichever, it works. Kidman has the more fireworks in her role, and one scene in particular allows her to give a quite stunning performance, as she talks about flirtations and fantasies with her husband whilst under the influence of cannabis. This is maybe the pivotol scene in the film, as it marks the transition from happy marriage to distrust and suspicion, and Kidman's performance is incredible. Cruise has a more passive role throughout the film, despite being onscreen for signi
ficantly longer, but still gives a fine believable performance. All of the supporting actors do good jobs, Marie Richardson and Alan Cumming standing out especially, subtly portraying a wide range of conflicting emotions in a very short time. The real strength of this film comes from its structure. The surface story is really just a framework, and if that's all you notice, then the overall effect can be quite unsatisfactory, especially as things are quite neatly wrapped up in the end. There is a lot more being said though, as Bill descends almost into a waking dream (as opposed to Alice's actual dream), encountering a series of fantasy-type situations, making him question his relationship and his own sexual desires. Each 'fantasy' is visited twice, before and after the central orgy, and each undergoes a transformation from before to after. There are also recurring symbolisms throughout, the most obvious and perhaps important being that of the mask, sometimes physical, sometimes emotional, that Bill hides behind. This is not a film that everyone will like, it's long and slow and deliberate. You have to think to properly begin to scratch the surface of what's going on. To me, that's what makes a film great, to be both instantly enjoyable on first viewing, but for more and more to be revealed on subsequent viewings. Those expecting some sort of erotic film about sex will be disappointed, and perhaps the marketting of the film was misleading, which in turn led to a lot of people's disappointment. There is a lot of nudity, but it is rarely erotic or sexy, which is entirely deliberate, especially in the orgy scene, a graphic portrayal of what happens when sex is entirely removed from the confines of a relationship and made totally impersonal. Stanley Kubrick has once more, and sadly finally, shown his mastery of film. No one else can combine images, performances, music (he uses music minimally, but with great c
are), and story to such effect, to create something so unique, and so memorable, and I don't expect to see such a fine film for a long time to come.
Stanley Kubrick’s last film. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise getting their kit off. On the face of it this should have all the ingredients to be an excellent film. Kubrick is one of the best directors of the last 30 years, Cruise is a box office idol, Kidman is completely gorgeous, throw in a suspected murder and a large helping of soft porn and you would think this would be superb. You’d be wrong. The major shortfall is the plot, or lack of one. The basic story is that Cruise and Kidman play a happily married couple with 1 child. At a party Cruise catches a drunken Kidman flirting with someone but says he’s ok with it as he’s sure that Kidman won’t do anything. Next Kidman gets stoned and announces that a year ago she had a one-night stand. Cruise gets upset and wanders into the night with a desire to get his end away. Cue various offers from female friends and prostitutes that he can’t bring himself to follow through with. He then crashes a very civilised orgy but is exposed (not literally) as an impostor but an unknown girl offers to take his punishment. Next morning she’s dead and Cruise wants to find out how and why. And next…….. nothing really. The film’s taken 2½ hours to get this far and can’t be bothered to go any further. The film is so long as Kubrick stretches out every scene in an effort to crank up the tension levels but for that to work you need to either – a/ care for the characters b/ have a scary bad guy or c/ Have some big action scene pay-offs and this movie lacks all 3. Tom Cruise proves that for all his matinee idol looks he can’t carry a film where acting rather than action is a requirement. His acting comes across as particularly wooden as he is clearly unable to portray any emotions - not a top gun in this film. Note for the girl’s Tom keeps his boxers on at all times.
Nicole Kidman is wasted. As she’s proved in Moulin Rouge, the Others and previously in Dead Calm she is a very talented actress. Her 2 major scenes in this film are drunk and stoned and I guess she’s a clean living type of girl as neither ring quit true. The rest of the time she’s just asked to be gorgeous and suggestive. Note for the boys Nicole strips on several occasions. Regarding Kubrick’s direction, its hard to be constructive as the film as a whole lacks a point of interest. All you can say favourably is that its beautifully shot with the scenes carefully constructed but as a the last film he made before his death its probably not the one he would wish to be remembered for. What about the sex scenes? Well there’s a lot of naked flesh on show but its all done in such a way that it is actually quite unerotic. The orgy scene has everyone naked apart from a range of silly off putting masks, which is too absurd even for channel 5, and lots of huffing and puffing, but always with head or limb strategically covering the action. The best thing about the movie was the score. Chris Isaak’s “Baby did a bad bad thing” is a down dirty song which sums up the mood of the film, whilst the original score features the scariest theme since psycho as a single note on a piano is relentlessly repeated with volume the key to tension control. When anyone involved with this film is writing their CV it’s a safe bet that this won’t feature. Whilst not an outright stinker the amount of talent and money thrown at the project should have created a far more memorable picture.
Eyes wide shut Well this is going to be a hard review. This is an out-standing film, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. This film is by Stanley Kubrick; he also stars in the film. I got this film out on video over a year ago, I always seem to like the films with Tom Cruise in them but to be honest I wasn’t prepared for some of the scenes that I was about to see. THE FILM This film is a compelling psychosexual journey; guaranteed to shock and amaze you all the way through, leaving you astonished with you eyes wide open. NOT FOR EVERYONE Ok so some people may not like this film, as it is like a strange sexual fantasy film. If you don’t like sexual conversation and sexual references I would recommend that you give this film I miss. BEGINING The film starts by showing you Alice (Nicole Kidman) on the toilet, she and her husband Bill (Tom Cruise) are getting really to go a dinner party. They are both professional people (Bill is a Doctor and Alice does Artwork), who seem very happy together. They have one child together, who is on this night staying at home with the baby sitter. Alice and Bill arrive at the party, get a drink and start to dance, Bill notices an old friend who he met at medical school and goes over to him for a chat.... Mean while Alice starts chatting to a man at the bar, he asks her to dance and they start to talk and flirt together.... While she is busy dancing with this older man, her husband start getting chatted up by these two women... Bill gets called away by a gentleman and is asked to go upstairs with him. Tom goes up stairs only to find that his friend (Victor the host of the party) is half-naked and that a girl is naked and overdosed on drugs slumped in a chair. Bill helps her and tells that she is lucky to be alive... Meanwhile back downstairs Alice is being asked to go upstairs with his man she declines the offer and tells him that sh
e must go. They arrive back home together and when they both have a little cannabis, she starts asking him questions about where he disappeared to, things get little heated and he asks her what that man wanted who was dancing with you. Alice now very unstable starts to tell Bill that when they are making love she is thinking of other men. The conversation swirls out of control and they start to argue. Before Bill as chance to reply to her confession, the phone rings and Bill is called out to a patient. THE PLOT Ok so let me get to point - The old friend who he met at the dinner party is involved in some kind of weird cult sex group. Bill’s curiosity takes over his mood and he asks if he can go alone with him. From here on in the film changes mood completely, it starts to become very mysterious and becomes full of sexual fantasies and strange goings on. The story now sweeps from doubt and fear to self-discovery and reconciliation. All the people in the cult are wearing masks and costumes. There is something about this group that just isn’t right, and Bill finds himself getting involved into a deep and dangerous world of women sex and strange fantasies. Rated 18 Available from most video shops
'Eyes Wide Shut' was a highly anticipated film, even before the death of its director, Stanley Kubrick. Having watched it on Sky Premier 2 for the first time last night, in all honesty, I have to say that it was slightly disappointing. All the hype in the media that surrounded this film before it release about intimate sexual behaviour etc; seemed a little OTT in reflection. Admittedly, the movie is a long (159mins) and atmospheric tale of sexual awakenings, but it never really lives up to its hype let alone its 18 certificate. It all starts when Bill (Cruise) and Alice (Kidman) are invited to a swanky party. Bill gets hit on by two gorgeous models and Alice becomes the object of desire for another high class romeo. Neither let their curiosity get the better of them. An old friend of Bill's appears as the piano player, who leads him to a mansion where a very bizarre event takes place. With a couple of twists in the tale, Bill and Alice are back to normal and the whole eposode is put behind them. I have to say that although it is very well directed, acted and produced, it does leave you asking yourself 'Why..?' and 'What..?'. It's a typical Kubrick film - very wired, but very watchable. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play their roles very convincingly, obviously because they are both top quality actors and (were) married at the time which helped in finding the correct chemistry between them. Overall, a good film to see, but don't rush to te video store to get it.
I was actually too scared to go and see this film at the cinema when it was first released - not because i was too young and i was scared i wouldn't get in, but because from the previews i had seen there was a lot of nudity involved and i was frightened i might get embaressed! *blush* So i waited patiently for it to be released on video - then still never got round to seeing it and guess i kind of forgot about it until i stumbled accross it in W.H.Smith a few weeks back for a very reasonable price and couldn't help but buy it. Now you may wonder what all this has to do with the film itself - the reason i wanted to see the film in the first place was as it was film producer Stanley Kubricks last movie and i loved his other films so much (A Clockwork Orange, Space Odyssy 2001 etc) i had to see this one too. The man was a genius! Unfortunately, Kubrick died during the making of this film (sob sob) and we'll never be sure whether it was released the way he'd planned it to be - many people say it is unfinished (although Warner Bros swear it was). I personally feel it wasn't finished - you'd need to watch it to see the way the film ends, kind of leaving a huge part of the story untied. But basically what the film is about (eventually i hear you sigh) is sex. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play husband and wife (they were at the time) at a difficult point in their relationship both tempted to sleep with other people. One night after Kidman tells of her sexual desire to have slept with another man, Cruise goes out and becommes caught up in a murder mystery and sees some strange things...(I can't really expand on the cos it'll give the whole film away). Anyway you never do find out exactly how things work out in the end and the film is a bit spooky and leaves you wondering... I wouldn't recommend this film to everyone - i love horror films but i was a bit freaked out by parts of this. Anyone who lov
es a bit of nudity would appreciate it but it's not a film for anyone who gets bored easily - it's more 'art' than entertainment... I couldn't really put it into any one genre either - it's a bit of a romance/horror/thriller tale really...watch it for yourself to see what i mean...If you have the patience and courage :)
I recently read some of the other messages posted pertaining to this film and realized that Kubrick left many viewers with a lot of questions. I myself was in their shoes the first time I saw this film. I had consumed a few beers and fell asleep a couple of times. By the time the movie finished I thought it was a complete waste of time and money. However, by chance I saw it two days later on TV. I was then able to see it in its entirity and fully understand the film. I recently purchased it on DVD and saw it for a third time. I must say that this is a movie one must see at least 2 times with full attention. Basically, the film is about temptations and fantasies. Tom Cruise is very upset when he hears that his wife has unfaithful thoughts towards another man. This causes him to go through a spell where he too has unfaithful thoughts. Immediately after the encounter with his wife(Kidman), he is kissed by one of his clients...but does not give in. It later is revealed that the only reason she did this is because she was hyserical over the death of her father and Cruise bears a strong resemblence to her finace. Cruise then comes moments away from having sex with a pretty prostitute. He doesn't and it later turns out that the prostitute has AIDS...message he shouldn't cheat on his wife. Cruise's sexual pursuits later even take him to a bizarre sexual party, where it is clear he doesn't belong. The bottom line is that while both of them had unfaithful thoughts, neither of them actually acted on them. These thoughts are natural, their eyes are open..but they are shut to do anything about them.
I recently read some of the other messages posted pertaining to this film and realized that Kubrick left many viewers with a lot of questions. I myself was in their shoes the first time I saw this film. I had consumed a few beers and fell asleep a couple of times. By the time the movie finished I thought it was a complete waste of time and money. However, by chance I saw it two days later on TV. I was then able to see it in its entirity and fully understand the film. I recently purchased it on DVD and saw it for a third time. I must say that this is a movie one must see at least 2 times with full attention. Basically, the film is about temptations and fantasies. Tom Cruise is very upset when he hears that his wife has unfaithful thoughts towards another man. This causes him to go through a spell where he too has unfaithful thoughts. Immediately after the encounter with his wife(Kidman), he is kissed by one of his clients...but does not give in. It later is revealed that the only reason she did this is because she was hyserical over the death of her father and Cruise bears a strong resemblence to her finace. Cruise then comes moments away from having sex with a pretty prostitute. He doesn't and it later turns out that the prostitute has AIDS...message he shouldn't cheat on his wife. Cruise's sexual pursuits later even take him to a bizarre sexual party, where it is clear he doesn't belong. The bottom line is that while both of them had unfaithful thoughts, neither of them actually acted on them. These thoughts are natural, their eyes are open..but they are shut to do anything about them. On the DVD Spielberg is interviewed about Kubrick..he himself states it is essential to watch the movies several times to pick up on the themes and appreciate them.
Visually beautiful, Stanley Kubrick's last completed film Eyes Wide Shut blends the sinister, the sensual and the clinical in a combination that is rather too personal and idiosyncratic to be entirely successful as the final statement about gender and sexuality he intended it to be. Adapted by Frederick Raphael from the Dream Story of Freud's friend Schnitzler, it shows a young successful couple confront the dangers that lurk beyond monogamy; Nicole Kidman's Alice does little more than fantasise, flirt and dream, but even this causes guilt and pain. Doctor Bill (Tom Cruise) does rather more--he visits a whore, crashes an orgy and continues to ask questions when warned off; if no disaster ensues, and it is possible that two people die as a result, it is only luck that averts it. Much of the best of what is here is to be found in occasional moments of stillness--Cruise walking through a morgue--or wild comedy--Cruise's attempt to hire a costume in the middle of the night interrupts major shenanigans at the fancy-dress shop. Cruise and Kidman do what they can with material that never means as much as it aspires to, and the standout performance is Sydney Pollack's, as a worldly wise client. On the DVD: Eyes Wide Shut on DVD is presented in lavish Dolby Sound that makes the most of the obsessive Ligeti piano piece and Shostakovich waltz that dominate the score, and in the 1.33:1 ratio that was Kubrick's considered choice. It has subtitles in English, Arabic, Bulgarian and Rumanian, two TV spots and informative interviews with Kidman and Cruise, as well as with Steven Spielberg, to whom Kubrick had talked at length about his artistic intentions. --Roz Kaveney