Eyes Wide Shut
*** GM
Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sidney Pollack,Todd Field, Sam Douglas


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I'm not a Kubrick aficionado. I've seen Dr. Strangelove and most of Full Metal Jacket. I saw Spartacus when I was in high school and still an idiot. I saw The Shining and I knew all the 'scary' parts by the time I saw it... and it was about 3 in the morning after watching a buttload of other Jack Nicholson movies (my friends and I were having a "Jack Fest." The sequel to our "Bruce Willis fest" we'd had months previously). Therefore, the effect was lost on me. That's it. I wasn't expecting any 'classic Kubrickian touches' because I didn't know what they were.

That being said, I found "Eyes Wide Shut" to be very involving, creepy, interesting, disturbing and odd. I was able to deal with Nicole Kidman, who is usually one of those random actors that just BOTHERS me through no fault of her own (as opposed to actors like Andie MacDowell, who bothers me because she sucks), but I kept noticing that Tom Cruise now occasionally looks a whole lot like Christopher Reeve used to. Go watch "Village of The Damned" and then watch this again. On second thought, don't watch "Village Of The Damned." It was god-awful.

Anyway, the film is an intense, eerie and slowly-paced study of the desire for infidelity and its joys and its dangers, neatly arranged to teach Dr. Bill (Cruise) a lesson. The pacing is very well done, very suspenseful and very slow. It may take a little while for the general slam-bang public to warm up to this, but the film is immensely better for it.

It's hard to imagine an orgy scene that isn't done just for titillation's sake, but Kubrick pulls it off. The scene is just eerie, off-putting, weird, creepy and heebie-jeebie-filled as the audience sits, mystified, wondering just what the hell is going on. I was annoyed by the oddly-placed obscuring of the 'more vigorous rumpy-pumpy,' as Roger Ebert put it (officially making that the best thing he's ever said), but I saw the film BEFORE I knew that they were actually digitally placed there to avoid an NC-17 rating. I was bothered because it just didn't seem right, it didn't carry the same shock value and impact that it would have carried if these alterations were not made. Then I was REALLY torked off when I found out that it was done to please the MPAA, and not some unclear motive of Kubrick's.

It's amazing, though. We can get really worked up and annoyed about this, because it's tainting the greatness that is Stanley Kubrick. But what if this was someone else that died after they finished a movie, and it got altered after they were gone? Would this same uproar be made? Would anyone give a rat's patootie if David Kellogg, the guy who directed "Cool As Ice" and "Inspector Gadget," was currently working on what he considered to be his break from lame Disney movies and Vanilla Ice opuses (yes, it's 'opuses,' not 'opi' - I checked) and into the realm of serious filmmaking. Let's also say, for the sake of argument, that the film he was working on - "The Mind-Numbing Exploration of What It Means To Be Sarah" - was, indeed, sheer genius. If he died after completing it, and there was a bit of hard-core rumpy-pumpy that was edited out, would anyone care? Would Our Man Kellogg get the same respect as a Kubrick? True, one might say he hadn't earned such respect, but is it fair to penalize him because he died before he hand the chance to earn it?

Just rambling.

The virtues and drawbacks of fidelity are weighed equally against the virtues and drawbacks of sexual freedom, although one might say a pleasant, nice encounter with a hooker doesn't quite equate to a terrifying and nightmarish orgy - but this covers both ends of the libido spectrum, and both are shown to be tempting in their own ways, but also potentially deadly. The conventional is no better than the unconventional. The humdrum routine that marriage can become is no worse than the freakish danger that bachelorhood can be. "Eyes Wide Shut" presents it all and lets us be the judge.

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