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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:29 pm 
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I recall Scorsese once saying about the film that Kubrick creates a very stylized, dreamlike version of New York that really isn't supposed to representative or accurate of the real thing. While I'm sure Kubrick had location scouts, he researched everything all the time, but it doesn't necessarily mean he used it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
MyNameCriterionForum wrote:
Can't remember if this has been brought up before, but does anyone think the similar setting/situation at the end of History of Violence has any significance (other than a nod from Cronenberg to Kubrick)? Viggo's character takes the long drive (like Cruise) then arrives at a large, regal house (like Zeigler's) and is offered a drink from a table ridiculously stocked with bottles, etc.

I noticed this as well, though I don't know what purpose such a reference would serve other than just being a fun little nod.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:13 pm 
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Props55 wrote:
I'm sure they redressed the backlot streets as necessary (Sonata Cafe in the village, Under the Rainbow costume rentals, the walk between Harford's apartment and Nathanson's) but don't know how authentic the geography actually is. When Harford tries to get flee the mysterious stalker by first hailing a cab then ducking behind a newsstand I could clearly make out the street signs. The stalker comes to a halt and stares at him at the intersection of Wren and Miller. Any such streets in NYC?

There doesn't seem to be a Wren Street (or Avenue or Road or anything else) in NYC. There's a couple of Millers, but that's to be expected. Camden (London) has both a Wren and a Miller, but they don't intersect.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:32 pm 
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Scott Tobias adds this one to The New Cult Canon.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:38 pm 
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It would have been cultier with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. =P~


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:40 pm 

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Barmy wrote:
It would have been cultier with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. =P~

Or Shannon Whirry and Lance Henricksen.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:25 am 
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So I saw this again just a few days ago, this time on Blu-ray, and it really came together somehow. It no longer feels endlessly drawn out, instead surprisingly taught...


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:14 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:51 am
I agree. I saw it again recently and found it to be a lot more interesting. I think it also rang closer to home since I've been in a relationship for more than five years. When I first saw it I was probably 16 or 17 and didn't quite grasp the ideas behind it.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:35 pm 
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Oof, yeah, it helps to have been in a relationship.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:43 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
Gave EWS a watch tonight, just finished a bit ago. Honestly feel like I could cry, partly because of the haunting emotional impact of the film, partly because it's been 10 years since Kubrick's passing. Hard to believe it's been so long.

edit: it's kind of interesting if you think about the change Harford's character experiences in the course of the film. He goes from living a virtually perfect life at the beginning to having his world completely crumble by the end, basically. He discovers his wife dreams and fantasizes of "fucking other men," his old college buddy is likely dead and there's nothing he can do about it, and his friend/patient is a corrupt sleazeball possibly involved in the murder of said college buddy. So basically, all he's got is his wife, and what is there do to but... fuck? A pretty bittersweet ending, if you think about it. Yet it also has the feeling of a morality tale of sorts, in the way every opportunity for infidelity on Dr. Bill's part is thwarted by seemingly random occurances. Then again, that could just be chalked up to the dreamlike nature of the film.


Last edited by oh yeah on Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:49 pm 
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Strangely I've been feeling the same way. EWS marked a comeback for me to Kubrick after years of auteurial disdain - apart from Barry Lyndon. I probably watch EWS every year these days, and I've completely revised my view of him.

Something that brought back Kubrick's real strengths to me was watching the Criterion Madame de recently - this is a film I've probablty seen 40 or more times. During December 1971 MoMA mounted a Kubrick retro in NYC to mark the release of Clockwork Orange. The only film they couldn't access was 2001 which MGM (then, not Warner) was guarding as a commerical property. They asked Kubrick to nominate his favorite film by another director as a substitute he put up Madame de, which they then showed in a sublime pristine 35mm print.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:38 pm 

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It's also a remarkable film by virtue of the fact that it does everything the source material does but just raises it to another emotional plateau.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:47 pm 
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oh yeah wrote:
So basically, all he's got is his wife, and what is there do to but... fuck? A pretty bittersweet ending, if you think about it.

Yes, exactly. I've seen an amazing number of interpretations of the implications of this one last word and I think their plenitude is meant and deserved. Certainly I never took that final scene as any absolutist prescription for anything wholly positive (where the characters are and what they are doing is not incidental, though it may be for them).

For my own part I've always wanted to write a piece on this film reading everything that happens retrospectively through the lens of the Harford-Ziegler pool room scene. There are a number of reasons for this but to put it simply I think that scene is Kubrick at his most astonishingly visionary. It is, for me, the absolute equal in terms of sheer scope, depth and audacity to any of his greatest single "moments". And I am sure that a reading of the film set up in this way would yield some very profitable findings.

I have seen little actually written on this scene (really almost nothing since the premiere pieces in Sight and Sound and Harper's) and it's too bad as it demands treatment as a determining set piece, not just some scene of arbitrary resolution. The only thing I ever see mentioned about the pool room scene is that it's either evidence of the film's half finished state (with dodgy edits and shots that "clearly" run on too long) or that it more or less acts as confirmation of Harford's (and, by extension, our) suspicions. But it's the very fact that it is so aggressively neither of these things that its potential for explosive and propulsive multidimensional possibilities emerges.

Whether or not this scene or any other in the film was meant to be altered or would have been altered is impossible to know (though I'm sure Kubrick would have been cutting all the way into summer of '99) but the awkwardness and seeming inauthentic formality of the scene as it plays adds immeasurably to its effect as theatrical spectacle; a spectacle for some one or in the service of some thing. We may be inclined to think we know who it's for and what it's about because Ziegler is lavishly rich and exploitative (his excess of wealth acts as automatic code for evil within a limited purview, the awareness of which Kubrick plays into for heightened ironic effect) and such a scene is obviously reminiscent of many other such exposition rich scenes of explanation and resolution. And it can certainly work that way if that's what satisfies a particular reading but it also resonates profoundly with the potential to shift away from what we are normally allowed or allow ourselves. Kubrick employs a deceptively familiar and jejune rhetoric to flush out all the collected habits of interpretive diminishment we as spectators have accumulated over the years.

It's too much to get into in detail (hence the piece I want to write) but the structural element itself is what shapes this radical opportunity. It has to do with the meta-textual self-awareness and the hyper-emphasis on spaces between words, pauses, rhythm or cadence of language and affect (Pollack's sitting down and standing up in quick succession for instance or Cruise's intensity of expression throughout, an effort to make dramatic what is resolutely intended to be anything but). The film itself is replete with this kind of affectation and that fits within the dream logic but here it culminates in a scene designed to make use of these elements to make access to the store house of interpretive possibility.

On the simplest possible level, Kubrick is having fun with the intent for definitiveness in this kind of scene and making a spectacle of it in itself, which makes of it a parody. But beyond this, the profundity of it exists within the fact that it is more than parody; it is refutation, and that is the intent of its spectacle (at least in broad terms). The scene functions as equivalent in power and implication to, for one, the cosmic hotel room sequence of 2001, but the difference is in the deception of its small scale and its seemingly banal intent. Here, as there, it's the effect that maters most. In a sense we want what Ziegler says to be the accurate reading on events because we want resolution and, more to the point, we want the power made available through authoritative and incontestable knowledge; it eradicates the fear of investing in the purely subjective and, by comparison then, the purportedly irrelevant, illegitimate and inauthentic. We don't want to live in the delusion of fantasy, in false "significance". And yet we don't want this explanation because it's Ziegler's explanation and beyond whatever bias we may have for him going in, his grinding literalism annihilates the worth of any more transcendent or expansive poetic meaning. It is the emblem of a pure pragmatism, an empirically motivated vision of truth and its fire raid upon the irrelevant deceptions and distractions of the imagination.

Needless to say, I think Kubrick wants us to reflect on that and to what degree we desire that level and that kind of certainty and at the expense of what. What kind of knowledge is seen as definitive, must it be the measure for the authenticity of all other forms of knowledge and does its authenticity exist independently of all other approaches to understanding? Certainly I would suggest that the commitment to Ziegler's particular ideology of wealth, power and all inclusive controlling knowledge contains within it an implicit hierarchy of worth that exists at the expense of any more comprehensive integration of meaning. It may, in fact, testify to the film's peculiar contemporary relevance as the heart of our current crumbling economy also contains the seeds for a similar unavoidable capitalist eschatology, a pragmatic end point to any further appeals.


For reasons similar to what I just described, I vacillate between this one and The Shining for Kubrick's best. All the others are great too of course but those two in particular offer something on a super structural level that I really like and respond to as valuable; particularly in terms of utilizing all too familiar genre tropes and structural devices to not just invert expectation but to expand the limits of vision itself.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:46 am 
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I love how incredibly out of his league Harford goes. It's obvious from the beginning that he's just a glorified servant, but the confession of love from the dead man's daughter kind of empowers him. I think if she hadn't said anything he would have said no to the prostitute and simply gone home, and then he's in denial through the whole second half until Ziegler knocks him back into his place. And what characters! Drawn simply but with surprising depth. They feel very real and oddly multifaceted, moreso than most film characters.

By the way, Kubrick had edited the film to his liking. The film that went out is the final cut he showed to the producers. Perhaps he would have taken it back into the editing room after the reviews came in, perhaps not. In any case the pacing is deliberate.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:03 pm 
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Without having reread the entire thread to see if this has already been discussed, I was wondering what you guys make - if anything - of Kubrick's references to so many of his previous films in EWS? It seems pretty overt to me, but I'm a huge fan of his so maybe I'm seeing things where nothing exists, etc.

Thematically of course, and in terms of settings, there's a lot of similarity to The Shining. Also the "corpse" in the bathroom.

The bit with Millich and his daughter recalls Lolita.

The costumed manequins on display in the above seen bring to mind Barry Lyndon (and even Killer's Kiss).

The death bed scene is almost an exact duplication of the end of 2001.

and so on...


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 10:45 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:37 pm
I find references to past work in most of Kubrick's films. Some more obvious than others. The overall themes of his oeuvre are fairly consistent as well. Perhaps they are more overt in EWS. I'll look for it next time.

Or perhaps Kubrick just had a larger body of work to refer back to. You raise an interesting point.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 4:13 am 
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It's likely that you're seeing bread and water where there's only air. Kubrick wasn't the kind of director to reference his earlier films (there was a big hoopla made about the flaming black rectangle towards the end of Full Metal Jacket that turned out to be a coincidence), but, as someone I can't remember put it eloquently, he was the kind of director who told different stories the same way.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:03 am 
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The Shining is loaded with explicit references to 2001, no argument can convince me otherwise:

-The "redrum" door is shot exactly the same (composition, duration of cut, etc.) as the monolith and for the same purpose (a moment of decisive violence) in each film

- Other themes and visual connotations in The Shining recall 2001: The "empty" bathroom scene brings to mind Bowman's post-trip habitat; the isolation and eventual madness of the "brain" (Jack in TS, HAL in 2001); etc.

In EWS, there are several other self-referential moments besides the ones I mentioned earlier.

And to suggest that Kubrick didn't refer back to his own films is not entirely true. A Clockwork Orange has the bit in the record store with the 2001 soundtrack, for example.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:24 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:37 pm
MyNameCriterionForum wrote:
The Shining is loaded with explicit references to 2001, no argument can convince me otherwise:

-The "redrum" door is shot exactly the same (composition, duration of cut, etc.) as the monolith and for the same purpose (a moment of decisive violence) in each film

- Other themes and visual connotations in The Shining recall 2001: The "empty" bathroom scene brings to mind Bowman's post-trip habitat; the isolation and eventual madness of the "brain" (Jack in TS, HAL in 2001); etc.

In EWS, there are several other self-referential moments besides the ones I mentioned earlier.

And to suggest that Kubrick didn't refer back to his own films is not entirely true. A Clockwork Orange has the bit in the record store with the 2001 soundtrack, for example.


Also, Kubrick opened A Clockwork Orange with a closeup of Alex staring into the camera which is a nod to the closing shot of his prior film, 2001. The droogies' beating and near drowning of Alex is reminiscent of the watering hole scenes in 2001...... It seems the more you watch Kubrick's films the more things like this reveal themselves. Cheers!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:58 am 

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Quote:
It's likely that you're seeing bread and water where there's only air. Kubrick wasn't the kind of director to reference his earlier films

I think you're right. What we have is more likely an example of Kubrick's visual vocabulary being deployed in similar fashion for similar reasons. The redrum door (for instance) serves an important part in THE SHINING, similar to the slabs in 2001. That they also happen to besimilarly shaped completes the apparent self-reference.
Considering his background in photography, Kubrick's visual vocabulary is fairly limited. His shots are usually very formal in their composition, symmetrical and generally eye-level.
And this visual tidiness almost always is in contrast to the psychic disorder of the characters' lives.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:27 pm 
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Vinessa Shaw recalls her time on the set of Eyes Wide Shut.

Also, millionaires really know how to throw a theme party.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:10 pm 
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Antoine Doinel wrote:
Vinessa Shaw recalls her time on the set of Eyes Wide Shut.

Also, millionaires really know how to throw a theme party.

Who would have thought that Mr Bond, of all people, would have objected to a sex-fest?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:08 am 

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Quote:
Bill Harford is such an enormous boob that if more focus had been put on his blatant dullness the film would've been a comedy.


Is it wrong that I definitely feel like the film is a comedy? I watched this for the first time just a few days ago and was surprised how much I liked it. I have never been a huge fan of Kubrick. There are various reasons for this, by no means limited to the typical "I did not engage emotionally with the film". This is often true, but many of his films fail to engage me intellectually as well. A Clockwork Orange is a profound reduction of what's going on in the novel and its stylistic bravado does nothing to help it. 2001 feels hollow and simplistic. And so on. That's only vaguely relevant. Basically, while I am always astounded on a technical level by Kubrick, I guess most of his films don't quite work for me.

That said, I really enjoyed Eyes Wide Shut, but a fundamental part of that pleasure comes from the fact that the film, to me, is undoubtedly comic in tone. It reminds me, first and foremost, of After Hours. Of course it plumbs emotional depths that film doesn't bother to explore and it certainly straddles the comfort line, but there's a comic undercurrent throughout.

Sometimes it's more obvious. For instance, the last line had me in hysterics; I laughed through all of the end credits. The discovery of the Russian shopkeeper's lolita-esque daughter was ridiculous (particularly the shopkeeper's reaction). Some scenes which initially seemed dramatic or at least unassuming took on a comic tone in the context: a spontaneous confession of love by a woman in the same room as her recently deceased father, the saucy Hungarian who so blatantly pursues Alice, the concierge's exaggerated advances toward Harford. All of these scenes are absurd, but the real absurdity stems from their persistence. Honestly, the film could have been titled Tom Cruise Not Getting Laid. Even the HIV revelation takes on a comic quality just because it's just another scene in a terribly long line: Harford's failed sexual endeavors. The film is so thoroughly skewed to this paranoid sexual perspective that I can't help but treat it with humor, and the last line absolutely justifies this reading -- the simple, obvious answer to all the madness which preceded it.

Now, the film isn't purely comic. Its exploration of sexuality, repression, and insecurity is also dark, labyrinthine, emotionally feverish, and at times frightening. But I admire its ability to inhabit the realm of the comic and the darkly serious simultaneously.

The perfect example of this is the orgy set piece. I was riveted throughout the scene, it was so beautifully crafted, so strange and exotic, so enigmatic. The masks, the blood red of the carpet, the elegance of the rooms, the slow course of the wandering camera, the detached voyeurism. I loved it. But the scenes was also completely silly -- intentionally, I think. That is to say, the scene isn't silly, but the circumstances that the scene depicts are silly: a bunch of old rich people playing dress-up with secret passwords, an extravagant ritual, unerotic sex. This scene is both scary and stupid, in the sense that what it depicts has the capacity to be both scary and stupid.

And that ambiguity is perhaps what I love most about the film. Probably my favorite Kubrick (I do like some of his films, after all). ;)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:12 am 
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Without a doubt the film's negative reception on its release is because people were expecting something treating itself seriously. Now that people are finally leaving behind expectations the film can find its audience. I hadn't thought of it before, but there really is a surface connection to After Hours. There might be a deeper one actually as both films seem to be having a wink at old sexual taboos as they erode into being common place. It very much so is a next day as generation thing. Mostly though, as you said, its Tom Cruise the Unfuckable. That the actors don't seem to be in on the joke only makes it better.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:50 am 

Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:02 am
Yes! It works so well precisely because the whole thing is played straight.


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