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Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's?

 
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Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 7/8/2013 6:33:05 PM   
TLondon

 

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I've just watched EWS for the first time today, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

I've been a fan of Kubrick for a long time, and Eyes Wide Shut was one of the few I could never get a hold of to see. Well, I finally did but I wish I didn't.

As an aspiring screenwriter, I pay a great detail to the storyline, and the screenplay here was atrocious with ridiculous dialogues and stupid characters (especially Kidman's). I couldn't enjoy the film - it felt like a student's project. I just kept unintentionally picking it apart, piece by piece, seeing a rookie mistake after mistake.

Directing was somewhat okay I guess; some ridiculous shots that takes you right out of the movie and into "WTF was that about!" and several scenes that were too long. Musical choices not ideal, and sometimes instead of "drawing you in", the music would actually "push you out". Overall, a bit of an overstretch for this type of story. I could have easily been 120 min picture without loosing any creative merit.

Acting doesn't need mentioning, I believe. The wooden performance in EWS have already been widely discussed.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has any points to raise as for why some people believe this to be a movie definitely worth seeing? I was trying my best to love it, and the idea was interesting, but it was just badly brought to life. Maybe it has something to do with Kubrick's death and him not being able to finish the film completely.

Anybody has any opinion on the movie? I would love to debate the points I just brought up or anything else regarding the film.

< Message edited by TLondon -- 7/8/2013 6:37:30 PM >
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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 8/8/2013 10:10:02 AM   
Platter

 

Posts: 112
Joined: 14/8/2010
quote:

ORIGINAL: TLondon
I was wondering if anyone has any points to raise as for why some people believe this to be a movie definitely worth seeing?


Itís by Kubrick. That is the only reason why itís worth seeing. It was Kubrickís first movie in over ten years, people are fascinated with him and they were fascinated with the movie when it was being made and have remained so ever since for various reasons.

If this was directed by a no name it would be a completely forgotten TV movie. Even if it was directed by a decent sized name like Boorman or Roeg, it would still be a forgotten dud. Seriously, it wouldnít even still be in print as who would buy the DVD of something this dull after the first year of release?

I get it in the neck when I say this, but people only call it a masterpiece because they decided in advance that it was. Objectively I canít imagine how anyone coming in cold to it, without having already bought into the Kubrick legend, could like the movie. It is a painfully overlong boring dud. Perhaps it has a few interesting ideas and moments but in my opinion itís a very banal forty minute story told artlessly at silly length over two and a half hours.

The film is not merely very bad, it is a shockingly awful endurance test.

My review from 2010, and the (annoying to others) beginning of my tendency to watch very boring movies at x2 speed:

I first watched this film with my brother on DVD. It was so slow and boring that we were not on our knees praying for the film to end, but for each and every overlong scene in turn to finish. As it was Kubrick's first film in 12 years we sat through it all. We loathed it. A tiny 40 minute non-story bloated out by the slowest pacing ever to create a two and a half hour monster. The uneventful story itself is also revealed to be tiny with very low dramatic stakes. What is the point of this film?

Some critics have the audacity to call it a flawed masterpiece. Flawed piece of [censored] is too kind.

The best thing I can say about it is that some of the lights have a nice burned into the film-stock look to them. Yes, that is literally the best thing about the film. Curiously the exact same complaints and minor praise can be applied to his 1975 historical dud Barry Lyndon. Another incredibly slow, overlong, dramatically inert monster with pretty looking lighting created by real candles (a technical marvel at the time).

It's astonishing to think that it took about twenty years to adapt from a novella, a year and a half to film and a year to edit (my numbers might not be super accurate). The film could easily have been filmed within a month like a normal film. When I saw the extended argument in the apartment in the film Le Mťpris (aka Contempt) by Godard, I thought, that's it. That is how they should have shot Eyes Wide Shut. They should have just quickly and messily shot a semi-improvised deliberately pretentious film over a few weeks for less than a million dollars. As it's so cheap who cares if no one beyond a few film critics see it and roast it? Instead they had to make a big budget production out of such slight material.

For reasons of masochism I have returned to the movie two more times over the last nine years. And it remains a colossal dud. If you accept the painful inert pacing and the tiny storyline then it's not too painful, but it's still far from being even borderline okay.

I decided to try something a little bit out of the box in an attempt to make it watchable for my fourth viewing. I decided to watch the whole thing at x2 fast forward. 95% of the dialogue remained intelligible, and the 5% I didn't pick up I either didn't care about or I could work out the gist from the dialogue surrounding it. This way the awful draggy pace will be picked up and the running time halved to a more realistic 75 minutes.

And the film was bearable. The crap story and banal dialogue etc didn't suddenly burst into life, but at least things moved at a reasonable non-patience trying speed. For the majority of the film I was thinking it was a tepid two star movie.

And then the last post-orgy stretch turned up. If anything, the film SLOWED DOWN even further as Tom Cruise revisited the previous scenes. Seriously, what film slows down as it reaches its climax? A normal film is always gathering speed so that by the end it's racing towards the end. Kubrick and the Coen Brothers are about the only filmmakers I can think of who start slow and stay at that exact same pace from start to finish. It's just wrong.

The Coen Brothers movies used to drive me up the wall with the slow pace of all of their films until I learned to expect, and accept it. Fargo for example was such a horrible viewing experience first time I saw it as it took forever to get anywhere. Now whenever I put one of their films on I say to myself to expect that it will be slow from start to finish. If you expect it to take forever to get anywhere then it can't frustrate you as it's exactly what you expected (it's not the traffic jam that's making you angry, it's your expectations of getting to your destination quickly that is causing you to lose your temper).

I can sit happily through almost any Coen Brothers film now, as long as it's actually a good film like Fargo, but Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut is way beyond the pale. Even at x2 speed the film drags at its climax. So the two star review ended up as one star because the story really is so small and insignificant and the pace is too patience trying. As entertainment it really, really fails. As "art" it fails because it's rubbish with nothing to say that can be mistaken as profound, unlike 2001, which at least suggests or hints at something being said.

Some arthouse film snobs say that some films are not meant to be entertaining, and work on a different level. I don't buy it. A film is meant as entertainment. If it doesn't engage on some sort of entertainment level then it's not very good. Well I'll happily be the philistine who stands up and says that Kubrick is a so-so director with a knack for finding interesting novels to adapt and then stepping back into the limelight and allowing others to big him up in order to create a legendary reputation.

Two of my favourite films deal with mildly similar subject matter. For a superior viewing experience I fully recommend Belle de Jour and Les Choses Secrets.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Yesterday I re-read a substantial chunk of Frederick Rafael's memoir of writing Eyes Wide Shut, titled Eyes Wide Open. He indicates that he tried to write a denser, funnier, more detailed film with semi-interesting characters. And he would hand his drafts in and have Kubrick ask him to remove any new details not in the novella, junk anything resembling humour and flat line the characters to make them as nondescript and empty as possible*. Kubrick was also not keen for a long time in having the events at the start connecting with the ending in order to create another shapeless random film like Full Metal Jacket. He took a lot of convincing to bring Sydney Pollack's character back for the climax. And the "reveal" billiard-room scene that Rafael wrote was dismissed as too Bogart-Greenstreet, so it was blanded down with each new draft until it was just more banal nuts and bolts dialogue.

I get the impression that if the film had been made from one of Rafael's earlier drafts then a much more fuller, more entertaining and substantial film would have been made. He tried to bring life to it and Kubrick sucked it all out.

Rafael seems to think Kubrick deliberately removed anything interesting and quirky in order to create as blank a script as possible so he could later apply his directorial imagination to it. Unfortunately he had no imagination beyond how to light it. The problem with a good script, according to Rafael, is that it usually directs itself. There's an obvious way to shoot it and so the director ends up being told what to do by default. Kubrick preferred to have no obligations such as these.

So I think it's fair to say that Kubrick sucked more life out of the film than any other director would have.

A shame the book ends before the film was released so I don't know what the screenwriter thinks of the finished film.

* For example there was a fascinating idea for a line of dialogue. Kidman asks Cruise if he has ever fantasied that she was a boy? A show stopping line but Kubrick dismissed it straight away.

< Message edited by Platter -- 8/8/2013 10:13:36 AM >


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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 13/8/2013 1:33:05 PM   
Nicky C

 

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Just watched EWS again over the weekend, for the first time since I saw it in the theatre back in 1999. Personally, I think time has given it some perspective, like a lot of Kubrick's work. Half the world hated 2001 when it came out and that was called amateurish by a lot of critics. Later they realised that Kubrick was ahead of them and they needed to catch up. EWS doesn't have THAT ... but to my mind I wasn't old enough in 1999 to appreciate the subject matter. For the record, I'm 34 now and would have been about 20 when it came out.

Cruise and Kidman might be a bit wooden in some scenes but the acting isn't uniformly bad. She's worse than he is, and struggles with playing drunk as well as playing high. Problem is, in two of the most important scenes she is drunk and then high. Pollack is just fantastic. I think the casting of Kidman and Cruise was very deliberate (they were THE celebrity couple at the time) and the quality of their acting is part of what Kubrick was saying. 'None of this is real, it's a daydream'. EWS is not a movie about something that happened, it's about the difference between a betrayal of the mind or of the flesh (is there one?), and concludes that cheating is cheating whether that's in your head or in the bed. But, it also concludes that adultery simply does not exist if all parties consent. We are torn in two directions, the need to own our lovers completely, but also the desire to give in to purely physical, sexually magnetic impulses.

I think it's a clever film, but I do think it's too long. I think it's an art film from a mainstream director, which is always difficult for audiences, and I think it's a beautifully made film with a couple of bumps that never got smoothed out by the master. Let's face it, Kubrick at his most difficult is still more interesting than anything in theatres this year. I'd rather see Nicole's beautiful ass any day than yet another city getting destroyed by ILM or Weta.

Bottom line: It's flawed and it's too long but it's been victimised by know-it-alls who thought they could sum it up after one viewing. Most important thing for me is that I want to see it some time to see if it changes again ... which, if you think about it, is one of the marks of a great work. Even one as clunky as this.

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 13/8/2013 1:41:39 PM   
great_badir


Posts: 4662
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Nicky C
Just watched EWS again over the weekend, for the first time since I saw it in the theatre back in 1999. Personally, I think time has given it some perspective, like a lot of Kubrick's work. Half the world hated 2001 when it came out and that was called amateurish by a lot of critics. Later they realised that Kubrick was ahead of them and they needed to catch up. EWS doesn't have THAT ... but to my mind I wasn't old enough in 1999 to appreciate the subject matter. For the record, I'm 34 now and would have been about 20 when it came out.

Cruise and Kidman might be a bit wooden in some scenes but the acting isn't uniformly bad. She's worse than he is, and struggles with playing drunk as well as playing high. Problem is, in two of the most important scenes she is drunk and then high. Pollack is just fantastic. I think the casting of Kidman and Cruise was very deliberate (they were THE celebrity couple at the time) and the quality of their acting is part of what Kubrick was saying. 'None of this is real, it's a daydream'. EWS is not a movie about something that happened, it's about the difference between a betrayal of the mind or of the flesh (is there one?), and concludes that cheating is cheating whether that's in your head or in the bed. But, it also concludes that adultery simply does not exist if all parties consent. We are torn in two directions, the need to own our lovers completely, but also the desire to give in to purely physical, sexually magnetic impulses.

I think it's a clever film, but I do think it's too long. I think it's an art film from a mainstream director, which is always difficult for audiences, and I think it's a beautifully made film with a couple of bumps that never got smoothed out by the master. Let's face it, Kubrick at his most difficult is still more interesting than anything in theatres this year. I'd rather see Nicole's beautiful ass any day than yet another city getting destroyed by ILM or Weta.

Bottom line: It's flawed and it's too long but it's been victimised by know-it-alls who thought they could sum it up after one viewing. Most important thing for me is that I want to see it some time to see if it changes again ... which, if you think about it, is one of the marks of a great work. Even one as clunky as this.


I am the same age as you and, also like you, saw it at the cinema when it came out (first showing on opening day, if memory serves), and then not again until relatively recently (although not quite as recently as you - must've been last christmas when I last clamped eyes on it).

Unlike you, I still think it's as dreadful now as it was then. In fact, if anything, I think it's even worse, mainly because my more mature and film-honed 34 year old (well, 33 last chrimbo) brain picks up on a lot more of the flaws than it did at 20. VERY lazy film making by anyone's standards in my opinion, and even worse that it was Kubrick.

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 13/8/2013 9:36:37 PM   
Mister Coe

 

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So, I'm NOT the only person who thinks that Kubrick is over-rated?

Some really great films there, but also some real snooze-fests?

 

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 14/8/2013 1:32:40 PM   
great_badir


Posts: 4662
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: Mister Coe
So, I'm NOT the only person who thinks that Kubrick is over-rated?

Some really great films there, but also some real snooze-fests?




WOOOOOOOAHHHHHH, I never said that.

I think Eyes Wide Shut is his only outright turkey, The Shining I think is (hugely) over rated, and Fear and Desire is very amateurish.

Otherwise, the rest of his films are at worst good, at best masterpieces. Three poor films out of thirteen - that's a good hit rate by anyone's standards, even with relatively few films in his ouvre.

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 14/8/2013 1:38:56 PM   
Deviation


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It can never be Kubrick's worst, Spartacus exists.

(it's also great)

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I really wish I could go down to see Privates

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 14/8/2013 9:27:48 PM   
Mr Gittes

 

Posts: 567
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Definitely. However, it doesn't stop the insufferable dweebs who think Kubrick is in a godlike league all by himself above all other filmmakers; they consider it a - say it with me now - "misunderstood masterpiece".

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 19/8/2013 1:10:26 PM   
irons0

 

Posts: 3
Joined: 30/11/2011
Sometimes it's really hard to rate, and even understand Kubrick films on one viewing. Many a film critic has made a fool of themselves by doing just that.
It took even Woody Allen till the third viewing of 2001 to realise it was a great film. The first time he thought it was rubbish, but he kept thinking about the film for some reason. Second time he seen it and thought it was good. He went to see it again and thought it was a work of genius.

I'm not comparing EWS with 2001, but this happens a lot with different Kubrick films. But maybe it's just a film that you'll never like, it happens. I think the Star Wars films are inane childish drivel, but can understand that many people like them.

I'm not going to go on about subliminal messages and dissecting the plot. I think you have to make your own mind up (but watch out for masks and dreams) Give it another watch and see if it improves.

< Message edited by irons0 -- 19/8/2013 3:56:18 PM >

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 31/8/2013 2:55:31 PM   
Moorish


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From: Scotland
Eyes Wide Shut is a great film. Tells an interesting story, is well shot, looks great and is fun to watch.

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 11/3/2014 4:55:36 PM   
IamMax


Posts: 60
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Tim Krieder did the best review. We missed that it's about jaded, spoilt, decadent, end of an 'empire' (!) people sleepwalking with their somewhat petty concerns and needs, while those less fortunate than them are exploited as much as, well, they are by those with even more money than they have. We're all for sale, and selling, and buying. Introducing Sociology. The blandness of the characters is, then - and this is not excusing Kubrick - completely deliberate and correct. A bad movie probably wouldn't have this depth. The slow pace is, well, Kubrick and to make us see these layers, but most of us didn't (well I didn't). Also Kubrick probably wasn't interested in Raphael's characters because, as Kreider says, he was more interested in the time and place they found themselves in, the bigger picture and ideas that led to. Was Raphael was chosen as he wrote about a shallow era Kubrick saw links to in 'Darling'? If so the time/ideas were of interest rather than characters.
Think this is allowed...http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0096.html

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 11/3/2014 7:57:36 PM   
ElephantBoy

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mister Coe

So, I'm NOT the only person who thinks that Kubrick is over-rated?

Some really great films there, but also some real snooze-fests?



No, I am on board also, think this post really sums up how I feel about his films. A bit like Lars Von Trier now.

At the moment I would say EWS is his worse, but I need to see more.

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RE: Eyes Wide Shut - worst of Kubrick's? - 13/3/2014 5:20:09 AM   
Peregrine Took

 

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I've never been a fan of Kubrick's work, most of which I've found to be not only self indulgent but also monumentally boring.
His worst in my opinion is Barry Lyndon, but Eyes Wide Shut runs it a close second.
I've also loathed every film of Von Trier's that I've seen, for pretty much the same reasons.

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