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It kicked ass on my first date!
Although I missed this timeless masterpiece in first run and was only able to catch it on video, I was blown away by craftsmanship that went into every aspect of this film. From the inspired acting to the startlingly realistic special effects, this movie had me riveted to my seat from opening to closing credits. Under the guidance of Jeb Wilson this film combined striking cinematography with a score that stays with you right to the closing rock anthem written by Adam Waite. If you don't find this one at your local video store, pack up the kids and all your stuff into a U-Haul and get to a town where you CAN find it in the video store, because it is worth moving just to see this film.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
This was Stanley Kubrick?
I have been a fan of Kubrick ever since Dr. Strangelove. He has always demonstrated the ability to bring his audience into a world full of characters that they may or may not like, with whom they may have very little in common, but always making the characters sympathetic and always framing them in a story that is both fantastic and convincing.
Eyes Wide Shut missed this mark. I am not sure how much is writing, how much is directing, and how much is editing, but this movie was so disjointed that all credibility evaporated. The acting, though quite good (well above the weak 'Far and Away' performance I was expecting) was not able to save the film.
A brief word about the sex: Unerotic. As I patiently waited for the big turn on (cf. Lolita), I kept thinking how, with so many naked people on the screen, how difficult it is to make so much sex seem so unsexy. The actions in the raunchiest of scenes (albeit digitally purified so as to not assault my delicate American sensibilities) seemed overly deliberate. It was more reminiscent of Cinemax late-night than the raving saturnalia it was meant to be.
With little action (events, not nakedness), stunning visuals and characters are what keep me interested. I have to admit, that for the lion's share of the movie, the colors and sets were gorgeous, with interesting themes in lighting to give a sense of what context the scene held for Dr. Harford. The New York (London) streets were well filmed, but not stunning by any means. But the characters were left as mere shells with minor motivation and very little in the way of context in the story. Some of the characters I really wanted to know about (eg. Domino, Nick Nightingale) were completely unexplored.
For a long time, I have been pushing the idea of a Dolph Lundgren moment. This is the time in some films where the characters and their actions mean so little, that all I can do is wait for Dolph to bust through a large leaded glass window with grenades in tow, and begin the carnage that will inevitably bring the credits as all the characters are dead. Unfortunately, Dolph was not in the cast.