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(By Gerry Wang)

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(Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack; directed by Stanley Kubrick)
by Gerry Wang

    It's been 3 days since I've seen EYES WIDE SHUT, and I still cannot write this review. I've started it, but trashed it, started and trashed, and so on. Because there is just too many things to say about this movie. There are too many interpretations, too many layers to peel off, too much material to sift through, and absolutely too much thinking involved to truly analyze EYES WIDE SHUT. My mind is going 60 MPH, my fingers 10 MPH, so I'm scrambling to get it all on paper (so to speak). This review will be about MY interpretation of the movie. My opinion, and my viewpoint. However, my arguments can be easily debated, and this is part of the beauty of EYES WIDE SHUT.
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    But if asked merely for a recommendation, I would give it with 100% of my confidence. This is one of the best movies of the year. It is a significant and noteworthy achievement from the late Stanley Kubrick, who definitely has locked up Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. I'm not sure whether EYES WIDE SHUT will win Best Picture, but Best Director is a sure bet. I can't say whether this is Kubrick's best film, since I haven't seen all of his other movies.

    I do feel EYES WIDE SHUT was better than 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, another one of Kubrick's landmark cinematic accomplishments. It's ranked pretty high on the AFI Top 100 Films of All-Time list. Therefore right now I am giddy with anticipation of renting Kubrick's other masterpieces. I'm sure you guys have seen SPARTACUS. That was a grand epic, but too mainstream to truly be called Kubrickian. That was clearly a Kirk Douglas star vehicle under the tight reins of the studios.

    However, Warner Bros. let Kubrick have complete control over EYES WIDE SHUT. His budget was unlimited. He had to time schedule, no deadlines. He discarded stars left and right that couldn't make his shooting schedule that stretched out over a year and a half. Stars like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Harvey Keitel were released due to their inability to keep up with Kubrick's demands. He reportedly shot some scenes with over 100 takes. Which is torture, but delivers a perfect product. Yet Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman stuck to this rigorous labor. Both give the most passionate performances of their careers, and Kubrick has delivered a film that most clearly expresses his innermost vision.

    Right at the beginning, before Kubrick even finished filming, there was a tremendous amount of hype and mystery. There was an iron shroud of secrecy surrounding the production, leading to countless rumors and theories. Some said EYES WIDE SHUT was an erotic thriller about two psychiatrists that explored extra-marital affairs. I'll debunk that one now. It ain't true. Another rumor said that this was a porn movie, and we get to see Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman pork it on-screen. As much as I hoped this rumor was true, it ain't. There was also a rumor that Tom Cruise wore a dress or something. That ain't true either, but he does get dressed up in a cool costume.

    Then the teaser trailer came out, and over the Net people were able to view it uncensored. You know, the one where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are naked and Tom's groping Nicole's tits. Yeah, that one. Put away those napkins and lotion. Then we hear how EYES WIDE SHUT had 65 seconds of explicit sex scenes edited by obscuring them digitally, placing figures in front of the people porking. (Sorry, under the Rice World Decency Code, article 69, paragraph 69, I cannot say "fucking" anymore) The digital censorship, frankly, was quite insulting and unnecessary. I found myself saying, Get the pork out of the way you dipshit!!! Oh well. It didn't diminish the overall effect of the movie at all.

    By now you might think EYES WIDE SHUT is about eroticism and sex. You're under the impression that this movie glamorizes human sexuality as a beautiful thing. By flaunting Nicole Kidman's delightful nude figure in the teaser, Kubrick has set us up for a shock. Because EYES WIDE SHUT is about the ugliness of human nature when dealing with sexual jealousy and obsession. It is about relationships between couples and the tensions that bubble underneath when dealing with the sexual jealousy that is always on the back of people's minds.

    You guys should know. When you're with a girl, you know that other guys are checking her out, and that pisses you off. But you never say anything. You just shrug it off. But how about when the girl returns that attraction? Can you shrug it off then? This is every guy's worst fear in a relationship. This is what EYES WIDE SHUT explores. The fear. This fear leads to revenge. The bulk of the movie is about Tom Cruise's character Bill Harford seeking revenge against his wife, in a subtle, subliminal way.

    The Harfords are a well to do upper class New York family. Bill is a handsome, hunkish doctor. Alice (Nicole Kidman) is a faithful wife of 9 years, who currently is out of a job, but a full-time mother for their beloved daughter Helena. They have an idyllic existence. They're rich, they live in a plush Central Park apartment, and damn they're good-looking. But one day at a party thrown by a family friend, Bill's world starts to unravel. Both Bill and Alice flirt around at the party, and they both receive sexual overtures. But due to their loyalty to the marriage, they both refuse. However, they both can't but help but wonder, What if? You see, this marriages has lost its spark and fire. This is never clearly stated, but one can interpret it that way.

    Anyways, later that night before bed, the Harfords smoke some pot to relax themselves. However, Alice, high as a kite, reveals to Bill that just last year on a vacation she had a sexual fantasy about a Naval Officer she saw. He made her wet, and she wanted his hard cock inside her. She was ready to throw it all away. She was ready to give up her husband, her family, her life, just to have sex with that Naval Officer. But she didn't. Infidelity isn't as common as you think in reality. I for one, can absolutely never cheat on a spouse. It's probably the most horrible sin.

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    Bill is unraveled by this revelation, and his mind goes into a tailspin. Later, on a housecall, he can't shake the image of his wife getting porked by another man. It haunts him like a nightmare. He begins to question his marriage. He questions his own ability to satisfy her lust. It was because of human libido that his marriage almost suffered a meltdown had Alice succumbed to her urges. Bill gradually descends into total vindication mode. He almost sleeps with a prostitute named Domino (Vinessa Shaw). He later is drawn to an orgy and gets someone killed. Still, although shaken afterward, Bill is stil tempted to call up someone who was lusting after him. Bill wants to get back at Alice for driving him to the edge of madness. Yet, he fails. Does he purposely fail? Who knows.......

    This is why EYES WIDE SHUT is such a masterpiece. It makes you use your cerebrum. It raises more questions than it answers. It opens up discussions about it. There's never a wrong answer. Did Bill subconsciously fail on purpose? Did Alice really pork that Naval Officer? Was Domino really diagnosed with HIV? Or was she the one who sacrificed herself for Bill during the orgy? Was Domino's roommate part of the orgy and hence part of the cover-up? What was the meaning of the nightmare Alice had? Did it mean she was at the orgy too? Where did she get that mask then? Wait, maybe she found it in the apartment. Or did she? What really happened to Nick Nightingale? Was he just roughed up? Was he killed? Was it really all a charade? Was Mandy the one who died? Go watch EYES WIDE SHUT and get back to me. We can talk about the questions I just brought up. I imagine that after watching this movie, people went on to discuss it for the next few hours. It was that rich, that textured. Absolutely astonishing.

nicole_kidman2.jpg (40646 bytes)But this is a movie that could've just fallen flat on it face if it wasn't handled properly. Thanks to Stanley Kubrick's direction, we are put under a spell for a good 2+ hours. From the start of EYES WIDE SHUT, you realize you're in the hands of a master director. There's a brief flash of Nicole Kidman slithering out of a dress. We get a glimpse of her beautiful figure, and that's it. Then the movie starts, and you are instantly involved, entranced in its grip. What was most remarkable about Kubrick's direction, besides brilliant tracking shots, was the lighting. The lighting, primarily using shadows and thousands of white Christmas lights, gave the film a dreamlike feel. Like we were in surreal nightmare. The best special effect was the mood and atmosphere. We feel an ubiquitous sense of ominous dread, highlighted in the climactic orgy scene.

    I think the orgy scene chilled me to the bone more so than the other scenes, which were all haunting as well. It seemed as if we stumbled into the occult. Everyone wore a mask. Everyone was in a black robe and hood. There were Gregorian chants. Women were being sacrificed. It took place in a huge house that looked like the one in THE HAUNTING. Freaked me out. It seemed like what was going on was a hallowed ritual passed on generation after generation, all the way back in the secret mason societies of Renaissance Italy. Now if only I can get in on an orgy. I got all the perfumes and silk boxers ready.

    Overall, EYES WIDE SHUT felt like I was watching one of those European films that are too abstract to really cherish. Everything involves symbolism, and the plot is secondary to the characters. Actually, it felt more Eastern European. EYES WIDE SHUT was a Kafka-esque nightmarish delving into the human soul. It was dark, brooding, and dream-like. Go read "Metamorphosis" and you'll see what I mean. Indeed, EYES WIDE SHUT was adapted from "Traumnovelle," or "Dream Story," by some dude named Schnitzler or something, who was one of Freud's rivals in the study of human sexuality and its relation to the subconsious. But instead of Vienna, Kubrick moved the story to New York. But damn it didn't feel like New York. The yuppies and punk rockers just didn't look right.

    As I said before, both Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman deliver solid performances. But while I think Tom Cruise did a great job, I found myself more irritated than enraptured by Nicole Kidman's Alice. I guess it was the overacting during the marijuana scene. Plus she played more of a villainous role, the one who makes Bill risk his life out of sexual vindication. I think the Academy will finally give Tom Cruise his due with a nomination and perhaps a victory. It's just because of his pretty boy good looks that he didn't win one for JERRY MAGUIRE.

    But you know what was weird? I think it was Tom Cruise's pretty boy good looks that made EYES WIDE SHUT tick. All girls go ga-ga over him, and I bet millions want to have his baby. He is the super-hunk. So it makes sense that Nicole Kidman just might be jealous. I mean, look at Rosie O'Donnell. She's fat and ugly, but I bet she'd give anything to have one night with Tom Cruise. It is because of this striking resemblance to reality that EYES WIDE SHUT works on so many levels. It really seemed as if we were watching the Cruise couple instead of the Harfords. It felt voyeuristic.

    Right from the start, we believe that this is a real life married couple. Tom asks where his wallet is, and Nicole tells him while taking a pee pee on the toilet, getting up and wiping her pussy, then slipping her panties back on. It felt extremely like this was exactly how they are in real life. At it seemed like the jealousy that tore the Harfords apart would be eerily similar to what would tear the Cruises apart. Nicole Kidman is a foxy babe, and she frequently takes her clothes off and simulates sex in her play, THE BLUE ROOM. Tom must be uncomfortable with this. I know I would be if I married Jennifer Love Hewitt and she was pretending to pork some guy on-screen.

    Wow, see, I told you EYES WIDE SHUT makes you think. Damn Stanley Kubrick! Doesn't he know by know that most of the youth of America is de-sensitized to intellect? It was funny, I saw it the day it came out, and there were throngs of teenagers right alongside me. Heh heh. Boy were they disappointed at not once being able to see any porking by Tom Cruise or Nicole Kidman. You know what else? I paid fucking 2.99 for a large Mr. Pibb. Oh shit, I broke the cussing laws. Oh well. Back to my analysis......
    EYES WIDE SHUT had its awesome strengths, but it also had some weaknesses. One, it was too long and drawn out. There were patches were it loses your attention. That scene in the billiard room was uselss and redundant. As was the HIV+ scene with Domino's roommate. And the ending was too conventional. The resolution seemed too simple, too abrupt. But it captured the vulgarity of human libido and relationships succinctly. I guess that was the aim of Kubrick. Still, I felt it should have ended on a super-dark tone.

    Ok, now's the part where I offer opinions that are solely my own. The aforementioned analyses, you may have read or heard before. But these are strictly from my own brain. These are some other things I took from EYES WIDE SHUT. 1.) It was a social commentary on the decadence of the bourgeosie, and 2.) It was a celebration of the natural womanly form. What the pork, is Gerry crazy? Go watch, and you'll see.

    All throughout EYES WIDE SHUT we get a sense of the social stratification that is present in the world, and has been for thousands of years. It is the secret society of the filthy rich that participate in the orgy. It's the rich people who have the elegant parties with extramarital affairs going on upstairs. It's the rich Jap businessmen who pay to dress in drag and pork teenage girls. But it's the poor people who resort to pimping their own daughters, prostitution, playing piano in lounges.... very Marxist. Very 19th Centruy European, eh?

    Secondly, EYES WIDE SHUT celebrates the woman figure as a beautiful thing. All breasts are un-augmented. There are chunkier, Rubenesque women. No waifs. No Wendy Whopperses. And you know what? I found myself accepting A-cups, rather than laughing at them. After all, that is the natural form, what women had in Eden. Women should be worshipped for the benefit they provide to mankind. They feed kids, raise kids, satisfy lust, and the sole purpose is to procreate and preserve the Homo Sapiens species' continuum.

    Ok, now that I've confused you all, go watch EYES WIDE SHUT, and let's start a genuine discussion about it. Sorry for making you read through my ravings. But I'm sure you'll notice that you'll have a hard time processing EYES WIDE SHUT as well. This is why it's one of the best films of the year.
Babe-o-meter: 3- Lovely (Nicole Kidman is babealicious, as is Vinessa Shaw)

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