July 19, 1999
Eyes Wide Shut
Lets not mince
words, shall we? Eyes Wide Shut is a complete disaster,
a total piece of crap and by far Stanley Kubricks worst film.
Even his very early, extremely low-budget 2nd feature, Killers
Kiss, is better than Eyes Wide Shut, if for no other
reason than its 92 minutes shorter (Ive never seen his first
film, Fear and Desire, which is supposed to be quite awful).
Eyes Wide Shut
is one of those films where I didnt give shit about these characters
within 120 seconds of the film beginning and it only got worse and worse
over the course of the next two hours and forty minutes. By the
end of the film I had been reduced to such utter and total boredom that
I felt I would have to go directly to a chiropractor and have them unstick
all of the fused vertebrae in my neck.
good buddy, whom I saw the film with, who is quite bright, immediately
took the burden of not enjoying the film and being completely bored
on his own shoulders with, Kubricks a genius, I guess it
was over my head. Luckily for me, I dont give anyone
that credit. Not only do I not consider it over my head, I think
its a badly written, utterly stupid and dull script thats
going nowhere slowly, has no plot, no point, no pace, and no momentum.
It doesnt even have a good camera angle in it. Nor, for
that matter, does it have a good sex scene or even a legitimately sexy
Another friend of mine
has a theory: old people cant direct good movies. The cut-off
seems to be at about 65 years old, although most directors are played-out
long before that. Seemingly the biggest problem old directors
struggle with is that they have no sense of pace anymore. I guess
as one gets older one becomes more patient, or, more likely, less discerning,
but watching films directed by old men is like watching paint dry.
None of this surprises
me in the least because I think Stanley Kubrick actually retired 30
years ago, right after A Clockwork Orange, and made a film
every seven years since then just to keep his Directors Guild
health and pension plan going. Everything he made in the last
30 years -- which is only 4 films -- has not been very good, and Eyes
Wide Shut is the worst of the bunch.
At the beginning of
the film Tom and Nicole, a married couple in the story, go to a party
where he flirts with two pretty models and she flirts with a dashing,
older man. When they get home they smoke a joint and are about
to have sex, but instead she picks a fight. This is the core of
the movie. Nicole is taking the moral high ground and saying Tom
would have fucked the models, but somehow it was different what she
was doing with the older guy? What the hell is she saying?
I dont know, you
dont know, and Kubrick didnt know (nor co-screenwriter,
Fredric Raphael, apparently, either). [As a little aside here,
Fredric Raphael wrote the film Darling with Julie Christie
which I think is terrific.] The scene is about nothing and the
whole rest of the film is based on it.
OK. Now Tom goes
to a party where rich masked people that are like Masons or something
have sex that you cant really see. Tom wasnt invited
and gets caught. He then spends the rest of the very long movie
wandering aimlessly around a slightly cheesy New York street set built
in London, getting no answers or clues to anything. I think an
interior view of the vertebrae in my neck solidifying would have been
This idea of rich masked
people having sex might have been an audacious concept when Arthur Schnitzler
wrote the book in the 1920s, but now it seems meaningless. And
its shot so slowly -- Tom wearing a mask walks very slowly,
we then get his steadi-cam Point Of View, Tom walks, POV, Tom walks,
POV, Tom walks, POV . . . Yeah! So? What new information
am I getting ten minutes into this sequence? The same thing goes
for that early party scene -- Toms with the cute models, Nicoles
with the older guy -- now were going to go back and forth for
no reason for ten minutes. Maybe it was only five minutes and
just seemed like ten. It doesnt matter. 60 seconds
into the scene we all have all the information were ever going
to get; the next four or nine minutes is a jerk-off.
As is the whole movie.
A slow pointless jerk-off, and not even a sexy one. Its
a dull, uninteresting mystery with no solution.
God Bless Stanley Kubricks
soul and all the wonderful, impressive, ground-breaking films he made
between 1955 and 1970. However, as with many other great directors
last movies -- just like The Family Plot for Hitchcock,
The Liberation of L.B. Jones for William Wyler, 7
Women for John Ford and Buddy, Buddy for Billy Wilder
-- Eyes Wide Shut is an inglorious end to a brilliant career.