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Winston T. Boogie

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Title: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Tagline: Cruise. Kidman. Kubrick.

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Mystery

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Cast: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson, Rade Šerbedžija, Todd Field, Vinessa Shaw, Alan Cumming, Sky du Mont, Fay Masterson, Leelee Sobieski, Thomas Gibson, Madison Eginton, Jackie Sawiris, Leslie Lowe, Peter Hans Benson, Michael Doven, Louise J. Taylor, Stewart Thorndike, Randall Paul, Julienne Davis, Lisa Leone, Kevin Connealy, Mariana Hewett, Dan Rollman, Gavin Parry, Chris Pare, Adam Lias, Christian Clarke, Kyle Whitcombe, Gary Goba, Florian Windorfer, Togo Igawa, Eiji Kusuhara, Sam Douglas, Angus MacInnes, Abigail Good, Brian W. Cook, Leon Vitali, Carmela Marner, Phil Davies, Cindy Dolenc, Clark Hayes, Treva Etienne, Colin Angus, Karla Ashley, Kate Charman, James Demaria, Tony De Sergio, Janie Dickens, Laura Fallace, Vanessa Fenton, Georgina Finch, Peter Godwin, Joanna Heath, Lee Henshaw, Ateeka Poole, Adam Pudney, Sharon Quinn, Ben De Saumserez, Emma Lou Sharratt, Paul Spelling, Matthew Thompson, Dan Travers, Russell Trigg, Kate Whalin, Jerson David Ambion, Shelsie Blake, Cate Blanchett, John N. Campbell, Emilio D'Alessandro, Paul Desbois, Donna Ewin, Tres Hanley, Sam Heydon, Alex Hobbs, Christiane Kubrick, Katharina Kubrick, Taylor Murphy, Graham Skidmore, Stanley Kubrick

Release: 1999-07-16

Runtime: 159

Plot: After Dr. Bill Harford's wife, Alice, admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met, Bill becomes obsessed with having a sexual encounter. He discovers an underground sexual group and attends one of their meetings -- and quickly discovers that he is in over his head.

 

Winston T. Boogie

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So, I listened to a podcast about this picture the other day. It got me to thinking a lot about it for many reasons and I thought it would be interesting to hear how other people here feel about this one. I only had the chance to see three Kubrick pictures when they opened in cinemas, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and this his final film. I went opening night to see this. I remember standing in the long line in the cinema to get in. All of us bunched in behind the ropes and everyone excited and abuzz about seeing a Kubrick film. The showings were all sold out. It felt like a major event.

Kubrick shot this picture for 400 days. That was the shooting schedule not the time to make the film. He shot for 400 days. This is apparently the record for the longest shoot in film history. I have to look up what the other longest shoots were because now I am very curious. The thing about shooting this for 400 days is, this does not on the surface seem to be a complex shoot. It is not an effects heavy or stunt heavy film. Sure he recreated the streets of New York but I don't think in terms of the sets it is that complex a deal. I mean if you have Stanley out there measuring the curb heights and stuff like that, maybe it slows the process down but in reality a picture like this, major stars involved, epic length, I don't know maybe gets 45-90 days to shoot. Kubrick did it in 400 days, which to a great extent makes me wonder what is not in the film. I mean it is long but at say 159 minutes that means that probably most of that 400 days of shooting is not in the film.

So, did you see this in a cinema when it was released? What was that like for you and what did you think of it? How do you feel about the film today? Where would you rank it among Kubrick's work? If you did not see it in a cinema what was your first experience with the film and did it work for you?

I would love to have a discussion of this picture if people are interested.
 

jayembee

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So, did you see this in a cinema when it was released? What was that like for you and what did you think of it? How do you feel about the film today? Where would you rank it among Kubrick's work? If you did not see it in a cinema what was your first experience with the film and did it work for you?

I would love to have a discussion of this picture if people are interested.

This was the only Kubrick film from 2001 onward that I did not see in a cinema. I can't recall why that was. I first saw it when the DVD was released. I wasn't really all that taken with the film at the time. It's one that I keep meaning to revisit, but haven't gotten around to it.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I saw the first showing on opening day and it was spellbinding.

Kubrick intentionally underexposed the entire film and then had the lab push it two stops to compensate, which gives the entire movie a very grainy, very dreamy atmosphere - original release prints were a thing of unique beauty. None of the home media releases have really captured that look

Todd Field has a small acting role in the movie and his directorial work seems influenced by the time he spent working with Kubrick on this film - Tar shares a lot of the same pacing and framing sensibilities.
 

Worth

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I saw it when it came out and found it a little disappointing. I'm a huge Kubrick fan, but I'm still not quite sure what the point of it all was. Along with Barry Lyndon, it's probably my least favourite film of his, and I think Frederic Raphael dealt with the difficulties of marriage in a much more interesting way in Two for the Road.
 

Josh Steinberg

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It’s a very misunderstood film, and like the best work of David Lynch, I think you either feel it or you don’t. If you feel it, you don’t need an explanation, and if you don’t, no amount of explaining it will make you feel.

When I first saw it, I was young enough that the topics the film explores were purely theoretical to me. As I grew up and experienced more of love and life and relationships, my understanding of the film grew and changed too. I find it’s a film that has something different to say to me at each new point in my life.
 

Carl David

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Was 17 and at that period of my young life and was not aware of Stanley Kubrick's work when it was released in theaters so watched it for the first time in my home environment.

It's a masterpiece and one of Stanley's best films. Like most of Stanley's work especially from 2001 and after it is multi layered with many stories being told concurrently.

There have been many interesting interpretations of this movie and there will be many in the future.

The aspect I like about it is the life of the occult Stanley shows us through Dr Hartford's odyssey into the world of the rich and powerful.

The atmosphere and mood the movie creates completely takes me into its world. The non-linear way the movie plays out is also very interesting. There is nothing like it based on movies I have seen before and after in relation to the subject matter and how it is visually told.

I can see how many people dislike the movie (as a lot do for a Kubrick picture) as like a lot of Stanley movies if you don't see where he is coming from it can appear as cold and distant which is a common criticism of Stanley's work.

However, in my opinion it is misunderstood due to the subject matter there really isn't any other way to approach it other than the way it was actually told.

Waiting impatiently for this to be released in 4k along with Barry Lyndon.
 

uncledougie

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When the film originally was released with all the controversy about digital alterations to avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating, I refused to go and see a censored version. My initial viewing was a different region import DVD, which didn’t have the superimposed extras inserted, and while it wasn’t top tier Kubrick, it was certainly atmospheric, and the interpersonal angst of the central characters validated the slow, methodical pacing. I know a majority of the typical domestic audience might feel squirmy at not only the slow development but the subject matter, but expect European reaction likely would’ve been different. I have had the now uncensored domestic Blu-ray for several years but it’s one of those I’ve (unintentionally) kept putting off. Now that it’s come up, I’ll try to move it up in the queue.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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This was the only Kubrick film from 2001 onward that I did not see in a cinema. I can't recall why that was. I first saw it when the DVD was released. I wasn't really all that taken with the film at the time. It's one that I keep meaning to revisit, but haven't gotten around to it.

I think I had purchased tickets to this one well in advance. We still lived in a time then when movies would sell out and there were event pictures like this, and people were going because a particular director's name was on the poster.

I feel a bit jealous that you saw every Kubrick from 2001 on in a cinema when they opened. I've seen his older pictures in cinemas at special showings, but I don't think that is like seeing them when they came out. I've always enjoyed Joe Dante's story about seeing Dr. Strangelove when it came out. I find it pretty odd that people did not laugh at it but I guess satire perhaps has always been a difficult thing for audiences.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I saw the first showing on opening day and it was spellbinding.

Kubrick intentionally underexposed the entire film and then had the lab push it two stops to compensate, which gives the entire movie a very grainy, very dreamy atmosphere - original release prints were a thing of unique beauty. None of the home media releases have really captured that look

Todd Field has a small acting role in the movie and his directorial work seems influenced by the time he spent working with Kubrick on this film - Tar shares a lot of the same pacing and framing sensibilities.

I remember walking out of the theater after seeing it on opening night wishing I had bought tickets to back to back showings. I wanted to see it again right after watching it the first time. I also recall the audience reaction to it. During the film you could hear a pin drop in the cinema the audience was so focused on the film. Then on the walk out after it was over you could see and hear people intensely discussing the film. I also remember the sadness of thinking that was it, the last time I would ever go to see a new Kubrick film in a cinema.

I've not seen Tar yet but intend to check it out. Probably, to me, the most Kubrickian film I have seen, where it is just drenched in his influence is Killing of a Sacred Deer. The look and feel of that picture screams Kubrick.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I'm in a minority but I think this is easily the best Kubrick movie after he became THE Stanley Kubrick in 1968.

Interesting, because according to friends and family, he thought this was his finest work. I have a hard time ranking Kubrick films but if I rank them in terms of how many times I have watched them, I have seen this one the fewest amount of times. Part of that is that is it is his newest film and part is that I always feel a little bit of that sadness I felt when I saw it opening night knowing it was his last. Kubrick, I can say, is probably the guy who most shaped my feelings about film. Each of his pictures is a unique entity that there is nothing else like. His approach to his subject matter was always so fascinating.

My top Kubrick picture will probably always be Dr, Strangelove. That film impacted me in so many ways. I saw it the first time on TV as a child in the 1970s, and as a little boy I was enthralled by it. His approach to something as horrifying as nuclear destruction just stunned me at the time and I just found it so right. The characters in the film I was just so taken with. I have watched it so many times I have lost count but I know I have seen it more times than any other picture. It remains the easiest answer when I am asked to name my favorite film.
 
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jayembee

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I feel a bit jealous that you saw every Kubrick from 2001 on in a cinema when they opened. I've seen his older pictures in cinemas at special showings, but I don't think that is like seeing them when they came out.

There's got to be an upside to being a curmudgeonly old fart.

I've always enjoyed Joe Dante's story about seeing Dr. Strangelove when it came out. I find it pretty odd that people did not laugh at it but I guess satire perhaps has always been a difficult thing for audiences.

Back in 90s, I took a film appreciation class (several times, actually) at a local adult education center. Each week, we -- as a group -- would pick a new movie to see, and discuss it the following week. For whatever reason, one week, instead of picking a new movie, the instructor suggested Dr. Strangelove. The following week, there was one member of the class who was just horrified at the idea that anyone would make a comedy about nuclear war. I think she was mollified a bit as we discussed that it was intended to mock the idea (not uncommon at the time) that nuclear war was "winnable". I don't think it changed her mind about the film, though.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I found it haunting. Most everyone I knew who saw it despised it, but I didn't. I even got to review the first Blu-ray release here.

I agree, haunting is a good word to describe it because, as Josh pointed out, he was going for this dreamlike atmosphere and feeling. As in a dream, he can't quite seem to accomplish his goal and there is always some sort of nightmarish roadblock thrown up that prevents him from completing his task.

Some people seem to feel the entire story is a dream and we are not to take it as having happened, but I am not sure I agree with that.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I was shocked by the reaction to it. Obviously, I knew it wouldn't be held in the same regard as 2001 but I was not expecting the largely hostile reaction to it in 1999.

This was not something that shocked me. The other two Kubrick films I had gone to when the opened in cinemas, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket, had also been trashed by people and critics when they were released. Very harsh reactions to them. So, when they trashed Eyes Wide Shut, I just expected that. That's the interesting thing now and part of why I was thinking about it. It seems many people now call it a classic, when at the time it came out, I think the majority reaction was it was Kubrick's worst film. In this regard it may have been good he did not live to see the response to it.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I saw it when it came out and found it a little disappointing. I'm a huge Kubrick fan, but I'm still not quite sure what the point of it all was. Along with Barry Lyndon, it's probably my least favourite film of his, and I think Frederic Raphael dealt with the difficulties of marriage in a much more interesting way in Two for the Road.

I've seen Lolita mentioned many times as the companion piece, double feature film, to go with Eyes Wide Shut. Funny, for a long time Lolita was my least favorite Kubrick film. Mainly because I felt that had he made it in the 1970s it would have been far different than the film he made in the 1960s. I've outgrown that now though and really enjoy his version of Lolita.

I think the key to Eyes Wide Shut is fidelity. This is the general running theme and what kicks off Dr, Bill's odyssey. He wanders off with the two women at the party, is intrigued by the naked woman in his friend's bathroom, and then is completely triggered by his wife telling him if she had the chance, she would have been unfaithful to him. In the end, he can't complete his infidelity and learns that being faithful is the better way to go. It is kind of a quaint message and not really one you would expect from a Kubrick film. He did feel though that this was a picture that he could only make as an older man, which is interesting.
 
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Winston T. Boogie

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It’s a very misunderstood film, and like the best work of David Lynch, I think you either feel it or you don’t. If you feel it, you don’t need an explanation, and if you don’t, no amount of explaining it will make you feel.

When I first saw it, I was young enough that the topics the film explores were purely theoretical to me. As I grew up and experienced more of love and life and relationships, my understanding of the film grew and changed too. I find it’s a film that has something different to say to me at each new point in my life.

I think there is an element as well, that some critics and people want to trash a picture by Kubrick because of his genius label. Many times I have seen criticism leveled at his pictures for things that have little to do with the film itself but seem more about pointing out a "mistake" that the genius made.

I'm fine with that, I mean I would say to these folks "Hey, take your best shot at him and his work." but nobody else made pictures like him.
 
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