Eyes Wide Shut
One of the first directors I followed, that I would actively seek his movies, was Stanley Kubrick. Eyes Wide Shut was his final opus. The story is, as most of Kubricks film, a strange one. Dr Bill and Alice Harford (Tom Cruise and real life wife Nicole Kidman) are an upper class young couple. They seem to have a perfect life. They are both physically very attractive, wealthy, have a young daughter, a great apartment in the best part of Manhattan and should just enjoy every aspect of life. They go to a party at the home of friend where life begins to take a strange twist. Alice gets a little drunk and finds herself dancing with a smooth Hungarian that is actively hitting on her. She looks for her husband and finds him with a beautiful young model on each arm. The flirting is so thick you can literally feel it in the air. Bill is asked to help his host upstairs. In the master bathroom (Kubrick almost always has a major scene in a bathroom) Bill finds his friend with an unconscious naked hooker. Bill helps to revive her and leaves. The next night Bill and Alice are getting stoned. Alice is upset, feeling Bill actually cheated on her with the models. She finally admits that during their last vacation she was attracted to a young Naval officer. In fact, she confesses, she would have tossed away her whole future for one night with him. Bill is stunned but before this scene can progress any further he is called away to the home of a patient that just died. From there he wanders around and winds up at a bar where an old friend was playing piano. This leads him to a strange party that the friend was engaged to play. The party turns out to be a ritualistic orgy where Bill is discovered as an interloper and asked to leave. What goes on from here has to be seen, the life progresses in an almost surrealistic manner.
The cast is typical Kubrick, perfection from the leads to the smallest character part. Cruise and Kidman are real life spouses and therefore are perfect to depict what they are, young, physically attractive, rich and successful. Kidman is not only beautiful in this role but gets two of the best monologues in the film. She shows a wide range of emotions and mesmerizes the audience. Cruise seems lost, confused and out of it for most of the night. This works since this is undoubtedly the way Kubrick wanted it played. Also in the film is Sidney Pollack, excellent director in his own right and upcoming young actress Leelee Sobieksi (Deep Impact).
Kubrick was one of the most perfection oriented directors that every lived. Every scene is like a painting from a master, every detail in place, and every action planned. The soundtrack is not cumbersome, it does not intrude like a rock video. Rather, it punctuates the film, brings emphasis at the right moments. For example, during one scene with Kidman we hear Chris Issacs Bad Bad Thing booms out of all 6 speakers. Later, during more intense emotional scenes, you hear a lone piano, single notes, penetrating the air. Kubrick holds the control of the movie like few directors. There is a great controversy that surrounded the film. During the orgy scene the studio included computer generated people (two naked women and a caped man) are inserted into the scene. The CGI was very well done but you have to wonder why it was some with these people in the USA but not in Europe. I wonder why with DVD seamless branching both versions couldnt have been included.
The disc has some interesting features. There are interviews about Kubrick by Kidman, Cruise and Steven Spielberg. The best if the Spielberg interview. He goes into depth about how Kubricks style helped him to develop. The sound is Dolby 5.1 but under utilized. A must for Kubrick fans.