Is "Eyes Wide Shut" a good movie? Was Stanley Kubrick a good director?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Steve Hoffman, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Just watched the BluRay of the uncensored version of EYES WIDE SHUT last night. It's an interesting movie. It's also overtalky, awkwardly staged in spots and I enjoyed it, I can't tell if it was good or not, strange for me.

    The film (I was told) had something like a 400 day shoot which is crazy because it looks like it could have been shot in two weeks basically. If Kubrick took 50 takes of everything, why did he pick certain takes where the camera dolly actually bounced? The acting was (to me) just OK, the stars too good looking to be convincing (probably what Kubrick was going for, I guess, not sure why). The lighting was weird, no, not weird, impressive, actually, everything lit by natural light, the negative obviously dodged in post production to brighten up. A nice trick. Not sure why he felt it needed that touch, to make it more dreamlike, perhaps?

    Many scenes were just two people talking, staged with two shots, or just held with one static shot, like Bergman (or, I guess vintage Kubrick).

    Not sure what my feeling is on this film.. Do you like it?

    Was Kubrick a good director? He was a wonderful creator, no doubt. He had a vision but I'm not sure I'm as thrilled with the guy as most people are. I mean, I loved Strangelove, etc. but more for the story than the actual technique of telling it.

    Perhaps I'm full of it, possibly. Going to watch some more of his later films and see if my mind changes..

    I think in EYES WIDE SHUT I liked her the best. I just wish he would have let her use her natural accent.. Eyes-Wide-Shut-nicole-kidman-10298356-768-555.jpg
  2. cwsiggy

    cwsiggy Forum Resident

    I want to know where those password parties are.... I never get invited. :sigh:

    I saw it in London and it was just ok. Some think it has super deep meaning, others not so much. I think there's a thread on this one somewhere here....
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  3. PTgraphics

    PTgraphics Forum Resident

    I think it was a OK movie. You need to watch it again and let us know what you think after that. I liked the art direction the movie took.

  4. cwsiggy

    cwsiggy Forum Resident

    It's been a long time since I've seen the flick, but I recall that Tom's character finds the party mask in her drawer? I'm assuming that means his wife was attending those parties and partaking in the sexual escapades?
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    SK leaves it up to us to figure it out. The old book doesn't.
  6. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    New Orleans, LA
    I really liked it the first time I saw it (the US version with the shadowy CG figures in the orgy scene), the second time just as much (same version), the third time (unedited) not so much. What I liked about it initially was the suspense in what Tom Cruise's character is getting into, and where it will lead him, what kind of danger he faces, as well as how it deconstructs a certain type of male sexual fantasy. Why I didn't like it the third time I saw it I can't tell you, but I plan to watch it again soon to see what the passage of a few more years has done.

    As for Kubrick being a good director, I think that's two questions in one. First is the objective question of how skilled he was at achieving what he wanted to put on screen, and to that I think the answer is obviously, yes, he was very skilled, very precise, and very much in control of his productions. Second is whether you like his work, which is entirely subjective. I like most of his movies because they have an unusual perspective and because they're beautifully done. I respond better to some (Strangelove, Paths of Glory, 2001, Barry Lyndon) than others (A Clockwork Orange, The Shining), but that's a matter of my taste as much as anything else. I know film fans generally love A Clockwork Orange, but I only came to appreciate it when I finally saw it on the big screen a few years back, and even then more as a visual experience than anything else.
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  7. PlushFieldHarpy

    PlushFieldHarpy Forum Resident

    I liked it. When I return to it I'm struck by how successful it is in its dreamlike, hypnotic mood. Certainly not a movie to look for plot resolution. Actually, it was resolved pretty well, just not a lot of particularly exciting action, perhaps.
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  8. Veltri

    Veltri ♪♫♫♪♪♫♫♪

    I loved the film as I do all his films. One of the best filmmakers ever. As in many of his films such as 2001, it's not about the characters, but about a theme.
    It's telling that you seemed to like it, but weren't sure why. It hits you on a subconcious level.

    Here's an excellent analysis of it I found in another thread on this forum.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
  9. C6H12O6

    C6H12O6 Forum Resident

    My lab
    I liked it. It's definitely not perfect, but when I went back to it years later, I felt like it had a lot more going for it than I first realized.

    I think the key thing to keep in mind is the source material. It may be put in the present day, but it takes the same approach of making the whole thing dreamlike. After his wife's revelation (shown from Cruise's perspective, we're just listening to a straight recitation of a fantasy sparked by a chance encounter), the rest of the film moves like a hallucinatory series of sexual temptations or provocations. There's an interesting change where Cruise is mistaken as gay. It's been a while, but if memory serves, there's a subtext in the book where the character is still excluded from Viennese society because he's Jewish. Cruise may be a successful doctor, but his character is definitely on the outside, and Kubrick comes back to that over and over again in different ways.

    I recall people trashing it for being an artificial misrepresentation of New York culture, which completely misses the point. (Funny to hear those criticisms when people made the same mistake with Rear Window. Decades later, the press hadn't learned a damn thing.)

    Stylistically, similarities to his other films, but in all honesty, I think all of Kubrick's films are in many ways, very, very different from each other. There are certain themes and ideas he may return to, but it's a completely different exploration each time out.

    And I agree, Kidman is great. For years a terribly underrated actress, it's too bad she was reduced to a stupid tabloid identity as "Tom Cruise's wife." I don't even think The Hours is one of her best performances, she really shined elsewhere like this film, Dogville, To Die For, etc.
  10. C6H12O6

    C6H12O6 Forum Resident

    My lab
    Forgot to answer some of those other points. It took a long time, but the film didn't cost much. 400 days may be an exaggeration, but he spent a lot time in preparation, not shooting. He kept it cheap because most of the time he had a skeleton crew. He didn't have a full crew waiting around days at a time when they weren't needed.

    Kubrick uses a ton of takes to break his actors. A lot of directors who like a lot of takes seem to do it for similar reasons, but it's to "break down" the actor. This may mean making them more casual (or as David Fincher has said, make them "live" in a scene as if they were sitting in their own living room), making them completely subservient, whatever, but regardless Kubrick wasn't necessarily doing it because he wanted every pixel in its place.

    I think the light was awesome, and yes, I would say it's to make it more dreamlike. Jesus, look at the Christmas party at the beginning. Ridiculously grainy, but it looks ****ing great, and I remember other people coming out of the theater and loving it, regardless of whether they "got" the movie or not.
  11. mdm08033

    mdm08033 Forum Resident

    It's been ages, I guess it needs to be seen again in Blu-Ray.

    I guess my eyes were off the mark during the hooded bits. I kept elbowing my wife about the shoes.

    Overall not his best but so lovingly detailed that it needs to be seen.
    Derek Slazenger likes this.
  12. Veltri

    Veltri ♪♫♫♪♪♫♫♪

    Part of the dreamy look may have been

    "to hint that the film was all part of the main character's subconscious, a dream."
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
  13. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    I don't know how long the actual shooting took, but I was with Tom in March 95 when he was talking with Stanley. The film was not released until more than four years after that.

    I did get a little memento from that period. I can't remember what it was, but they had to ship something to me during the filming. It came in a small box but had a Pinewood Studios mailing label on it. For some reason I though that was pretty cool.
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  14. mj_patrick

    mj_patrick Forum Resident

    Elkhart, IN, USA
    I think he was a good director. I think Kubrick was remarkable for how he told a story visually, and sometimes that helped carry a story that wasn't as interesting and would have fared worse in other hands. I think if someone else had directed The Shining without the visual cues Kubrick implemented, it wouldn't be as nearly as talked about today. The story itself isn't all that remarkable or deep, frankly.
  15. rockclassics

    rockclassics Forum Resident

    Arkansas, USA
    I only saw it once and I sure wouldn't waste my time to watch it again. Need I a ay more about what I thought of it?
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  16. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa One man gathers what another man spills

    Dayton Ohio
    I think it is safe to say that Kubrick was a great director but this is not one of his best movies. I prefer Dr Strangelove.
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  17. progrocker

    progrocker Forum Resident

    :agree: Strangelove's a masterpiece in my book.
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  18. cwsiggy

    cwsiggy Forum Resident

    Where does one get the definitive unedited Blu Ray? - is that available on good old USA Amazon?
  19. Forum Resident

    New York
    Not his best , watch Dr Strangelove or 2001 ,then Clockwork Orange No he's not like Bergman ,he used to be a photographer
  20. progrocker71

    progrocker71 Forum Resident

    Los Angeles

    Eyes Wide Shut I think is a very good movie, not a great movie.

    I do believe Kubrick was a great director, he's in my top 5 of all-time.
  21. Uther

    Uther Forum Resident

    The Oakland Hills
    The source for Eyes Wide Shut was a book called Traumnovelle, which translates to
    "Dream Story".

    Watching it again with that in mind makes you understand the movie in a different way.
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  22. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Kubrick's preference in the last 20 years was to work with a very, very small crew -- typically as few as 25 or 30 people -- which is microscopic considering the massive 120-150-man crew many huge A-list films have on set. Kubrick liked to do a lot of stuff himself, and essentially the credited cinematographer was more or less a puppet for whatever Kubrick wanted to do. Kubrick also operated the camera a lot of the time. And it's true he did do 50-60-70 takes of every scene, and sometimes go back the next day and do it again. Kubrick had a budget that would either let him shoot a movie with 100 crewmembers over 100 days, or with 25 crewmembers over 400 days, and he was more comfortable with the latter. It would drive me crazy, but that's me.

    They did not have the technology in 1998-1999 to dodge and burn negative the way we do today. Everything nowadays has half a dozen (sometimes dozens) of power windows in every shot, to the extent that every visible character has their own optimized lighting. I think it was Peter Jackson's crew (particularly lead colorist Peter Doyle) who actually went to the extent to use power windows even around characters' individual eyes, which I had never seen done until the Lord of the Rings movies. This takes months and months of post work, sometimes literally three or four days to do 1 minute of material.

    Eyes Wide Shut was actually lit by real movie lights, but they did a terrific job making it "appear" as if it was lit naturally. I agree, it's a weird film, and I didn't care for it very much. I think there are good things in it, but it's just a strange movie to me, not one I'd like to see twice.

    I gots no idea why Kubrick would allow a rough camera movement to wind up in the final film, but you can bet he was aware of it. Fixing stuff like that today is trivial, just hitting the "stabilize" button on an FX program (or within many mastering programs). I have been told by one of our old Tech lab guys that Kubrick was a killer on focus, very demanding on absolute pin-sharp performance. Why he was obsessed about focus and not camera movement, I dunno.
  23. Roger Meadows

    Roger Meadows Active Member

    Nothing happens in Eyes Wide Shut. It was Tom Cruise walking around town. I saw it at the movies. There was a scene where he is looking down at a paper. Someone in the audience yelled "buy the f*** paper". Everyone laughed.

    I think Kubrick knew his limitations as a director. I believe the reason for taking so many takes was he really didn't know what he was doing. I read an article stating that he was working on a movie called A.I. but he was having problems adapting the short story for the big screen. After he died, Steven Spielberg directed it.

    To me, he made a few interesting movies but he is nowhere close to being the auteur that critics claim he is or was.

    Side note: There is a movie called "Edmond" that is similar to Eyes Wide Shut but actually has things happen in it. It stars William H. Macy.
    Huck Caton likes this.
  24. Veltri

    Veltri ♪♫♫♪♪♫♫♪

    Right, it was Barry Lyndon that was lit naturally, often by candles.
  25. Love him as a director, he had a brilliant vision as a cinematographer/photographer, but he wasn't a good actors director in my opinion. But sometimes the actors did good job despite his directing. Other times not so much.
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