Another Christmas, another posting of one of my favorite holiday movies Stanley Kubrick Eyes Wide Shut starring Nicole Kidman and that bizarre force Tom Cruise. movie star and a fascinating, sometimes, brilliant actor, Cruise is an actor who thinks he sincere. And he is. But is he? You really believe that he sincere but. there something off. Something he doesn seem to understand (or perhaps he does?), which makes him extra compelling. He charismatic. Charismatitcally creepy. And Stanley Kubrick understood this all of that mega star weirdo power hiding in plain sight. He might be crazy. He might be a tedious square. Whatever he is, Kubrick and company are dragging out the fubar. Terrified, even, delivering Kubrick social, sexual, surrealist themes within the director gorgeous holiday milieu. Bathed in Christmas style, Eyes Wide Shut uses Christmas lights, background Christmas trees and traditional colors of red and green with almost perverse relentlessness. With that, I dipping into archives for my annual posting of one of Kubrick most underrated pictures a film that in terms of love, sex, death, fear trume timeless. And again, it a perfect Christmas movie.
In Kubrick cinematic universe, reality, dreams, order and insanity progress on distinct, intersecting planes. Whether he was depicting an absurd, chillingly real war room in Dr. Strangelove, the disturbing but oddly sexy ultra violence of an Orwellian future in A Clockwork Orange, the siren call of insanity in The Shining, the hyper fantastical yet authentic Vietnam War in Full Metal Jacket, or the irony powerlessness among such transcendent opulence in Barry Lyndon, was a surreal work in progress an ambiguous joke that veered from hilarious to sexy to terrifying, sometimes within seconds. Attempting to understand order, or how any system designed to make our universe more rational or safe seemed fruitless. Sterling Hayden approaching such a predicament at the end of Kubrick The Killing. He watches his life literally fly away on an airport tarmac and bitterly spits one of cinema's greatest final lines: "Eh, what's the difference?"
Which brings me to the final line of Kubrick's frequently misunderstood Eyes Wide Shut in which Nicole Kidman states rather flatly, "Fuck" as in, that's the answer, that's what we need to do. A movie I've defended since its release, it's a picture that deserves closer inspection and a worthy finale for the enigmatic auteur.
The controversial movie (some thought it silly, some, un erotic) Eyes Wide Shut found the director once again studying Wholesale Bears Jerseys the perplexing nature of dreams and reality, this time exploring them in a more personal and private arena: sexuality. As he did with Lolita, Kubrick created more than a film about sexual desire; he created a film about bitter romance, troublesome marital bonds, societal contradictions and, significantly, the fear of death.
In this universe "live" the healthy, handsome walking dead Bill Harford and his wife, Alice (a slinky, wonderfully creepy a glamorous, rich couple who appear the picture of storybook perfection. But like most supposed perfection, there are cracks in that portrait, and in their case, it's the usual: they want to screw other people (or at least they think they do). At a sumptuous party given by Bill obscenely wealthy friend Victor (Sydney Pollack), Bill almost strays upstairs with two models while Alice flirts with a strange Hungarian man who looks like one of the cadaverous party goers from The Shining. The next evening, in a fit of jealousy over Bill near indiscretion (he ended up contending with a naked drug overdose instead of a debauched roll in the hay though the way her body sits in this shot is disturbingly erotic), Alice confesses that she's had thoughts of cheating and, even worse, reveals that if things had been different, she would have thrown her entire life away for one flight of sexual fancy.
Unmasking something that should remain one of those deep, dark secrets you never confess to Cheap Bears Jerseys your significant other, Alice deftly rattles Bill perception of her fidelity and the strength of their marriage in a speech that makes his mind spin out of control (Kidman performance here is superb). After this confession, Bill is abruptly called away to confirm the death of a patient and keeping in tune with the love/death/sex of the picture, the daughter of the deceased makes a pass at him. The grief stricken but, considering the circumstances, kinky gesture aids in Bill's decision to not immediately return home. Instead, he wanders the streets of New York and embarks on a sequence of actions that, though not as outwardly comic, somewhat resemble those in the Scorsese movie After Hours: He discovers a surreal sexual underworld that he's both attracted to and repelled by.
A prostitute, a piano player, a peculiar costume store owner and his Lolita esque 14 year old daughter lead Bill to the film infamous ritualistic orgy sequence, during which participants are cloaked and masked, and naked women are used as sacrificial sex lambs. The gothic, terrifying yet titillating feel of this sequence walks a fine line between horror and parody and true to Kubrick's genius, manages to cross into both camps. The magnificent, exacting camera work and unrelenting music compel us to look, no matter what happens, and though I was actually a little scared the first time I saw this moment, I found myself highly amused, laughing even. If ever a person was out of place in a Bohemian Grove like orgy, it is Tom Cruise's Dr. Bill. And yet, I was absolutely hypnotized, watching these moments like a waking dream and investing it with multiple meanings. What the hell is going on here besides a bunch of silly old rich men getting their jollies with beautifully breasted, long legged Helmut Newton models? And further, what do all of Bill's adventures mean? Are Bill encounters simply nightmares that will damage his marriage beyond repair, or are they mere titillating fantasy fodder for a closer relationship and better sex with his spouse?
Well, I can't answer that. Given the picture ominous tone, however, there is something definitely rotten within its slinky, Christmas lit loveliness. Like the impeccable environment of The Shining, the aura of Eyes Wide Shut is one of beauty ready to be defiled, sexuality ready to be slaughtered, lovely exteriors that reek of formaldehyde. The pall that hangs over this picture is fear: fear of the unknown; fear of yourself or of others; and fear that if sex can lead to freedom, it can just as easily lead to death.
In fact, the picture can be viewed as a commentary on sexual attitudes in the last few decades a time when meaningless indiscretions can lead to horrifying blood test results. It is no surprise, then, that Bill is a doctor and that throughout the film, he flashes his physician ID as a police detective would his badge. "I a doctor," he constantly says, for both reassurance and intimidation.
In a profession that requires intimate investigation of flesh that may well be on its way to the morgue, sex is serious. These unsettling references to AIDS, necrophilia and forbidden sex (not to mention Kubrick own death upon bringing the film to completion, une petite mort of sorts) permeate the picture like one giant prick tease. today world, sex is still there for the taking, but at what cost and for what gain? Kubrick frustrating, brilliant coda neither answers nor ignores its own questions. Rather, it leaves us in a mysterious, contradictory mishmash of dream and reality, where not only are our eyes wide shut, but our legs are too.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Joseph L. Mankiewicz Cleopatra, a grand spectacle beset with production hell, hirings, firings, budgetary insanity and of the most legendary Wholesale Jerseys affairs in Hollywood history. Re released to coincide Cleopatra 50th is the book "My Life with Cleopatra: The Making of a Hollywood Classic" by Cleopatra producer Wanger. Wanger journals offer some intriguing inside information, but digging into the producer own life and scandal proved extra fascinating. I discuss at The Los Angeles Review of Books. Here is an excerpt from my piece.
Cleopatra Walter Wanger had surely seen it all. Having lived and worked through the silents, the talkies, and Todd AO, the movie veteran understood the art and commerce of Hollywood, the deals and decadence. The eminently erudite and sophisticated producer also understood the infidelities the groin crushing infidelities and with a cinematic vengeance, he shot a man for it. So it's quietly startling to read, in his published production diary, Life with Cleopatra, this miniature entry regarding Eddie Fisher's infamous betrayal by wife Elizabeth Taylor and her new lover Richard Burton.
"I think it is ill advised to leave now. He didn't ask me for advice, however, which is just as well. http://www.wholesalecheapbearsjerseys.com/ I was no expert in solving a similar problem myself."
Indeed, he was not. Wanger went to the slammer for the felonious confrontation with his wife's lover. There was no "we need to talk about this, honey"; no higher ground or any of that path of least resistance business. Simply put: he shot his wife's paramour in the crotch. But with prison comes wisdom. And, certainly, with Elizabeth wisdom.
Had heartsick crooner Fisher actually sought advice from educated ex con Wanger, perhaps he would have learned something. Or, perhaps he would have gotten too many ideas. In any case, Eddie Fisher did not seek counsel with Walter Wanger before exiting the so distraught over his violet eyed wife lusting for that ruggedly handsome Welshman in the grass that, according to Elizabeth Taylor (via Fair editors Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger), he put a gun to her head. "I'm not going to kill you. You're too beautiful," he told the woman who'd just survived a life threatening and emergency tracheotomy the year prior. A jewel from one of her glittering headdresses or a flinty sequin from her customized would have deflected the fell bullet. Instead of spending a couple days in the morgue, Liz would have returned to the hospital after a months long vigil while Fischer anguished darkly in the slammer. Wanger would have had no choice but to endure the production delays as he had all the others, and Taylor would have returned to the set alive and refreshed. Wonderful. Except for the hair department. They'd have to alter all of her wigs to cover that damn bullet wound.
But Fisher's fresh hurt must have rustled up some past tumult within Wanger much more than that skinny, enigmatic 1962 diary entry suggests. One can only speculate how much Wanger knew of Fisher's rage, but he surely reflected on particularly when considering Liz's lover, Burton. Fisher reportedly bought a gun just for Burton, whom he dreamt of shooting (I can't help but think of Fisher humming his own hit "I'm Walking Behind You" in his sleepless fantasy murder scenarios), but, thankfully, never fired a bullet. When in 1951 he found himself in a similar predicament, the pipe smoking producer didn't pack his bags and run to New York. He packed a heater and headed for the MCA parking lot. It would also be pleasant to say that the pleasures of fame and fortune made all our sufferings worth while and, that in the true Hollywood tradition, we lived happily thereafter. The truth is something else again." the rest of story at The Los Angeles Review of Books. Feist I manage to miss the wickedly efficient Threat 2011? What a bracing, lean and mean movie this is; a tense, simple, yet action/hostage picture with not an ounce of flab on it. Current action pictures or, really, any modern motion picture (not all, there are exceptions, of course) their frequently abused 120 plus running times, take note of this one. Get to the point. We can read between the lines. Or in the case of this movie, the broken furniture.
The Threat stars one of my favorite forces/icons of Charles as a ruthless killer who breaks out of Folsom only to kidnap the police detective (Michael O'Shea) and district attorney (Frank Conroy) responsible for his incarceration (with Caruso, Frank Richards and a wonderfully wan Virginia Grey along for the ride.) Everyone's terrific here, but it's McGraw's party and he bust some heads if he wants to. From his silent menace to his terrifying bursts of violence (like pinning a man wrists with his feet and crushing his head with a chair) he is like nothing you've ever seen, and probably never will. Is there any actor alive like The answer is no.
When the Cheap Jerseys picture moves into its sweltering set piece a hot California desert hideaway it grows even more desperate and volatile. Feist (who directed two of my other favorite hellraisers Lawrence Tierney in the tough, excellent Devil Thumbs a Ride, and Steve Cochran in the rough and is Another Day) working with cinemtographer Harry J. Wild, knows how to showcase McGraw in such doomed digs. builds so much that you can practically smell the sweat among McGraw company. They perspire and dread and grow crazier and crazier while their big bad captor sits and waits, radiating wrath.
The room rumbles with McGraw blood, his pumping black heart bouncing off those hate shack walls. But what makes him even more intriguing is how casually savage he can be, like a tired cat swiping a claw over his trembling prey. And yet, McGraw so if he even briefly stares the void, you find yourself feeling something for him. furnace of vengeance, is his captive lives away. But mostly his own.