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Stanley Kubrick – Just One More Film

September 3rd, 2012 by Michael Tabor

What’s sad is I will never again get to see another Stanley Kubrick film. I recently blogged about Woody Allen but there is no comparison in terms of “greatness” when you throw in Stanley Kubrick. Yes, I know there is Bergman, Fellini and Ford, but Stanley Kubrick was just in a completely different universe. You know you’re watching a Kubrick film within a minute, his style is/was so distinct. He was only 70 when he died in his sleep of a heart attack shortly before the release of “Eyes Wide Shut” and oh boy, what a loss this was for film aficionados. To start he only made 10 features if you begin with “Paths of Glory” (1957) which was really his first film (yes I know there is “The Killing” and a few earlier films but “Paths …” was really the first Kubrick film).
This obviously could be a 1000 page book (oh God all the masterpieces: ‘Barry Lyndon’, ‘The Shining, ‘2001: Space Odyssey’, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ … and the man – Stanley Kubrick) but in this short essay I’m just going to make a few remarks about his last film, “Eyes Wide Shut”.
I hated “Eyes Wide Shut” the first time I saw it and I couldn’t express my disappointment enough. I watched the semi – masterpiece this weekend and I must say I have gained a whole new perspective on the film. Was it his best work? No. Is this the film I would urge people to see, if one hasn’t seen a Kubrick film? (Can you imagine?) No. However, I missed a whole lot the first viewing some 10+ years ago. The first hour and 15 minutes of the film is, I still maintain, not very good and even a little over the top with the Stanley Kubrick signature – the intense, eerie, sort of otherworldly, esoteric, etc. Great camera work granted, but…. After the bizarre orgy, right after Cruise was told to leave and not tell anyone what he saw, was when the movie really started to get good, no not good – GREAT!
I could hear my heart pounding in my chest (much of the time) as I watched the last hour of the movie; I could hardly breathe when Dr. Harford (Cruise’s character) goes to the morgue and stares at the beautiful young dead woman – oh and the eerie score, that one loud piano note. I didn’t know what was going to happen. For some reason, as Cruise was leaning closer toward the corpse, I thought she was going to pop up. (That of course would have been inane and had made no sense, this is not Carpenter or Di Palma, but it’s that intense ambiance at which Kubrick was so masterful) The conversation at the end in which Dr. Harford (Cruise) and Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack) are engaged is one of the most intense eerie dream-like scenes I’ve ever seen in the history of cinema. Essentially nothing happens in the last hour and yet that atmosphere is there which is really one (of the many) reasons he was the best.
So I can go on, but I think I’ll just end with – if you were like me and were not happy with Stanley’s last movie, revisit it and it’s really the last half that did it for me. Oh, I must mention, not to put a damper on matters, but the ending was admittedly lame, but that shouldn’t stop you from absorbing that one hour of outstanding cinema.  So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you Think ?

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2 Responses to “Stanley Kubrick – Just One More Film”

  1. le duke de fromage Says:

    When I first saw paths Paths of Glory it changed my whole concept of what actual warfare was about.I still relate to this film when ever i see war movies.It is a brutal shocking realistic antiwar film which should be seen by all serious film buffs.The Shinning remains one of my favorite Nicholson films,the snowy maze climax, a masterpiece, it still gives me shivers, as does 2001 Space Odyssey. Not a T. Cruise fan, but thought the film interesting.

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    I can talk or write about Stanley Kubrick interminably. Ah yes, Paths of Glory w/Kirk Douglas, what an indelible mark that left on me. I’m not a fan of T’ Cruise either ( P. Cruise is ok – lol) but he did a good job in ‘Eyes…shut’. Btw, I am thoroughly convinced that it’s the director that can make a bad/mediocre actor look great; it’s all about the auteur – he’s the man.

    After I finished writing this, there was another half a gem, so to speak, he made in “Full Metal Jacket’. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, R. Lee Ermey, as the ruthless D.I. will never be forgotten. As a matter of fact I still hear young adults imitating him. He was a real DI and his performance secured him roles in Hollywood for the rest/remainder of his life – he averages 3-5 small roles every year, since Full metal. Oh, so yes, FMJ, the 1st half – masterpiece, and the second half – uhhh, not so good.

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