Eyes Wide Shut

Not rated yet!
Director
Stanley Kubrick
Runtime
2 h 39 min
Release Date
14 July 1999
Genres
Mystery, Drama
Overview
After Dr. Bill Hartford'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.
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The American Conservative Staff
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  • 1 - All In The Family: A Movie List For Eve Tushnet
    (”Eyes Wide Shut” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Eve Tushnet asks an interesting question: I can think of several relatively recent really good movies which explore the suffering and shattering of identity caused by divorce (The Squid and the Whale) or adultery (Eyes Wide Shut, The Secret Lives of Dentists). But even in these movies, if I’m remembering them correctly, the couple or at best the nuclear family exists in a world of its own. That’s not a criticism–the claustrophobic or fever-dream nature of all three of those movies is part of their impact. But the role of friends and the broader society in creating and sustaining a marriage isn’t really portrayed. I’d be interested if any of you all can recommend recent, not-awful movies in which that role is explored. It doesn’t have to be an entirely positive view of society’s involvement in marriage–I think A Separation would count–just a view in which it’s not taken for granted that families or individuals are isolated in their time of crisis. This is something I mentioned in my discussion of Sarah Polley’s film, “Take This Waltz.” It’s notable in that film that the Michelle Williams character – who leaves her husband – has no “people” of her own, while her husband, the Seth Rogan character, is surrounded by family and friends. Indeed, so far as we can tell, the Williams charter’s only friend is the Rogan character’s sister. In my view, this choice was dramatically necessary, because if the Williams character had told anyone that she was leaving her husband for a rickshaw driver, they would have tied her to a chair to stop her. But it did make for a suggestive contrast, the fact that the one who has no “people” flees the only “people” she has – her husband. Anyway, it’s a good question, and I wonder whether movies aren’t the ideal medium for exploring this territory. Most movies are single-protagonist quest narratives of one sort or another. Not all, but most. And narratives like that don’t lend themselves to exploring the network of society’s fibers. A movie is more likely to pit a protagonist against society. There’s also the question of time scale. Most movies play out over a relatively short span of time. (Though, obviously, there are exceptions.) Exploring how a network of friends and family support – or pull apart – a marriage sounds like it would require a longer span to do right. The first recent work of art that came to my mind that directly addresses Tushnet’s question is Donald Margulies’s excellent play, Dinner With Friends. It was made into a movie for television, but I haven’t seen it, and I hear it isn’t very good. But the play is a marvelous and complex exploration of the interaction between friendship and marriage. A recent movie that comes to mind is Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” though I don’t know that that movie is about how the penumbra of friends and family affect this marriage so much as how this marriage manages largely to avoid being affected by the emotional storms that rage in that penumbra. That’s its weakness as a film – it comes off as smug, because a happy family surrounded by unhappy people inevitably comes off as smug. But it definitely is a “family and community” film. In a very different way, The Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” is also about a marriage embedded in a community. I paired it with “Tree of Life” because of the Job connection (got to get back to that pairing thing, by the way), but I could also have paired it with “The Godfather, Part II” for the family-community thing. The movie is a satire, but among the things its satirizing is precisely what Tushnet is interested in exploring. “The Last Station” is supposedly about Tolstoy, man and phenomenon, but his ideas are treated so superficially by the movie that what it winds up being is a portrait of a marriage more than anything else. And the tensions that tear it apart have everything to do with the conflict between the husband’s extra-familial identity and his role within the family. The Tolstoyan “community” isn’t exactly what Tushnet is talking about, but I still think it squeezes in. How about “Rachel Getting Married“? A movie that depicts a whole series of successfully healing marriages that nonetheless cannot heal the original nuclear family – indeed, that pull that family ever further apart, and away from the trauma that original broke it. A lot of people didn’t like this film, but I thought it was very powerful – and part of what made it powerful is that “family” is on both sides of the equation. It’s what provides comfort and solace to Rachel’s sister, mother and father. But what they are getting comfort and solace from is the pain that Rachel caused them – and she is also, inescapably, part of the family, even though the proliferation of families contributes to her progressive isolation. Then there’s that book that begins, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” It’s not out yet, so I don’t know whether the new movie version is any good. (The casting and director leave me skeptical.) But it certainly fits Tushnet’s bill. And of course there’s the screenplay I’m currently marketing. Know any producers, Eve? ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 2 - Full Immersion
    (”Eyes Wide Shut” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    I’m taking the opportunity of just having seen Then She Fell, an immersive theatre experience based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice novels (and on his relationship with Ms. Liddell) to re-post a lightly-edited version of my review from a couple of years ago of Sleep No More, the king of all immersive theatrical experiences. Sleep No More is actually threatening to close, in the middle of June, so I urge readers as strongly as possible: see it while you still can. ============================== It’s not entirely fair for me to call Sleep No More a production of Macbeth. Among other things, apart from the title I only heard one line from the play – “they say blood will have blood” – in the two and a half hours that I spent in the McKittrick Hotel. But whatever it is – and I’ll talk a bit below about trying to read Sleep No More as a production of Macbeth– Sleep No More is a theatrical experience that you don’t want to miss, if only because it’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen. The folks from Punchdrunk have taken over a trio of Chelsea warehouses and outfitted them as the McKittrick Hotel, a noir-esque horror fantasia palace. When you arrive, you are given a playing card and a Venetian mask, and told not to lose the card, not to take off the mask, and not to speak until you leave the hotel (or take a break at the hotel bar). And then you are let loose to wander as you please through five floors of insanely outfitted rooms. I’ll throw out a few illustrative examples of the insanity, just to give you the flavor, though no description really does justice to the experience. A hospital ward where all the beds are bathtubs. An enchanted, blue-lit forest of birch trees, inhabited by stuffed mountain goats and a mysterious cabin that seems to belong to the nurse from the hospital. A witch’s herbarium, the overpowering sensation upon entry not sight or sound but smell. The Macduff living quarters, a perforated teddy bear on the bed, a wall-sized mirror beside that, when you look in it, you see right through yourself to the bed behind … and on the sheets and covers gouts of blood that was not so before. (And, indeed, there’s no such thing; turn around and you’ll see, the bed is clean. I have absolutely no idea how they did it.) You wander in and out of rooms, encountering your fellow masked ghouls as you enter, leave, search drawers and cabinets (there may be hidden messages scrawled therein), examine half-developed photographs of murder in Malcolm’s darkroom. You walk down the hallway and pass other ghouls typing a typewriter, ruffling through files, staring back at you from windows on a graveyard. The addition of actors is almost superfluous. But not entirely. When you first see someone not wearing a mask, it’s almost a shock. A living being! We must follow him (or her) – we are hungry ghouls, and feed on the life force of the living. And they have quite a bit of life force. There’s almost no dialogue in the production, and most of the action takes the form of stylized and repetitive activity – some of it dance-like, some of it less-coherent writhing (which, truth be told, did little for me), but all of it aggressive. Even Duncan, who sleepwalks to his doom (I thought that was Lady M’s job?) does so with vigor, pulling the veils off endless ticking clocks as he staggers. I caught several scenes that I could identify as being from the play. I followed Lady Macbeth to her bedroom (a large bed filled one corner, but the center of the room was dominated by a spot-lit bathtub on a podium), where she read the letter from her husband, then, when he arrived, danced the dance of the femme fatale before changing for the banquet to celebrate Duncan’s arrival. I followed her to that banquet, where we saw her dance coquettishly with the doomed Scottish king while her husband looked on, the other guests including a grossly pregnant Lady Macduff and her husband – and, strangely, a blonde bombshell who pulled off her wig and was transformed into a writhing bald witch. Later, I encountered Duncan and his clocks. He sleep-walked his way through that room and out, into a hallway where cushions were laid out on the floor under a tented canopy, and there he lay himself to sleep. No drugged guards watched over him, and when Macbeth came, he did not stab, but smothered him with the pillows, feathers flying. Yet somehow he still got covered in blood, and Lady Macbeth had to strip him down to wash the stain away in her bathtub, only to taint herself instead. Much later, I ran into Macbeth racing upstairs, and turned to follow him to a witches’ sabbath: lit by a flashing strobe, two seminude female witches cavorted with a nude male minotaur, and nursed the bloody child of Macbeth’s second vision. But other scenes seemed to have nothing to do with the source play. A lady in red right out of a pulp crime novel eats a meal at a cafe table, only to find something strange in her food. She worries it with her tongue, then spits it out: a wedding ring. She beckons one of the ghouls to approach, places it on his finger, and begins to sing – or, rather, lip-synch – a haunting and creepy cover (by a male voice I didn’t recognize) of Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is.” A thematically apposite song for Macbeth if ever there was one, and a viscerally powerful scene. I, individually, was pulled into another scene, a one-on-one in the cabin in the woods with the nurse. When she gently removed off my mask, I was hyperventilating – I don’t know whether because I was afraid I would laugh, and break the spell, or because I was so fully in the moment that I was afraid of her, of being locked in this cabin in the woods with a mysterious witch nurse who was about to reveal to me secrets it were better I did not know. As it happened, she also told me a story of disillusion – about an orphan boy who tried to fly to heaven, only to discover that the moon, sun and stars were really rotten wood, a broken piss-pot and flying bugs. Objectively, not the most powerful story ever told, but in context, and told by a woman coming closer and closer to my face, until our noses were almost touching, it absolutely terrified me. I had to turn away and grab her arm – if I hadn’t, I don’t know if I would have kissed her or screamed. As you can probably tell from my breathless descriptions, I’m a sucker for this sort of thing (not that I even know what “sort” of thing this is – I’ve never seen, or, more correctly, been inside, a show like this before). Effects that would be cheesy in a traditional play or movie – blue-lit fog on a graveyard; a red-headed woman in a red dress and red lipstick singing a sad song – become electrified when you are in the movie, in the play. I wandered through the woods, genuinely afraid that the right road would be lost; it was trivially easy to forget that I was in a play. It was even easier to forget that I wasn’t in the play, that I was in the audience – my fellow audience members sure looked like they were in the cast, or at least part of the scenery. As you can also probably tell, a great deal of the imagery derives from film. The period and many of the individual objects are clearly intended to recall classic film noir and Hitchcock. But I felt like the real guiding spirit of the enterprise was Kubrick, an amalgam of “The Shining” (blood, mazes of woods, typewriters with creepy messages and endless repetition of the same catchphrases of horror, but most of all just the experience of wandering endlessly in a horror hotel) and “Eyes Wide Shut” (the Venetian masks, obviously, and the formal, ritual quality of the nudity and sexual writhing, and more generally the voyeurism of the whole enterprise – plus I kind of thought Lady Macbeth was got up to remind us of Nicole Kidman). If you’ve never wanted to be trapped inside a Kubrick film, well, I can’t say I really blame you, but you don’t know what you’re missing. But what, in the end, does it tell us about Macbeth? Not so much, and yet a great deal. What’s lost from Macbeth isn’t just the language. It’s true that’s lost – but it’s also lost in what’s probably my most favorite production of Macbeth, Akira Kurosawa’s movie, “Throne of Blood” which, since it’s in Japanese, doesn’t have a single line from Shakespeare. Macbeth’s language can be an inspiration for the visual imagination of an adapter, and if it is then the language isn’t really lost at all, just transformed. A knowledgeable reader of the play will experience the connection between the vision and the text, will see what’s on the page, the text playing in his or her mind as a kind of remembered soundtrack. But in Sleep No More, the story is also lost. I didn’t get a real sense of relationship between any of the characters – even between Macbeth and Lady M – from this production. Nor, even in isolation, did their characters feel sharply defined. This murderous pair, they weren’t individuals, they were icons – more specifically, icons out of film noir, playing out the scenes from Macbeth. This is a considerable reduction from Shakespeare. Lady Macbeth, for example, is a more complex figure than a noir femme fatale – indeed, her character can be understood as, herself, reacting to that kind of iconic figure, trying to play out that role in order to achieve her goals. She’s a real person playing the part of a cold-hearted killer – that’s why she can be driven mad, as the classic noir women are not. (If those women have a weakness, it’s that they may have fallen in love with the men they are trying to dupe – or is that just another plot? Depends on the movie.) Shakespeare takes us on what looks like a familiar journey – man is tempted by evil forces/an evil woman, and is undone by his crime – but then takes us places we didn’t expect to go. (Macbeth achieves a kind of apotheosis of nihilism by the end – he stares into the abyss so long that the abyss has to look away.) By returning us to the archetypes that lie behind Shakespeare’s play, Sleep No More returns us as well to a more comfortably familiar story. And yet, the production does achieve one thing that so many productions of Macbeth fail at. It brings us into the world of Macbeth’s imagination. Indeed, sitting in the McKittrick hotel bar after the show, I decided that this was the best way to look at the play: not as an enactment of the play Macbeth but as a tour of the character Macbeth’s mind, full of scorpions as it is (and I believe I saw some of those in the taxidermy room). Macbeth is not a terribly bright man – he never thinks more than one step ahead, and his first response is always brutally direct – but he has a powerfully vivid imagination. And so it seems appropriate to think of his mind as stuffed full of stock icons from horror and noir – bloody bathtubs, broken dolls, lip-synching women in red dresses and silent ghouls in Venetian masks – all rendered with boldness and specificity, and recombined to a total vision that is overwhelming in its power when experienced directly, unmediated, as the participating audience for Sleep No More does. A man whose mind was overwhelmed by these kinds of images, yeah, I could understand how he could turn into Macbeth. And if we really want to understand him, we need to see what he sees. Which this production enabled me to do as no other one has. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 3 - Marriage at the Movies
    (”Eyes Wide Shut” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Culture Art Film I just saw Bachelorette (short review: Save yourself.) and have run across a couple links about how marriage and related issues are portrayed at the movie palace. The Right-Wing Film Geek reviews the new adaptation of Henry James’s divorce novel What Maisie Knew; Helen Rittelmeyer truffles up a sad/delightful quote from early Hollywood. (By the way, you should be following the guy behind RWFG on Twitter, and checking Helen’s blog.) I also have a question. I can think of several relatively recent really good movies which explore the suffering and shattering of identity caused by divorce (The Squid and the Whale) or adultery (Eyes Wide Shut, The Secret Lives of Dentists). But even in these movies, if I’m remembering them correctly, the couple or at best the nuclear family exists in a world of its own. That’s not a criticism–the claustrophobic or fever-dream nature of all three of those movies is part of their impact. But the role of friends and the broader society in creating and sustaining a marriage isn’t really portrayed. I’d be interested if any of you all can recommend recent, not-awful movies in which that role is explored. It doesn’t have to be an entirely positive view of society’s involvement in marriage–I think A Separation would count–just a view in which it’s not taken for granted that families or individuals are isolated in their time of crisis. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

PJ Media Staff
PJ Media



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • CRUISE TO CRUISE AGAIN: The
    (”Eyes Wide Shut” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Ed Driscoll CRUISE TO CRUISE AGAIN: The Internet Movie Database is reporting that Tom Cruise will be remaking that hoary old Roger Corman 1970s exploitation flick, Death Race 2000. In a way, this sounds like a smart move by Cruise, returning to a racing film after Vanilla Sky got pounded by both the critics, and has yet to crack the magic $100 million mark at the the US box office. (And cost $68 million to make, so probably needed two or three times that amount to turn a profit, once advertising, promotion, etc. is factored into the equation)Back when Vanilla Sky came out, I wrote, on Stuart Robinson's terrific home theater Web site: Vanilla Sky puts Tom Cruise firmly in Dark City, The Matrix, The Truman Show, etc., 'what is reality' land. And while I've enjoyed all of the above films, this film seemed like a mess, with awful dialog, a silly subplot involving plastic surgery, and pacing that makes Eyes Wide Shut (which I really liked incidentally, but then I've drunk gallons of Kubrick Kool-Aid in my college days) seem like Star Wars.One underlying theme of the film seems to be "choose your cultural references carefully"--Cruise's life seems to be endless cliches of pop culture icons. He owns a publishing company ala Jann Wenner, drives a boss Mustang ala Steve McQueen in Bullit, walks through scenes that look like Dylan-esque album covers, at one point, wears a mask that looks like the one he wore in Eyes Wide Shut, etc.Vanilla Sky is a remake of the Spanish/French film Abre los ojos ("Open Your Eyes"), which also starred Pen class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2002/3/13/cruise-to-cruise-again-the/ ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)

The Federalist Staff
The Federalist



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • 1 - Thighs Wide Shut: What Movies Get Wrong About Sex
    The problem that haunts movies that focus on sex is that bodies photograph better and more easily than souls. And because the people onscreen are strangers whom we do not love, the very act of photographing sex, no matter the intent, implies voyeurism by the artist and an invitation to voyeurism for the audience. As a result, scenes and movies that are about sex, as distinct from scenes and movies about love or about marriage, will always be dancing on the edge of pornography — and that dance either has a tendency to swallow the rest of the film or become faintly comic in its trying to avoid showing mere rutting (As Roger Ebert once wrote about one of Ken Russell’s fantasmagorias, “there is nothing quite so ridiculous as someone else’s sexual fantasies, and nothing as fascinating as our own.”). In fact, often the very best scenes in sex-drenched movies are the most surface chaste, or played for emotions other than eros or joy. Last weekend, the Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color” opened in New York and Los Angeles, with a rollout to follow in the rest of the country. Even though I haven’t seen it yet, I knew months ago from buzz/gossip from the Cote d’Azur that it contains the longest, most-graphic lesbian scene in the history of respectable movies. And I’ve heard of the subsequent criticism by the lesbian author of the graphic-novel source and of the charges of on-set brutality made by lead actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos against director Abdellatif Kechiche, and the subsequent feud by press conference. Which leaves the film with another 2 1/2 (approximately) hours to fill with … two women fully clothed, I guess (and what’d be the possible interest in that?). Similarly, as the late Stanley Kubrick’s swan song “Eyes Wide Shut” was gearing up for release back in 1999, all the speculation surrounded the film’s sexual content — did real-life married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman actually “do it” onscreen; was Cruise cross-dressing, or gay-bashed; is the ratings board gonna let the central orgy stand; are they gonna mess with it electronically? “Eyes Wide Shut” was the greatest joke ever played on pornhounds and libertines, about the necessity of repression, even for sex. As seems to be happening with “Blue,” the actual film got left behind. While sating its opening weekend curiosity, America learned to its shock that Kubrick had made a slow 160-minute dream about erotic simulacrum and about not being able to have sex outside marriage. The notorious orgy scene had breasts, butts and genitals on copious display but for all the eros felt, they might as well have been piles of melons, tripe and kielbasa carefully stacked for display in the produce section at Kroger’s. (Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang gets more charge out of the watermelons in “The Wayward Cloud” and a cabbage in “Stray Dogs” … and no, I’m not even slightly joking when I say that.) When Kubrick’s anti-eros played before 1999 audiences expecting “the sexiest movie ever,” there were widespread reports of bad laughs and boos. In an inversion of the usual bohemian script, the orgiasts were people with the most freedom and fewest inhibitions of any people in history and the result was un-erotic nausea. The few moments eros is present in the film (Kidman’s bedroom monolog, Kidman looking into the camera and Cruise’s occasional flash fantasies of her) are tied to the social convention of marriage and its soul-daemons. And then the Stanley Kubrick cheekily ended the film and his career with the f-word, followed by a cut to black. “Eyes Wide Shut” was the greatest joke ever played on pornhounds and libertines, about the necessity of repression, even for sex. We don’t believe that any more, in this enlightened era of liberation and freedom, a time which has given us a whole new genre of sex movie — the sex-addict film, of which I’ve seen four examples in the last few years (two of them still in theaters). Auto Focus None of the four are great and all, to a greater of lesser degree, stumble over the problem of the ubiquity of sex actually being the film’s subject, rather than the occasion. How does one believably portray a sin or vice without making either it too attractive or collapsing into tut-tutting moralism? Sin has to be at least somewhat attractive, otherwise how could temptation work; temptation has to be at least somewhat tempting, right? But a sex addict isn’t like, say, a bank robber or gangster. While audiences might root for James Cagney or Al Pacino (and at least in principle be inspired thereby), the very act of watching “Angels With Dirty Faces” or “The Godfather” isn’t anybody’s unmediated occasion for the sins of murder, drug-pushing, whoremastery, etc. A realistic portrayal of sex addiction, which nearly always involves consumption of imaginary images, i.e., cinema itself, is necessarily a trigger for some, including that part of the audience that “associates with” the film and is likely to especially seek it out. “Why do rock stars date supermodels,” a member of Duran Duran once was asked, and he answered “because they can.” The best of the four is the least-recent, “Auto Focus” from 2002 starring Greg Kinnear as “Hogan’s Heroes” star Bob Crane, who sank into a porn-and-whores habit that wrecked his marriage and career and, the film hypothesizes, led to his murder. Director Paul Schrader still has some of that ol’ time religion in him, but the film’s insight into Crane is that he’s largely a moral drifter, without passion or conviction, coasting through life and his career on good looks, charm and easy amiability. He wouldn’t think that playing drums in a topless bar is a great dilemma one way for good or ill — just be a good egg and go out with a bud (played by Willem Defoe: maybe a little too right as the devil figure). Crane doesn’t get any great pleasure from sexual decadence and the film offers little reverie. But he doesn’t get any great pleasure from his marriage either or apparently from acting. He was conventionally attached to marriage and temperance at the beginning of the film. When rich and famous, he floated just as easily along with the decadent zeitgeist of the 60s and 70s and into a sybaritic lifestyle on the “cuzzican” theory. “Why do rock stars date supermodels,” a member of Duran Duran once was asked, and he answered “because they can.” Shame In 2011, British director Steve McQueen, who also directed this fall’s “12 Years a Slave,” cast Michael Fassbender as a New York sexual compulsive in “Shame.” Compared to the 1970s setting of “Auto Focus,” in the present day, technological advances mean sex and porn are everywhere and one needn’t be a Hollywood star with access to special filming equipment and name recognition to get it. All you need is a modem or hotspot. McQueen, especially in his first film “Hunger” is a master of the set piece and a ferocious director of human flesh and of making bodies and things present to you, rather than mere images. This is a man so sunk in depravity, it’s all he can respond to. When Fassbender has what would be considered a normal date rather than a hookup/purchase, the woman, a co-worker played by Nicole Beharie, wants to know him and is attracted to him, but he cannot reciprocate, either emotionally and intellectually over dinner or physically in bed. Like Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris” (a far better operatic, moralistic film about sex) this is a man so sunk in depravity, it’s all he can respond to. There’s a subplot involving Fassbender’s sister, a depressive singer heroically played by Carey Mulligan despite being anemically underwritten, but “Shame” primarily follows Fassbender through a yo-yo of acting out sexually and regretting it, then expressing his regret by acting out, preferably in a manner designed to hurt himself, in body or soul. The word “yo-yo” is the hint to why  “Shame” failed as a dramatic picture for me; the actions, including a third-act death I didn’t buy for a second, are arbitrary. There is no organic dramatic reason for this moment, rather than that moment, to be (or not to be) the “hit bottom” moment or simply the latest valley to rise back from. That arbitrariness may be an accurate portrayal of addictive behavior, but it sucks as drama. I thought nearly the same thing about the Denzel Washington alcoholic-pilot film “Flight” from last year, also sometimes-superb but unsatisfying as a whole, which suggests that this is a problem with translating the ethos and worldview of the recovery movement to drama. Thanks For Sharing Which provides a nice segue to “Thanks for Sharing,” which resembles “Shame” in being about sexual compulsives — a whole group of them actually — but differs in that the Fassbender character is essentially alone and acts as such. “Thanks for Sharing” is a portrayal of a sex-addicts anonymous circle, principally five-years-sober Mark Ruffalo, longtime circle leader Tim Robbins, and two new members — Josh Gad, a serial public groper forced to come to SA as a condition of sentence, and promiscuous punk Pink. As the title suggests, “Thanks for Sharing” is basically Recovery Movement evangelism, a version of those evangelical films made to spread the Gospel, complete with scenes where the theology of Substitutionary Atonement or of the 12 Steps becomes the stuff of dramatic dialogue (I even saw it on a Sunday, and it made me feel like a Muslim at Mass). One thing “Thanks for Sharing” does do well — indeed better than “Don Jon,” the other film still hanging around in theaters about sexual addiction — is to show the ubiquity of “triggers” in ordinary modern life. The various plot threads illustrate the religion’s teachings and as with Christianity, everybody in this movie is some sort of sinner/addict, especially the ones who say they’re not and/or seem to have their lives most together. “I was attracted to an addict,” one sinner even confesses. As the talent suggests (Gwyneth Paltrow, Patrick Fugit and Joely Richardson have roles too), this is far better acted than such films, because of the makeup of Hollywood and the acting profession. Pink is surprisingly good, fully capable of holding her own in an awards-garlanded cast. While it’s the opposite of the randomness of “Shame,” “Thanks for Sharing” evangelical impulses are their own vice, making the whole thing seem predestined. “One step forward, one step back” also may be true, but if you’ve seen many movies like this, the first time you hear, for example, that Ruffalo has been sober for that long and takes care to remove TVs and computers from hotel rooms on business trips … you know this is gonna end, spectacularly. Which brings us to another unfortunate similarity “Thanks for Sharing” has with “Shame.” Both Ruffalo and Fassbender go on a bender, which the respective films present in what might be called a “montage of degradation.” With disfigured faces. The cutting rhythms are very similar, the shots getting shorter as Ruffalo’s and Fassbender’s faces get more distorted and breathless, and then shorter and shorter, and twisted and short of breath, and short of shot until … well, we’re all big boys here. And I’m sure it’s a coincidence that Fassbender is widely considered one of the sexiest actor-stars (one of the very first shots in the film leaves absolutely nothing about his body to the imagination) and that Ruffalo is by far the best-looking man in his ensemble cast. For equal opportunity, “Thanks for Sharing” does provide a good look at Gwyneth’s tight-as-a-bug’s-nostrils body prancing around in sheer and chic black underwear. Don Jon That mistake is very surprising because one thing “Thanks for Sharing” does do well — indeed better than “Don Jon,” the other film still hanging around in theaters about sexual addiction — is to show the ubiquity of “triggers” in ordinary modern life. By this I don’t mean porn at all, indeed quite the contrary — ordinary TV shows and ads, common forms of dress, posters in the street advertising legitimate products. (Frankly, if I could wave a blue wand that would eliminate all pornography but keep ordinary and general public space as it is, or wave a red wand that would return the latter to 1950s standards for propriety but keeping the porn industry as it is, I’d pick the red wand without much thought.) One of the best moments in “Don Jon,” initially titled “Don Jon’s Addiction” when it played at Sundance earlier this year, is when an ad for a fast-food fish sandwich that looks like a parody of “oversexed ad” comes up on the family TV. Writer-director-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, though, says it was a real ad and it plays in the film at a time when his titular character is trying (not too hard admittedly) to limit his porn intake as a concession to a girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson) who he thinks might be The One. “Don Jon” doesn’t go as far as “Sharing” in pushing that topic, but it stands out. For 2/3 of its length in fact, “Don Jon” is quite a good film about porn addiction that ducks the language of recovery, a discourse that now, as my friend Eve Tushnet noted at Patheos apropos of “Thanks for Sharing,” seems to provide the only common language to discuss properly theological subjects like grace and redemption. Borrowing from Rousseau in the “Confessions,” Jon forthrightly says fantasy sex (porn and masturbation) is more satisfying than the real thing. And not because he has to “settle for” the fantasy: Jon has the looks and demeanor to get more-or-less any woman at the club to go to bed with him. It’s just that actual people don’t, can’t or only imperfectly fit the fantasies that his sexuality has increasingly molded itself around. It’s just that actual people don’t, can’t or only imperfectly fit the fantasies that his sexuality has increasingly molded itself around and that the highly segmented porn market, thanks to the genius of capitalism, adapts itself to pander to. In short, he’s a slut whose soul has been reduced to gratification and objectification. But that attracts Jon to Johansson’s character, in fact, is her very inaccessibility, that she refuses to be picked up, used in a one-night stand, and forgotten a week later. After he has won her over and they’re discussing moving in, she walks in on his post-coital ritual of going to the computer for the better sex. She is properly appalled and demands that he stop using porn (which he interprets as “not use as much and not when she is around”). Unfortunately the third act goes off the rails — turning Johansson’s character into a controlling harpy, suddenly turning Jon’s mute sister (a wasted Brie Larson) into an oracle, and presenting as moral growth switching for fornicating a hot woman his own age to doing the same with a cougar who explicitly puts marriage off the table. (Da Joisey Tawk schtick of Gordon-Levitt and dad Tony Danza were an irritant throughout though.) The Damage Done So can a sex scene ever work? Obviously, as anti-eros … as the “Eyes Wide Shut” comparison suggests. Some strong scenes of erotic intimacy involve fully-clothed persons — Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in the library “Atonement,” Henry Gayle Sanders and Kaycee Moore doing a slow embrace-dance while Dinah Washington sings “This Bitter Earth” in “Killer of Sheep.” I also was amused (as I rarely am) by a scene between Mel Gibson and Rene Russo in “Lethal Weapon 3,” because of the foreplay. They’re both badass cops proud of their war wounds and start showing them off, each trying to one-up the other. An inventive way to get their clothes off for what we knew had to happen from the start of the scene, it also played as a funny bit of characterization (wow, what a concept!) For years, I thought the best sex scene was one in which the couple is in bed, but don’t go through with it. In “A Man and A Woman,” as we hear heartbeats on the soundtrack, the recently widowed Anouk Aimee starts having recollections of her husband and, without excessive dramatics, asks Jean-Louis Trintignant to stop. It’s the sexualized version of the end of “Casablanca” — love sometimes means giving someone up. Then in the last decade I have seen two films that both made my Top 10 for their years with lengthy, very explicit scenes — the Israeli film “Late Marriage” and the Romanian “Tuesday, After Christmas” — in which the four actors are nude and you see all the parts eventually (though not hard core, neither film was rated; they would’ve been irredeemably rated NC-17 if they had). These two films suggest another idea — that onscreen sex works best when the takeaway is an establishment of casual intimacy over acrobatics and hotness, i.e., the audience enjoying sex for spectacle’s sake, which porn can always do better anyway. In both films, it’s the first time we see the couples together (in “Tuesday,” it’s the film’s very first scene) and it immediately establishes that these are longtime affairs. This man and this woman are totally comfortable nude around one another, joke about the mechanics of sex, and discuss topics ranging from the role of witchcraft on a woman’s body to Christmas gifts — for his family. It’s not a pickup where you’re worried about impressing or anxious to get her out of the house. And the films share that ease, the camera neither prurient nor prudish about the presence of two naked people. In “Tuesday” in fact, a la The Official Romanian Style, it’s a single shot in which the camera barely moves. Neither director strains for the best angle to assure us that that’s really the lead actor’s manhood nor goes for the “Austin Powers” effect — angles, movements and props placed to show as much flesh and as few pubic hairs as possible. The film takes the characters’ nakedness in as matter-of-fact a way as the lovers themselves do. If breasts are there in the shot, they’re there; if not, not. In “Late Marriage,” the affair is set in a Georgian Jewish culture that still practices arranged marriage, and he knows the woman, a divorcee with a child, would be unacceptable to his parents. It’s a complex and ambivalent film that, in the somewhat loserish character of the man, suggests more than the “follow your heart; arranged marriage is tyranny” template. It can just as easily (if just as oversimplistically) be read as “here’s the schmuckdom and immorality that modern mores produce.” As for “Tuesday, After Christmas,” the first scene, as good as it is and as perfect an overture as it is, isn’t even the best sequence in the most uncompromising adultery drama to be made in many a moon. That would either be a lengthy scene in which the man takes his unwitting wife and daughter to the dentist (his lover is the dentist) or the scene in which the wife confronts him with her suspicions. And is no schmuck. Or maybe the very last shot, on the titular Tuesday after Christmas — the sex has been fun, but the damage we see far greater.  Follow Victor on Twitter. ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 2 - Here's Every Single Tom Cruise Movie Correctly Ranked
    Here’s Every Single Tom Cruise Movie Correctly Ranked May 25, 2017 By David Harsanyi When I was around 10 years old, a relative took me to see a movie called “Taps.” It’s a film about a bunch of spoiled military academy students who decide to occupy their school rather than let it close down. The young men end up facing off against the army, police, and economic reality. Things, as they tend to do, escalate quickly. People die. Among other notables, it starred a young Sean Penn and Tom Cruise, who ends up stealing a number of scenes as an amped-up would-be solider. Anyway, with news of a coming “Top Gun” sequel, it hit me that, although I’m not a particularly big fan of Cruise, from that day until this one, I’ve seen virtually every movie he’s appeared in. I’m sure I’m not alone. And because I will do virtually anything to avoid writing about Donald Trump or Russia or Congressional Budget Office scores, I correctly ranked them for you. 1. “Magnolia”: While I’m a big Paul Thomas Anderson fan, this one was far too depressing for multiple viewing. From what I gather, consensus says that Cruise’s performance as the morally fractured Frank Mackey is the most compelling of his career. (For good reason.) I don’t disagree. 2. “Tropic Thunder:” While the movie might only be sporadically amusing, Les Grossman made it worthwhile. (NSFW) 3. “A Few Good Men”: For years, I’d convinced myself that I detested this film — and I could still probably whip together a few thousand angry words poking holes in the plot. But it hit me recently that I end up watching the movie to the very end every single time I run across it on cable. At some point, a person has be honest with himself. Now, obviously, Jack Nicholson steals the film, but Cruise gives a dynamic performance, as well. 4. “Minority Report”: Spielbergian Cruise holds up. 5. “Days of Thunder”: Cruise remakes “Top Gun” on a race track. Better cast. Better story. Nicole Kidman as Kelly McGillis as a neurosurgeon. Pulls a preposterously low 34 percent from elitist critics who probably loathe real America and NASCAR. 6. “The Last Samurai”: A smart and beautifully made historical epic about the late nineteenth-century Japan. 7. “The Color of Money”: Martin Scorsese’s cocky Cruise plays the perfect foil to introspective Newman in his Oscar winning role. 8. “Top Gun”: Gleaming ’80s fare that is overrated by millions of people for sentimental reasons. I’m not even sure it deserves to be this high. 9. “Collateral”: Villainous Cruise is the rarest Cruise. This movie makes you wonder why he doesn’t play bad guys more often. 10. “Edge of Tomorrow”: I wish they had named the movie “All You Need Is Kill” rather than slapping that insipid title on it. Otherwise, though, it’s one of the best mainstream science fiction films of the past decade. 11. “Jack Reacher”: Calm-and-mysterious Cruise is dangerous Cruise. 12. “The Firm”: Another movie I hate-love, although admittedly the greatest draw isn’t Cruise, but Evil Wilford Brimley. 13. “Mission: Impossible,” “Mission: Impossible II,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” and “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”: I’ll be honest, I often can’t tell them apart after the DePalma one. If we judge movies by their objectives, however, then we can admit they’re as well-executed as any actions films going. 14. “Jerry Maguire:: Sappy, satisfying, beleaguered Cruise. 15. “Vanilla Sky:” Yeah, I liked it. Sue me. A morality tale with some flaws, and you have to admire its intentions. It’s a movie that I pondered long after leaving the theater. Moreover, Cruise was great. (spoiler) 16. “Eyes Wide Shut”: Kubrick’s worst film is still better than “Rain Man.” 17. “Rain Man”: Meh. 18. “War of the Worlds”: Spielbergian Cruise that doesn’t hold up. 19. “All the Right Moves”: In which the 5-7 Cruise plays a high school safety (?) hoping to win a college scholarship to escape his economically depressed rust-belt town. The Crusian message at the core of the film is simple: “In everyone’s life there comes a moment when you gotta make your move.” 20. “Risky Business”: At some point, I remember this being sold as “The Graduate” of the ’80s. Re-watching it recently has dispelled me of that notion. 21. “Taps.” 22. “Interview with the Vampire”: Cruise’s Lestat would be cinema’s least scary vampire until Leslie Nielsen’s turn in “Dracula: Dead and Loving It.” 23. “Far and Away”: Wonderful cinematography and an intriguing premise wasted on laughably unconvincing Irish accents. 24. “Knight and Day”: It’s “Mission Impossible” as comedy, starring Cameron Diaz. 25. “Oblivion”: A monotonous remake of the far superior “Moon.” 26. “Legend”: Ridley Scott’s Tolkien. 27. “Cocktail”: Bartenders finally get their Rocky. (It should be noted that Bryan Brown was one of the era’s underrated actors.) 28. “Born on the Fourth of July”: Cruise trying too hard to win an Oscar is not a good look. 29. “Valkyrie”: This may well be a good movie, but knowing how it would end ruined it. 30. “Losin’ It”: I have some fuzzy memory of watching this movie, co-starring Shelly Long, on HBO as a teen. I was mildly surprised when looked it up to find that Curtis Hanson of “L.A. Confidential” fame had directed it. All I can say for certain, though, is that it’s better than “Lions for Lambs.” 31. “Lions for Lambs”: Preachy Cruise is the worst Cruise. Sure, “The Outsiders” is a fine movie, as well, but Cruise is nothing more than another pretty Greaser. I have yet to see “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” and have absolutely no plans for ever seeing “Rock of Ages” or “Endless Love.” David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter. Brain DePalma Hollywood Jack Nicholson Kelly McGillis Martin Scorsese Movies NASCAR Nicole Kidman Paul Newman Paul Thomas Anderson Sean Penn Steven Spielberg Tom Cruise Top Gun Copyright © 2017 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1463670073398-2'); }); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({mode:'thumbs-2r', container:'taboola-below-main-column-mix', placement:'below-main-column', target_type:'mix'}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({flush:true}); 0 Comments /* * * CONFIGURATION VARIABLES: EDIT BEFORE PASTING INTO YOUR WEBPAGE * * */ var disqus_shortname = 'thefederalist23'; // required: replace example with your forum shortname /* * * DON'T EDIT BELOW THIS LINE * * */ (function() { var dsq = document.createElement('script'); dsq.type = 'text/javascript'; dsq.async = true; dsq.src = '//' + disqus_shortname + '.disqus.com/embed.js'; (document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0] || document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0]).appendChild(dsq); })(); Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. comments powered by Disqus ]]>
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