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Eyes Wide Shut is the work of an artist who long ago stopped paying attention to the world around him. If you are someone who cares about film culture, you will want to see it anyway, perhaps more than once. Respect for the rest of Kubrick’s work would demand no less.
Given the grippingly bizarre settings and situations that Stanley Kubrick's films favored, what could be more startling than the scene that opens "Eyes Wide Shut"? It's only the sight of two people who resemble glamorous movie stars getting ready for a black-tie party.
Nicole Kidman is dawdling before the mirror, naked except for her eyeglasses and an earring that's giving her trouble. She fusses with it, but languorously, as might be expected amid her gilded surroundings. They suggest the kind of hotel where each room is a scaled-down version of the queen's bedchamber at Versailles. The lamps bathe Ms. Kidman in flattery...
Stanley Kubrick, it appears, has raised many of the same questions through his films as Nathaniel Hawthorne did with his writing. In fact, they seem to share similar psychologically based images despite being separated by 100 years and Kubrick’s use of a medium that Hawthorne never experienced.
La Storia, diceva ancora Baudrillard, è uno scenario rétro, è un “cadavere” che si può mettere in scena, un "fossile” che può essere rappresentato e “simulato”. «La Storia fa così il suo ingresso trionfale nel cinema a titolo postumo». Baudrillard notava come questa riapparizione della Storia non avesse un valore di presa di coscienza, ma di nostalgia di un referente perduto.
Critical disappointment with Eyes Wide Shut was almost unanimous, and the complaint was always the same: not sexy. The national reviewers sounded like a bunch of middle-school kids who'd snuck in to see it and slunk out three hours later feeling horny, frustrated, and ripped off.
The best thing about Eyes Wide Shut may be its title, but anyone planning to see Stanley Kubrick's long-awaited, posthumously released swan song is advised to go with their eyes open.
To be blunt about it, it's impossible at this moment to separate thoughts and feelings about Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut from the fact of his death. Or to put it another way, Kubrick's death is the closure that his final film, for better or worse, resists to the last.
How are we supposed to watch Eyes Wide Shut? Really, how are we supposed to watch any Stanley Kubrick movie? Apprehension of so many of them has shifted between initial reviewing and years of re-viewing, of reconsideration from the vantage of a culture changed, often as not, by the films themselves.
I kept my eyes wide open all through Eyes Wide Shut and saw more control-freak unreality than visual genius around the edges of the cluttered compositions.
EYES WIDE SHUT: WHAT THE CRITICS FAILED TO SEE IN KUBRICK’S LAST FILM – by Lee Siegel [Harper’s Magazine]
Not a single critic, not even those few who claimed to like Eyes Wide Shut, made any attempt to understand the film on its own artistic terms. Instead, the critics denounced the film for not living up to the claims its publicists had made for it.