Nicole Kidman

Eyes Wide Shut

Year: 1999
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Arthur Schnitzler, Stanley Kubrick, & Frederic Raphael

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was Stanley Kubrick‘s last film; he died four days after turning in his final cut and never lived to see it released in theaters.  He spent over a year making this movie and it was said that he worked so hard trying to reach the deadline that he literally killed himself working on it.  Kubrick was renowned for being a perfectionist and was notorious for taking a really long time in both the filming process and in editing. His work always paid off though and he made some really great films in his time.  This movie was a project that he had wanted to work on for a long time and I have heard he considered it one of his best films.  I don’t agree with that, it hardly competes with Dr. Strangelove, but it is an interesting film nonetheless.

This film is about marriage, sexuality, and the struggles that come from making a lasting relationship work. The couple in this movie never actually cheats on each other, but the thought alone is enough to drive the man of the relationship crazy.  I think that the idea of his wife cheating even being a possibility, in addition to his own latent desires for other women is what drove him crazy. In the end their relationship is strong enough to survive the situation though and it is sex that seals the survival.  If nothing else I think the excess sexuality in this film is a cherry on top for Kubrick’s career.  Kubrick was also known in several films like Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey to show obvious and blatant sexual references with various objects like planes and space ships.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married in a really media obsessed relationship when this movie came out. They both signed contracts to work on the film as long as Stanley Kubrick had need of them and for the entire making of the film the whole plot was shrouded in secrecy.  All people knew about it was that it had something to do with sex and it sported this couple that everyone was obsessed with. Their performances weren’t anything exceptional that I could see but their presence in the film did add quite a bit to the anticipation for it.  I loathe Tom Cruise but can admit he is one of the best actors out there and has great decision making skills when it comes to choosing his roles. I haven’t always been a big fan of Kidman either but she looks great in this movie and is naked quite a bit. Sydney Pollack plays one of the better roles in the film, he fit his part perfectly.

This isn’t a movie I will sit down and watch for fun or anything but it was interesting to revisit it again. The fact that it was a great filmmaker’s last movie makes it worth everybody’s time but it’s the kind of film I think you should only see once.  I doubt many would really want to see it again but it is worth one time around.  It is a bit of a long movie and has themes that can easily confuse most viewers. I enjoyed watching again but wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.  I would selectively choose who to suggest this film to and I might never find a person I think really needs to see it.  It may surprise you though, this film has an ability to draw you in and it is a very mysterious thriller.  If nothing else, this was the last film made by one of the greatest filmmakers ever and that alone makes it worth your time to see it at least once.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before watching it with Ryan the other night. I found it to be extremely interesting and it has stuck with me for days. It’s one of those movies that kind of lingers and you think about it and think about it and maybe even relate to your own life. I think that if I would have seen this film before I was married it wouldn’t have had the same effect that it did this time. Ryan and I have been together off and on a total of 10 years now. I will tell you this unmarried couples…it doesn’t matter how long you date someone, marriage is different than dating. It is hard and it is complicated, but it is beautiful. This movie portrays what a real marriage looks like. All marriages have their secrets. I think we [married couples] can really relate to this film. It is crazy and interesting, and I love how it shows how consumed you can become with thinking about your spouse cheating. They never even cheat on each other, but the thought of it alone was enough to almost drive them crazy.

I really enjoyed this film, in that it was really interesting and telling. I think I would only recommend this one to married couples. It is one of those movies that will keep you thinking well after the ending credit.

NEXT MOVIE: Face/Off (1997)

Cold Mountain

Year: 2003
Directed By: Anthony Minghella
Written By: Charles Frazier

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a great movie with fantastic performances and production value.  It tells a compelling story that takes place near the end of the Civil War. Despite my history background I have never been a Civil War buff and while I appreciate this movie it isn’t one that I love.  The movie begins with a very gripping battle scene that sets the tone for the film. I think the love story between Inman and Ada brings the movie down but the rest of the film is good enough to overcome that fault.  This movie is in our collection for one reason and one reason alone, Renee Zellweger‘s performance.  I felt Nicole Kidman was highly overrated at the time and really enjoyed seeing her get her ass handed to her by the ugly chick.  This is one of Zellweger’s finest roles and she earned her Oscar with spades.

This is our second movie in a row starring Jude Law and that is ironic given that neither of us really like him.  Anybody could have played his part in this film though, he does nothing to distinguish himself.  When I say that Kidman was shown up by Zellweger I mean exactly that.  Just when you are really sick of the Ada character Ruby shows up and pumps life into the dismal and depressing story.  Ray Winstone is great as the menacing lawman of Cold Mountain while all the men are away at war.  His albino henchman may be creepy but I want to point him out as Charlie Hunnan.  All the Sons of Anarchy fans need to check out what he was doing before he was Jax Tellar, he must had just lost in a tough decision over the casting of a vampire role. Again for the second movie in a row we get to see the beautiful and talented Natalie Portman in a small role. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a good part as a scandalous preacher in just one of many cameos in the film. Also lending their talents in small roles are Giovanni Ribisi, Brendan Gleeson, Ethan Suplee, Donald Sutherland, and even Jack White of the White Stripes in a rare acting role. These performances collectively make this movie worth your time because they are all great performers.

There is no and never has been a town called Cold Mountain in North Carolina, but there is a Cold Mountain here in our Appalachian mountains.  That doesn’t matter though, it doesn’t change the circumstances of the Civil War that the film covers. I am not a Civil War buff because it feels too cliché, being a southerner and all. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to learn from the conflict though and a need to understand the time period.  This movie is worth your time because it is a good movie.  I don’t think I have done it justice with this review but watch it for yourself and tell us what you think.

AMBER’S REVIEW

My favorite part of this entire film is Renee Zellweger. She is completely amazing in this film. She shows so much range and depth in this film that you almost forget who she really is. She won the Oscar with this film and I honestly feel like nobody earned it more that year. The whole story is really touching. Aside from the love story that is going on between Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, the story that means the most to me happens in Cold Mountain between Zellweger and Kidman. Kidman is a woman who has been pampered and taken care of her whole life, and when that all falls apart, in moves Zellweger to help her get her shit together. I love the dynamic that the two have together throughout the movie. They truly had amazing chemistry.

The war aspect for me is secondary throughout this film. It is important and what is going on in this small town is touching and affects everyone. There is something for everyone in this award-winning movie and I completely recommend it if you haven’t seen it before.

NEXT MOVIE: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Batman Forever

Year: 1995
Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Written By: Lee Batchler

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is where it all went horribly wrong.  The studio wanted a more family friendly Batman and they made a movie that Adam West must have admired.  I remember when this movie came out and remembered it fondly.  Watching it now I see that it was only cool then because I was only eleven years old.  This movie is ridiculous from beginning to end and I can not vouch for it.

Tim Burton was still on board as a producer but I can’t see much of his influence in the film.  When Warner Bros gave the keys to the Batman franchise to Joel Schumacher they deserved all the embarrassment and failure that he bestowed upon them. Schumacher took the dark Batman that Burton had created and he made it flamboyant, Batman should not be flamboyant. Why didn’t anybody take a step back and ask themselves if it was really a good idea to put nipples on the batsuit?  I have always wanted to know what the hell the studio was thinking, this was one of the worst ideas of all time.  The cast was ridiculous, alot of big names inappropriately cast or out of place.  I guess Jim Carrey was ok as the Riddler but I wouldn’t call him great.  Why did Tommy Lee Jones look so pink and colorful? I don’t really get the casting of Kilmer as Batman, I am a Val Kilmer fan, but as Batman? Who was responsible for that decision.  Chris O’Donnell wasn’t that bad but the circumstances of his character are a little too stupid.  First of all, why would a criminal organization hold up the circus to rob the pockets of the audience? Also, why would the unarmed acrobats think they were qualified to deal with the situation?

I have always said that the 4th Batman film, Batman & Robin was one of the worst movies of all time.  While it is still easily the worst of all the Batman films it does merely follow the footsteps of this movie.  This movie is much worse than I remembered it being and I do not think you should waste you time watching it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ugh, I don’t even want to write about this one. It is extremely hard to even sit though this one. Why do we even own it? Ryan said it is so different because they went towards a more family friendly Batman. But come on, crime fighting just isn’t family friendly. Jim Carrey was in his prime of his comedy career at the time of this film, but I thought he was misplaced and was annoying throughout.

Since I am the woman voice on this blog, I also must add that Val Kilmer makes an AWFUL Batman. He is not sexy as Batman, and what is the point if Batman is not a sexy hero? I mean, he only has to be sexy from the nose down really. His lips are all pouty like a woman’s.

This film is just a no-go for me. Anytime you add in Robin I automatically think back to the cheesy Adam West stuff, and I can’t take it seriously. Watch the others, skip this one and Batman and Robin, and then pick it back up Batman Begins.

NEXT MOVIE:  Batman Begins (2005)