Sydney Pollack

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)

Movies By Request

We decided a few weeks ago to do some movies outside the collection for those who occasionally suggest films to us.  While this blog is mainly for the movies that we own, what they mean to us and how they have influenced our lives, we watch movies all the time.  I think it’s rather obvious but I have come to really enjoy writing about these films so we are going to start writing about some new ones on occasion.  These films will be put in their own category “Movies By Request” much like the “Movies Not To Watch” that we occasionally post.   The movies in this section will be ones suggested to us through friends, Facebook, and comments on the blog. For the first “Movies By Request” we have seen a film someone suggested to us on Facebook.

The Yakuza

Year: 1975
Directed By: Sydney Pollack
Written By: Paul Schrader and Robert Towne

RYAN’S REVIEW

When Amber told me someone had suggested this film on Facebook I had never heard of it but was immediately interested because of the title alone.  I am very interested in criminal organizations of all kinds and the Japanese Yakuza is an organization I don’t know enough about.  I find Japanese culture really fascinating though and really enjoy films that do a good job contrasting our two very different ways of life. I am also already interested in this film because it was directed by Sydney Pollack.  We don’t own any of his films and when he died a few years ago I remember wondering why we hadn’t seen more of his films.    

This is the kind of movie that I can see will get better each time I watch it.  It has a deep and significant story that you can pick up more with each viewing. I am a huge fan of movies about something real and this movie definitely qualifies there.  It has a story that focuses on the nearly forgotten problems that preceded Japan’s economic boom in the 1970s and the changes that came after. The screenplay was written by long-established and well-known Hollywood screenwriters Paul Schrader and Robert Towne.  Robert Mitchum did a great job playing the Bronson-esque retired detective Kilmer.  The co-staring role was exceptional because Ken Takakaru was cast.  Not often were Asian actors given significant roles in American films at the time.  I like to think that Bruce Lee and his success the year before with Enter The Dragon paved the way for Takakura in this role.  He did a great job and was specifically good in the climactic ending when he and Kilmer clean house at the Yakuza gambling den.

This movie reminds me a lot of the Roger Moore James Bond films because many of them were made in the same era.  There are no similarities as far as theme or plot go but in the style of the movies.  The cinematography of the decade is where the similarities are. As viewers today we typically demand more action, more blood, and more death from our action films.  I tend to prefer the honest action films of our fathers though, the movies like this where the hero could be an aged man enjoying his retirement. The movie can indulge the story more because viewers had more patience back then.  It makes for a better movie all around and that is the case in this film.

This film was brought to our attention by Lionell on Facebook who said that it was his favorite film.  I am happy he took the time to respond to the question because I enjoyed the movie and hope I have encouraged others to see it. If you have a movie you would like reviewed feel free to let us know and we will work it in.