Movie Review: Eyes Wide Shut

 

There are some films that I will watch every chance I get because I enjoy them. Others will be given some distance between viewings because I didn’t like what I saw or that it it’s akin to a fine wine, only enjoyable in sips instead of gulps. Eyes Wide Shut is one of those fine wines, something I view every six months because of what it is.

A doctor fights with his wife and explores a sexual underworld, trying to figure out what it means to be faithful to a person.

This odyssey started when I was a sophomore in college, before I started to watch movies seriously. I bought this and a few other tapes at Salvation Army with the plastic wrap still on it. It had been opened and viewed at least once. I didn’t get around to it until the beginning of winter break. After the first viewing, I had to step back and think about what I saw.

At first, I noticed the one-point perspective used in other Kubrick films. But I saw the use of the specific red and blue in the first five minutes that would appear countless times throughout the rest of the film. From the neon lights to the apartment paintings, to the coats on the extras and even the hospital tiles, they were present. Since then, I have tried to figure out what each color means with some success that’ll be in a separate post.

The sequence that captivated me was the famous masked ball ritual scene. It’s so surreal that I could do nothing but stare, occasionally remembering to breathe. The strong reverence for this ceremony can be felt through the music and the slow tracking of the camera. The scene that followed was from the North American R-rated version with the superimposed figures, according to This Film is Not Yet Rated. Since then, I’ve upgraded to the two-disc version that contains the unrated cut just to update my collection.

I enjoy the soundtrack a lot. From the flowing waltz of Dmitri Shostakovich that bookends the film to the unnerving Gyorgy Ligeti piece from the unmasking scene, I cannot get enough of it. Sometimes, I listen to the masked ball music before bed because of how it sounds. I could listen to that piece for hours on end and never get tired of it.

Now, why do I prefer this over a film like Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom? It’s true that both films have strong sexual content. For me, Salo was an exercise in depravity by showing that sex equals power and without attachment or resolution. Here, the infidelity happened but it reached a resolution by the end of the film in a way that both characters could learn something. While I personally don’t agree with some of the content in either film (especially the former), I accept that it is what the director intended.

I have found a few peers who have heard or even seen this particular film. I’m not entirely surprised because it is an adult film and should be treated as such. It’s not one you watch just for kicks. There’s a serious commitment involved with choosing to watch this film. I find that it is one where it’s better to watch it alone than with other people.

As Kubrick’s last film before his death, it’s amazing. I know it’s not for everyone but I highly recommend it.

9/10

1001 MYMSBYD selection

Sync or Swim: The Crystal Memory/Memory Almost Foal

A while ago, I covered a sync that involved Pink Floyd and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It was a bizarre experience, to say the least. Since then, I have received another sync with the ponies, this time from Sam. That said, let’s return to Canterlot and see what Paul McCartney (or McCartneigh, keeping with the equine theme) has in store in this reverse sync.

Use the season three two-part premiere episode “The Crystal Empire” and Paul McCartney’s “Memory Almost Full”. Start both sources at 0:00. Make sure to skip the end credits and the opening credits during the transition from Part I to Part II. You can stream it here.

Points of Interest

  • The album cover features a chair. It could possibly be a throne used to rule a kingdom or empire.
  • The album contains thirteen songs. The third season contained thirteen episodes.

Act I

Dance Tonight

  • “Everybody gonna hit the ground.” Twilight Sparkle descends from the clouds in a hot air balloon.
  • “You can come to my place if you want to.” Twilight’s friends show up at her house.

Ever Present Past

  • “I’ve got too much on my plate.” Princess Celestia provides exposition about the Crystal Empire to an overwhelmed Twilight.
  • “…in a flash.” Celestia glows white.

See Your Sunshine

  • The song is in sync with Twilight’s song.

Only Mama Knows

  • The somber music matches the fight scene at the start of the song.
  • “I was crying.” Princess Cadence is sad.
  • In the previous pony sync, the song “Mother” embodied (evil) Cadence’s self. Here she plays the part of “Mama”, a derivative of “Mother”.
  • “Hold on.” Rainbow Dash tries to ask a pony some questions about what’s going on.

You Tell Me

  • The ponies reconvene to discuss their findings.
  • There are three crystals on the book cover and in the song title.

Mr. Bellamy

  • The Mane 6 are circled around a table for the sixth song on the album.
  • “I like it up here.” Twilight, Cadence, and Shining Armor are on a castle balcony.

Gratitude

  • Some of the ponies from the Crystal Empire have their memories restored, grateful for the event.
  • “I was loved by you.” Shining Armor hugs Cadence.
  • “Wish and hope and pray” as chaos enters the Crystal Empire.
  • A piano chord plays when Spike runs off.

Vintage Clothes

  • “Don’t live in the past.” As good advice as that may be, this is the fourth generation of the show, just one of many reboots and remakes of past properties that happen today.
  • “Who cares if we look like a girl or a boy?” An observation on the fanbase members?
  • “What went out is coming back.” Again, reboots and remakes.

That Was Me

  • “On TV”, how the show was broadcast.

Feet in the Clouds

  • The heavenly sound effect occurs on beat when Twilight opens a door and light shines through.
  • “A hidden treasure.” The crystal on the door glows an evil green.
  • The repetition of “very” corresponds to the spiraling staircases.
  • “Feet in the clouds, head on the ground.” Fluttershy is flipped upside-down after a jousting match.

House of Wax

  • “The trumpets blast.” Pinkie Pie juggles several trumpets.
  • “…like wild imagined horses.” All of the characters on the show are imagined horses of some kind.

The End of the End

  • King Sombra, the episode’s villain (voiced by season four co-director Jim Miller), tries to end the empire. It’s also the start of the end of the two-part opener.

Nod Your Head

  • The ponies prance in time with the beat.
  • The song doesn’t finish after the credits, as if the sync didn’t have enough memory for the music…

While not as trippy or spot-on as pairing the show with Pink Floyd, it does have a different flavor. It’s something to bide the time until the fifth season premiere.

Sync grade: B-

Coming this Month: September 2014

Right now, things have gotten busy offline. My senior year in college has started and with that comes senior project. To recap, I’m making six short films about how I perceive the world as someone on the autism spectrum. Think of it as Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould but with far fewer films. That said, my proposal has been approved and I’ve been working on it since then. Currently, one short has a rough cut.

Needless to say, there won’t be many movie reviews unless Film Club has a movie I haven’t seen yet or I have free time to see something in theaters. If I do get the chance, I might review a sync involving a Beatle and a fictional empire.

Since summer has ended, I might as well cover my Best/Worst Films of Summer 2014 in this post. Not including the ones seen before my records were deleted, I’ve seen roughly 174 films with repeats. Keep in mind that these will be films that I have seen for the first time, regardless of how new they are. Some, not all, of the ones that are under the “Worst” list might require a second viewing in the distant future.

Best Films of Summer 2014 (in no particular order)

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Some Like it Hot
  • Her
  • Chicago
  • Spirited Away
  • Total Recall
  • The Night of the Hunter
  • The Truman Show

Worst Films of Summer 2014 (in no particular order)

If I don’t see you later, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

Sync or Swim: Plan 9 From Outer Sync

It has been stated that The Day the Earth Stood Still, a great science-fiction film, would sync with “A Saucerful of Secrets”. However, I wondered what would happen if it worked with another film about flying saucers, but considered one of the worst films of all time? One test later proved surprising.

Start the album an movie at 0:00. Loop until the end for nearly two whole plays. Discovered by me on August 3, 2014.

Points of Interest

  • The word “saucer” in the album title.
  • Traditionally, most movie syncs have an album (or three depending on the complexity) that matches with a great movie or two. The “secret” with this one is that this defies convention for what is considered good cinema.

Act I

Let There Be More Light

  • The instrumental introduction sets the mood during Criswell’s “prediction” and ends when the credits begin.
  • “Far, far away” as the title is shown, Plan 9 From Outer Space.
  • “Something in my eye.” The mourners weep at the grave.

Remember a Day

  • The saucer lands in the cemetery, a place of remembering those who had once lived.
  • “Free to play along with time.” The continuity error of going from day to night is shown for the first time.

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

  • The mellow nature fits the mood of the scene as the police inspect the cemetery in the fog.

Corporal Clegg

  • The police find one of their own has fallen.
  • “Mrs. Clegg, you must be proud of him.” The wife is present at the funeral.
  • The kazoos accentuate the cheesy nature of the “special effects”.
  • The stock footage of the armed forces roll in during the final march.
  • An armed forces officer inspects the sky, possibly another corporal.

A Saucerful of Secrets

  • Part I, “Something Else”, plays as the armed forces discuss just what it is they’re fighting. It’s something else not of this world.
  • Part II, “Syncopated Pandemonium”, sees the saucer squadron leave the mother saucer and begin to cause said pandemonium.
  • Part III, “Storm Signal”, has the plane go after the saucers. The last part takes place in a cemetery. This also happens in The Day the Earth Stood Still.
  • Part IV, “Celestial Voices”, has the Bela Lugosi stand-in attack in the bedroom.

See-Saw

  • Some instrumental parts fit the mood.
  • One can argue that the light continuity “see-saws” between day and night for no reason.

Jugband Blues

  • “And I’m most obliged to you for making it clear that I’m not here.” Sums up the constant switch between Bela Lugosi’s character and his stand-in.
  • “I don’t care if the sun don’t shine.” Again, lighting continuity.
  • “What exactly is a joke?” This entire movie.

Act II

Let There Be More Light

  • It’s nighttime, lack of light save for the moon.
  • One policeman asks for a light when he tries to read the inscription at one grave.
  • The tape recorder plays the music during the board meeting.
  • The officers’ expressions while they hear the music are priceless. They don’t know what exactly they heard.

Remember a Day

  • “Hide from your little brother’s gun.” There’s no gun in sight until the end of the song.

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

  • The alien commander waits for orders to “set the controls for the heart of the sun.”
  • This song takes place at night for both movies.

Corporal Clegg

  • Another officer has fallen, but he’s fine.
  • “Will they laugh at me?” Yes they will for all time.
  • Yet another corporal shows up at the cemetery in this song.
  • The odd sound effects come from the random instruments inside the saucer.

A Saucerful of Secrets

  • Part I fits the mood in the cemetery.
  • The rest of the song is the long-winded exposition between the aliens and humans. The secrets are revealed.

See-Saw

  • We see the dead officer carry the woman in a similar fashion to Gort.

Jugband Blues

  • The odd sound effects play during the end credits of a very odd movie.

OK, so maybe this was a half-baked concept. The fact that a good portion of the movie is exposition affects the experience. If it had some more action, I’d give it a better grade. As it is, it’s OK at best but it’s a clever and surprising secret.

Sync grade: C+

Farewell, My Captain

8/12/14, 6:30 AM. I flip through the newspaper when I saw the news placed with the local obituaries. I didn’t see this coming, but then again, who could? All of my news feeds were filled with condolences. The entire day was cold and gray with some rain showers; it could’ve been a coincidence but I like to think otherwise. 24 hours later, it struck me that watching Aladdin will be more emotional than usual.

I’ve only seen six films with Robin Williams; Aladdin, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Robots, Dead Poets Society, and Good Will Hunting in that order. Out of those, Aladdin and Dead Poets Society stick out the most. I should be more well-versed in his filmography but I haven’t had the time. I’ve heard that some are hit and miss but I’ll find that out for myself.

As a kid watching Aladdin, I saw the Genie as someone who was comedic and just all-around fun. Sure, a lot of references flew over my head but as I grew older and more familiar with pop culture, I began to understand what he’s talking about. I had seen his image the most for a trailer for the third Aladdin movie on one of my tapes.

With regards to Dead Poets Society, I’m certain that it’s required viewing in a high school English class. I ended up seeing it in two separate classes in high school. As a sophomore, it was shown during a poetry unit. To me, it was a guarantee that for the next three or four days, there would be no classwork. I walked away from it under the impression that it was a good film.

Flash forward to senior year. My creative writing class teacher thought it’d be best to put this on as a way to kill time during a poetry unit (odd how similar the circumstances were). The initial reaction was surprisingly positive. This was the first serious movie my peers had looked forward to watching. I’d wish that if we had the chance, we’d stand on the desks if it weren’t for the computer monitors underneath.

In college, I met a guy who collected movie props and autographs with a penchant for Robin Williams. At one point, he obtained one of the facial masks from Mrs. Doubtfire. I’d link the site but it’s no longer active. Right now, it’s probably one of the most, if not the most valuable collectible in his possession. I know for a fact it’s not for sale and probably will never be.

Hearing how he died, the thing that came to my mind is Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talking”. A sample of Stephen Hawking states that “It doesn’t have to be like this. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.” If only. If you need help, seek it. Talking about feelings does a lot more than keeping it to yourself.

I know it’s not much of a tribute but it’s something that I needed to say. Farewell, my captain.