CADRES: We thought of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut!

THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2024

One "news channel's" secret society: Early this morning, we thought of Stanley Kubrick's 1999 film, Eyes Wide Shut.

We've thought of that film fairly often of late. In our own imperfect recollection, it was frequently rejected by the critics. That said, the leading authority on the film thumbnails the matter as shown

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 erotic mystery psychological drama film directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. It is based on the 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story) by Arthur Schnitzler, transferring the story's setting from early twentieth-century Vienna to 1990s New York City. 

The plot centers on a physician (Tom Cruise) who is shocked when his wife (Nicole Kidman) reveals that she had contemplated having an affair 12 months earlier. He then embarks on a night-long adventure, during which he infiltrates a masked orgy of an unnamed secret society. 

Kubrick died of a heart attack six days after showing the final cut of Eyes Wide Shut to Warner Bros., making it the final film he directed. He reportedly considered it his "greatest contribution to the art of cinema." In order to ensure a theatrical R rating in the United States, Warner Bros. digitally altered several sexually explicit scenes during post-production. This version was premiered on July 13, 1999, before being released on July 16, to generally positive but polarizing reviews from critics. Box office receipts for the film worldwide were about $162 million, making it Kubrick's highest-grossing film.

We're surprised to read that critics' reviews were generally favorable. We more strongly remember reviews like these:

Some reviewers were unfavorable. One complaint was that the movie's pacing was too slow; while this may have been intended to convey a dream state, critics objected that it made actions and decisions seem laboured. Another complaint was that it did not live up to the expectation of it being a "sexy film" which is what it had been marketed as, thus defying audiences' expectations. Many critics, such as Manohla Dargis of LA Weekly, found the prolific orgy scene to be "banal" and "surprisingly tame." While Kubrick's "pictorial talents" were described as "striking" by Rod Dreher of the New York Post, the pivotal scene was deemed by Stephen Hunter, writing for The Washington Post, as the "dullest orgy [he'd] ever seen." Hunter elaborates on his criticism, and states that "Kubrick is annoyingly offhand while at the same time grindingly pedantic; plot points are made over and over again, things are explained till the dawn threatens to break in the east, and the movie stumbles along at a glacial pace." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly complained about the inauthenticity of the New York setting, claiming that the soundstage used for the film's production didn't have "enough bustle" to capture the reality of New York. Paul Tatara of CNN described the film as a "slow-motion morality tale full of hot female bodies and thoroughly uneventful 'mystery,'" while Andrew Sarris writing for The New York Observer criticised the film's "feeble attempts at melodramatic tension and suspense." David Edelstein of Slate dismissed it as "estranged from any period I recognize. Who are these people played by Cruise and Kidman, who act as if no one has ever made a pass at them and are so deeply traumatized by their newfound knowledge of sexual fantasies—the kind that mainstream culture absorbed at least half a century ago? Who are these aristocrats whose limos take them to secret masked orgies in Long Island mansions? Even dream plays need some grounding in the real world." J. Hoberman wrote that the film "feels like a rough draft at best."

Lee Siegel from Harper's felt that most critics responded mainly to the marketing campaign and did not address the film on its own terms. Others felt that American censorship took an esoteric film and made it even harder to understand...

For the introduction to Michel Ciment's Kubrick: The Definitive Edition, Martin Scorsese wrote: "When Eyes Wide Shut came out a few months after Stanley Kubrick's death in 1999, it was severely misunderstood, which came as no surprise. If you go back and look at the contemporary reactions to any Kubrick picture (except the earliest ones), you'll see that all his films were initially misunderstood. Then, after five or ten years came the realization that 2001 or Barry Lyndon or The Shining was like nothing else before or since."

Siegel and Scorsese to the rescue! But those reviews are more the way we remember it going when Kubrick's last film hit the fan.

Right from the jump, we were intrigued by Eyes Wide Shut. It seemed to us that those critics weren't seeing what we had seen in the admittedly slow-moving film.

Most specifically, we were intrigued by the portrait of an "unnamed secret society" widely operating, under the cover of darkness, within an uncomprehending New York. When the Cruise character stumbled upon the orgy scene out on Long Island, he was astonished by a part of the world he hadn't known was there.

In this case, the unnamed, rather large, well-financed "secret society" was a well-hidden sexual secret society. And it's true:

The film's sexuality was largely boring. In our view, it was the portrait of the secrecy itself—the film's portrait of the hidden disintegration of common cultural practice—which made the film intriguing.

In retrospect, we'd describe it as a portrait of the way empires come apart. For better or worse, we now think of the film pretty much every time we watch the Fox News Channel's primetime "news" program, Gutfeld! 

Greg Gutfeld is 59 years old. To our inner eye, he seems to have walked straight out of the film which Kubrick apparently viewed as his most insightful.

Let is be said that the secret society in that film had the feel of a "reactionary" secret society, a secret society operating from what would be thought of as the cultural right. It's a secret society formed in reaction to the leveling "sexual revolutions" of the previous four or five decades.

It's a secret society designed to roll back changes in permitted sex roles, to return women to their traditional place.

Just as Paddy Chayefsky prefigured Bill O'Reilly (and others) in the 1976 film Network, so Kubrick may have prefigured Gutfeld, and the adepts with some he surrounds himself, in his final film, Eyes Wide Shut.

One striking difference! The secret society Gutfeld conducts operates for all to see on our nation's most-watched "cable news" channel. It's on the air each weekday night for an hour in prime time, starting at 10 p.m. Eastern.

That said, everyone in Blue America has been told not to watch such fare and not to speak to the people who possibly do. We tend to stick to our Blue America "cable news" channel, where the guests discuss the chances of getting Trump frog-marched away and locked up, night after night after night.

As we'll note tomorrow, Blue America plainly doesn't watch the (prime time) Gutfeld! ("cable news") program. Last night, the program opened with the standard throwback sexual bullshit, with weird but soul-crushing puzzling bullshit like this:

GUTFELD (4/3/24): On Monday, Iowa's victory over LSU set a TV ratings record for women's college basketball. Good! Maybe it will help those gals find good husbands.

That was the termagant's second joke, though the audience seemed to have no idea what was supposed to make the joke funny.

What in the world made that a joke? Instantly, up came a standard hook! An offstage voice, with supporting pictorial, now described the puzzling joke as something "A SEXIST WOULD SAY!"

As if by law, the termagant's first joke had been built on the theme that President Biden is surely nearing his death. After that second impenetrable joke, the termie continued with this:

GUTFELD (continuing directly): A bearded transathlete was suspended from a female rowing team for leering at a topless girl in the changing room. He said it was all a misunderstanding. He was just trying to stare at her breasts to get rid of nis boner.

Again, the audience seemed to have no idea concerning what made that a joke. In response to the sounds of silence, the termagant offered this:

GUTFELD (continuing directly): That was a great joke. Thank you. 
I will take the applause! I had to force it out of them!

From there, it was on to the offering shown below, accompanied by a graphic showing this quote from New York Post: "Physically healthy Dutch woman, 28, decides to be euthanized dur to crippling depression:"

GUTFELD (continuing directly): A physically healthy Dutch woman decided to end her life due to struggles with depression. Evidently, she came to the conclusion after reading a new book.

Up popped a photo of Jesse Watters' apparently braindead new book. This produced a large burst of audience laughter in response to the standard bromantic jostling which exists between Gutfeld and Watters. 

Translation:

On Gutfeld!, any human tragedy is good for a laugh as long as it involves the misfortune of some young (non-conservative) woman. That even includes the ending of some such young person's life. 

That said, the largely undisguised loathing of women is a reliable feature of the comic fare the 59-year-old termagant offers the world every night. He goes there night after night after night. It's his most reliable fare.

Last night, he restricted himself to one last reference to the two days he had spent on the topic of teenage girls and their tampons. (As we noted on Tuesday, it was "TAMPON TERROR" in the tortured termagant's tormented language.)

In another bit of self-denial, he waited last night until 10:07 before he offered a throwaway reference comparing the singer Lizzo to a "single-celled blob." On the termagant's soul-draining program, women from the other tribe are routinely denounced as being way too fat.

Last night, the termagant's opening jokes were ten in number; we've already touched on four. Inevitably, his fifth joke turned on a diarrhea theme. His seventh jokes concerned the alleged need of Gen Zers to be helped by therapists.

In his eighth joke, he discussed the fact of Alec Baldwin "never having been shot to death by a careless actor." In his ninth joke, he returned to men wearing skirts—in Scotland, to be totally fair.

These standard obsessions rule this termagant's tortured mind and dominate his commentary. At 10:03 last night, his tenth and final "opening joke" went like this:

GUTFELD: Finally, Shakira said her two sons hated the Barbie movie because it was emasculating. Wait till they see Ken without pants!

The joke was accompanied by a picture of a naked Ken doll: Through shock value of for unknown reasons, it got a laugh. 

For unknown reasons, the "joke" got a laugh! But so it goes inside this post-Kubrick secret society—a plainly sex- and gender-based "secret society" which is available for all to see at 10 o'clock Eastern each weekday night.

You can watch these first few minutes of last night's program (or the whole thing) simply by clicking here. As usual, the termagant's mind was crawling with reactions to bodily functions, and to men wearing skirts, and to fairly obvious denigration of women—and with three jokes built upon the contemplation of the death of those who may not agree with the termagant's cultural outlook.

As we've noted before, we share a (partial) hometown with the termagant—sun-drenched San Mateo, California. We lived there from eighth grade through the end of high school. He grew up in San Mateo all the whole way through.

We graduated from two high schools separated by roughly a mile on the Alameda de las Pulgas. We've asked before how someone from such a sunny land could possibly have ended up as angry and crabbed as this "cable news" star. But let the word go forth to the nations:

Early this morning, we watched the opening ten minutes of last evening's Gutfeld! show. We've now reported a fair amount of what we saw. 

As usual, the content struck us as weirdly soul-draining. Also, it made us think of Stanley Kubrick's last film.

Let these further words go forth to the nations! There is no way to understand or discuss sexuality and gender roles which is absolutely correct. 

When Moses descended from the mountain, he had no commandments about the correct way to discuss bearded people and their imagined attempts to get rid of their endlessly imagined boners.

Moses carried no commandments letting us know if Lizzo (and, more typically, Joy Behar) are just too disgustingly fat.

If our own view, Shakira's full statement about her young sons' reaction to the Barbie film was basically quite humane. For the record, ger sons are 9 and 11. Here's her presentation as reported in this profile in Allure:

SHAKIRA: My sons absolutely hated it. They felt that it was emasculating. And I agree, to a certain extent. I'm raising two boys. I want 'em to feel powerful too [while] respecting women. I like pop culture when it attempts to empower women without robbing men of their possibility to be men, to also protect and provide. I believe in giving women all the tools and the trust that we can do it all without losing our essence, without losing our femininity. I think that men have a purpose in society and women have another purpose as well. We complement each other, and that complement should not be lost.

ALLURE: Just because a woman can do it all doesn’t mean she should?

SHAKIRA: Why not share the load with people who deserve to carry it, who have a duty to carry it as well?

We haven't seen the movie in question. Beyond that, there is of course, no perfect way to discuss the optimal role of sexuality and gender in human affairs.

There's no perfect way to understand or discuss the eternal, unavoidable issues wrapped up here! But within the secret society being conducted in open air on this corporate "cable news" channel, statements like that produce a type of juvenile feedback which strikes us as soul-draining—a type of feedback which recalls the hidden but emerging world Kubrick was portraying in his final film.

Once again, the secret society in Eyes Wide Shut was a throwback secret society. It seemed to be devoted to rolling cultural practices back—to restoring the people understood to be women to the roles they'd inhabited on the planet dating all the way back to the days when men stole sexual slaves from neighboring towns as they fought on the plains outside Troy.

Even back in 1999, we thought Kubrick was portraying something which almost surely was happening somewhere out on Long Island (among other locales). The termagant comes from a sunnier place, but that strikes us as the same society he is crafting every night, right in the open air.

On Easter Sunday, we watched an alternate branch of that Red American secret society, starting at 6 a.m. Eastern. Tomorrow, we'll try to return to the new form of name-calling seen on that Easter Day program.

In the main, the name-calling came from Rachel Campos-Duffy, a very genial person who doesn't seem to possess even a hint of the nuance gene. To a large extent, that's what we people turn out to be like. As we told you yesterday, we were watching people people that morning, right out in the open air. 

It's hard to find much good to say about the unpleasant Gutfeld. But a secret society is functioning on his TV show, and it's unknown to Blue America. 

We'll have more about that Blue American cluelessness tomorrow. We see the effects of that cluelessness all over the propaganda we get served by our news orgs here in our Blue America day after day after day and night after night after night.

We Blues are unaware of all this! In Kubrick's film, Tom Cruise was shocked by what he stumbled on out on Long Island. By happenstance, that's where the Fox & Friends Weekend gang were huddled on Easter morning as their new name-calling took place.

Blue America doesn't know about the secret society currently forming on the Fox News Channel. Our own inane Blue America cadres have told us not to visit the neighborhoods where this Red conduct occurs!

Tomorrow: In the face of our own tribe's cluelessness, the termagant gets to be right!


51 comments:

  1. Kevin doesn’t understand, because he doesn’t want to understand:

    https://jabberwocking.com/did-israel-deliberately-destroy-an-aid-convoy/

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    1. We can't read minds, but if you observe the smirk on Netanyahu's face while he "apologies" for his atrocities is revealing.

      There are other, more tangible evidence that indicates it was deliberate, if one bothers to research it.

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    2. Peope sometimes smirk (and smile inappropriately) when embarrassed.

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    3. Sometimes, sure, but it is clearly not what is going on with Netanyahu.

      After he murdered thousands of innocent civilians, half of whom were children, he paused briefly and then went right back at it, murdering thousands more.

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    4. I doubt Hamas even took breaks on their murder spree.

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  2. "We've now reported a fair amount of what we saw. "

    Sounds like some good light entertainment. For those who like that sort of things. Those whom it strikes as weirdly soul-draining should probably watch something else. Rachel Maddow, perhaps?

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    1. Bob's post today calls to mind something Heather Cox Richardson wrote recently: "Trump flipped the power structure in the Republican party, giving control to the reactionary base. In the years since 2020, the Republican Party has become openly opposed to democracy, embracing the Christian nationalism of leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orb├ín, who maintains that the tenets of democracy weaken a nation by giving immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and women the same rights as heterosexual, native-born white men."

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  3. I’ll cancel the vacation I planned for summer on Long Island.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Trying to post a review and posts keep disappearing. Just going to add the link, click for my favorite review of Eyes Wide Shut:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/TrueFilm/comments/179e17h/eyes_wide_shut_what_is_going_on_and_is_it_funny/

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    1. I agree with what they say in the review although I feel like most or even all of the action in the movie should be viewed as occurring in a dream.

      It's also interesting to watch it in the context of the Madonna Whore complex.

      https://somerton.tumblr.com/post/70182202939/sally-the-madonna-and-domino-the-whore

      Bill represents the impossible modern male desire for a woman to simultaneously be a sexual deviant and a respectable motherly figure. This idea is fueled by overly sexualized beer ads, magazine covers, sitcoms with the wife who is way too hot for her slob husband, etc. Kubrick is pointing out the nuances of modern society. Men are supposed to want the woman who will be free sexually but of course with them and only them so when confronted with that sexuality by Alice’s Naval officer confession Bill is sent into a tailspin rage.

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    2. Some overlap in ideas there with the review I posted.

      But part of the greatness of the film is that different takes are possible.

      I like the idea in the review I posted that we should understand the couple to actually be Tom and Nicole, in their words "because this is a film that relies heavily on viewers expectations and understanding of the actors themselves."

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    3. Yes, totally agree.

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    4. Rationalist, I think Kidman and Cruise broke up shortly after that movie.
      Perhaps, it hit too close to home.

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    5. The notions in that "review" have been around for a long time.

      Personally, as a fan of Kubrick's work, I agree with the one reviewer that noted that the film seems to portray an immature and outdated view of modern sexuality. I don't think Kubrick intended us to be amused by that.

      Somerby suggests that the current struggle between the tribes dates back and is a result of the sexual revolution, this is utter nonsense and offered without evidence. One can look at crime stats and other behavior indicators that demonstrate that the red tribe members are no prudes, it's about control for them, not squeamishness over sex.

      Either way, it's not funny, as there are real people with real suffering.

      It is cool (in the ironic sense) that films and such can be interpreted in any way you like, Eyes Wide Shut has a million different interpretations on Youtube for example. No Country For Old Men is another one. It is kind of comical, since primarily those stories were told in order to make money.

      Some things are ok to be open to interpretation, others must be rigidly enforced. Cool.

      The arbitrary nature of right wing viewpoints, underpinned by their undying urge for dominance, indicates a lack of integrity, and is generally bad for society. These are wounded people crucifying everyone else for their own sins, but they have suffered and have llittle control over their urges.

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    6. Kidman and Cruise divorced in 2001. Kidman attributes it to her being "so young" when they married in 1990. That is a version of "If I'd known then what I know now..." I suspect she wanted to leave Scientology and couldn't do that while with Cruise.

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  6. Rationalist, why did you remove your comment? It was excellent.

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    1. It was glitchy and I was unable to post the complete review even when split up. But what you see is at the link, I'll add here too:

      https://www.reddit.com/r/TrueFilm/comments/179e17h/eyes_wide_shut_what_is_going_on_and_is_it_funny/

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  7. It's interesting to rewatch the scene with Cruise and the two beautiful young women in light of the Epstein revelations.

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  8. That film was pornography.

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    1. That's the only reason I watched it

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  9. The fact that Bob is an "Eyes Wide Shut" fan is interesting, particularly in light of his memorably juvenile reaction to "Tar."
    What does the film have to do with Gutffeld! Not very much. Even Bob notes that Gutfeld! is right out in the open, not a secret society.
    Bob argues that the shit that Fox feeds the public is some sort of secret because nobody on the left knows anything about it, and that (here's the boarding house reach) makes what Fox does somehow the left's fault.
    It's a very, very weak premise and it's hard to imagine it's an argument not being made by someone who is centrally concerned with the letting the Right off the hook for it's own willful dementia. But, it gives Bob another day where he doesn't have to brazen out idiotic excuses for Trump and his followers.

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    1. Exactly, this is Somerby just treading water, avoiding to have to address Trump and the Republican's corruption.

      Blue tribe media is daily filled with clips of people on Fox News acting like buffoons, we are all well aware.

      Fox News has on air talent that provides coherent blue tribe viewpoints, like Jessica Tarlov, and Pete Buttigieg is routinely featured on Fox News effectively countering red tribe nonsense.

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  10. Bob can’t get over that Greg, someone who llived in the same area as Stanford and his family, is a part of a throwback 1962 male chauvinist orgy cult. Aka: Fox News and Republicans.

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  11. Only right wingers claim to think "Russia" is a hoax.

    It's a handy tell of who is on the right.

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  12. Anonymouse 12:36pm: “Blue tribe media is daily filled with clips of people on Fox News acting like buffoons, we are all well aware.”

    Bob considers the media to be his turf too and he’s doing it for both tribes.

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    1. You have no idea what Somerby "considers" or is doing.

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    2. If I were Somerby, I would be giggling over the way his liberal readers take a sexy movie review seriously as art while nodding along when he calls Gutfeld an unfunny misogynist.

      Both Gutfeld and Kubrick are sexist assholes who portray women negatively. There is nothing glamorous or deep about Kubrick and the lifestyle portrayed in that film. It is male fantasy that turns out to be not so enjoyable in real life, if you take women as people instead of objects. But the film is ponderous, and it excuses nothing to call it a dream, since no one's dreams are that slow. Gutfeld is just horrible and I see no reason why Somerby subjects himself to that show night after night, while proclaiming its awfulness. He must get off on it or he wouldn't watch it.

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    3. Anonymouse 1:37pm, so you continuously say even though you merely scan him for canon fodder and write some of your posts based solely on his promo of a next day topic.

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    4. 1:19 the point is that Somerby claims the blue tribe is unaware, and we are not.

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    5. 1:42 point taken, although The Shining can well be seen as a criticism of toxic masculinity.

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    6. Cecelia, canon does not mean the same thing as cannon.

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    7. I don't consider The Shining to be a criticism of toxic masculinity at all. It is difficult to analyze it as anything other than a well-acted horror film. Jack's bad behavior is attributed to unspecified madness and supernatural elements. His frustrations arise from creative writing block. There is nothing there that could be called social criticism of male/female relationships because he tries to kill his family with an ax for no good reason. It is foolish to take such a film seriously.

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    8. Dyan Cannon is still alive.

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    9. You can analyze The Shining however you like, but it is easy to see it as intended as a criticism of toxic masculinity, in fact it is hard to see it as much else, and particularly not as merely a horror film, but to each his own.

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    10. Some people appreciate metaphors, others prefer a more literal approach.

      Surely no shame, either way.

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    11. The Shining was about that bitch wife Wendy getting in the way of Jack's dreams and talent.

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    12. Do you recall how the film ends?

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    13. Danny’s shining of the twin girls, seemingly alive and then flashes of their bloodstained corpses. That is not something you could do today. For good reason.

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    14. The film is a condemnation of settler colonialism. The hotel was built on a desecrated indigenous cemetery.

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    15. Nicholson + Kubrick + King was a good combination, but I really prefer Nicholson + Forman in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

      Plus The Shining was 1980, the era of great films was over, more or less.

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    16. The Shining was about America's abandonment of the gold standard.

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  13. Russia is a hoax.

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  14. Russia is crumbling, but Trump corruptly being funded and controlled by Russia is demonstrably accurate.

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  15. Modern humans have relatively limited sexual dimorphism, this is just one part of many aspects that explain our innate egalitarian nature.

    Somerby and Shakira have ignorant views on sex and gender that are irrelevant and lack any basis in science.

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    1. You’ve never seen a beautiful woman.

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  16. While Russia crumbles, it’s destroying Ukraine.

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  17. To evaluate the speaker's clarity by picking a very brief phrase out of an unscripted speech is a cheap shot. If we listened to the entire speech, we might find that little segment clear in context. I had more respect for Digby before seeing this.

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