Eyes Wide Shut was Stanley Kubrick’s final completed feature film, and fittingly for a director who did more to redefine and test narrative cinema than arguably any other director of the 20th century, it feels like the summation of his decades-long quest to test how Machiavellian cinema could be. It feels like the completion of his life quest, but it also feels pointedly incomplete, like a work that remains alive and growing to this day. A work that refuses to be batted down or defined. A work that always has something to say to us, that invites discontent and disagreement, and a work that shows a talent still learning new tricks right up until his final moments. Kubrick was a director who always seemed both wise beyond his years and too young, too reckless, and too much of a social provocateur to fit in with the supposedly mature, normative adult world of cinema. Eyes Wide Shut, inviting both the age of wither of a great old-school fable and the heedless, impulsive, devil-may-care gravitas of an unformed New Hollywood bad-boy, is the culmination of all the contrasts that made Kubrick himself. Continue reading
Seriously having difficulty viewing and wrapping my head around one specific film for Midnight Screenings, but I think I have it down for next week. In the meantime, here are two 2005 Midnight-appropriate horrors (one of them never really popularly understood as such, but somehow its Godzilla-sized budget only makes it all the more spectacular that it still has the look and feel of a grainy horror movie). Sorry for the delay. All will be corrected next week.
A stomach-churning introduction to the big leagues for British director Neil Marshall (who has since gone on to underachieve somewhat depressingly), this concrete slab of raw, untamed horror finds skeletons in the human closet and exploits them for gut-churning viscera. Monsters abound, both external and internal, but the film’s claustrophobic environment, a cave rendered with nightmarish use of single-color tints that distort and obfuscate reality, takes center stage, as does gender. Continue reading
Where-as most film series tend to decline in quality with age, time has been kind to Tom Cruise and his chosen cash-cow, the Mission Impossible films. While this 2011 entry lacks Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s deliciously bored villain, no small part of why III was the best entry in the series up to that point, it’s an improvement in just about every other way. Above all, and most surprisingly, it has a sense of humility. In its treatment of its characters less as too-kewl-for-school icons and more as confused, kinda-wacky cartoon personalities defined less by their self-serious gloom than much smaller, much more affecting and endearing character moments, it finally approaches a sense of identity for a series that often seemed happy-go-lucky to ape other franchises. This is a “big” film, but it doesn’t feel “big” in the way other blockbusters do – it has a lived-in quality, less about one man doing stunts than a team struggling to get along and admit they’re enjoying themselves while doing it (although it certainly has plenty of the former as well). At times, it even mocks the self-seriousness of other blockbuster franchises, and implicitly, itself in the process. It would appear what they say about looking back on your misfortune with a smirk is true. At the least, MIIV believes it is true, and it wants us to know it too. Continue reading