Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

The last of Stanley Kubrick‘s films, Eyes Wide Shut is an epic two hours and thirty-eight minutes long. When starting the movie, I hadn’t realized just what I was in for, however, I was willing to stick it out for one of my favorite directors. What I also didn’t realize was that this was one of the first digitally filmed movies – and perhaps it is just me but the fuzzy quality of digital really irks me. Perhaps that was his intention – the subject matter isn’t beautiful, nor is the lifestyle.
The film follows Bill (Cruise), a New York City doctor, who is affronted and confused when he hears his wife’s (Kidman) story about a man with whom she fantasized about and felt like she could leave everything – her life with Bill, and their daughter – for him. Bill, after receiving a call about a patient who died, rushes over and begins this wild sexual adventure through New York’s underbelly.
There is excessive nudity and over-the-top sex romps at a creepy orgy, a young girl turned prostitute by her father, and Bill is carried through all of this with the thoughts of his wife having sex with this officer. The film plays with the idea of the actualization of sexual desire and the internalized sexual desire. Bill journeys through the actualization and finds out that he doesn’t want any part of it. Alice dreams about her having sex with untold numbers of men and is haunted by it, however during the dream is reveling in the fact that Bill is there to witness it.
As it is with most of Stanley Kubrick’s films, this isn’t something you should just throw yourself at. This film needs time to digest and swirl around in your mind. It is perfectly timed – it allows for your meditation. The only thing I found hard to digest is the acting. It seemed very melodramatic and the writing – though at times extremely well done – fell flat in other respects. I suppose that has more to do with how the actors portrayed the characters. Both Cruise and Kidman seemed a little too enthusiastic to play these parts and at times it felt like I was watching a play rather than a movie.

Repulsion (1965)

Opening Title for Repulsion

This pseudo-thriller from Roman Polanski features Catherine Deneuve as Carol, a zombie-like young woman who has no defining features besides her beauty. She works in a beauty shop where her dead-pan attitude doesn’t get her brownie points from her boss. Her sister, with whom she lives, is tramping around with a married man and frequently has sex with him in their two-bit apartment. This is all very disconcerting to Carol, who seems to have hang-ups with men. This isn’t well understood until the middle of the film.

This is probably the best half-film I have seen – the first half is far too boring and quiet. She skulks around and just seems to be a moody teenager who doesn’t talk too much. But what we come to find out is that she has a fear of men – particularly the sexual aspect – and when her sister and her boyfriend leave to go to Italy, Carol comes apart, as well as the apartment.

The apartment falling apart.

This is all beautifully shot and framed – her complete mental unraveling shown through the house and the creepy men grabbing at her. The two kills are unexpected and brutal. Super cool.

Is it worth seeing? Yeah, if you have some time. The payoff is extremely sweet. But it’s kind of trying in the beginning.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

What a drink!

Wow. That was awesome.

Honestly, if any of you reading this haven’t seen this movie, then drop whatever you are doing and watch it on Netflix. It’s on Instant Queue. Fantastic.

It’s a heist movie that is extremely stylish but not pretentious. Just excellent. There are many players involved – which may seem like it’s confusing – but the pacing allows you to follow very easily. It takes place in London’s East End – which is particularly grim. It’s meat and potatoes with a bit of garnish.

With top-hitters like Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones and Lenny McLean and… wait. What am I saying? Everyone is good in this film. People who don’t have lines are good in this film.

I’m not even going to say anything about the film anymore. I’m just going to offer you a quote. Bacon (Jason Statham) orders a drink from a bar. The bartender offers him this frou-frou drink that has a whole bunch of junk in it. Bacon looks at it, at the bartender and asks what it was. The bartender tells him he ordered a cocktail, to which Bacon replies: “I wasn’t expecting a fucking rainforest. You can fall in love with an orangutan in there.”

Oh! I almost forgot to talk about the soundtrack. Totally cool – the two teams of criminals had their own songs. Our main boys had a bass line and the other had a guitar riff. A lot of swingin’ sexy sounds.

Yeah. Go see this movie. Awesome. Definitely in my top 100 films.

The Hit (1984)

Tim Roth in The Hit

I bought this film on a whim while browsing at a Barnes and Noble. I’m a fan of the Criterion Collection and when I saw that both Tim Roth and John Hurt were in this, I didn’t need any other pressure to buy it. I had never heard of it before and hardly has Criterion let me down.

Willie (Terence Stamp) is a gangster who sells out his pals in England for a free ride and a new life in a faraway village in Spain. He is nabbed by four Spanish boys who deliver him to two hit-men (Tim Roth and John Hurt) who are to bring him back for his destruction. Roth plays a brash punk that doesn’t really gel with the undercover nature of the mission and blows their cover every chance he seems to get. Hurt plays an unwilling leader who just wants to get the mission over with but gets into hang-ups because of Roth and the saucy Maggie (Laura Del Sol).

It is beautifully shot – arid deserts and long expanses of mountains, a raging waterfall and dirt roads. Music by Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Paco de Lucia – a fantastic flamenco guitarist – and the beauty of the shots made me feel nostalgic for a place I have never been.

It was well worth the time – especially if you want to see Tim Roth in his early days (which, I will admit, was my first reaction). It’s also an early Stephen Frears film (High Fidelity, The Queen) so I was eager to see it.