For three days and three nights I defrosted my refrigerator, and nothing else, in preparation for the world premiere of Eyes Wide Shut. Thanks to Precision Lasting Parts Plumbing Supplies, my new corporate sponsor, I had scalped tickets to the grand opening in London. So I defrosted and fasted and watched a lot of cable TV, all in training for the gala opening (where I hoped to catch a glimpse of Kidman cootchie in the uncut Kubrick version. Warner Brothers, may they choke on their red ink in hell, cut Kubrick's final edit, after his death, to whore for the MPAA R rating.).
Knowing the 16 hour budget flight with a layover in Budapest could tax my ability to watch in-flight movies, I sucked on the cathode ray pacifier like an Olympic Stratolounger. And defrosted. On the third day, as the Titanic-like icebergs broke loose, I lounged into one of those late night, made-for-cable tit-fests. You know the ones: where the sex scenes could make a child vomit and a grown man glad he's had none since the Carter administration. And there she was, as I tightened my jaw line with hard rock candy; a woman I once did the mild thing with was throwing her thespian soul into the script--pounded out by a Leaving Las Vegas drunk, who, unfortunately, is still in LA trying to keep up with his third mortgage.
This should be good, I thought. Haven't seen her in years. And now I'll really get to see her. Obviously, like me, she had come a long way. Although I'm sure her pay is better. And it should be. Those Beverly Hills boob jobs, personal trainers, manicures, pedicures, treatment center cures and kombu seaweed facials don't come cheap. But she did come, more than once (she's not that good an actress), and cheaply doesn't come to mind. Trailer trash scream queen she is not. We're talking a deep throaty purr like a 911 stuck in second on a rainy night in Portland. Don't get me wrong. The screamers hold a dear place in my sinuses, as their epic cries opened up passageways blocked for years. And if you have a noisy neighbor upstairs you can't stand, then what better way to retaliate than with a screamer. Plus, a screamer's good for any
guy's paint-by-numbers ego. But her elegant Saks Fifth Avenue raw silk orgasmic scrape of the auditory nerves was like Dutch chocolate for the ears. So I watched and listened for that sound. But wait.
"You don't kiss like that!" I screamed at the screen. "You don't come like that. You'd never be caught dead wearing that dress . . . or that guy! And you only drink vodka."
Suspension of disbelief was not working for me. I blamed it on the script. Then it hit me. How pathetic is this? I'm watching a whopping $100,000 cable movie starring someone I once knew at 3:00 AM. And this passes for what? Sex? A life? A sex life?
Drip, drip, drip. This is how the world ends. Not with a bang or a screamer, but the communion, via satellite, cable and decoder, with the most remotely controlled passion parading past blood shot eyes. As usual, the joke was on me. I threw on my bomber jacket and settled into a Lindbergh fantasy, roaming the city, soaring solo over thousands of miles of cold, unforgiving water, looking for any kind of heat. Hope is knowing tomorrow my refrigerator will be defrosted. I'll click the switch. That deep, throaty compressor motor growl will kick in. I'll fill it up. And take another day off in preparation for the premiere of Eyes Wide Shut.
The gala opening
was switched from London to LA at the last minute, and Warner Brothers
didn't even bother to tell me about it. I was all set to wing it to LA.
Kill 2 birds with one stone: Kidman and my former brief flame now straight-to-cable
star. The airline had other ideas. Turned out my cashed-in mileage ticket
was non-refundable and nontransferable.The grand opening at the Lloyd
Cinemas in Portland was a bit different. Sold out, for one thing. But
my date, a compulsive liar who can suspend anyone's disbelief, got us
into the last two singles without paying. She used the storyline about
the babysitter paging us and our cell phone out in the car to convince
everyone, even me, that we had already been sitting down in the theater
waiting for the show to start. Wow. Turned out to be the best performance
of the night.
No one wants to blaspheme a dead director's "final masterpiece." Fuck that. Tom Cruise is weaker than mini-mart coffee in the lead role. Furthermore, we must suffer through his limp presence in every scene. Kidman has two superb monologues. But there's no real dynamic or sexually charged interplay with Cruise--who cannot hang onto the ball. My date noted the buzz in the ladies room after the show was utter disappointment that the hoped for passion between Kidman and Cruise never materialized. Amen. Cruise and Kidman--as Dr. Bill and his wife Alice--are as cool and distant as luxury liners passing in the night. At one point, Cruise is squeezing Kidman's breast like a roll of Charmin. Cruise emotes no more than a passing, abstract interest in her anatomy, like, "Yeah, this is definitely squeezeably soft." The script is weak on plot and weaker on story. Not unusual for Kubrick. The movie survives and thrives on the sheer muscle of Kubrick's grainy, dark, moody film making. The story features two parties as the turning point events: one conventional gathering of socialites, and one perverse gathering of socialites. Both scenes are breathtaking. And there is one moment at the masked pervert ball that is bathed in cinematic glory. Kubrick achieves an orgasm that reaches into the soul. The problem, once again, is that the moment is diluted by the Pepsi One (tm) acting of Cruise.
The ending is pure Hollywood pabulum, although Kidman delivers a final line that cuts to the quick with rapier sardonic wit. Masterful moments, images and sequences, yes. Masterpiece, no. Cruise can't create the nuances necessary to mimic the complete psychic rearrangement of Dr. Bill; that means a film that feels bloated at two and a half hours. Just as Matthew Modine was unable to pull off Full Metal Jacket, we are left to wonder what Eyes Wide Shut could have been with a stronger actor/leading man, say Bill Pullman. This film will die in August and resurrect itself on cable--with hoopla over Kubrick's "uncut final masterpiece." Because everyone eventually winds up in the graveyard of late night cable TV.