Stanley Kubrick “died almost exactly nine years ago and his shadow still looms large over cinema,” says the Guardian’s Andrew Pulver. “For me, Kubrick’s central achievement is a still unmatched 10-film run of masterpieces, between 1955’s Killer’s Kiss and 1987’s Full Metal Jacket. No other director — not Ford, Scorsese, Truffaut or Fellini — has such a strike rate, and it’s even less likely that someone will ever again produce cutting-edge work in four consecutive decades.
“In my opinion — and it is only an opinion — I only discount Spartacus which, though ambitious, is dated and kitschy, and his final film, Eyes Wide Shut.
“It was to introduce the latter film that Kubrick’s producer (and brother-in-law) Jan Harlan came to London to participate in the Barbican cinema’s ‘Stanley Kubrick 2008: A Film Odyssey’ screening program. I saw Eyes Wide Shut when it was released and felt it was the work of someone well past their prime; I saw it again at the Barbican last week and while I can now appreciate its dream structure and Freudian investigation of the subconscious a little more, it still seems a bafflingly obvious meditation on deceit. Can Kubrick really, as Harlan told us, have considered it his supreme artistic achievement?”
On a scene-by-scene basis, Eyes Wide Shut has always been — will always be — a kind of vacuum cleaner. Turn it on, watch it for three or four minutes and it sucks you in. Like all of Kubrick’s films. Even though it may be the least of them. Which, I agree, it probably is.
I remember reporting nine years ago about the moment when EWS came crashing down the general public. It was at an afternoon screening in Mann’s Chinese. The lord high master of the orgy asks Tom Cruise what the password is. “Fidelio,” Cruise says. “Yes,” the poobah replies, “but what is the password for the house?” And some guy in the 22nd row at the Chinese yelled out “bullshit!”