July 20, 1999 [Eyes Wide Shut]

Despite everything--all my admiration, even moonstruck love--I cannot ignore the sound of my gritted teeth, the nasty feel of his movies on my skin, the hunch of my shoulders as I fear I'm being laughed at--but jeez I never think to walk out--or better yet, to storm toward the screen and give him one right on the button and be done with him.

No, I'm too afraid of Kubrick to stand up to him.  And I keep going back--2001 the champ of the lot, drawing me in more than a dozen times on its first run, and on video who knows how many more?  But what am I afraid of? What is it he's whispering that makes me hesitate to bend down my ear?  What, is he going to bite? Does he even care that I'm not quite sure what he's saying?  I sit down every time, anxious in my joy, and like Alex, eyedropper tears streaming like a child's, must viddy well, my eyes wide open.

Or Eyes Wide Shut.  Ha.  Ha.  He's dead, goddammit, and still he jams a movie in the projector and makes me watch.  It was in some ways the hardest one of all, knowing there's no more--and seeing most of the others up there on the screen peeking out like masked Overlook ghosts.  The dissolves from Full Metal Jacket and The Shining, the sense of surreal calm from 2001--or again, Jack Torrance having long, quiet bathroom conversations about corrrrrrrecting his family--except now it's not that grizzled devil Jack but little Tommy Cruise, his smooth face frozen as he takes in too much.  And Nicole Kidman as skinny as Shelley Duvall but as casually naked as the woman in the bathroom in room 237--or the test subject in A Clockwork Orange, simply there to see how it all turns out.

--except Kidman is more: the dreamer, her voice often slowing slowing slowing, whether drunk or high or sleepy--or in certainty that love is more than trust, but a hard silver mirror you hold up and a drowning pool you plunge into to find each other in many arms, many times, until it's just the two of you, with luck.

--but maybe not luck: There, in the gorgeous giallo colors, the passion-reds and night-terror-blues, the etched rooms out of Barry Lyndon or the last ten minutes of 2001, the sudden appearance of weirdos and avatars, like Keenan Wynn all of a sudden ready to blast a Coke machine in Dr. Strangelove or a bloodied partygoer raising his glass; there in the Alice-infused dreamscape, choices can still be made, long after midnight, long after death; and one more gesture, even in a toy store, can break the spell--or is that "make"; I'm not sure where I am any more.  But I do know that Kubrick's not done, that ten years from now, fifteen, more, I'll watch Eyes Wide Shut again, and imagine one more angel or monster at the periphery and make one more effort to feel my way through the dark, inventing new Braille for every surface that I touch to read exactly what I think I know.


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