Category Archives: Art

NEW COLUMN: Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ At 20 — Still Overrated Snoozer

Art, Celebrity, Culture, Film, Sex

In “Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ At 20,” I revisit my original review of the classic cult film and come to that same conclusion, it’s an Still Overrated Snoozer. The column, “Was Kubrick’s Iconic ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ Ever Sexy?,” can be read on WND, Townhall.com Entertainment, and on The Unz Review, which now surpasses The New Republic and The Nation in traffic.

Excerpt:

Stanley Kubrick’s last film, “Eyes Wide Shut,” turned 20. I had reviewed it for a Canadian newspaper, on August 9, 1999, and found it not only pretentious and overrated, but quite a snooze.

This flick is the last in a series of stylized personal projects for which the director became known. Given the mystique Kubrick acquired or cultivated, this posthumous flop is unlikely to damage the legend.

For all the film’s textured detail, its yarn is threadbare and its subtext replete with clumsy symbolism. The screenplay consists of labored, repetitive and truncated dialogue, where every exchange involves protracted, pregnant stares and furrowed brows. “I am a doctor,” is Tom Cruise’s stock-in-trade phrase. An obscure, campy, hotel desk clerk delivers the only sterling performance. This is cold comfort considering the viewer is stuck with over two hours of Tom Cruise’s halfhearted libidinous quests.

“Eyes” is really a conventional morality play during which Cruise prowls the streets of New York in his seldom-removed undertaker’s overcoat, in search of relief for his sexual jealousy. Cruise’s jealousy is aroused by a fantasy his wife—played by then real-life wife Nicole Kidman—relays in a moment of spite, and involves her sexual desire for a naval officer she glimpsed while on holiday with their family. So strong was her passion, she tells Tom, that she would have abandoned all for this stranger.

The confession follows a society party the couple attends in which they both flirt unabashedly with others. Again, the sum total of the dialogue here consists in back-slapping guffaw-inducing genuflection to doctorness. We are treated to a grating peek at Kubrick’s view of the professional pecking order, a view which is reinforced when Cruise makes one of his house calls to a patient whose father has just died. The woman, body writhing like that of a snake in coitus—is this method acting?—throws herself at Cruise. Sex and death commingle in one of the many larded, symbolic moments in the film. The woman’s fiancé, the geek math professor, is depicted as a lesser mortal than the handsome doctor. ….

 

… READ THE REST. The column, “Was Kubrick’s Iconic ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ Ever Sexy?,” can be read on WND, Townhall.com Entertainment, and on The Unz Review.

* Image courtesy E-Online.

UPDATED (2/19): NEW COLUMN: Grammys: Great Porn, Maybe, But Music It Was NOT

Art, Celebrity, Critique, Music, Sex

NEW COLUMN is “Grammys: Great Porn, Maybe, But Music It Was NOT.” It’s now on WND.COM and The Unz Review. An excerpt:

I used to have some respect for Lady Gaga. With all her pretentious Yoko Onanisms, Stefani Germanotta, Gaga’s real name, is actually a hard-working and, at times, polished singer.

But to watch Gaga, at the 61st Grammy Awards, perform a number called “Shallow” was to endure an assault on the eyes and the ears.

Legs permanently splayed like an arthritic street walker, Gaga traipsed around catatonically, attempting to head-bang, but getting disoriented. Some things are best left to a macho, metal-head guy.

Gaga’s look was not a good one. But her sound, which is what counts here, was positively terrible. Yet, Gaga—lugging microphone and mount around like a geriatric with a walker—was a highlight in what was a pornographic, cacophonous extravaganza.

Aside the gorgeous Alicia Keys, host of the 2019 Grammys, who is talented and charming, and Dolly Parton, a consummate pro—the event showcased the gutter culture that is the American music scene. The country is truly in the musical sewer.

The petulant female artists, so proud of their seized power, showcased power, all right—but it was all in the hips, the pelvis, and in thrusts and twerks of the tush. Not one transcendent, inspiringly beautiful dance move did these throngs of crass stompers execute, on the pimped stage.

Janelle Monáe? The sum total of this artiste’s musical “talent” is simulating sex on stage. “Let the v-gina monologue,” she hissed venomously at her adoring, masochistic fans, while moving her nether regions to a base, atavistic beat. Indeed, in an orifice, Miss Monáe has found the right interlocutor.

Let us stipulate for the record that this is never about lyrics. Cardi B screaming that she “likes morning sex” but that nothing in this world does she love “more than checks” is not an issue.

Put it this way, if the greatest composer ever, Johann Sebastian Bach, set his divine, god-like cantatas to the saucy, naughty lyrics of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, would I decry his sublime composition as immoral? Don’t be daft. The music of J.S. Bach would still be sublime if it were set to Cardi B’s gutter language.

My point: Cardi B doesn’t make music. The category for which she and her sisters should be nominated, if I am being charitable, is street theater.

Incessant, asinine, genital-speak is one of the things that distinguishes these female artistes (as in “a person with artistic pretensions”) and makes them particularly repulsive. Do they not realize some things are best left veiled and mysterious?

Women of Monáe’s ilk are first to robotically protest the objectification of their sex, but are complicit in ensuring that The Act itself suffers the very same fate: sex has been made an object, a fashionable accessory, part of an empowering, emasculating life-style.

Screaming there was aplenty at Grammys No. 61. But good voices? None at all. Informed we were that the insipid Kacey Musgraves, a two-chord whiner, is what passes for country music, these days. …

… READ THE REST. NEW COLUMN, “Grammys: Great Porn, Maybe, But Music It Was NOT,” is now on WND.COM and The Unz Review

UPDATE (2/19/019):

Linda Ronstadt on modern country music:

I don’t listen to modern country music. I don’t care for it particularly. I like old country music, when it still came out of the country. What they call country music now is what I call Midwest mall-crawler music. You go into big-box stores and come out with huge pushcarts of things. It’s not an agrarian form anymore. When it comes out of the country, it’s not farmers or woodsmen, or whatever. It doesn’t make much sense. It’s just suburban music.

61st Grammy Awards: Another Great Porn Show. Music It Was NOT

Aesthetics, Art, Celebrity, Culture, Music, Sex

Other than the gorgeous Alicia Keys, host of the 61st Grammy Awards, who has talent and is certainly charming, and Dolly Parton, a total pro—the show showcased the gutter culture that is the American music scene. We are now truly in the musical sewer.

The petulant female artists, so proud of their seized power, showcased nothing much but hip movements, pelvic thrusts and tush twerking. Not one inspiring beautiful dance did these crass stompers execute on the elaborate stage.

Janelle Monáe? Sum total of her “talent” is simulating sex on stage.

‘We need a new word to do this justice … vulvic?’ Janelle Monáe’s Pynk.

Screaming? Oh yes. Good voices? Nada. The insipid Kacey Musgraves is a two-chord whiner who makes me miss Sarah McLachlan.

Great melodies? Nothing; other than a few truly great old songs botched by the newbies’ ugly warbling: it’s the custom. Nobody learns to sing properly.  For example, a screaming duo, Chloe x Halle, absolutely mutilated the exquisite, emotional song, “Where Is The Love,” performed in 1972 by Donny Hathaway and the magical Roberta Flack.

Again, not one memorable song did I hear, sporting a decent chord progression and some melodic variety; not one vaguely competent guitarist or instrumentalist: nothing.

Understandable. Why bother to acquire instrumental proficiency, instruction in composition and voice training when the swaying hips, jutting pelvises or just attitude (Dua Lipa) are what’s on sale and  in demand?

I used to have some respect for Lady Gaga. But to watch Gaga, legs permanently splayed like an arthritic hooker, traipsing around clumsily, attempting to head-bang, but getting disoriented (yeah, it takes a metal-head guy to do that), then lugging microphone and mount around like a geriatrics with a walker and Depends: this was not good, to put it mildly.

The tartlets I watched “sing” at this Grammys would have been even more inaudible and tuneless were it not for the Auto-Tune: the “holy grail of recording,” that “corrects intonation problems in vocals or solo instruments, in real time, without distortion or artifacts.”

This T & A line-up would be reduced to even more embarrassing grunts, out-of-tune yelps, and bedroom whispers, if not for the Auto-Tune.

Most of the performers were  G-d-awful as musicians. They sustain one or two pitches and exhibited little proficiency on any of the instruments they belabor.

Camille Paglia On Second-Wave Feminism & The Misseducation Of Millennials

Art, Culture, Feminism, Gender, Sex

Some iridescent wisdom and truth from Camille Paglia:

Millennial are easily upset, and their education has been without a realistic introduction to the barbarities of human history.

At  the same time that kids are detached from history and knowledge, teachers in the UK, where the education system is better than the US’s, have rid the classroom of the study of classical civilizations.

Hard knowledge is the goal of education. Abstract and detached study

Most of your teachers are going to be conventional. You have to seek out the thinkers and the knowledge. Go to the library.

MORE: Camille Paglia On Second_Wave Feminism and Much More.

RELATED is my writing on feminism and female achievement, in particular:

“The Silly Sex.”

And to quote from another of my columns, “No one cares how many ancient Greek poems Sister Sappho set to music. Good music always was—and remains—male …”