14 January 2006

I spent most of the morning paging through my new copy of The Stanley Kubrick Archives, which may be the most physically sumptuous book I've ever owned. The overwhelming reaction is one of awe—not at the book, so much, but at Kubrick, whose ambition was so vast that it demands a ten-pound book to do it justice. His amazing run arguably began with Lolita, and as I was looking through the book this morning, I was reminded of Shelley Winters, whose performance in that film was, for a long time, my favorite performance by an actress in any American movie. Winters died yesterday, along with Charlotte Haze and Willa Harper, who once said to Robert Mitchum: "I feel clean now. My whole body's just a-quiverin' with cleanness."

Reading the book, which consists mostly of big, beautiful stills from the movies, is like taking a rapid tour through Kubrick's career. In the end, even though my professional opinion is that Barry Lyndon is Kubrick's masterpiece, I'm somewhat relieved to discover that Eyes Wide Shut is still the Kubrick movie that means the most to me, maybe because it's the only one I was able to see on its original release. (In fact, I saw it four times that summer, which is still a personal record.) In the face of almost universal opposition, I've often wondered whether my emotional connection to Eyes Wide Shut outweighs its actual merits as a movie. Well, maybe. But I'm watching it right now, and it still knocks me flat.

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