Ears Wide Shut

There's no nudity to compensate for the dull music.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I have not yet seen the late director Stanley Kubrick's final film, "Eyes Wide Shut." I have, however, seen a great many trailers for it on TV (Nicole Kidman looks very pale, Tom Cruise looks very dark and everyone seems upset, even if they're wearing masks). I've also read several reviews of the film (as I write this, the movie has been in the theatres for all of four days, and already The New York Times has published three separate critiques).

Most important, I have listened to the album of music from said film, which—1at nearly 58 minutes in length, and considering the fact that I've listened to it twice in its entirety (lowly though we music critics may be, we do take our jobs seriously)—1brings me about as close to knowing "Eyes Wide Shut" as one can get without actually seeing it. (And no, I don't mean "knowing" in the biblical sense. Get your mind out of the gutter, you "American Pie" urchins. We're talking art here—1or at least as much art as one can expect in a movie starring Tom Cruise.)

Do I actually want to see the movie? Well, based on the music, the answer is probably no, since it just skittishly shuttles from heavy-handed, avant-garde classical—1there's Gyorgy Ligeti's minimalist piano piece "Musica Ricerata, II," and several original, suitably disorienting works from Jocelyn Pook ("The Dream," "The Masked Ball" [RealAudio excerpt])—1to light cocktail jazz from Ray Gerson ("If I Had You") and Brad Mehldau ("Blame It On My Youth"[RealAudio excerpt]), to gauzy muzak (thoroughly colorless renditions of "Strangers in the Night" [RealAudio excerpt] and "When I Fall in Love"). The overall vibe is icy, distanced and a tad creepy-crawly, which is how I usually feel about a Stanley Kubrick film. Let's face it, he never was Mr. Warmth. From what I've read, "Eyes Wide Shut" has plenty of nudity, but not much passion; a lot of sex, but not much eroticism. And in its own strange way, this music matches right up. Listening to it is more like something endured than something enjoyed. Kind of like bad sex.