Recent articles have revealed key information about Stanley Kubrick's current project, ''Eyes Wide Shut'', his first film in over a decade. (Los Angeles Times, 18 Jan 1998; ABCNews online.) The new film stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and is reportedly entering a second year of production. Kubrick, a painstaking filmmaker, is notorious for shrouding his films in secrecy. But this past month he revealed the source of the current project (which Kubrick has co-written with British novelist Frederick Raphael): a 1926 novella, ''Traumnovelle'' (''Dream Book''), by Arthur Schnitzler, best known as the author of ''La Ronde''. The film is described by Warner Bros. publicity only as ''a story of jealousy and sexual obsession''.
The news apparently quashes hopes that Kubrick, whose best known films include ''2001: A Space Odyssey'' and ''A Clockwork Orange'', might be creating another science fiction film. For many years rumors of Kubrick's next project revolved around the work of Brian Aldiss, specifically a 1969 short story ''Super-Toys Last All Summer Long''. More recently, Ian Watson (in an interview in Interzone) reported working with the director. The most intriguing rumor concerning the SF project was that it required filming scenes of a child actor over a period of years, to portray his character aging during the film's story. Perhaps this project continues in the background of ''Eyes''?
The Los Angeles Times on Monday, 5 Jan 1998, ran a ''Counterpunch'' essay by David Brin defending the film adaption of his novel The Postman from the LAT review by Kenneth Turan. Turan found the film mawkish, '''Mad Max' directed by Frank Capra'', to which Brin replied...
Costner deliberately aimed his tale (based generally on my novel) at the pervasive mood of stylish cynicism that Turan's review represents--a modern habit of sneering at anything like enthusiasm, or belief in a civilization capable of rising above its faults.
Do I have reservations about the film? Had Costner ever consulted me, I would have suggested changes. There are slow parts and self-indulgences. While some scenes overlap with the book, there are also major differences. Many authors wash their hands when that happens.
Yet, Costner's version captures the rebel message rather well, for instance, by pointing out that we would miss a lot of life's little things if they were gone. (Even postmen.) And if America vanished, we would miss it most of all.
Both communities and individual courage are needed--hardly your typical movie viewpoint, especially in post-apocalypse dramas. Visually beautiful, the film has moments of wit and charm that escape notice by misanthropic critics, but which make some audiences break into spontaneous applause for this reminder about what is good in ourselves.
Beware Edit Ink
A self-styled ''book doctor'', advertised as Edit Ink, is being sued for fraud by New York Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco, as detailed in this 9 Jan 98 press release. According to the lawsuit, Edit Ink, which advertised in such places as the Sunday New York Times Book Review, offered to bring manuscripts ''closer to publication'' for a fee of $5 per page, while falsely telling hopeful authors that all publishers insist on such professional editing before considering manuscripts for publication.
The 4 Jan 1998 New York Times Book Review covers a book called Painting by Numbers: Komar and Melamid's Scientific Guide to Art, in which two Russian artists describe the results of scientific polls to determine what kind of paintings people like, and dislike. The online magazine Word profiled the same study, and has both discussion and illustrations on its pages. Most surprising isn't that people's tastes tend toward similar colors and topics, but that tastes of people from different countries are dramatically different.