31 January 2011

83rd Academy Awards: Free Screenplays

For years we've heard about how the studios lavish voters with DVDs, CDs and assorted other swag in hopes that their gifts will translate into victories for their films.  The last few years, apparently, a new element in the promotional campaign has included websites dedicated to wooing voters.  Most of these are pretty simple; they offer pictures, quotes from reviews, lists of other award nominations and wins, that kind of thing.  To sweeten the pot, though, several screenplays have been thrown up on the web as .pdf files ready to be downloaded!  I, of course, adore reading screenplays so I've scoured yon Interwebs in pursuit of as many as possible.  Along the way I discovered several older screenplays that have remained active online.  Here's a guide to what's out there.  In some instances, the screenplays are available but not readily accessible from the studio sites so I've included direct links for those few titles.

Disney - Titles include Alice in Wonderland, Tangled (.mp3 of the song, "I See the Light"), Toy Story 3 (.mp3 of the song, "We Belong Together" and .pdf of the screenplay) and Tron: Legacy (no downloads).

Focus Features - 2009 titles include A Serious Man, Coraline, 9 and Sin Nombre.

Focus Features - titles include The Kids Are All Right, Somewhere, Babies, The American, Greenberg and It's Kind of a Funny Story.  No screenplay for the documentary, Babies.

Lionsgate - Titles include Rabbit Hole and For Colored Girls.

Overture Films - 2008 titles include City Island, Jack Goes Boating, Let Me In and Stone.

Paramount Vantage - 2008 titles include The Duchess, Defiance and Revolutionary Road.

Roadside Attractions - Titles include Winter's Bone, Biutiful and I Love You, Philip Morris.  No screenplay for Biutiful.

Sony Classics - Titles include Animal Kingdom, Another YearBarney's Version, Get Low, Inside Job, Made in Dagenham, Mother and Child and Please Give.

Universal Pictures - Titles include Catfish and Despicable Me.  No screenplay for the documentary, Catfish.

Warner Bros. - Titles include Inception, The Town, Hereafter and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.  No digital downloads.

The Weinstein Company - Titles include Blue Valentine, The Company Men, The King's Speech, The Tillman Story and Nowhere Boy.  No screenplay for The Tillman Story.  Clever browsers will be able to find their way to content from previous years.

Also, you can find The Social Network here.

In all likelihood the free downloads will only be available until the Academy Awards are presented on 27 February so if you're going to take advantage of these uploads you shouldn't dally.  Personally, I was happiest with Disney, which offered two .mp3s in addition to the Toy Story 3 screenplay (though I wish they'd provided screenplays for their other three nominees) and Sony Classics for offering eight screenplays.

30 January 2011

Waylon Jennings "Live from Austin TX" DVDs

New West Records has been issuing CD and DVD releases from Austin City Limits for several years now, and Waylon Jennings has been given the home video treatment twice.  The first release, Waylon Jennings Live from Austin TX was taken from an April 1, 1989 performance; the second release is actually from an earlier, August 7, 1984 show.  It doesn't matter that they're not in chronological sequence, of course.  The '89 show was released on both CD and DVD; the '84 release was released in a combo pack with both formats as well as a standalone DVD version.

For my money, they're both outstanding.  Waylon looks and sounds great in both performances, though he seems more relaxed in his later appearance.  Taping in 1984 there's no telling what shape his mind was in; five years later, he'd reached a more stable and self-assured place in life.  Then again, maybe it's all in my head.  Whatever the case, Waymore deftly manipulated both of the intimate audiences with off-the-cuff phrasing, unexpected growling and a time-tested impersonation of Willie Nelson.  It almost doesn't matter what the songs performed were; the shows are that energetic and captivating.  Just so you know, though, most of the material covered will be familiar to even casual fans: "Clyde," "Luckenbach, Texas," "Good Hearted Woman," even "Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol' Boys)" gets a raucous reading in the '89 set.

There is a third episode of Austin City Limits on the market featuring Waylon; the CD and DVD releases go by the title Outlaw Country Live from Austin TX and showcases a guitar pull with Waylon, Willie, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver and Kimmie Rhodes that was recorded in 1996.  I've got the CD release of that one, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as well.  Rhodes seems out of place at first blanch, but Kris has always been more "alt" than "outlaw," and Willie's as much one as the other so the group dynamics remain fairly balanced.  Waylon's song selections there are all from his Right for the Time album, and are likely unfamiliar to casual fans who may have overlooked his penultimate studio album recording.

Waylon Jennings Live from Austin TX
Released: 21 February 2006 (DVD $16.98CD$15.98)

Waylon Jennings Live from Austin TX '84
Released: 28 October 2008 (DVD $16.98)

Outlaw Country Live from Austin TX
Released: 26 September 2006 (DVD $19.98CD $17.98)

Napoleon by Way of Kubrick

Cinephiles and historians rejoice!  Stanley Kubrick, known for his diligence and attention to detail in his artistic work, spent years conducting research on Napoleon Bonaparte with the intent of crafting the definitive bio-pic of the famed French emperor.  Only one word characterizes Kubrick's work, and that word is, "exhaustive."  He traveled the world, visiting archives that may have a tangential piece of information that may prove interesting somehow.  Whole boxes of index cards were crafted, detailing Napoleon's daily activities; if he had a ham sandwich on a lazy Sunday afternoon, it's documented in Kubrick's notes somewhere, along with who served it and whether the crust was cut off first.  Seriously, the research is so thorough I don't even think that example is hyperbolic.

TASCHEN Books compiled and published a massive, ten volume box containing Kubrick's research (including his completed screenplay) in a limited edition release a couple years ago.  Even the $1500 price tag didn't discourage dedicated enthusiasts from buying the entire run.  TASCHEN's forthcoming re-issue is a single volume edition priced at $69.99 (Amazon has a pre-order price of $44.09).

The title, The Greatest Movie Never Made, suggests that this is intended for fans and students of Kubrick but I suspect that more than a few academics will salivate over the prospect of access to the treasure trove of information compiled by the writer/director.  Buyers also get access to an online database of nearly 17,000 photographs from Kubrick's collection.  It took Kubrick years to amass this wealth of information.  It may take most readers years to properly digest it.  Somehow, that's as it should be.

Napoleon is second only to Daniel Boone as my favorite historical figure, and I can tell you that this is near the top of my I Want This but Know I Will Likely Never Actually Pay to Own It list.

27 January 2011

"Back to the Batcave" by Adam West with Jeff Rovin

Back to the Batcave
Adam West with Jeff Rovin
Date of Publication: 1 September 1994
Date of Purchase: 28 December 2010 ($4.78 at Half Price Books)
Cover Price: $12.00
ISBN: 0-425-14370-8
257 Pages


My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In his introduction, Adam West makes clear that Back to the Batcave is "about the show, the phenomenon, the legacy, the stars and the spectacular highs and difficult lows" that accompanied being Batman from 1966 until 1968.  This isn't a full-on autobiography; West only explores other facets of his life as they pertain to providing a larger context for the meaning of the series in his life.


Fans have decried for years that the TV show was "camp," a point that West refutes throughout this book.  He makes a good case, and fans may well be surprised by how well West knows his comic books.  West's insights into the character--not the licensable property, but the actual fictitious individual Bruce Wayne/Batman--makes for particularly interesting reading.  I've read and heard quite a lot about the character over the years, and was surprised to discover something here that's more than a synthesis of previously espoused positions.


Perhaps the most interesting remark is a knock on Tim Burton's 1989 film, which bothered West because, "in the film, he destroyed those first two hoods but did nothing for the people they'd mugged."  In West's world, Batman should place the victim ahead of the perpetrator.  It's a sensibility that informed his take on the character, and is really the heart of the book.  It's a recurring theme in Back to the Batcave; West reconciling his off-screen life and choices with the values personified by his on-screen persona.  West isn't Bruce Wayne and falls short of the ideal, of course, but it's telling that he clearly wants to be as respectable as the Caped Crusader.


Those looking for a tell-all may be disappointed; he has a few harsh words for Otto Preminger but mostly the book is reverential for the cast and crew of Batman.  Allusions are made to his notorious swinging lifestyle but only occasionally and rarely in much detail.  What comes across, ultimately, is a grateful man saying thanks to a role and the impact it had on his life.


I’d highly recommend the book if for nothing else than West’s observations and studies of the character, including the elasticity of the mythos, placing the TV show on the spectrum from camp to grittiness and even some genuinely fascinating ideas he had for returning to the role later in life. Seriously, you just haven’t contemplated Batman until Adam West convinces you–citing Frank Miller, no less–that him playing an aged Batman may well have been the cat’s pajamas.

View all my reviews

24 January 2011

Wizard Magazine July 1991-January 2011

For nearly 20 years, Wizard has been "the guide to comics."  It wasn't the first print publication dedicated to the medium, but it was the one that defined readership for an entire generation.  To best appreciate Wizard, you have to do some time traveling to a period before the proliferation of PCs and Internet access in every home.  I grew up in a small town.  I've already shared about shopping at The Great Escape, and while it's true that most of my comic books were purchased there, in the early going most of my pedestrian selections were made from the meager offerings at convenience stores in our town.  Growing up, I was the only kid on my street I knew who read comic books.  Nor did I have any living relatives who were into them (my uncle shared my taste, but had passed away before I was born; I did inherit a few of his old issues, which I still have).

Alan Moore publicity photo
It was Wizard that educated me about comic books.  I could find a copy each month amongst the magazines on sale at Kroger, Walmart or one gas station or another.  Through its pages I learned the back stories to comic book characters and titles that I've still never read.  I was taught about the creators past and present responsible for the stories that captivated me.  Alan Moore will forever be defined in my mind by the publicity photograph that appeared without fail in each month's ranked list of the top ten writers.  I took vicarious delight in the annual theft of Jim Lee's bathrobe at Comic Con.  I learned about how the writers and artists of the Golden Age had been done wrong by the publishers.  Wizard instructed me in proper comic book jargon (I balk at the generic use of the term, "graphic novel" being applied to any comic book publication with an ISBN).  In short, it was my text book to the medium.


Wizard also provided one of the most meaningful elements to my time spent as an active comic book buyer and reader: it facilitated a sense of community.  Its letters column--in those days, brilliantly edited by Jim McLaughlin--compiled everything from fanboy praise to fanboy angst, all addressed with aplomb.  A stark-raving tirade would be countered with defusing humor; a sincere request would warrant an informative answer.  Creators would be directly asked questions, where applicable and if necessary.  Wizard was the high priest through whom we sinners could reach the gods.  We also got a sense of how many people out there shared our hobby.  You can feel awfully alone and even self-conscious about yourself if you're the only person you know with a particular enthusiasm, and Wizard was there to provide a supplementary reaffirmation that while we may not know anyone else in our neighborhood with a longbox full of Detective Comics back issues, we were not alone.

I could point to various reasons why I quit reading Wizard, and perhaps if enough of us had shared those reasons they could have better adapted to the times.  Suffice it to say that I simply reached a point where I didn't really enjoy comics anymore.  Ongoing crossover superhero stories became not only expensive, but uninteresting to me.  Looking back, I should have simply switched and tried other titles.  I could have been reading Bone when it was still an active book.  I can't say now why I felt the need to walk away from the industry so completely, but when I did, Wizard went with it.  By 2000, I'd gone to three successive Wizard World Chicago conventions.  I'd gotten my fill of community, and was supplementing it nicely with nascent forays into the Internet.

Wizard #70
I can't say why Wizard was so slow to embrace an online forum.  Maybe they doubted that it was relevant, or perhaps they didn't understand its potential.  It seems to me that there's still a place in the world for a periodical featuring interviews with comic book creators and thoughtful criticism of the works in print.  Unfortunately, word of mouth the last several years has been that Wizard--along with the rest of the industry--has become little more than a mouthpiece for Hollywood.  The microcosm of this relationship is still Comic Con San Diego, where the annual event has become a show room for forthcoming geek-centric movie properties; comic books are now merely one element in the synergy-minded industry.  Who needs a product catalog, when pictures of merchandise can be seen on the websites of any number of vendors?

Still, I cannot look back on my time as an active comic book reader and imagine it without Wizard.  I relished each issue, learning tidbits about characters real and imagined.  Effective immediately, Wizard has ceased to offer a print publication and is going to a digital-only format.  I sincerely wish them well with the new format, and hope that the new direction includes some of the charm and magic that once captivated me.  If the comic book industry is to survive, it needs the adolescents of this generation to be dazzled and informed and I still believe that Wizard is best suited to direct those efforts.  It would be a shame for them to fail.

20 January 2011

"She-Ra, Princess of Power" Season One, Volume 1

She-Ra, Princess of Power
Season One, Volume 1
Starring the Voice Talent of: Melendy Britt, George DiCenzo, John Erwin, Linda Gary, Alan Oppenheimer, Erika Scheimer, Erik Gunden
Written & Directed by Various
DVD Release Date: 7 November 2006
List Price: Out of Print Amazon


Wow! Of course as a viewer you have to make allowances for the limited production budget (which translates into heavily recycled material) and the writers weren't as free to be sophisticated as those of today's animation. Still, there's quite a lot to appreciate here if you're willing to overlook those elements--which, admittedly, can be a detraction. If you're into feminism and gender equality issues, anti-establishment rebellion, conflicts between nature and industry or human rights issues there's a good chance you'll find at least an episode to appreciate here (despite a general lack of subtlety). The humor is sometimes clever, sometimes absurd and often based on bad puns, but that's part of the charm.


It might also help viewers appreciate the recycled footage and music to know that those things helped keep production here in the U.S. at a time when nearly all animators had resorted to outsourcing their shows.  This all underscores how bizarre it is that a show made in Reagan's America would be so subversive, but there you have it.

As for the DVD release, Ink and Paint really did an outstanding job here.  The slipbox is designed to continue a spinal mural created on their He-Man and the Masters of the Universe releases.  If you have only their three She-Ra releases you still have a decent looking image on your shelf or you can turn the boxes the other way and display volume-specific information with a main character as you might find on a regular release.

The depicted spine features part of a mural spanning the Masters of the Universe.
Regarding the actual content, there are two lively episode commentaries, a storyboard comparison version of the first episode and a very satisfying documentary spotlighting some of the key writers (including J. Michael Straczynski!) from the show discussing their contributions to the series. (Of less interest are the 50 Character, Creature and Artifact profiles.) Disc 6 also includes some DVD-ROM goodies such as five assorted scripts, a coloring book, a comic book version of "The Secret of the Sword" and the series bible, all as .PDF files. All in all, a very satisfying DVD release for a show that had more going for it than I was afraid I would find after all these years.


If I had one complaint, it's that the first five episodes (collectively, "The Secret of the Sword") are presented as individual episodes the way they were broadcast on TV. I'd have preferred the singular, theatrical cut (yes, it was actually shown in theaters; my mom took my brother and me to see it as kids!). I understand that cut is on The Best of She-Ra, Princess of Power compilation release, but it would have been nice here.


This specific release is out of print, though another company now has the rights and has just begun to reissue this series on DVD.  If you can find the three volumes released by Ink and Paint, I think you'll find them well worth the trouble and cost.  We found all three at Half Price Books for $14.98 apiece little more than a year ago, and I've seen them there occasionally since.  It would be well worth taking the time to look.

17 January 2011

Playlist: Childhood Years

Last year I went through and compiled five playlists of music, each meant to capture a specific era of my life.  This is the first of the five, Childhood Years.  It roughly covers the mid- to late-80s.  Mom drove a Ford Fairmont during those years.  It had a radio, but not a cassette player so we supplemented with a portable tape deck.  The modern equivalent would be using portable speakers to play your iPod instead of connecting it, I suppose.  Anyway, here's the annotated playlist.

"The Touch" by Stan Bush - The very first time I owned music of my own was when Mom surprised me with the Transformers: The Movie soundtrack on cassette.  This wasn't the main title, but it really is the song everyone thinks of when discussing this release.  Mom indulged me and actually found herself enjoying both this as well as "Dare," Bush's other contribution to the soundtrack.

"Honky Tonk Man" by Dwight Yoakam - I'll always remember my brother camping out in front of the TV, waiting for the music video to this to come on so he could blast it as loud as Mom would let him.

"Little Deuce Coupe" by The Beach Boys - Mom loved the Beach Boys, and what better song to remember singing along with while driving?

"Chantilly Lace" by The Big Bopper - In those days, Mom's favorite radio station was WRKA, 103.1 FM, which played oldies tunes from the 50s-early 70s.  I could have picked any number of standards from their rotation, but this was a particular standout because of the vocal range displayed by the Big Bopper.

"Sherry" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - One of the few tapes we owned and played often included a hits compilation from the famed Jersey act.  This was one of my brother's favorites.

"In the Ghetto" by Elvis Presley - I'm sure WRKA played other Elvis hits, but this is the one I always think of them playing.  Preachy?  Maybe, but it still kills me.

"The Wanderer" by Dion - Another WRKA staple.  Eddie Rabbitt covered it around that time, too, and I could easily have gone with his version here.  You can't really go wrong either way.

"Scooby Doo" by Hoyt Curtin & Singers - Yes, the theme song from Scooby-Doo needed to be on my childhood playlist.  No, I don't care what you think about that.

"Billy Does Your Bulldog Bite" by Sawyer Brown - Did you see what I did there?  I followed "Scooby Doo" with another dog-centric song.  This one was from Sawyer Brown's Shakin' album, another title in our tape library and a favorite of my brother's.  This was his favorite, largely because it was about a guy having to negotiate with a young boy and his dog.

"Nobody" by Sylvia - I can't really place this one in context.  I'm all but certain we didn't have any of Sylvia's music on tape, but maybe we did.  Regardless, this is one of the first songs I think of when I reminisce about music from my childhood.

"Brass Monkey" by Beastie Boys - My older half-brother played this quite a bit.  I liked it because it was as fun as it was stupid.  Still do.

"Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr. - I rarely went to Champs, the local skating rink, but this was one of the most frequently played tunes there.  In fact, I think of roller skating more quickly than I think of the movie when I hear this.  I'm still no good at skating.

"Book of Love" by The Monotones - Another WRKA staple.  I can't say I understand my infatuation with the song but I have yet to tire of it.

"Who's Cheatin' Who" by Charly McClain - First things first: so far as I know, we're not related at all.  Secondly, this is one of my "misheard lyrics" songs; I could have sworn that the line is, "It makes you wonder who's doin' right with someone tonight/and whose dog is barkin' next door."  I felt better about my confusion years later when I made friends with someone else who made that mistake.

"Batdance" by Prince - Chronologically, this should probably have ended this playlist because Batman really marked the transition from childhood to a new era for me.  That aside, I like Prince's funkiness following a country cheatin' song for some reason so here it is.

"Daniel Boone" by The Imperials - I can't even say now I recall how I was first introduced to Daniel Boone, but he's been a hero of mine since childhood.  I gorged on reruns of the TV series starring Fess Parker, knowing even then how historically inaccurate the show was.  I didn't care; it was fun, and that's all I expected from a TV show.  I could find the truth elsewhere, which I have.

"House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals - I was entirely unaware how old this song really was until I bought Waylon Live on CD and saw the songwriting credit read, "Traditional."  I'll always think of the Animals's version first, thanks once more to WRKA.

"Send My Body" by Randy Travis - Storms of Life is one of the greatest albums ever recorded.  You need to know this.  I could have included all ten songs from that here and not felt I'd gone overboard.  I selected "Send My Body" particularly because I always think of Adam singing along with it because it included the line, "My mama was a damn hard workin' woman" and he got away with saying "the D word" because it was in the song.  He sang as loud as he could on that line.

"Blueberry Hill" by Fats Domino - Back to WRKA.  I always think of lazy summer Sunday afternoon drives when I hear this one.

"I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World" by Ronnie Milsap - Milsap was another of Mom's favorite artists. I don't recall now which tape(s) of his we owned, but we played his music quite a lot.  This one was a favorite of mine even at the time, and I thought it a fitting look back on my childhood.

"Flying" (from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial) by John Williams - I chose to end the era-specific playlists with a selection from a movie score and for my childhood I went with a piece from E.T., which is the first movie I can recall being taken to see in a theater.  Mom had a panic attack, though I didn't really comprehend that's what was going on at the time.  The movie still has the ability to affect me, even though I can see how Spielberg is manipulating me and I know what's coming.  It's actually a lot like my childhood: I knew how everyone around me actually had power over me and all I could do was choose how to follow their lead.

So, there's the music my childhood.  I'm not sure what you're supposed to do with this information.  You're welcome to share your own childhood-themed playlists (though if you're going to go to the trouble you'll probably prefer to just post them on your own blog or make a Facebook note).

06 January 2011

This Post Brought to You by the Letter D

About a year ago I began experiencing dizziness and headaches.  When they escalated to the point that my vision was altered (I saw our silver DirecTV box as purple), I knew it was time to do something.  Lo and behold, my vitamin D levels were atrocious: less than 6ng/mL.  (It's recommended that your minimum level be 100 ng/mL.)  In case you're wondering how it got that low, I'll tell you.

You get vitamin D from two primary sources.  Firstly, from your dietary intake.  Now, in my case I've got to be careful about too much dairy.  The last thing a guy with a digestive disease needs is to exacerbate his woes with the binding power of cheese, you know?  On top of this, one of the myriad ways in which Crohn's disease makes my life peachy is by impairing my ability to absorb nutrients properly.  So, between taking in a conservative amount of D-heavy foods in the first place and then not getting out of them all that I should, I'm behind the 8-ball.

Sunlight is the other chief source of vitamin D.  I try to get outside, but during the winter my steroids-ravaged bones hurt entirely too much to be exposed to the cold.  This past summer was unpleasant, as well.  It seemed the only days where it didn't hurt to breathe from the heat were the days when it was overcast and threatened to rain at a moment's notice (thought it scarcely did).

I was therefore prescribed a supplement of vitamin D.  No big deal, just take some pills every Friday.  The last couple of months, though, I've felt it not lasting as long.  At the peak of performance, I could make it to Thursday before beginning to feel the need for replenishment.  Around Thanksgiving, I was at the point where I stopped feeling the boost on Tuesdays.  As of a week ago, the supplements only seemed to help for a day or two.  On Monday (3 January) I was re-tested.  My level?  20.x ng/mL.  Better than 5.x, but still a far cry from 100.  We're upping my supplementary intake to 50k units weekly.  Hopefully that'll do the trick.

In case you're wondering whether your vitamin D level might be low, here are the symptoms I personally experienced:

increased fatigue (which is saying something, because I'm rarely energetic)
frequent, abrupt dizziness/feeling lightheaded
difficulty concentrating, especially on text-based content (i.e., reading)
altered and/or blurry vision

If you notice these things about yourself for a sustained period of time, and especially if your dairy intake is already low (perhaps you're lactose intolerant) or if you don't see much sunshine (spend a lot of time at the office under florescent lights instead of the sun), then it might be time to see a physician.  Treatment is inexpensive and easy, so there's really no reason to resist addressing the problem.

04 January 2011

Reflecting on "Eyes Wide Shut"

CRUISE
KIDMAN
KUBRICK
EYES WIDE SHUT


This was the first big post-Phantom Menace release of 1999.  Cinephiles were drawn to the fact it was the final movie from Stanley Kubrick; everyone else was supposed to respond to the fact it starred then-married Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  The trailer and TV spots, set to Chris Isaak's "Baby Did a Bad Thing," played up the eroticism.  I was in Chicago with friends, and we decided to go see it on 17 July at Northbrook Court Cinema.  When it was over, I felt I had just seen soft porn masquerading as art.  I felt deceived and cheated, and suspected that if the name Kubrick had not been attached the industry would have shunned it entirely.

Some time later, it was available on pay-per-view and I felt it worth revisiting.  Maybe I'd missed something.  I like second viewings as a rule, because now I'm not trying to see whether a movie lives up to the way it was depicted in its trailer.  Now I know how the movie actually is, and can pay more attention to the little things.  I was 20 at the time I first saw the movie.  At that time, and for most of the time afterwards, my romantic relationships were few and short-lived.  I bought the "Kubrick Collection" DVD release in 2006 and watched it with my wife.

What I found was that now, Tom Cruise's performance was captivating.  I had something then that I hadn't had in previous viewings: something to lose.  There's a shot of him walking on the sidewalk and he slams his fist into his hand in frustration.  Intellectually, I had previously comprehended the reason for that, but now I felt it.  I couldn't imagine being told by my wife that she had been thisclose to walking right on out of my life to indulge a lustful whim.  I'm not saying that Cruise's performance can only be appreciated by those who have been in deep, meaningful relationships.  I'm saying that's what it took for me to "get" it.

Once that layer of the movie was revealed to me, I began to discover all kinds of things.  The use of color, for instance.  Notice the next time you see the movie--or even just stills taken from it--the use of blues and reds.  Look at everything from the color of walls and doors in specific shots to the tone of lighting in a given scene.  Consider, when viewing the poster campaign, that purple is the product of blue and red.  Another obvious subtlety that I'll offer you:  Early in the movie, Bill (Cruise) is accosted by two young women at a party.  When he finally asks where they're going, he is told, "Where the rainbow ends."  Later, when he goes to rent a costume in the middle of the night, you might notice that the establishment is Rainbow Fashions.

Screenplay and source material.
In 2009 I bought a translation of Arthur Schnitzler's "Traumnovelle" ("Dream Story"), the short story that inspired the movie.  I read it (reviewed here), and learned new insights.  For instance, it was Schnitzler who first established some of the uses of the color red in the story.  Later I found a trade paperback that included both "Dream Story" and the screenplay for the movie.  I re-read "Dream Story," finding yet new small details.  I upgraded to the Two-Disc Special Edition DVD, which removed the CGI people created to obscure some of the sexuality (in order to earn an "R" rating), restoring the film to Kubrick's final cut.  I'm disappointed that much of the bonus material covers Kubrick at large, rather than this film specifically, though there are interviews with Cruise and Kidman filmed at the time of the film's release that are interesting.  Steven Spielberg is also interviewed, though his remarks are more about Kubrick than Eyes.  I have since upgraded to the Blu-ray Disc release.  Its content is identical to the Special Edition DVD, though of course the feature is presented in high definition.

I cannot say that your experience will mirror mine.  You may "get" it on your first viewing.  You may never respond favorably to it.  All I can say is that I had to reach a certain point of maturity before I was able to really see the artistry of Eyes Wide Shut, and that it took me several viewings as well.  Whatever your initial reaction is or was, I suggest returning to it later.  Don't schedule it, don't rush it.  Swirl it around in the glass, let it breathe.  Let it set on your palate for a bit, and then clear it.  Come back to taste it again later, and see what the exposure to air has done for the taste.  It may surprise you.