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Strangelove), telling us that prostitution is the basic, defining transaction of our society.

It is also, more importantly, a key to understanding the film, suggesting that we ought to interpret it sociologically--not as most reviewers insisted on doing, psychologically.

The Harfords are what we think of, uncritically, as "nice" people--that is to say, attractive and well-educated, a couple who collect art and listen to Shostakovitch.

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[5] The Harfords' standard of living raises questions about their money, and where it comes from--from Bill's sparsely scheduled private practice, or the sorts of under-the-table services we see rendered upstairs at the party? Harford is on call to that class of person who can afford not to wait in emergency rooms or die in hospitals--people like his friend Victor Ziegler, whose name denotes him as one of the world's winners.Kubrick was old and out of touch with today's jaded sensibilities, they said.The film's sexual mores and taboos, transplanted straight out of Arthur Schnitzler's fin-de-siecle Vienna--jealousy over dreams and fantasies, guilt-ridden visits to prostitutes, a strained discussion of an HIV test that echoes the old social terror of syphilis--seemed quaint and naive by the standards of the sordid year 1999.Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times tells us that Kubrick "never paid much attention to the psychology of characters, much less relationships between men and women," and in fact "spent his career ignoring (or avoiding) the inner lives of people, their private dreams and frustrations." [1] Unable to imagine what other subjects there could be, she, like so many critics before her, shrugs him off as obsessed with mere technique.She is, first of all, wrong; Kubrick examines his characters' inner lives through imagery, not dialogue; as he said, "scenes of people talking about themselves are often very dull." [2] (It could be argued that almost all of this film takes place inside Bill Harford's head.) Secondly, and more importantly, she misses the point: Kubrick's films are never only about individuals (sometimes, as in the case of 2001, they hardly contain any); they are always about Man, about civilization and history.

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