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January 10, 2015


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Lee Behlman

Wonderful stuff. Thank you.


R.I.P. Anita Ekberg -- I got the new release of 'La Dolce Vita' only the other month.

Grant L

Clockwork is the only Kubrick that's diminished for me - can't bring myself to watch the rape scene any more, so I just don't watch the film at all. Though my reasons are complex, a big part of it my feeling that, as you allude to above, Kubrick got lost and forgot that when you choose to do a ride-along with evil you better take care not to get seduced.


About CLOCKWORK, I was not all that impressed with it when I first saw it more than two decades ago. And if one had to choose a contemporary negative review of Kubrick that stands the test of time, instead of revealing the reviewer's limitations, it would be heard to think of a better choice that Kael's. But re-seeing it does bring out some of Kubrick's virtues. What strikes me is that after Alex brutally disciplines his droogs in what he thinks he is a brilliant stroke of preemptive aggression, his friends betray him the first chance he get. Which, in retrospect, is what any reasonable person would predict. This, I would suggest, is the sign that for all of Alex/MacDowell's charisma, Kubrick isn't seduced.

I think one problem with the movie is Burgess' fault. We're supposed to have these utterly fallen and degenerate and presumably quite ignorant working class thugs, and yet the protagonist speaks like Vladimir Nabokov on coke. If you want to denounce the failure of mass education, don't have your main character chat in elaborate multilingual puns. Anthony Burgess was a Tory, and not a stupid tory, and it's understandable to view Eden/MacMillian/Heath Tories as better than the McCarthyite/segregationists who would make up the core of NATIONAL REVIEW. But it was Burgess who thought the lower orders were so sympathetic to socialism, or so absorbed into socialism, they would actually speak the language of Molotov and Brezhnev. This was an ill thought out partisan impulse and the incoherence it causes in Burgess' fault. (This muddled bilingualism reminds me that the most famous example of Spanish American comes from an Austrian actor playing an inhuman robot directed by a Canadian.)

Jason Michelitch

I always thought Lee took the rolling-walk from Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast.

Glenn Kenny

Ha! There's that too...just goes to show...and I imagine Bava saw that as well.


Isn't there a rolling walk in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as well (and Demy must have surely got it from Cocteau)?

Clayton Sutherland

"I think one problem with the movie is Burgess' fault. We're supposed to have these utterly fallen and degenerate and presumably quite ignorant working class thugs, and yet the protagonist speaks like Vladimir Nabokov on coke. If you want to denounce the failure of mass education, don't have your main character chat in elaborate multilingual puns."

Is the movie (as opposed to the book) actually about "the failure of mass education"? I always thought it was more about youth entitlement. Alex is pretty much a spoiled brat, who whimpers and fusses when he realizes his parents have no longer kept a place for him in his absence. Much of his dialogue is elaborate, while at the same time kind of gibberish. But he's also, seemingly, self-educated, at least when it comes to music and art. I've always found the dialogue to be one of the primary pleasures of the film: in a hyper-stylized environment, I certainly don't demand that it jibe with reality.

Yeah, Clockwork, 2001, and Strangelove are, to me, the three most interesting films Kubrick ever made. Not as keen on Lolita; Sellers grates for me there just as Jim Carrey irritates others in his more mainstream comedies.

Henry Holland

I'm a big Kubrick fan, for me his most interesting films are "Paths of Glory", "Doctor Strangelove", "2001" and "The Shining". I like "Barry Lyndon" a lot but concede it could easily lose 1/2 hour of its runtime. I don't like "Lolita" or "Full Metal Jacket" and think "Eyes Wide Shut" is a not-very-good movie. For "Spartacus" he was a hired hand (the last time that happened), but I think his "The Killing" is a really terrific movie.

He also had a few projects that he never made: he worked for years on a Napoleon movie that never got beyond the script stage and a Holocaust-themed movie. Most interesting to me, he worked for over 20 years on "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" but handed it off to Spielberg, who did a great job IMO. And yes, the sappy ending was Kubrick, not Spielberg.


I hate to get into meanings, especially when a director so faithfully reproduces what was in a book. Not that Kubrick's treatment of A Clockwork Orange, at least the part he kept in (I'm sure you all know that he didn't film the last chapter, which significantly changed the takeaway from the book), was totally faithful, but it was pretty close as film adaptations of books go.

But the structure of the book/script requires the early scenes of brutality so Alex can be be paid back for them, one by one, in the second act. That "what goes around, comes around," I always thought was the main "message" of the work, at least concerning individual acts of violence. The third act was more concerned with violence perpetrated by the state and the "good" people in society.

I think that by using cartoonish violence and glib narrative to get the viewer to like the perpetrator in the early part of the film makes the latter part all the more powerful when the moral stakes become more real.

And ultimately, A Clockwork Orange is a work of art, not a sermon. If it were a sermon, we wouldn't be having this conversation because Kubrick wouldn't have made it someone else did, no one would watch it,


Sorry, got the second and third acts confused, but point remains about the what goes around comes around structure making those early bits of the old ultra-violence necessary.

Erich Kuersten

Nice bro - oneiric - I'm going to start using that word from now on. I thought it meant vaguely like masturbation. But it doesn't, does it? And what IS up with Kubrick and breasts? Is it the stereophonic aspect, the compositional opportunities? And you're right about Rules of the Game - it's swell, but then again who wants swell on the desert island? Unless you're an ever-shrugging French aristocrat, it's a bit too much. Even my ex-Parisian girlfriend got irritated with the tolerance towards brutality on display - and we saw it at the Film Forum, oooh - big bourgeoisie moment, with her New Yorker jutting pointedly from.... bag. I get it. I get it, I took the Back to basics best-of journey along the avenues of Hawks, mainly, though - the Wayne western 'trilogy' - the Bogie -Bacall duo, and the Cary Grant in comical gaucho hat. It helped to be going through a serious nervous breakdown at the time, because Hawks' groups only work when death is near, that old Hurrah for the Next who Dies. And hurrah for you Glenn

Reva Amelia Sifani

story is very touching, very inspiring

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