Monday, February 27, 2017

Movie Review: "A Clockwork Orange" (1971)

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Movie"A Clockwork Orange"
Year Nominated: 1972
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 16 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

A young hoodlum convicted of murder is subjected to an experiment in prison that conditions him to have a physical aversion to violence.

"A Clockwork Orange" is written and directed by legendary director Stanley Kubrick, whose past works include "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" and "The Shining." The film is based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess. It stars Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge, the leader of a gang of juvenile delinquent hoodlums who spend their nights drinking "moloko (milk) plus" and engaging in the old "ultra violence." This includes beating up old homeless men, getting into rumbles with rival gangs, stealing cars, breaking into homes, and raping women. Eventually, Alex's luck runs out and he is caught after attacking a woman with a sculpture of a giant penis. He is sentenced to 14 years in prison, but in order to get out early, he volunteers for an experiment that's developed to make him a good person by giving him physical aversions to any and all violent acts.

"A Clockwork Orange" is a psychological crime drama with some sci-fi elements in that it takes place in the future. Well, at least the future from when the movie was made and from when the book was written. There are many cool visuals here, including the costumes of Alex and his 'droogs' (friends), which consist of white button up shirts, white slacks with suspenders, a cod piece, and a black bowler hat. Other interesting looks come from the set of the milk bar and the crazy, sexual statue that dispenses milk, some of the homes they rob and plunder, and various stores in their futuristic town. The dialogue found in the movie can be quite hard to follow as the principal characters speak in a type of slang known as Nadsat, with words like 'appy polly loggy,' 'bitva,' 'fashed,' and 'yarbles.' Though this language can be confusing, viewers will start to pick up meanings through context, and luckily, we found a handy guide at one point telling us what words and phrases meant (we've seen the film a few times, so it didn't take anything away from it to check on a word or two).

The film deals with themes like free will, classic conditioning, and what it truly means to be a "good," moral individual. It's interesting to note that Alex is forced to be a good person due to conditioning and not by choice, so it begs the question: is he good at all? Kubrick's direction of this hefty subject is fantastic as each shot is meticulously chosen for ultimate impact. Though a terrible person at the start, Malcolm McDowell puts on quite the memorable, now iconic performance as the charming, intelligent, psychopathic Alex DeLarge, a character many will hate on principle because of how awful he is. "A Clockwork Orange" wound up being nominated for four Academy Awards including best picture, best director, best film editing, and best adapted screenplay, and though it didn't win any Oscars, its place in the ranks of the best in cinema's history have been well established. We very much enjoy this movie, but be warned, it is very violent and very controversial.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
Last Oscar season, we were watching: "Avatar"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching: "The Greatest Show on Earth"

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