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Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well.
January 28, 2008 6:05 AM   Subscribe

The Return of a Clockwork Orange - Writers, artists, directors, UK film censors and starring actor Malcolm McDowell discuss Stanley Kubrick's classic film A Clockwork Orange
posted by Blazecock Pileon (121 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
fantastic. Thanks for posting this.
posted by MrMerlot at 6:17 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


McDowell is a smart guy. His commentary tracks on the recent Clockwork Orange and Caligula DVDs are two of the best I've ever heard.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:32 AM on January 28, 2008


It's amazing to think that the director of A Clockwork Orange could be responsile for something as reprehensibly ghastly as Eyes Wide Open.
posted by mattoxic at 6:45 AM on January 28, 2008


Great great great. This Kubrick worshipper thanks you, BP.

And I think you mean Shut, there, mattoxic.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:47 AM on January 28, 2008


Malcolm McDowell! Hey, man, I loved you on "Heroes" and "The New Fantasy Island" and as, um, a voice on the "Teen Titans" cartoon...

...Dude. What in the hell happened?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:53 AM on January 28, 2008


Awesome post!
We had an "Art of Cinema" class in high school (it was the 70's, after all) and we all actually managed to get our parent's permission to go on a "field trip" to see A Clockwork Orange. Quite a film for a lad of 17 to see.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:04 AM on January 28, 2008


I saw A Clockwork Orange on stage, in the round, in a small theater in DC. Man, that was heavy--it's really upsetting, and really hard not to intervene, when you see a violent rape scene taking place, live, of course, just a few feet away.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:15 AM on January 28, 2008


He autographed my wife's DVD of Star Trek: Generations, but he didn't seem happy about it. I can only imagine what he would have done if I had handed him a copy of Tank Girl.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:45 AM on January 28, 2008


I can't wait to meet this guy next month!!!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:47 AM on January 28, 2008


I loved the book, but couldn't stand the Kubrick movie for some reason.

Then again, of the three Kubrick films I've seen (The Shining, 2001, and Clockwork Orange), I only found The Shining tolerable, and that because of the actors themselves, so maybe I just don't get Kubrick.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:17 AM on January 28, 2008


maybe I just don't get Kubrick

He's no Lyndsay Anderson, that's for sure.

I remember seeing it on release and being astounded by how good I thought it was. (Granted, I was about 13 at the time, but I'd loved the book and there were some great scenes and some great art direction in the movie.)

Then it was withdrawn from circulation, and I yearned to see it again for thirty years. When it was re-released here after his death and I first caught it, I couldn't believe how dated and trite it seemed.

Unlike If, which is just as great as the day it was made.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:31 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


No one mentions the most important aspect of the film - it's critique of behaviourism. Kubrick works hand in glove with Chomsy to destroy it.
posted by milkwood at 8:34 AM on January 28, 2008


It's amazing to think that the director of A Clockwork Orange could be responsile for something as reprehensibly ghastly as Eyes Wide Open.
posted by mattoxic


But then he turns around and makes Eyes Wide Shut--a great, but misunderstood film about masks. Subtle films are not for everybody.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:39 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I once read somewhere that The Rolling Stones were tied to the script (owned it at some point) and they were set to star in it.
posted by punkfloyd at 8:41 AM on January 28, 2008


It's amazing to think that the director of A Clockwork Orange could be responsile for something as reprehensibly ghastly as Eyes Wide Open.

I'd take Eyes Wide Shut over A Clockwork Orange any day of the week.
posted by dobbs at 8:42 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well Viddied. Horrorshow.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:52 AM on January 28, 2008


Thanks so much for posting this!

Without a doubt, my favorite Kubrick film, in no small part due to the masterful Wendy Carlos soundtrack, which has definitely withstood the test of time. It's interesting to see the comments here, comparing this masterpiece to Eyes Wide Shut, which by comparison, has an absolutely dreadful, unimaginative soundtrack. If only Kubrick had ended his life with a film anywhere near as powerful as Clockwork Orange... instead of a Tom Cruise vehicle, for crying out loud.

I saw "No Country for Old Men" last week, and to compare the gratuitous violence in that film, with the purposeful violence in Clockwork Orange, is quite instructive and revealing.
posted by dbiedny at 8:56 AM on January 28, 2008


I'm interested in watching this when I have time, but I thought Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange was crap, personally. What good in the movie is the good of the book that managed to leak through the brightly colored dick-festooned prison Kubrick built for it.

Alex's relationship with Beethoven, how it was constantly a weapon that he weilded to hurt others, and was eventually used to hurt him back? The part where he actually rapes the two 11 year old girls from the record store? The explanation of what "A Clockwork Orange" actually refers to, and how it plays out as a great irony in terms of what actually happens in the fucking story? The last chapter where he grows the fuck up? BAH Who needs all that! More dicks and tits plz!

I know I'm alone in this, I accept it and stand by it.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:57 AM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


I saw "No Country for Old Men" last week, and to compare the gratuitous violence in that film, with the purposeful violence in Clockwork Orange, is quite instructive and revealing.

Besides your (clearly) lack of understanding of No Country (a far deeper and more thoughtful film than Clockwork), I'm curious what was revealed.

/filmsnob
posted by dobbs at 9:04 AM on January 28, 2008


Andy Warhol's Vinyl is a much better film.
posted by goatdog at 9:07 AM on January 28, 2008


I'd prefer If, or O Lucky Man, meself...
posted by stenseng at 9:08 AM on January 28, 2008


I'm fairly convinced that every time I link to a film on google video that I end up seeing a link to a 9/11 conspiracy film.
posted by parmanparman at 9:10 AM on January 28, 2008


Also here to voice my support for Eyes Wide Shut, which I think was an absolute masterpiece. But it is deliberately infuriating, starting with its promotional campaign, designed by Kubrick, which made it seem like the film would be softcore porn starring Tom Cruise and a naked Nicole Kidman.

The structure of the film is really quite interesting. Incensed by his wife's fantasy of an affair, Tom Cruise sets off on the longest and least successful booty call in the history of cinema, despite the fact that everyone he meets responds to him, for better or worse, in a sexual way (the Yalies attack him as a homosexual; Alan Cumming flirts with him outrageously).

The next day, he revisits each of the sites of his last night's sexual misadventures, only to discover them radically revised, becoming at once weirder and sadder than they seemed on first blush.

It's really a great film, and I keep waiting for its greatness to be discovered by critics at large.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:12 AM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, dobbs, it seemed to me - as well as my 70 year old buddy who went to see it with me - that NCFOM reflects the idea that character studies are more important than plot in many of today's movies. The Bardem character was the only one I found even vaguely interesting, due to how over the top he came across, and Bardem's portrayal (the look in his eyes in particular). Yeah, he's a robot, he moves like one, he's a killing machine, yeah, I get that loud and clear. The rest of the people in the movie are of absolutely no interest to me - I don't care whether they live or die - and the ending, well, I know this will piss you off, but I instantly thought of "Penn and Teller Get Killed". I did not relate to - nor have any kind of emotional involvement with - anyone in the film. What was the point? What's the message? I don't get it.

I know that there are diehard Coen Bros fans who find this to be their best film, but I'll stick with The Big Lebowski. To each their own, what can I say?

I would ask you (and I'm not being sarcastic), what is the great wonder and accomplishment of NCFOM that I'm missing? Please educate me.
posted by dbiedny at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


This was an important film, love it or hate it. See how passionately we still debate this film decades later.
posted by Mister_A at 9:34 AM on January 28, 2008


...of the three Kubrick films I've seen (The Shining, 2001, and Clockwork Orange), I only found The Shining tolerable, and that because of the actors themselves, so maybe I just don't get Kubrick.

Pope Guilty, give Dr. Strangelove a chance. Best of the bunch by far. I didn't care for The Shining, finding it far less riveting than King's book; Clockwork has not dated well and is again much inferior to the book (sensing a trend here?) despite McDowell's wonderful performance... but 2001 is, yes, one of my favorite films. And better than the book!

I once stayed in NYC's Chelsea Hotel in the same room in which Clarke wrote the screenplay. Or so I was told by the manager.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:42 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, I agree with my pseudo-simian colleague; Dr. Strangelove is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Also, Full Metal Jacket is not to be missed.
posted by Mister_A at 9:51 AM on January 28, 2008


Count me in the chorus singing No Country's (and Eyes Wide Shut's) praises over Clockwork. You didn't get the message at the end of NCFOM? That there is absolutely no hope for anyone, anywhere? Easily one of the bleakest endings of a film I've seen in years, possibly ever. Sure, other movies end on a bleak note, but not on such a global scale coming from a relatively small setting.
posted by item at 9:52 AM on January 28, 2008


Pope Guilty, Kubrick made one of the best pieces of noir to come out of the 50's with the Killing. It's my personal favorite work of his and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
posted by item at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2008


I'm still a big fan of Full Metal Jacket, myself. Many of the good Kubrick films are very uneven (I love the depraved part of Clockwork, but they movie drags in many places; the last fifteen hours of 2001 haven't aged well), and the first half of Full Metal Jacket is a true work of art. The culture has pretty much absorbed Lee Ermy by now, but that was a radical performance.

Another underrated Kubrick movie is The Killing, which isn't very Kubricky, but Jim Thompson worked on the script, which makes it goddamn awesome.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:57 AM on January 28, 2008


Damn it, I previewed.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:59 AM on January 28, 2008


i am going to NetFlix The Killing right now. Yes, I used "Netflix" as a verb, so sue me.
posted by Mister_A at 10:04 AM on January 28, 2008


Well, I saw A Clockwork Orange as a teenager, and it's still one of my favorite films.

But, it's a comedy - it's the blackest, blackest satire ever made, perhaps. I think it's pretty funny.

The ultraviolence is cartoonish, and the film has a logic all it's own, but I think the structure is fascinating, and Kubrick's direction is first rate.

Just look at his coverage. One of the things that's interesting in looking at it, as opposed to contemporary cinema, is how few shots there are. The first scene is one shot. The second scene is two setups, and three shots, etc. etc. The mise en scene is formidable.

But you have to let the film wash over you, and allow yourself to find it funny. I know I've discussed this film with others before who didn't get that the film is a comedy. The violence gets in the way for them.

But for me, I found the violence in A Clockwork Orange far less objectionable to other recent examples of cartoonish violence - Sin City, for example. I found the violence there far more difficult to take.

And No Country For Old Men shares a certain nihilism with A Clockwork Orange, but for my money, the Cohens are far better film makers when they're making comedy.
posted by MythMaker at 10:06 AM on January 28, 2008


Interesting.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:13 AM on January 28, 2008


I sit here considering the list of fine cinematic juggernauts discussed thus far: A Clockwork Orange, 2001, the Shining, No Country for Old Men, Dr Strangelove, and even Eyes Wide Shut, and I have to ask the really important question:

Why would anyone be ashamed of Tank Girl?
posted by quin at 10:20 AM on January 28, 2008


Read the book. Seriously. The movie is not a good adaptation considering how good the book is.

How do I know? Neither is satirical in any way. Neither is comic in any way. The movie fails to make this clear perhaps.

I'm riveted by the idea of a stage production.
posted by ewkpates at 10:20 AM on January 28, 2008


So many people seem to be missing quite how much No Country for Old Men is about morality...
I guess Clockwork Orange has been discussed so much that most everyone knows what it's doing.
posted by opsin at 10:27 AM on January 28, 2008


A Clockwork Orange and others
posted by hortense at 10:33 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I always considered Clockwork a comedy/satire too. But that had a lot to do with reading this first.
posted by Cedric at 10:40 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've attempted to watch 2001 dozens of times. Each attempt results in almost immediate sleep. It's like it was designed to do that. Only by cutting it into sensible bites was I able to see the whole thing. (I'd recommend THX 1138 as a suitable substitute, if only George Lucas hadn't digitally ruined it -- I wonder how he'll "improve" American Graffiti.)

But I still say A Space Odyssey is better than Eyes Wide Shut. Although, come to think of it, maybe EWS had something to do with you-know-who and his association with a certain science fiction writer's fan club? I might have to watch it again with that in mind.

As for A Clockwork Orange: Yes, the book is better. Duh. The film was still pretty damn great, though.

Oh, and The Shining is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Shelley Duvall is a genius.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2008


Also check out Funeral Parade of Roses which served as cinematic inspiration to Kubrick during the making of Clockwork Orange. Its a truly transgressive and provocative film experience.
posted by cazoo at 10:49 AM on January 28, 2008


Shameless I know, but I was fortunate enough to attend a Academy/BFI Celebration of Stan The Man event at London's Southbank last November. The fact that one of Kubrick's daughters Katarina took the time to comment on my modest little post made my 2007....
posted by Mintyblonde at 10:53 AM on January 28, 2008


ewkpates - perhaps the book isn't intended as a satire, but I will respectfully disagree with you and argue that the film certainly is.

Watch the original trailer.

I'd like to point out that Kubrick himself supervised this trailer.

What are the words that Kubrick is inserting into the trailer to describe it?

witty, funny, satiric, musical, exciting, bizarre, political, thrilling, frightening, metaphorical, comic, sardonic, beethoven

Of these, witty, funny, satiric, comic and sardonic all suggest to me that Kubrick's intention was black comedy.

And I take it that way. It doesn't have to be funny to you, but look at Strangelove, Kubrick's sense of humor is very black.

Plus, let's not forget Kubrick's original intention with this film. He was coming off of 2001, which took forever to make and cost a huge amount of money. A Clockwork Orange was done as a low budget film for him. He was trying to do something a little simpler. I think the film is a masterpiece.
posted by MythMaker at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2008


Why would anyone be ashamed of Tank Girl?

Yes, there's nothing at all ridiculous about Ice T dressed as a kangaroo.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2008


I had a hunch that the older woman critic was full of shit when she reminded me so much of my art history professor. My suspicions were confirmed when she said "Feminists brief with Clockwork Orange is..."
posted by odinsdream at 11:15 AM on January 28, 2008


Of these, witty, funny, satiric, comic and sardonic all suggest to me that Kubrick's intention was black comedy.

I thought that most if not all of his movies were black comedies.
posted by octothorpe at 11:22 AM on January 28, 2008


Wait - Kubrick directed Tank Girl ?

*ducks*
posted by Mister_A at 11:23 AM on January 28, 2008


I'm just here to log my vote for "Paths Of Glory" as Kubrick's best film. Relatively straightforward, but flawless.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:24 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


You didn't get the message at the end of NCFOM? That there is absolutely no hope for anyone, anywhere? Easily one of the bleakest endings of a film I've seen in years, possibly ever.

And that proves it's a masterpiece how exactly?
posted by languagehat at 11:24 AM on January 28, 2008


Please show me where I called it a masterpiece.
posted by item at 11:48 AM on January 28, 2008


Oh yea, card cheat, that was pretty great. I just saw it a couple of months ago for the first time ever, very impressive.
posted by Mister_A at 11:55 AM on January 28, 2008


Please show me where I called it a masterpiece.

Oh, excuse me, I thought because the part I quoted came directly after:

Count me in the chorus singing No Country's (and Eyes Wide Shut's) praises over Clockwork.

...that it was meant to support the idea that the movie was excellent. I didn't realize it was just a random remark with no connection to what preceded it. Silly me.
posted by languagehat at 12:16 PM on January 28, 2008


You didn't get the message at the end of NCFOM? That there is absolutely no hope for anyone, anywhere?

For this nugget of nonsense, I paid $10? Yeesh!

I'll take the ferret-wielding nihilists from TBL over NCFOM any day...
posted by dbiedny at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2008


Yes, there's nothing at all ridiculous about Ice T dressed as a kangaroo.

Exactly.

And Citizen Kane gets all the accolades, it's a travesty I tell you.
posted by quin at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2008


Just because I like one movie better than another doesn't mean I think it's a masterpiece, languagehat. Give it a rest.
posted by item at 12:38 PM on January 28, 2008


Clockwork is not Eyes Wide Shut, neither is the Big Lebowski NCFOM, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, Dr. Strangelove or The bleedin' Sound of Music. Just as a Mondrian was never meant to be interpreted as competetive with Gericault or Magritte, Clockwork is not really comparable to the others in any absolute sense like I seem to be hearing here. To extrapolate one person's subjective experience in some heuristic of ranking is an undeveloped way of looking at it. On its own merits Clockwork is a singular work. This post is great because of the 'I handn't though of that' factor in regards to one of my favorite films. But the I like 'x better than y' isn't adding anything to the real discussion.

I like the way Groucho put it: "Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know."
posted by isopraxis at 1:04 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


This was a great documentary, but perhaps the best part was the end credits, when the penis sculpture floats gracefully on the water to the strains of "Swan Lake".
posted by naju at 2:02 PM on January 28, 2008


“Eyes Wide Shut, which I think was an absolute masterpiece. But it is deliberately infuriating...”

Yeah. I agree. I read “American Psycho” in a similar way. Just completely pissed off that the horrific violence and sex were actually a relief from the endless consumerist GQesqe passages and (with the Sartre references) connected that it’s by design. So masterfully done and worthy work but still, agonizing.
No Country for Old Men as well, just pisses you right off. Although NCFOM’s a bit more meditative.
I liked all of them.
(No Country is great, the direction is beautiful and so it’s got a good feel to it that just immerses you in ‘Western,’ and I like the quiet of it. There’s conventional recurrent themes like the hunter/hunted thing which makes it technically nice in execution, but for me it’s an anti-western film in because Bell basically quits, refuses to accept his role in making fate which allows Chigurh (chance) to win. Wells is Bell’s counterpart albeit on the opposite side of the law (think that alliterative is a mistake?) who fully accepts and is confident in making fate and accepts his death. Bell doesn’t. “Good men do nothing” So the bad guy walks.
The horror is by design to counterpoint the absence of acceptance of destiny. E.G. Moss's wife doesn’t accept chance and/but refuses to call the coin so she’s left in a sort of eigenstate - we don’t know whether she’s dead or alive (that is, we haven’t seen).
The essence of Westerns is to accept one’s fate in the midst of - or in control of - chance whether for good or ill (countless examples, off the cuff -High Noon, A Few Dollars More, Unforgiven, come to mind)(IANAFC - but I do know how to follow motive) )

And yeah, “Paths of Glory” is magnificent. Dunno how much of that is direction though. It had so much going for it anyway. Perhaps Kubrick evoked that though.

Clockwork, I agree, is a singular work. Still very very watchable and now, iconic.

“if only George Lucas hadn't digitally ruined it -- I wonder how he'll "improve" American Graffiti.”

*waves hand* these aren’t the Pharaohs you’re looking for.

Boba Falfa: Hey, you know a guy around here with a piss yellow deuce coupe, supposed to be hot stuff?
Biggs: You mean John “Solo” Milner?
[Falfa nods slowly]
Biggs: Hey, nobody can beat him, man. He's got the fastest...
Boba Falfa: I ain't nobody, dork. Right?
Biggs: Right.
Bob Falfa: Hey, you see this Milner, tell him I'm lookin' for him, huh? Tell him I aim to blow his ass right off the road.


John: I’ve got the fastest car in the valley. Terry says you're looking for a drag race
Ben: Yes indeed, if it's a fast car.
John: Fast car? You've never heard of my yellow deuce coupe?
Ben: Should I have?
John: It's the car that made it to Mel's Drive-In in less than twelve parsecs. I've outrun '55 Chevy convertables, not the local strip-cruisers, mind you. I'm talking about the big American hot rods now. She's fast enough for you, old man.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:39 PM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think that A Clockwork Orange was the only film I ever saw my parents argue over letting me and my brother watch. We were both in our teens, I think, him maybe just barely. My dad, a big Kubrick fan and a bit of a film geek in general, thought it was okay, but my mom was kind of upset by the prospect. Kind of spoke to me at the time about just what Stanley managed to pull of in his presentation, that neither of them was really wrong in where they were coming from.

A few years later, I took my brother to see Eyes Wide Shut in theatrical release and the kid working the sales nook wouldn't let us in. NC17, after all; I was 21, but not a compelling guardian, apparently.

Mom tried and failed to sit through Barry Lyndon with me at one point, but ended up going to do something else. Not because of any of the content—BL is pretty tame, and she likes a good period piece—but because she could not stand to sit through three hours of Ryan O'Neal.

Stanley Kubrick: driving my family goddam crazy at every opportunity.
posted by cortex at 2:41 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's interesting that somebody mentioned No Country For Old Men in a Clockwork Orange thread; together with Natural Born Killers, and regardless of their artistic merit, they're three films where the directors are basically rooting for the bad guys: Kubrick's "good guys", if there are any, are contemptible. Stone's just don't count. And the Coens, monstrously accomplished men of cinema as they are, understood that after gleefully showing Chighurgh (or however the fuck it's spelled, it's been a while since I read McCarthy's good but not-up-to-his-standards book) massacre a lot of minor characters, they couldn't really show him muderd the characters the viewer has come to like or even root for (I mean, the thief gets in trouble not for stealing but for coming back to the scene of the crime to bring water to the dying -- dead -- Mexican, and he's always trying to look after his wife in a weird, macho way).

the difference is that, unlike Fargo, No Country For Old Men does not allow the Coens to indulge in their favorite sport, ie making fun of smalltown people, because they have McCarthy's book to follow, and McCarthy respects those people, unlike the Coens. so there you have Tommy Lee Jones and his paralyzed cousin appearing as the moral center of the film -- like a more dignified, more pompous version of the pregnant sheriff in Fargo. but Cighurgh is as cool as Alex, probably even more because he goes away with it without even having to go to jail.

the Coens are pretty nakedly rooting for Chigurg, that hick-killing machine. because he's so cool he slaughters hicks with a stun gun, when the Coens can usually only cover them in ridicule
posted by matteo at 3:00 PM on January 28, 2008


I'd say the one misstep in No Country For Old Men - and it's not a big one but it irritated me - is the way they stick that lady in the backseat of the car towards the end. Exactly what matteo is talking about, a cheap shot at hicks. Seemed to me like this actress was in a different film altogether than everybody else.

Also, how was it a nihilistic film? The sheriff and his friend appeared to me to be the moral centre - their discussion at the films' conclusion suggested that things were going in a bad direction & that was really very little that could be done about it, but that's not nihilistic (IMHO). More of an ebb & flow, or a pendulum swinging one way & then the other.

Even Chigurh wasn't evil per say (I thought his interaction with the boys was pretty much spelling that out); he 'simply' lacked any remorse whatsoever when called upon to do bad things. When strangling the cop for instance, is he happy? Getting off on it? Or is he basically zoning out & just waiting for it all to be over?

Watch his interaction with the coin - he's impatient for people to make their call, he wants to toss to happen sooner than later. How the people are reacting is of little if any interest (other than his remark that everybody says 'you don't have to do this', which of course makes little sense to him). I saw no actual sadism in his actions.

More on topic, I love all Kubrick's films save The Shining - which, as I've pointed out here before, has that ridiculous shot of Nicholson at the conclusion that always ruins things for me (I found Nicholson's performance in this a little much overall really). Didn't like Danny either.

The first part of Full Metal Jacket is perfect. I'd also stand up for Barry Lyndon as a supremely beautiful film, one I can watch every year or so, always noticing new things or just enjoying how wonderful everything looks.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:59 PM on January 28, 2008


Subtle films are not for everybody.

Aint that the truth. No Country for Old Men would have worked for me if Rob Schneider played Anton Chigurh.
posted by mattoxic at 4:02 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


the Coens are pretty nakedly rooting for Chigurg, that hick-killing machine. because he's so cool he slaughters hicks with a stun gun, when the Coens can usually only cover them in ridicule

Whoa, no. This is not what I got from this film at all. It's funny, because me and Blazecock Pileon were talking the other day in another thread about filmmakers' tendency to glamorize psychopaths, intentionally or not, and as we were I couldn't help but reflect on how the Coens had completely not done this in No Country for Old Men. I guess I should call SPOILERS here, just in case, but: Chigurh has the kind of strange morality common to movie psychos (see Hannibal Lecter), yes, but we don't see him as righteous. Whenever we see him consciously acting on his code -- with the gas station attendant, with Wells, and finally with Moss's wife -- his would-be victims don't seem awed or impressed in any way; Wells and Moss's wife both tell him he's just fucking nuts. And it seems pretty clear this is the opinion of the film, too. He's an impressive killer, yeah, but he's no antihero.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:15 PM on January 28, 2008


I think a lot of that is basically down to the hair, seriously. If he'd had a brushcut...?
posted by stinkycheese at 4:23 PM on January 28, 2008


Heh! Actually, I almost mentioned that. A guy with that haircut may be a lot of things, but "cool" is not one of them.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:27 PM on January 28, 2008


I really liked the Chigurh character.

I got a machine/robotic/unstoppable quality from him. He's almost and android.

His voice, the ridiculous oversized gun, the compressed air machine, his slow deliberate movments. He even looked a little bit like Heimy.

And as kittens said, acting on his code.
posted by mattoxic at 4:43 PM on January 28, 2008


Oh, also the method he used to track Moss- very machine like.
posted by mattoxic at 4:44 PM on January 28, 2008


A haircut is a very important signifier in a Coen film, as anyone who's seen The Man Who Wasn't There can attest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:46 PM on January 28, 2008


I always considered Clockwork a comedy/satire too. But that had a lot to do with reading this first.

Yes! Yes! Yes! A Crockwork Lemon! Jebus It's been 35 years and I still remember the frames where Alex vomits mid-defenestration! This was the genesis of my own fascination with Clockwork Orange, which I was lucky enough to see several times in midnight movies by the time I got to college. One of the reels ended at the "Singing in the Rain" scene, so the sound and picture always got goofy right when you wanted to see what was going on the most.

Yeah, I was cured all right...
posted by Tube at 5:07 PM on January 28, 2008


Chigurh reminded me of The Lone Biker of the Apocalypse (Leonard Smalls) character from Raising Arizona. It's a similar unstoppable force inexorably catching up with you. Debating whether or not he's a psychopath is kind of beside the point, because the characters seem more symbolic than human to me.

The scene where Chigurh randomly shoots at the bird on the sign was similar to the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse shooting the lizard or throwing the hand grenade at the bunny. It's violence randomly inflicted on innocent creatures. Also, I thought the convenience store scene in No Country for Old Men was blocked and shot similarly to the convenience store scene in Raising Arizona. ("Hey, these blow up into funny shapes at all?" "Well, no, unless round is funny.")

we don't know whether she's dead or alive

Regret to inform she's dead, hence the checking of the boots for blood.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:06 PM on January 28, 2008


I just saw Clockwork for the first time a few days ago. I didn't like it. It was just a little too... dated. Movies about the future always disappoint me, because the directors never get it right. Although, I did like 2001! Kubrick didn't mess that one up.

With that said, Dr. Strangelove is the BOMB!
posted by jstef at 6:07 PM on January 28, 2008


It was just a little too... dated. Movies about the future always disappoint me, because the directors never get it right.

Yeah, maybe they could do better on this front. I mean, just having one's immagination to work with is pretty limiting.
posted by mattoxic at 6:13 PM on January 28, 2008


Movies about the future always disappoint me, because the directors never get it right. Although, I did like 2001! Kubrick didn't mess that one up.

Get what right? Are you saying that Kubrick should have made a movie that looked like the world does now? How could he have done that? And how did he get 2001 right? We didn't have moon bases or Jupiter missions or intelligent computers in the real 2001. No one knows what happens in the future or what it will look like; science fiction is always as much about the time that it's written as it is about the future. Are you going to be disappointed in Children of Men in twenty years because Alfonso Cuarón "didn't get it right?"
posted by octothorpe at 6:46 PM on January 28, 2008


My coworker from the sideshow days, Mr. Lifto, was so smitten by Malcolm McDowell's autograph on his arm he had it permanently tattooed in.
posted by Tube at 6:48 PM on January 28, 2008


I can't say I've seen 'Clockwork Orange' entirely, but when I've tried to it doesn't appeal to me. I don't think it's the violence; there's something visual about it that I really don't like, and I can't put my finger on why that is...

I'll watch 'Eyes Wide Shut' over and over and spend hours thinking about it every time I do, but I most enjoy the experience of watching 'Barry Lyndon'; I was lucky enough to catch it on the big screen a couple years ago, and I love everything about it--the music, the way it looks like a painting--even Ryan O'Neal...
posted by troybob at 10:55 PM on January 28, 2008


EYES WIDE SHUT What the critics failed to see in Kubrick's last film By Lee Siegel
posted by hortense at 11:15 PM on January 28, 2008


Another thoughtful review
posted by hortense at 11:20 PM on January 28, 2008


kirkaracha: I completely agree regarding Chiguhr and the Lone Biker. I see some similarity also with the character of Stormare in Fargo, and to some extent Visser in Blood Simple as well.

All these men are very comfortable in silence, and very comfortable with violence.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:44 PM on January 28, 2008


Argh.

Stormare = Grimsrud
posted by stinkycheese at 11:48 PM on January 28, 2008


I would also cast my lot on with those who think No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece. Chigurh should be seen less as a psychopath and more as a force of nature, the equivalent of a tornado or an earthquake, that just roll over and destroy anything they come near, and, if you survive it, it's just dumb luck.

Spoiler alert: I think the decision to have Moss die midway through at the hands of the Mexicans was a risky but great artistic choice. Our narrative expectation is that this is going to be a classic confrontation, mano a mano, where the hero and the villain go face to face at the end and one or both die. But, in the context of this film, that would be ridiculous -- hell, in most action films, it's ridiculous. Because if you steal a million dollars from drug dealers, if you are very, very smart, good with guns, and a former military man and veteran, you might survive one or two encounters. But all that skill has just bought you a few moments of additional time. And if the murderous lunatic put on your trail doesn't do it, the hundreds of Mexicans sent after you sure will, and it doesn't matter who does it, or when it happens. It will happen, and it will happen sooner rather than later.

People seem so angry that we didn't see Moss die. But I didn't need to see him die. They also seemed disappointed that he didn't die at the hands of Chigurh. But it didn't matter who killed him. When he took the money, he was done for. And, because he refused to make the deal, his wife was done for. And, because the film is set in a world where criminal violence has become the equivalent of a plague or a natural disaster, and the police are lucky if they show up just in time to see a fresh body, but otherwise serve no function other than to act as a sort of garbage man, mopping up violence, our sheriff narrator is doomed in his own way.

It's really a lovely film.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:51 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Huge fan of Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange. I read the book at 18 in London and remember vividly when the movie came out that year, what excitement there was. It was a brave and in some ways truly visionary book and movie.

Incredible to think on hearing he had a brain tumor, that he produced five books in a year and Clockwork Orange was one of them. And he didn't think it was one of the best ones out of those five. wow.

I've always thought he was able to write brilliantly about the sociopaths that may arise out of poverty, the droog culture, which Mealey refers to as secondary sociopaths.

In Mealey's terminology primary sociopaths are biologically contraprepared to learn empathy and consequently demonstrate psychopathic behaviour at an early stage, whereas secondary sociopaths encounter a combination of risk factors such as a large number of siblings, low socio-economic status, urban residency, low intelligence and poor social skills. These variables contribute to the development of secondary sociopathy in a two stage process involving initially parental neglect, abuse, inconsistent discipline, and punishment as opposed to rewards. In the second stage children may be at a social disadvantage because of poor social skills and may therefore interact primarily with a peer group comprised other unskilled individuals, including primary sociopaths.

Thanks for the post.
posted by nickyskye at 2:51 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Satire - an exaggerated portrayal intended to mock. (The HMS Pinafore, The Office)
Dark Comedy - a portrayal of tragedy with an emphasis on the comic. (Strangelove)

A Clockwork Orange is not mocking, nor exaggerated. The trailer is not mocking or exaggerated. A Clockwork Orange is a conversation about Justice, from the beginning to the end. The world of Orange is a realistic one... the events that take place could be taken from a newspaper any month of the year. They aren't exaggerated.

The treatment that our Narrator faces is science fiction, but not unbelievably so. It is a realistic extrapolation of the world that existed then.

Society's concept of Justice is still changing, changing from the Biblical Justice that Jesus began the rejection of and the Industrial Revolution finally de-codified. The central problem that Orange is struggling with is the question - What is the new Industrial Justice? And we still don't know.

In a satire, the central problem is Why doesn't everyone see that person or persons X, in positions of authority, are just a huge horse's ass? See? See what an ass they are? Satire succeeds when it can bleed reality and the ridiculous together so that you really really believe, person X is really a horse's ass... and so are the others like him.

If you approach Orange as a satire then you don't ever see the point... if you think that the horrible things that the characters do to each other aren't real, then the pressing need to resolve the question of Industrial Justice doesn't exist. If you aren't compelled to reject but forced to sympathize with the main character, then the problem of Justice isn't really that tough.

If you think that criminals aren't people too, than you won't understand Orange. If you don't seriously consider that certain criminals should just be executed, than you won't understand Orange.

Most of all, if you think that the story isn't serious, then you won't understand it. Kubric understood it. He wasn't trying to be ridiculous, he was trying to convey the tension between a horror of human nature and a sympathy with the devil.
posted by ewkpates at 4:04 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just because I like one movie better than another doesn't mean I think it's a masterpiece, languagehat.

You're way too fixated on the word "masterpiece." My point is that "the message ... That there is absolutely no hope for anyone, anywhere" is irrelevant to quality. Plenty of completely shitty books and movies have had such a message, which frankly is sophomoric "deep thinking." If you want to claim that the movie is better than Plan Nine from Outer Space, let alone A Clockwork Orange, you need to pick another criterion.

Astro Zombie, you've actually gotten me interested in seeing No Country for Old Men. Don't know if I will (I hardly ever see movies these days), but congratulations!
posted by languagehat at 6:38 AM on January 29, 2008


He wasn't trying to be ridiculous, he was trying to convey the tension between a horror of human nature and a sympathy with the devil.

I think one of the reasons there may be such dispute about A Clockwork Orange (the film) is that McDowell's charismatic performance as Alex, combined with the techniques used to 'cure' him, tip the audience's sympathies from the criminal's victims to the criminal himself. This can of course totally transform how you watch the film, and what you take from it afterwards.

The sped up sex scene in long shot was pretty ridiculous however; had it been shot in close up, at regular speed, we might not be laughing, but instead wondering just how old these girls are, and maybe even considering Alex a bit of a creep for being with them in the first place. Presumably Kubrick was well-aware of this.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:57 AM on January 29, 2008


I had a hunch that the older woman critic was full of shit when she reminded me so much of my art history professor.

Are you talking about Camille Paglia here?

My suspicions were confirmed when she said "Feminists brief with Clockwork Orange is..."

What she actually said was 'Feminists beef with Clockwork Orange is...'

I'm not especially a Paglia fan, but I do have a word of advice. Before you go around assuming that someone is full of shit, it's probably an idea to:

a.) Not make assumptions about people based on who they remind you of.
b.) Make sure that you've actually heard and understood what they said.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Precisely my point, mr. cheese.

In the book the narrative creates intimacy and diminishes evil. Visually, it is harder to diminish rape and increase charm.

I would argue though that anyone who laughs at a sped up rape scene might be... well, a good narrator.
posted by ewkpates at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2008


I think one of the reasons there may be such dispute about A Clockwork Orange (the film) is that McDowell's charismatic performance as Alex, combined with the techniques used to 'cure' him, tip the audience's sympathies from the criminal's victims to the criminal himself.

I agree. If this film does have any valid claims to being great, they're based on two things: the story, is actually a diminution of the one in Burgess's book, and McDowell's performance, and we learn from this documentary that he was taking notes on how to play Alex from Lindsay Anderson.

As McDowell willingly admits, his portrayal of Alex is really just an expansion of the arrogance and insouciance displayed by the character of Mick Travis in 'If', as he goes into the Prefect's Common Room in order to receive his flogging. I think this observation was a stroke of genius by Anderson. The people that we really fear are those who aren't cowed or intimidated by the likelihood of punishment. The people who believe that they can take whatever society throws back at them as retribution, and still not give a fuck -- still not have it impact on their decisions or their choices.

And on the one hand, it's extremely hard not to be seduced by such characters. It's the kind of thinking that underpins glib slogans like 'I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees.' The reality is that most people who wield such sentiments really wouldn't. Or even if they're prepared to accept the consequences themselves, they're vulnerable through their loved ones, the people near and dear to them.

When you meet a real Alex though, they don't care about anybody but themselves, and if the prospect of punishment doesn't phase them or cause them to modify their behaviour, it's easy to feel that you really are only left with two choices -- to shoot them like a dog, or to lock them up for life.

Burgess's book was interesting because it really does acknowledge a third possibility -- that some of them will change of their own free will, either through the process of aging out, or because their own intelligence causes them to reflect on the process and alter their desires -- making them more than just A Clockwork Orange -- making them truly human, and in that sense, just like the rest of us. And it's the removal of this ending -- which is actually the whole point of the book -- that makes the film so profoundly unsatisfying if you've read the book before seeing the film.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:30 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoa whoa there... Alex doesn't change in the book or the movie... not at all...

THERE IS NO THIRD POSSIBILITY

Alex is a sadistic criminal, then a mentally shackled sadistic criminal, and then finally at the end he is once again his old self. There is no reason to believe he has learned everything and every reason to believe that he has not...

If you accept my argument that the book is about Industrial Justice, then it defeats the purpose to have Alex change... because this implies that there is a solution.


I was cured.

Here Alex is referring not to his love of violence, but to the illness which prevents him from committing it.
posted by ewkpates at 11:23 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


ewkpates -

It's alright if you don't think the film is funny or exaggerated, but I disagree and say it is. The trailer calls it outright satiric. It also calls it metaphorical. In addition, Kubrick stated repeatedly throughout his life and work that he just wasn't interested in realism. So, from his point of view, I think he would disagree with you.

In addition, you don't think that the portrayal of Alex's social worker is satirical, when he hits Alex in the balls and drinks the water with the false teeth in them? Hysterical.

The sex scene to the William Tell Overture? Comedy Gold.

The portrayal of Alex's parents, with the weird hair colors, clothes and general stupidity? Satiric genius.

If you don't think Alex's mother's hair is "an exaggerated portrayal intended to mock," I'm not sure what is?

And the goofy guy from the government saying that they'll need prison space for political prisoners? Funny....

I don't know, but the satire and comedy is there.

In addition, just read the words that Kubrick is using to describe his own work - witty, funny, satiric, etc.

Comedy is his intention. You may not personally find it funny, but it was his intention.
posted by MythMaker at 11:48 AM on January 29, 2008


I also forgot to mention that Kubrick himself referred to the film as a moral fable - not exactly what you are trying to argue as realism. The film isn't realism - it's cartoonish satire.
posted by MythMaker at 11:53 AM on January 29, 2008


I just noticed this:

If you don't seriously consider that certain criminals should just be executed, than you won't understand Orange.


Which criminals would that be? The politician who sends the writer into jail because of political inconvenience?

There are many levels to ACO, and I'm afraid believing that Alex ought to be killed isn't one of them. Certainly not from the film I saw. He's full of life, of joy, of joie de vivre. My God, man, Kubrick isn't saying to kill him.

It's an ironic ending. Don't you get that? It's a morality fable, according to Kubrick.
posted by MythMaker at 11:57 AM on January 29, 2008


“It's violence randomly inflicted on innocent creatures.”

That’s Chigurh’s code. He’s ok with the randomness.

“Regret to inform she's dead, hence the checking of the boots for blood.”

Yes, but we don’t *see* it. That’s the point.
I mean why make that decision in narrative? Why allude to her death that way instead of showing it, like the bird, like the roadside pedestrian, like nearly everyone else?
What, the Coens just thought “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we showed him just checking his boots for blood and not show the actual killing?”
“Hey, yeah! Uh, why?”
“I dunno. It’d just look cool, man!”
“Yeah! Rad!”

It was a conscious decision that points up one of the elements of the story. She doesn’t choose her fate, nor does she accept randomness, she demands choice from others - from her husband, from Chigurh. She will not make a fateful decision. So she becomes less than nothing. Not even her death is seen.

Given the Peckenpah influences on NCFOM I can’t stress enough the “fateful decision” thing especially when it comes to, say ‘The Wild Bunch’ - that whole acceptance of death and betrayal of the code one lives by. In her case she refuses, but doesn’t move, so she is nothing.
In Moss’s case he accepts his fate, but for a poor foundation (random - e.g. he found the money at random instead of making a fateful decision to get it), plus he’s outclassed so his death is a forgone conclusion.
Wells is the only one really blindsided, he’s a man of fate and wary of Chigurh.
In Bell’s case he just ducks out, he lives, but in a sadder world and, importantly, one in which he is impotent. He lives, but his life is meaningless because he hasn’t made his fateful decision. And Chigurh, even though there’s every expectation he’s going to be caught, just walks.
He accepts randomness and pain and such, so he’s subject to it (the car accident at the end) and subjects others to it, but since there’s no one pushing fate, he’s not caught.

But - and not to arbitrarially link the two - Alex is someone who makes fateful decisions, except he makes them for evil.
Very different than Chigurh. Alex is exactly an anti-hero. He has the Aristotelian gifts, the exeptional nature (Beethoven) and transcends moral judgement and considers himself a law unto himself (I’m drawing from Aristotle’s ‘Politics’ here).
And that central theme is projected in the book and the film.
The problem with the film is that Alex doesn’t grow up. He continues to choose ‘evil’ which is ultimately self-destructive (I mean, the Roman orgy sequence at the end - Rome fell y’know) and so becomes more of a Chigurh type of villian.
In the book he mellows, but he doesn’t lose any of his potency, he still possesses the belief he’s beyond the norms of society even though he’s embracing them.
Indeed, it is the height of arrogance thinking you can simply have hearth, home, all that, after doing and experiancing all that he has.

Falling back into his old self-serving pattern in the film, obviously a regression, but more of a lack of choice. So again, like Chigurh. Unchanged by, and accepting of, capriciousness.

Clockwork Orange is a beautiful film. But it does lack that ultimate charcter exposition that is, on reflection in reading the book, inevitable.

So while NCFOM is essentially unfinished, that is, unfinished by design to counterpoint the myriad other films with their (as pointed out above) mano a mano confrontation stories, Clockwork Orange is, despite it’s merits (of which I think it has a great many), unfinished by accident. It is a flaw in the storytelling.
(I’m referencing the American version of course).

But I think that’s why NCFOM is poignant here because it does seem unfinished. But that’s the point of it.


“The reality is that most people who wield such sentiments really wouldn't. Or even if they're prepared to accept the consequences themselves, they're vulnerable through their loved ones, the people near and dear to them.”

Kaiser Sosei.

There’s a phrase from Dune I keep close to me: That which makes a man superhuman is terrifying.
There are such people, both ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ I think that’s why we watch such films. Most people, I agree, aren’t subject to those extremes. But some are.
The problem is when it gets too cartoony in execution.

I flipped past “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” just the other day and the scene was this terminator pretends to be a teacher, excises a pistol - a modern day automatic for some reason instead of an advanced phased plasma weapon - from it’s thigh and shoots at John Connor. So violence ensues. There’s a shootout at their house. Sarah Connor is firing a shotgun at the terminator, he returns fire - she ducks behind a la-z-boy chair for cover. Excepting all this utter lack of realism (those good ol’ bulletproof la-z-boys) there’s no real visceral connection to the violence because there’s no becoming superhuman.
Like DeVito’s “guy in the hat” story in “Throw Mama From the Train.” He writes that ‘even though he was shot - the guy in the hat GOT UP!’
Well...so?
I think in some respects you need that context - both human and superhuman - to have any real interest in the story.
So I think you’re perfectly right, you need that human connection.
But I think you also need to see a human doing the superhuman or being put through superhuman changes. The human in the context of superhuman forces whether within himself or surrounded by it, etc.
And I agree, we don’t see that in the (American version of the) film. Just the regression.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:05 PM on January 29, 2008


Chigurh isn't strictly a computer/robot that only follows a code. If he were, he would've killed Carla Jean Moss right away, because Llewelyn didn't take his deal.

I bought the book after seeing the movie, and the movie's very faithful to the book, so it surprised me how much of a Coen Brothers vibe I got.

those good ol' bulletproof la-z-boys

It had a titanium shield in it (for reals).
posted by kirkaracha at 1:46 PM on January 29, 2008


“Chigurh isn't strictly a computer/robot that only follows a code.”

Agreed. He is, at least, defined by something. And he is not going to do something unless it’s within his sphere.
The un-confrontation with Bell in the hotel room is a good example. Chigurh hides. He’s the bad guy. That’s what they do. Heroes confront the bad guys. Bell doesn’t confront him, so the scene goes unresolved and Chigurh just splits.
Bell has all sorts of identity questions. Chigurh doesn’t need them.
He doesn’t need an Uncle Ellis to question who he is to make a difference ‘cause he’s not trying to.
Indeed, he’s not trying to *do* anything. His motives are selfish. He satisfies only himself (and his outlook).
I mean what’s he going to do with the money? What’s going to change for him? Nothing.

Bell, as his opposite - isn’t even really a solid protagonist in the film because he choses to avoid pain and death and so isn’t defined by, nor does he define, anything. So we see more of Moss and it’s just about how things play out.
Chigurh’s all about that. He completely accepts death and pain as part of his environment and moves on. Bell balks at it.
A villian doesn’t really need a hero to define him, but heroes are very often defined by their villians. As such they’re often contrived. Chigurh, I very much agree, is not.
(Reminds me a bit of the scene in ‘Last Action Hero’ where the villian blows some guy away and shouts “I’ve just killed a man!...Hello? Police?” looking for the instant justice meted out Hollywood-style.)

He’s as ‘real’ as Moriarty or, say, Darth Vader as an example. If Luke just says “Ah, the hell with it. The galaxy’s changed. Why should I risk my ass over this?” and goes back to moisture farming the story is then just pretty much Vader kicking everyone’s ass, however he wishes.
Maybe he suffers a few setbacks from a really skillful rogue like Han Solo, but unless confronted with a real hero with fate in his hands, he’s not going to really lose.
That’s Chigurh. Not a robot per se, but the mechanical playing out of things. The story, events, nature, etc. The lack of pattern and randomness of physical law.
Chaos terrain. Which fits in perfectly with the environment but is alien seeming in a human.
Moss is just a man. And Bell refuses to be more than one.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:08 PM on January 29, 2008


I didn't experience A Clockwork Orange as a satire, any more than I experienced The Sopranos as a satire. It was more like a compelling view of life through the eyes of a sociopath (person with antisocial personality disorder, ASPD), who had some aspects that were charismatic, charming, endearing, even as one observed the inevitable, sadistic, unempathic destructiveness.

Sociopaths may describe themselves as mechanical, robotic, as if they were "clockwork".

Kafka did his point of view story of life from the eyes of a man who becomes an insect and the reader ends up siding with the "narrator", all the while also feeling a strange combination of fascination, pathos and revulsion.

Since Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange (originally intended to be orang, Malay for man) after his wife was raped by an inner city kid, I can't help thinking he had to have wondered what the mind of the rapist was like, how would a rapist thug perceive others? I think from there he went into his dystopian landscape, along with the flip side, examining the view of the doctor who was out to "cure" the sociopathic kid of his bloodlust with drugs and 'brainwashing', by forcefully connecting his favorite music with scenes of horror.

I think a number of doctors have wanted to cure sociopaths. 47 to 80% of the prison population is sociopaths. What to do with people who suffer from this rigid, all pervasive and so far incurable disorder? It's a quandary worth thinking about and I think Burgess did an amazing job if it.
posted by nickyskye at 4:43 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's so interesting the different takes people have on this film.

Kubrick was temperamentally drawn towards the satiric, a definite handicap, since of all artists, the satirist is most likely to be misunderstood. Kubrick's satire was so broadly comical and farcical in Dr Strangelove and Lolita, however, that his intentions were clear enough. The satire of A Clockwork Orange was another matter, satire of a different order, allegorical, brutal, and deadly "serious." Burgess had taken a page from Shakespeare's Richard III in designing Alex, his not-so-"humble narrator," who takes the reader uncomfortably into his confidence, assuming that the reader will be as amoral as he is and somehow appreciate his grotesque exploits. Burgess, of course, expected his readers to bring their own moral agendas to the novel, knowing they would be repulsed and horrified by the "horrorshow" antics of Alex and his "droogies," a cute and endearing name for bloodthirsty thugs and rapists.^

According to that article, many people didn't get the satire in A Clockwork Orange at all, as we can see with a number of people in this thread. But Kubrick's intention definitely included satire. As I pointed out above, he supervised the trailer that used funny, satiric, witty, etc as words that described the film. I suspect that he was surprised by the way it was received by some.

Read the article I linked to, it really has a good discussion about how an awful lot of critics didn't get the satire.

I think part of it is that the film is through the POV of Alex, we see the absurdities of the parents, of the social worker, the satiric viewpoint of the politician, the hypocrisy of the writer through Alex's eyes, and so it's twisted. We have an unreliable narrator, which means an unreliable POV of the film. I mean, the writer is a political activist who wants to help mankind, but is okay with tricking and murdering Alex - look at it from Alex's POV and the satire becomes clearer.

But the non-satiric reading is apparently a pretty common misreading.
posted by MythMaker at 6:39 PM on January 29, 2008


Wow -- much as I love A Clockwork Orange, I can't believe how much more excited I am to talk about No Country for Old Men. Definitely one of those films I enjoyed as I was watching it but find myself liking even more as time goes on, and my thoughts return to it. I have a feeling I'm going to wear out the disc.

In Bell’s case he just ducks out, he lives, but in a sadder world and, importantly, one in which he is impotent. He lives, but his life is meaningless because he hasn’t made his fateful decision. And Chigurh, even though there’s every expectation he’s going to be caught, just walks.

Well, he does and he doesn't -- it's funny that I've heard so many remark on Chigurh getting away with it when I think the film implies his days are numbered, one way or another. I think this bit of Bell's diner conversation (from the screenplay) with Carla Jean is significant:

"...Well you know how they used to slaughter beeves; hit 'em with a maul right here to stun 'em...and then truss 'em up and slit their throats? Well here Charlie has one trussed up and all set to drain him and the beef comes to. It starts thrashing around, six hundred pounds of very pissed-off livestock if you'll pardon me...Charlie grabs his gun there to shoot the damn thing in the head but what with the swingin and twistin it's a glance-shot and ricochets around and comes back hits Charlie in the shoulder. You go see Charlie, he still can't reach up with his right hand for his hat...Point bein, even in the contest between man and cow the issue is not certain."

I don't think it takes much work at all to see Charlie as a stand-in for Chigurh, given the similarity of the names and Chigurh's weapon of choice, and I suspect Chigurh's fate is hinted at here. You can indeed see that fuckin' bone. Chigurh can't exactly go to a doctor; even if he manages to fix himself up the way he did after his fight with Moss, the odds are good his arm is crippled for life. (The odds may not be so bad that he'll just get gangrene and die.) A one-armed assassin is working at a considerable disadvantage, and even if Bell isn't looking for him, Chigurh's certainly pissed off the people he was working for. I think he's kind of fucked.

Ultimately, he's not a superhuman -- which, to me, was the crux of his conversation with Carla Jean (intriguingly, it doesn't appear in the draft of the screenplay linked above; as a later addition, I figure the Coens must have felt a point was going unmade without it). I don't buy the reading that her refusal to play Chigurh's game had anything to do with a denial of responsibility on her part -- quite the contrary. She knew that Chigurh was not the agent of fate he regarded himself as, that he killed by his own choice, and confronted him with that. Not playing his game was the only way she could hurt him. As to whether that worked, that's another question; he didn't seem to regret killing her, but maybe greater alertness -- a focus he may have had were he not questioning himself, at least a little -- could have kept him out of the accident? It's hard to resist the interpretation that Carla Jean seeing through him made him vulnerable, human. But that doesn't work unless he is the agent of fate, in some way, at least until she reminds him he's not: It's your lucky quarter, and it's just a coin.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:00 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


But that doesn't work unless he is the agent of fate, in some way, at least until she reminds him he's not: It's your lucky quarter, and it's just a coin.

There's an interesting difference between the book and the film, which I think the film fails to cover — deliberately so. I'm not going to spoil it (much), but I think the difference is as important as it is interesting.

In the film, Chigurgh acts as an "agent of fate": a slave to the coin toss, he's unable to make a decision without it, even as Wells and Carla Jean tell him he isn't obligated to observe his "code" (as far as a consistent moral code can exist, paradoxically, on the outcome of a flip of a coin).

Picked up by the policeman killed in the beginning of the film, the reasoning for Chigurgh's initial capture is never well explained, but the events leading up to his capture are, however, described in the book and, I believe, suggest much more autonomy on his part.

I suspect the Coen brothers decided to make Chigurgh as "impotent" to his evil impulse as Bell is impotent in reacting to him, for narrative symmetry.

I also suspect McCarthy, pursuing a literary ideal of Gnosticism, made Chigurgh a more mythic, self-contained entity of Evil/Insanity, someone who is eternally imperfect in fulfilling his quest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:15 PM on January 29, 2008


Why allude to her death that way instead of showing it, like the bird, like the roadside pedestrian, like nearly everyone else?

They were following the book. The same reason Llewellyn's death is offscreen--it's that way in the book. Everything you see in the film is in the book. The bird on the bridge? In the book. Getting the beer from the kids to cross the border? In the book. The black dog with a limp and no tail? In the book. In fact the only thing I can recall that's not in the book is the pit bull chase in the water and some narration was cut and flipped around.

The Coens were blessed with "scenes" like this being in the book. I'm sure they wish they'd thought of it and I'd gamble that it was choices like these, made by McCarthy, that made them want to make this as their first film based on a book. It is a wonderful cinematic moment.
posted by dobbs at 11:33 PM on January 29, 2008


A PDF of the No Country screenplay is here.
posted by dobbs at 11:37 PM on January 29, 2008


Kubric saying "I meant it to be a satire" doesn't make it a satire. For one thing, he may have failed. For another, intention doesn't define action in art, and many other places.

Exaggerated characterization is not satire. I'm not arguing that there isn't exaggerated characterization in the movie. It's not a satire though.

Alex, too, no doubt would have thought the rape scene comedy gold.

Rapists and murders should be put to death. Generally the only people who don't have this impulse are rapists and murders. Hopefully, we check our impulses and think about revenge, punishment, and Justice more rationally.

Enjoyment of rape and pillage with the enthusiasm of a 3rd grader at a birthday party is in no way a recommendation for mercy, indulgence, or tolerance.

Regardless of one's personal morals, Orange has to be seen in the context of a society which is both horrified and disgusted by Alex. If you think of Alex as a "cool action hero", then you miss the point of the book.
posted by ewkpates at 4:33 AM on January 30, 2008


ewkpates - I know you keep talking about the book, and that's cool and all, but I keep talking about the movie, and they're not the same thing.

I know to you the movie is merely an extension of the book. And it is true that, up until Chapter 21, it does, broadly speaking, hew to the structure of the book.

But it really is a different animal, and the intentions of the two artists who made the two works were quite different.

I mean, Kubrick is known for radically changing his source material. The book Dr. Strangelove was based upon was a serious dramatic thriller. What he made out of it is a black satiric comedy.

I'll quote some more from the article I linked to above.

Burgess wrote the novel as a moral fable that examined the issues of crime and punishment, exploitation (personal and governmental), and free will, the ability to choose between good and evil. "What's it going to be then, eh?" is the question posed at the novel's opening, a question that is then repeated throughout and becomes the novel's mantra. In the unabridged version published in Britain, the novel took the readers on a journey of unimaginable, unsettling, disgusting human depravity, but in the final 21" chapter, Alex, who was only 15 years old when he was sent to prison, has matured and mellowed, and, passing the age of 21, begins to think about having a family and settling down. The final chapter therefore conveys some sense of hope, suggesting that intrinsic goodness may yet prevail to achieve Alex's moral rehabilitation naturally, rather than through state-imposed psychological conditioning. That chapter was lacking from the novel as published in America, and it is not covered by Kubrick's film, which therefore changed Burgess's meaning, substantially.

Interviewed by Bernard Weinraub of the New York Times (4 January 1972), Kubrick said: "One of the most dangerous fallacies which has influenced a great deal of political and philosophical thinking is that man is essentially good and that society is what makes him bad." Kubrick's view of Alex would seem to be far more pessimistic than Burgess's. While Burgess ultimately saw hope in the naturally transformed character of Alex, Kubrick was criticized for seeing only despair as he attempted to decipher the materialistic vacuity that had seemed to desensitize humanity.
^

Fascinating stuff, really. And, I'd please ask you, in the most civil tones, to refrain from implying, which you have done twice now in this otherwise civilized discussion, that appreciating the satiric content of the film, and seeing the humor which is actually there, and which was intended by the film maker, makes one a sociopath, because that is what you are saying. Or that not believing in the death penalty makes one a sociopath - to quote you -

"Rapists and murders should be put to death. Generally the only people who don't have this impulse are rapists and murders."^

No, some people don't think that anyone should be put to death. I personally do not agree with the death penalty under any context.

Here's another quote from the person who actually made the work in question, and, therefore, ought to know what his intention was when he made it:

Kubrick himself interprets A Clockwork Orange in a three fold manner. "First as a social satire on the use of psychological conditioning; second as a fairy tale retribution; and third as a 'psychological myth,' a story constructed around a fundamental truth of human nature." (Kagen 181) ^

You can argue that you, personally, don't find the use of satire effective, or that it wasn't funny to you personally, but I'd argue that the artists intention is really quite important, Kubrick is one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of the art, and that this film is a satire.
posted by MythMaker at 9:10 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The movie succeed in making a satirical point on psychological conditioning. To make the argument that it did would be very tough... and no one has yet.

I don't think anyone should be put to death, myself. That doesn't change the fact that non pathological people generally feel an impulse toward lethal force against rapists and murders. If you don't feel this impulse, then you very well may be pathological. I'm not trying to insult anyone, I'm pointing out that the normal psychological response to this particular kind of violence is lethal force. There is a world of difference between impulse and willingness to personally execute or endorse the state's power to execute.

Check your gut - what percentage of women find rape scenes of any kind "funny" or "laugh out loud" humorous. It's zero, btw.

I'm not arguing that I personally don't find the satire effective, I'm arguing that it doesn't communicate in the film.

This conversation has wandered a little into bs land though. Either you don't think Alex is a real character, in which case the movie makes no sense, or you aren't being honest about how you feel about Alex... revulsion and fear... or you feel comfortable with Alex and his choices... in which case you are pathological... not that there is anything wrong with that.

People who do what Alex does, or see humor in what Alex does, generally do not score normal on psych profiles.

Lastly, the article is not really worth quoting. Even with the final chapter, we don't see Alex changing, we see him tiring out and looking for a home. Serial killers tend to slow down as they age, and everyone likes a hot meal. That's not change or hope.

Orange as a movie and/or a book is not in any way a story of hope. It is a story about how we are all Alex, and there isn't any treatment.
posted by ewkpates at 10:29 AM on January 30, 2008


That doesn't change the fact that non pathological people generally feel an impulse toward lethal force against rapists and murders. If you don't feel this impulse, then you very well may be pathological.

Bullshit. You don't know that, you're pulling it out of your ass, and you know perfectly well it's insulting.

Check your gut - what percentage of women find rape scenes of any kind "funny" or "laugh out loud" humorous. It's zero, btw.

"Check your gut": Right, that appears to be how you carry out your research. I'm sure the percentage is low; I'm equally sure it isn't zero. Once again you mistake your personal ideas for the world at large.

I'm not arguing that I personally don't find the satire effective, I'm arguing that it doesn't communicate in the film.

Of course, because saying you personally don't find the satire effective would show humility and awareness of the greater world outside your brain. You instead say that "it doesn't communicate in the film" because that sounds like SCIENCE. But it's still coming straight from your ass.

in which case you are pathological... not that there is anything wrong with that.

Do you realize how disingenuous you sound when you say shit like that?

Lastly, the article is not really worth quoting.


Right, because you don't like it.

Orange as a movie and/or a book is not in any way a story of hope. It is a story about how we are all Alex, and there isn't any treatment.


Right, Burgess doesn't know what the book is about and Kubrick doesn't know what the movie is about—only ewkpates knows what they are about, because ewkpates is the measure of all things.
posted by languagehat at 11:02 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, I wasn't talking about the comedy in the rape scenes, although the fight scene in the abandoned theatre is certainly cartoonish.

But your dialectical black/white thinking demonstrates a lack of perception of subtleties in perception or appreciation of art. One may certainly be able to appreciate a work of art without thinking that it is "real."

When you watch Bugs Bunny cartoons, are you concerned about the murderous impulses of Elmer Fudd, because you realize that he wants to eat a sapient, talking, intelligent rabbit? Does this revile and sicken you?

Of course not, because you are capable of recognizing the difference between the real and the unreal, between truth and fiction.

In much the same way, it is possible to appreciate the satire and comedy in A Clockwork Orange without being psychopathic, because one can recognize it as unreal, as fiction, as a metaphor.

Alex isn't real. You say "Either you don't think Alex is a real character, in which case the movie makes no sense"-

That sentence is nonsense. Alex isn't real. He's fiction. In a movie. In an entertainment intended to make the audience think about the nature of evil.

He's not REAL. You keep acting like he's real, he's fictional.

Also, seeing humor in, for instance, the social worker's drinking of the glass of water with false teeth in it, or the sped up sex scene (in the film the girl's are not the same age as the book - don't let your reading of the book inform your reading of the film here, the scenes are very very different), or Alex's chorus line of crucified Jesuses has nothing to do with being psychopathic. I don't think the rape scenes are funny, but there is significant satiric content in the film, placed there intentionally by the film maker.

That you don't see it perhaps suggests that you are not capable of recognizing that you are watching fiction, since you seem to think Alex is real.

Also, merely because you yourself have murderous impulses towards other people doesn't mean that everyone does. Perhaps meditation or yoga would help you in your murderous impulses. Some people try to feel compassion towards all living things, that's what I try to do, at least.

Since Alex is a fiction, not an actual living thing, there isn't a meaningful thing to feel about him. Do you want to kill Humbert Humbert in Kubrick's Lolita? He's a statutory rapist. Or can you recognize it as FICTION, and that, in fact, there is no Humbert Humbert. There's no Alex either.

Also, you are assuming a very limited number of reactions towards Alex. I think one of the things the film does quite effectively is allow the audience to identify with Alex. We cheer him on by the nature of the film making, and then take a step back, through an effect not entirely unlike Brechtian alienation, and realize "oh my God! I'm identifying with a psychopath!" It's really a fascinating thing that Kubrick does, frankly.

Sure, there is revulsion and fear around Alex, but there is also joy, and a certain joie de vivre that is at the center of the film. To only get the revulsion, and not have the identification with the antihero seems to me to be missing half of the incredibly, almost unprecedented thing that Kubrick is doing with this film.

But that's your loss.

And I still don't appreciate being called a sociopath, thank you very much.

And perhaps not being able to see the grey areas, or to distinguish between fact and fiction suggest a certain pathology....
posted by MythMaker at 11:15 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, ewkpates, if you think the reading of A Clockwork Orange as a satire is such an out-there thing, you might be interested to read any of the 56,600 articles that google finds about how A Clockwork Orange is a satire.
posted by MythMaker at 11:17 AM on January 30, 2008


I just found this, I think it gets to what I'm talking about with regards to Alex:

Kubrick said (in an interview with Penelope Houston of Sight and Sound) that Alex – whom he mysteriously compared with Richard III - is attractive for his candor and wit and intelligence,” but then quickly gave the "show away with “. . . and the fact that all the other characters are lesser people and in some way worse people.” The others in the film are all "'lesser" in that they are less brutal, less physically strong, less ruthless or take less joy in bloodshed. The means by which Alex is celebrated are simple enough: he is not made into a morally significant figure but into a comic hero. He is comic because he is so completely and maniacally what he is, and he is heroic because no other character is much of anything at all.
^

There are just so many levels to this film.
posted by MythMaker at 11:57 AM on January 30, 2008


“...it's funny that I've heard so many remark on Chigurh getting away with it when I think the film implies his days are numbered, one way or another.”

I agree. There’s no percentage in just accepting the randomness and suffering of the world or, in Chigurh’s case, augmenting it. At some point you get hit by something larger and equally mindless (that is *not* lack of intelligence). But I think Chigurh accepts that with a kind of fatalism. “I’m gonna die. And you are too. I’m going to make sure it’s you first.”

And yeah, he is not superhuman. But that’s the thing, no one in the film is. None of them make the fate based choice to be.

Chigurh isn’t an agent of fate. He’s an agent of Chaos. Although I agree Jean confronts him with that, she doesn’t really become anything herself.


“When you watch Bugs Bunny cartoons, are you concerned about the murderous impulses of Elmer Fudd, because you realize that he wants to eat a sapient, talking, intelligent rabbit? Does this revile and sicken you?”

Of course not.
...It does turn me on, tho, when Bugs dresses up like a girl bunny

“There are just so many levels to this film.”
Pretty much can be said about most of the work discussed in this thread. Which, I think, is what makes them worthwhile.

There aren’t many interesting discussions over what Mitchell’s intent was in the coprolalia scene in “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” or how brilliant the references to “That's a huge bitch!” are in the magnum opus trilogy (Deuce Bigalow, The Animal ,The Hot Chick).
posted by Smedleyman at 1:02 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The coprolalia represents sharing.
posted by cortex at 2:31 PM on January 30, 2008


Metafilter: The coprolalia represents sharing.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:34 PM on January 30, 2008


I'm a huge fan of both Orange and Richard, so Kubrick comparing the two is awesome for me.

I am not a flexible thinking, I never claimed to be. I am concerned only with what can be established through argument versus what cannot be. Very often people can't establish their preferences and beliefs through argument, and I categorically reject this material as valueless. What some consider subtleties I think of as "pretend". Consider that a disclaimer.

1. Kubric's and Orange's violence is intentionally NOT Loony Toons violence. Graphically illustrating the pain of the victim is one way these differ, but only one.

2. I seriously don't judge psychopaths. I like Alex. I think he's disgusting and insane, but I also acknowledge that he's an interesting person.

3. Alex is a person. He's not a myth. Mythical characters generally don't have personality for a reason. The Lone Ranger is a myth. Alex is a person. The WHOLE PURPOSE of Orange is to introduce you to a lunatic and then have you get to know the person in the lunatic. Otherwise, why would we care that he is "cured"? Why would we care if he suffers?

4. The Real/Fiction distinction is inane. There is no difference between Real and Fiction that matters here. If you don't want to accept characters as people, then you won't really appreciate their struggles.

5. The sociopath comments seem to have touched a nerve. Perhaps you should talk to someone about that. There are so many logical fallacies in your comments that I can't innumerate them all, but it makes it difficult for you to communicate your perspective. For example:

You don't know that... The greater world outside your brain... you might be interested to read any of the 56,600 articles... your dialectical black/white thinking demonstrates a lack of perception... name that fallacy!

6. Perhaps the way to convey the point is for you to pretend Alex is real, and then watch the movie or read the book again. Maybe you'll have a new experience. Try this also with Jane Austin and RLS and maybe Zola, just for thrills. Report back.

7. There are many levels to the film... this doesn't mean, shouldn't and can't mean, that there is every level to this film. It is not the case that art can be every thing to every one. Art is a finite experience with specific meaning and limited message. People are fond of pretending that this isn't so... they are fond of imposing their own meaning and trying to make the case that any meaning can be found in any text...

Which is the problem we have currently with the Bible. See? See what sloppy thinking can get you?
posted by ewkpates at 6:38 AM on January 31, 2008


Metafilter: The coprolalia rep-FUCK!... rep-ASS!... rep-A BIG COCK! FUCKERS! FUCK NNNnrrrgggFUCK! represents sharing. BLOWJOB!
posted by Smedleyman at 8:51 AM on January 31, 2008


Well, I'm not sure why I even try. You're still being insulting, frankly.

I don't have time to refute you point by point, but there is one thing in particular that you said that really stands out for me, ewkpates:

Art is a finite experience with specific meaning and limited message.


Have you never studied art? I am an artist, and I can tell you that this statement misses the entire premise of art. Part of what is so amazing about great art, and, IMHO, Kubrick produced great art, is that there are depths and depths to discover in the work, different perspectives to see, and new ways of looking, feeling and thinking to uncover.

If you don't think that the violence in ACO is cartoonish, then I don't know what is. It is ultraviolence, sure, that's the term used within the film for it, but it is over the top. Picture in your mind for a minute the brawl in the abandoned theater, set to classical music. It has bodies flying through the air, people smashing windows on each others faces, etc. It is intentionally choreographed like a cartoon.

But your continuing to believe that fictional characters are real makes it hard to have this conversation, frankly.
posted by MythMaker at 8:57 AM on January 31, 2008


Yeah, there's really no point talking with someone who doesn't think there's a difference between fictional characters and real people.
posted by languagehat at 9:19 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not insulting you. You are choosing to feel insulted. Not the same problem.

What is interesting and useful is that 1) You don't think of art as a finite message, and 2) you think of "fictional" as somehow not real.

These are very good grounds for a discussion. In fact, we can't really discuss any particular art without starting here first. In my experience people often can't understand the problems of principle, and never get to them, instead arguing about interpretations far down the road that start in principle, and therefore cannot be resolved.

Bloom wrote an infamous book called the Closing of the American Mind... and whether you like it or not he does advance an important question about Relativism in American culture (in philosophy, but who cares, it's all art.)

Relativism is basically an dead end. Even if you could prove (which you can't) that art is relative, all you would accomplish would be to destroy all dialogue about art. You could either listen to fools say things like "The Potato Eaters represents the Old Testament virtue of Poverty" or limit your conversations about art to those who more or less agree with you.

Neither is acceptable. Art says something in particular, or it isn't art. It's just noise.

In addition, thinking of art as "just art", "just fiction", "just a movie", "just a nice song about a girl named Lucy", or "just a catchy story about God's only son" inevitably leads you to a non-experience of art.

Not only that, but how do you know that your experience of life is more real than your experience of art? You think you know your neighbor, but is he pretending to be someone he isn't? Is the character in an autobiography real? A biography? How do you tell a real biography from a fake? Why would you want to? Does it matter that the Potato Eaters were real people or not? Why?

No, it isn't a tenable claim that "fiction is fiction and life is life". Not at all.

Aside: I encourage you not to use the phrase "I am an artist". Generally among us artists this is a tip-off that the person is not only not an artist, but also has no idea about art at all. Just a suggestion... which you might not want... but I would want it, so I'm offering it to you.
posted by ewkpates at 9:25 AM on January 31, 2008


languagehat is not actually real. languagehat is, although few know this, a project by MIT that uses computer software to emulate online personalities.

You can believe languagehat is real. You can send languagae hat messages and get replies. When languagehat is to appear in public, MIT sends along someone from the lab to "play languagehat".

Certainly I can prove this, but that's not the point. The point is that we must assume "face value" in interpreting the world. Analysis, like my investigations of languagehat, may prove that "face value" isn't a viable assumption. But begin by thinking of languagehat as a person. Later, when presented the facts, you may have to reinterpret.

Fiction and reality are a matter of perspective. Why make the distinction? What does it serve? When you are only making the distinction to save yourself from an emotional encounter with Art or a whimsical interpretation of Life, then you are really just cheating yourself.
posted by ewkpates at 9:34 AM on January 31, 2008


Holy fucking fail. It's like Ayn Rand fucked The Matrix and this is the hideous beast that was born. I do not wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:59 AM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Alright, when I went off this morning, I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, ewkpates, and assume that you were suffering from Asperger's or something else that didn't allow you to understand metaphor, or satire, or really to be able to take an abstract reading of a work of art.

Because it was seeming to me that the central issue here was that your mind seems to work very concretely, non-figuratively, non-metaphorically, so that you can only read a film literally, and not abstractly. Things to you are either "real" or they don't exist.

But after your last two comments, it is clear you are a Troll, and as they say, don't feed the trolls.

And, as for being an artist, I have worked very hard to get to the place where I work professionally as a film maker in Hollywood, and I am proud to consider myself an artist. There are many in this town who don't, and I think it's an important distinction to make, and one I am proud to make.

Again, I'm not trying to feed the troll here (although I'm sure I am), but "Art says something in particular, or it isn't art. It's just noise." basically denies that art in the 20th century ever happened. Abstract art, abstract expressionism, modern art don't necessarily communicate one specific, particular thing to the viewer, it is what the viewer brings to the art that makes it what it is. And what about instrumental music? Is that not art? It doesn't "say something in particular," it simply is. Were Mozart's concerti not art?
posted by MythMaker at 11:08 AM on January 31, 2008


Metaphor is something, something specific. When someone uses a metaphor they are saying something, it isn't open to any interpretation you'd care to make. Abstract meaning and allusion are still about something specific, not "whatever anybody wants to say". A cloud is not art. "I see a tree", "no I see a bird." It's not a bird or a tree. Unless a painter paints a cloud, and then it could be a bird, or a tree or both, or neither... to get the artist YOU HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT. YOU CAN'T JUST SAY "I say it's whatever anyone wants it to be and I'm right because I'm an artist." Please.

Working hard has little to do with art. You sound a little like that guy who doesn't like Motzart in that movie... he worked hard, but he wasn't an artist.

Some abstract art isn't art. It is noise. I don't think art is whatever anyone wants to say it is. Once again, words have specific meanings. If they don't then they aren't words... they are sounds... noise.

Mozart was an artist. He was trying to convey something. If you don't have any idea what he was saying then you know you have some learnin' to get to. I don't like what he says sometimes. That's why I listen to Rossini. He shares my values.

Lastly, trolls, in my experience, say "it is because I say so". I'm not saying art is what I say it is... I'm saying it isn't what you say it is because what you say it is defines the rules of logic... art is not God. By making art in to your own little god and trolling people who don't agree you make yourself, well, a troll. Sorry.
posted by ewkpates at 4:06 AM on February 1, 2008


I'm going to choose to ignore you, ewkpates, because it's impossible to have a civil discussion about these things from your point of view, it is so ignorant.

Good day to you.
posted by MythMaker at 9:16 AM on February 1, 2008


Dunno if anyone cares, but I got Strangelove from Netflix, and it was awesome. Easily one of the funniest things I've seen in ages.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:13 AM on February 11, 2008


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