Tag: Stanley Kubrick

A Clockwork Orange — Review

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4Star

by Bret W.

This review was originally published to the now-defunct website The People’s Reviews in September 2000.

Straight on the heels of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick has released a film that goes completely the other way in the manner of a glimpse into the future. Where 2001 showed the future to be serene and peaceful (albeit complex and dark in the incident portrayed), A Clockwork Orange shows a future where the youth are interested only in the Ultra-Violent. A homeless man says it all, when he speaks of the conquest of other planets in space and how men don’t care about the state of lawlessness the Earth has lapsed into.

The central character is Alexander Delarge, or Alex, who is the leader of a band of hoodlums who spend their nights terrorizing the local population, destroying property, stealing cars, and clashing with other bands of hoodlums. The members of his gang, however, find his methods tiresome and desire larger returns for their work. He squashes this brief mutiny only to be betrayed by the mutineers, and finds himself serving time in prison for murdering a woman.

At the prison, he learns of a medical procedure that is being tested that is supposed to get prisoners out of jail quicker. He volunteers for the process, which is a conditioned-response training that makes him ill when he views acts of violence. After two weeks he is released back into the world of violence from which he can no longer defend himself, and ends up more pathetic than the least of his victims.

While A Clockwork Orange is a social commentary on the perils of mind control, it is also a tale of violence in a world gone very wrong. Kubrick’s powerful imagery and shocking use of color, coupled with Malcolm McDowell’s tremendous no-holds-barred portrayal of the most ultra-violent Alex, team up to make this one of the most high-impact films of all time. Even by today’s standards, this is an extremely nasty and violent film which leaves a lasting image in the viewer’s brain. It’s almost frightening to think of the mind that could dream up such violence, let alone visualize it for the big screen.

The video in the Kubrick Collection is released in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, which means that you get a letterbox effect but one that is not as severe as with 70mm Panavision (1.87:1 aspect ratio). Even if you do not like widescreen editions, it’s very unobtrusive, and still shows the panorama of the widescreen cinema shot. What you lose is a thin line at the top and bottom of the screen, and what you gain is the breathtaking art in Kubrick’s talented eye. You also lose the pan-and-scan video view, which can be very annoying even to those who dislike the widescreen video format.

Regardless, those who haven’t seen A Clockwork Orange would do very well to see it. Fans of Kubrick, as well as fans of Tarantino and Rodriguez, will love this film. I place it in my all-time top ten list of films.

Full Metal Jacket – Review

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4Star

by Bret W.

Many films have been made about the Vietnam conflict and the state of American society at that time.  Full Metal Jacket, however, is the definitive Vietnam war film.  Kubrick captures the full scope of the journey from boot camp to Mei Cong, and it’s not a pretty trip.

It starts with the dehumanizing of the young Marine recruits, first at the Paris Island barbershop, and later in their first introduction to the Drill Instructor.  The D.I. has a job to do and he does it well: he breaks the individual spirit to build a team, a single unit of men from a kaleidescope of boys.  The journey for the recruits is long and dark and difficult, and takes each recruit down a different path.  For Pvt. Joker, its a journey from the smart-alec kid to the hardened stand-up man.  For Pvt. Pyle, however, its a much darker journey that takes him to the depths of his inner evil and ends in two deaths.

From Paris Island to Vietnam, the tone is shifted from the strict regimen of boot camp to the lax atmosphere of death and destruction.  Joker has become a field journalist for Stars and Stripes, the military news paper.  He’s become disillusioned with his duties in mocking up his stories to make them seem more positive to the soldiers who read them.  Sent to the front on a field assignment after the Tet Offensive, he meets up with Cowboy, who was in Joker’s unit at Paris Island.  They take their squad into Hue City (pronounced “Way”) to face death and destruction, and the frustration and impotence of war.

Full Metal Jacket is a stark depiction of one of the blackest spots on American History.  Kubrick masterfully shows the full range of emotion throughout; the fear and anguish, the anger and loneliness, the frustration and cockiness.  He touches on all of it without holding back.

I once said that this was the definitive Vietnam movie, but it’s more than that.  It’s the definitive war movie.  It shows much more than just the killing and the death.  It shows the aloof calm exterior hiding the tense unsure interior.  It examines the depths of the war and how the war makes the evil inside men acceptable and justified.

Kubrick puts all of these elements under the microscope and presents them to the audience in their rawest form to give to us the finest war movie ever made.