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Posts Tagged ‘A Clockwork Orange’

A slow month after a busy March, but one with a couple of gems, here are the contenders:

The Sisters Brothers – Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly play a pair of squabbling brothers working as enforcers.  The film has every trope of a western including the setting, and the characters, but it somehow isn’t a western.   Not without problems but a strangely rewarding film. The Sisters Brothers

Eighth Grade – Comedian Bo Burnham’s feature directing debut.  Set over the final week of Kayla’s (Elsie Fisher)final week in eighth grade at school. Kayla is shy, quiet, and introverted at school but has an outlet in the form of the motivational YouTube videos she posts from her bedroom.  I would be surprised if anyone watching doesn’t see something of themselves in Kayla, I certainly did. Eighth Grade

A Clockwork Orange – Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece satire based on Anthony Burgess novel of the same name.  Everything about the film is dialled up to eleven and completely over the top, I can see why many people would hate it, I love it. A Clockwork Orange

Greta – Neil Jordan films aren’t always perfect, but they are never uninteresting.  This is very true of Greta; an old-fashioned thriller with more than a nod to Hitchcock.  The film is far from perfect, but is always fun not least because of great performances from Isabelle Huppert, Chloë Grace Moretz, with scene stealing support from Maika Monroe.Greta

Avengers: Endgame – I was somewhere between underwhelmed and disappointed with Infinity War.  Endgame ups the ante in every way, not least the three hour runtime.  I’m pleased to report it more than delivered. Avengers Endgame

Hellboy – After all the bad reviews, I waited two weeks to see this film.  It isn’t good, but surprisingly, it isn’t as bad as has been reported.  David Harbour is ok in the title role but lacks both the humour and the presence of Ron Perlman.  What is really lacking is the Heart and humanity of Guillermo del Toro’s films.  Neil Marshall is the expert at modern genre films, there are moments when this shines through. There is little wrong with any individual scene, they just doing hang together.  Marshall’s absence from any publicity rings of studio interference, this could explain the incoherent edit.Hellboy

Long Shot – Once again, Charlize Theron proves she is at home in any genre, her comic timing is impeccable. Theron and costar Seth Rogen also have real chemistry. The script is sharp and snappy giving us the closest thing modern cinema can offer to a 40’s screwball.  The supporting cast including O’Shea Jackson Jr. Alexander Skarsgård, Bob Odenkirk, and an unrecognisable Andy Serkis are also outstanding.  Long Shot - Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen

As a reissue A Clockwork Orange isn’t in contention for Movie of the Month, leaving two real contenders.  Most months, Avengers: Endgame would be good enough to win, but, it doesn’t.  The best film I saw in April by a long way, and my Movie of the Month is: Eighth Grade.eighth-grade-postereighth grade poster

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Catching up on an old episode of The Matineecast got me thinking about movies set in dystopian futures. Ryan referred to dystopias that are not that far in the future, and via the movie Pleasantville (1998) he and his guest Sasha James Talked about how a nostalgic view of America in the 1950’s could be a dystopia for people from the present day. My first thought was that we could now be living in what would be the dystopian future that people in the 50’s feared. With dwindling natural recourses, and rising costs, losses of civil liberties and an over reliance on technology coupled with the threat of war and terrorism, we are probably closer to dystopia than utopia. With this in mind I have avoided movies set in an unrecognisable world to concentrate on dystopias that are not that different to the real world.

Movies like Gattaca (1997), V for Vendetta (2005) and In Time (2011) exist in a society that has adopted practices that oppress the masses and it is through rebellion that people are able to find a better life. There are other films like1984 (1984), Brazil (1985) and Code 46 (2003) that revel in their desperation and futility by pulling rug from under the hero, and the audience with it. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) and Children of Men (2006) find a happy balance where the despair is tempered by a glimmer of hope. The brilliance of Fahrenheit 451 the way we see a character comes to distrust what he has been taught to believe in and chooses to fight the system from within. We see a similar idea explored in the interesting if a little overrated Equilibrium (2002), set in a society where emotions are outlawed it also explores what it is to be human. Both these ideas are explored in the underrated and misunderstood RoboCop (1987). In there own way the characters in Rollerball (1975) and Death Race 2000 (1975). This is very different from District 13 (2004) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) whose protagonists are and remain outsiders. An interesting case is The Handmaid’s Tale (1990) whose main protagonists desire is only to escape the system but her desires bring her into the sphere of those who are trying to change things.

When you mention Mad Max many people think of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, in some ways the best film in the trilogy, but the original low budget Mad Max is actually equally as good in its own way. Set in a near future world were society is crumbling and law & order has begun to break down people will do what it takes to keep moving to stay on the road. It was relevant in its day but it has found new relevance in recent years. If we think about the glue that holds society together, it is not fear of prosecution, but a moral belief of right and wrong, if you take that bond away the world as we know it will crumble. We see the early days of this in Mad Max, and the subtlety with which this idea is displayed within a violent revenge thriller is why it is possibly the best dystopian movie. This breakdown of society is in the background of neo-noir Trouble in Mind (1985) and retro-future comic book inspired Streets of Fire (1984) but lacks the despair of Mad Max. The other movie that perfectly depicts society at a tipping point is Strange Days (1995). Made in the mid 90’s with LA’s troubles fresh in the memory and set just five years in the future, now more than a decade in the past, some would argue the world is a worse place now than what was depicted. Given the reality TV obsession of the last dozen years and current distrust of media and governments, The Running Man (1987) now seems strangely prophetic. Battle Royale covers some of the same ground but is all the more shocking in the way it casts children against society.

It is human nature to try and change and shape society, but some movies have taken this to an extreme. By travelling back in time from a dystopian future to change the present and reshape the future, their present. This is handled in different ways in different movies, the hero of Twelve Monkeys (1995) is haunted by memories of his own death and with it his failure to save the future. Millennium (1989) takes a different point of view as the characters from the future battle to hide the existence in the present through fear that it will change and potentially destroy the future with the effects of the paradox of time travel. While Millennium is afraid of the effects of paradox, The Terminator (1984) exists within a paradox. It is only within an effort to kill the hero who can save the world that he is conceived. The one thing all these movies have in common is the way they only give us glimpses of the dystopian future, a future created in the present.

One thing that is clear, there are as many differences as there are similarities within the genre, but the movies that are the best and that age the best are the ones that have a deeper relevance. This can be an overt plot, a subtle subtext or just a theme that anchors the story in reality.

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Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s I watched a lot movies America’s new wave, it is therefore no great surprise that the 1970’s featured heavily in my thoughts when picking “My Movie Year”. Here are a few that I considered but didn’t make the final cut:

1971: A Clockwork Orange, Dirty Harry, Vanishing Point, The French Connection, Two-Lane Blackto

1972: The Godfather, Deliverance, Cabaret, The Getaway, Silent Running

1973: American Graffiti, The Sting, Enter The Dragon, Don’t Look Now, Mean Streets

1974: Chinatown, The Godfather Part II, Blazing Saddles, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

1979: Apocalypse Now, Alien, Mad Max, Life of Brian, The Warriors

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