Posts Tagged ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Blackpaint 600 – “FOOD….AWLRIGHT?” Orange, Dogs and Prado

June 20, 2017

A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick (1971)

I was discussing High Rise (film of) recently with Paul Tickell and Phil Cairney, my director friends, and I compared it to Clockwork Orange.  No, they both said, check out the  theatricality of staging and acting in Orange, compared with High Rise (I paraphrase, of course; neither of them would say “check out”).  They were right, naturally.  The choreographed gut- kicking during the house invasion – “I’m SIINGING in the rain (thud)” – along with the cutting of Adrienne Corri’s cat suit, while Patrick Magee is forced to watch, and the attack on Dim to the Thieving Magpie music are theatre and opera, and I was going to say unique – then, of course, the attack by the nazis on the bouncer in  Cabaret, that’s to music, but not choreographed – and I suppose West Side Story…..  and  just about every Ken Russell music biopic has a sequence of classical music with violence, or sex, or sex and violence… so not unique then, or even rare.  But maybe uniquely malevolent and chilling.

For my money, the best line in the film is Magee’s; he is entertaining the hapless Alex and has come to realise that the youth he is sheltering was his main assailant:  “FOOD (bellowed suddenly)……. Awright? (strangled attempt to get voice under control).

Straw Dogs, Sam Peckinpah (1971) – now available on DVD

Invaluable for its accurate and touching portrait of Cornish country folk in the 70s – a giggling, knife-wielding ratcatcher, a teenage nymphomaniac, rustic rapists, a mentally challenged killer, a drunken malicious patriarch (Peter Vaughan, prefiguring Robert Shaw in Jaws).  Into the village to settle  come Dustin Hoffman, nerdy American maths genius and his wife, escaped local girl Amy (Susan George, in a tight white roll-necked sweater), who disports herself innocently before the depraved locals (with one of whom she has “history”).

The inevitable, in cinematic terms, happens; Hoffman’s character is enticed away and Amy’s old boyfriend turns up at the cottage; a double rape follows.  The furore about the film and its troubles with the censor arose from the fact that Amy appears to be enjoying and responding to the violent assault (the first one, by her old boyfriend, anyway).  Peckinpah has form in this elsewhere; see, for example, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”.

What I find interesting, watching it again after 45 years (!), is that Hoffman is apparently unaware of the attack on his wife (he must be both blind and stupid).  His defence of the cottage in the subsequent siege, his ruthless use of deadly violence, is motivated not by revenge, but by the territorial imperative.  “This is my house!” he asserts, as he chucks boiling water, bashes brains in and wields the huge mantrap.  Amy wants him to abandon the house and the mentally challenged killer (David Warner), who  he is ostensibly trying to protect.  She is VERY slow to blast the last assailant with a shotgun, when he attacks Hoffman from behind.  So, not a revenge movie; arguably, the Amy character could have been left out altogether and the story would have worked – although the atmospherics would have been less charged…  Unaccountably, Warner was uncredited in the cast, so I’ve made sure he gets a credit here.

More Prado

Impossible to go fully into the riches of the Prado (which I started last blog): so, two painters of whom I was aware, but only just, before seeing them here.  First, Joachim Patinir (Charon, St.Jerome, Temptation of Anthony Abbott) – blue, lowering skies, small, strange figures in a landscape, something of Georgione about him, maybe.

 

Patinir – Charon crossing the Styx

 

Patinir – St Jerome

Then, de Ribera – grey-white distorted bodies, sprawling across huge canvases. his Tityus lunging towards you across the gallery.  The obvious Caravaggio influence, coupled with a sort of dry abrasiveness of surface…

 

de Ribera – Tityus

 

de Ribera – Martyrdom of St Philip

Finally, Titian’s Andrians, having a fine old bacchanale, below; I like the little kid – is he/she about to urinate?   Hope not, for the “relaxed” lady’s sake.

Titian – Bacchanale of the Andrians

 

Lake District

Blackpaint

20.6.17

 

 

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Blackpaint 537- Rape in the High-Rise; OK because it’s the Seventies (sort of)?

March 21, 2016

High-Rise, Ben Wheatley (2015)

high-rise

Laing (Tom Hiddleston) at the high-rise supermarket

First, let’s play the tiresome game of influences and references (because it’s fun); the obvious one is Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange” – Jeremy Irons recalled closely the fantastic Patrick Magee’s crippled writer in the Kubrick film, as well as the general air of impending violence and social breakdown.  The neglected, precocious child left to his own devices to roam the ravaged building is like the boy in John Boorman’s “Empire of the Sun”, based on Ballard’s own semi-autobiographical book.  For some reason, I think of “American Psycho”; there’s something about the excellent Hiddleston’s coldness and the general lack of affect – and for the non-stop smoking, the smokiest film ever, Fritz Lang’s “M”.

The constantly escalating anarchic violence recalled Claude Faraldo’s 1973 grunt fest, “Themroc”, in which Michel Piccoli turns his apartment into a cave and eats a policeman he has roasted on a spit, having had sex with his sister (Piccoli, not the policeman, to be clear).  Finally, there is Pasolini’s “Salo” (1975), just for the sexual violence, perpetrated in this film on the women, but in Pasolini’s, on boys too.  There is no discernible eating of faeces in “High-Rise” however.

I saw the film in the Brixton Ritzy.  Back in 1990, I saw “The Grifters” there; Anjelica Huston (or was it Annette Bening?) was subjected to a beating about the kidneys with oranges wrapped in a stocking.  A young woman jumped to her feet and turned to the audience, angrily denouncing it as “sexist shit” and us in the audience, as complicit for watching it.  I recalled this 26 years later, as I watched Elisabeth Moss, heavily pregnant, being dragged off to be raped by two men and shortly afterwards, Sienna Miller being dragged off by her ankle to be raped, but this time, only by one man.

To be fair, no actual rapes happen on screen – although Sienna Guillory arrives at the “party” on a horse and demands to know “which of you men are going to fuck me up the arse?” and having descended from the horse, crouches down on all fours with a champagne glass balanced on her back, to facilitate her request and to reward the obliger(s).  You also see the tops of female heads bobbing above the crutches of men, who are casually drinking and conversing whilst seated naked on the floor.  Sienna Miller, bearing the cuts and bruises of her rape, appears later, waiting on Hiddleston and Irons, serving them wine, in a subdued, Stepford Wives fashion.

And all this, with no gasps of outrage and even a few laughs from women in the audience.  Maybe the sexual violence was OK because 1. the film was set in the seventies; 2. it was “ironic” in tone; 3. Ballard is now in Penguin Modern Classics, so the rapes have to stay (I presume they WERE in the book?); 4. Arguably, it’s essential to the plot and the atmosphere;  5. The rapes mostly happen off screen and 6. the screenplay was written by a woman (Amy Jump).

Actually, the film is an attempt to make a film of “High-Rise” as it would have been if made in the 70’s; a pastiche, essentially, like “The Artist”.  Brilliant piece of filmmaking, nevertheless.

And was that a real head that Tom peeled?  It certainly looked real….

 

interregnum

Interregnum

Blackpaint

21.3.16