Movie spotlight: "A Clockwork Orange”

  • by: Colin Covert , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 7, 2013 - 4:24 PM

Stanley Kubrick’s witty, horrifying masterpiece “A Clockwork Orange” (⋆⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars, rated R for for sex and “ultraviolence”) so disoriented its early viewers that they couldn’t decide what it was. “An ideological mess, a paranoid right-wing fantasy masquerading as an Orwellian warning,” wrote Roger Ebert. New Yorker critic Pauline Kael accused Kubrick of “sucking up to the thugs in the audience.” “A banana peel for the emotions,” ventured the New York Times’ Vincent Canby. Adapting Anthony Burgess’ sci-fi novel about free will, social control and redemption, Kubrick created an assaultive, operatic essay depicting the dehumanizing forces of criminal violence and police-state repression as perverse twins. Impeccable in its ironic use of music and coldly beautiful visual design, and blessed with a stunning performance by Malcolm McDowell as Beethoven-loving thug Alex, the film has become a key moviegoing experience for generations of viewers. Forty years on it’s easier to recognize the film’s satiric intent, but the questions it raises about human depravity (and stubbornly refuses to answer) bite as sharply as ever. (Midnight Friday and Saturday, Uptown Theatre.)

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