From Tim Davis, Los Angeles:
I I almost always see eye to eye with you on your criticism on movies, except when I read your past reviews on certain Kubrick films. The case in point here is that of "A Clockwork Orange." In your review you say:
"Alex is violent because it is necessary for him to be violent in order for this movie to entertain in the way Kubrick intends. Alex has been made into a sadistic rapist not by society, not by his parents, not by the police state, not by centralization and not by creeping fascism -- but by the producer, director and writer of this film, Stanley Kubrick."
And yet a similar (yet much less prominent, I'll give you that) character is in Brian De Palma's movie "8MM" which I recently have watched and was much more disturbed by than the highly stylized "A Clockwork Orange." In your review of "8MM" you said:
"The answer comes almost at the end of the film, from its most vicious character: 'The things I do--I do them because I like them. Because I want to.' There is no comfort there, and the final shots, of an exchange of smiles, are ironic; Walker accepts that pure evil can exist, and that there are people who are simply bad; one of his killers even taunts the hero, 'I wasn't beaten as a child. I didn't hate my parents.'"
It appears to me that these movies resemble each other in regards to the two characters you are discussing in the above quotations. If anything, I feel that considering "A Clockwork Orange" came out in 1971 and "8MM" in 1999 (the year of Columbine), the world was much less prepared (?) for a movie like "A Clockwork Orange." This was much before the 24/7 news cycle and era of televised deaths, reality tv, etc. "A Clockwork Orange" brings up questions regarding free will and if Alex wasn't free to choose to do these horrible things himself then he was not really free. Would that be worse than being completely unable to do such evil acts, given that he was not free? This reminds me of what you say regarding the character in "8MM," the one that embodies the "pure evil" that Walker accepts. Kubrick is also showing us that evil people do exist, for no apparent reason other than that they enjoy being evil.
Ebert: In 1971 a film would have impacted me differently than in 1999. I have been thinking for some time that I need to return to "A Clockwprk Orange."