|TITLE & REVIEW
The Green MileThis film was based on the serialised novel by Stephen King , adapted for the screen and directed by Frank Darabont . The last time this collaboration happened was also a period-piece prison movie - The Shawshank Redemption, one of the best films ever made. And this movie will not disappoint. It is much more than simply a retread of the other film.
The cast is top-notch. Tom Hanks [ Toy Story 2] is the narrator, a prison guard in 1935 Louisiana. James Cromwell [Star Trek: First Contact] is the Warden, David Morse [Langoliers] is Hanks' sidekick, and Doug Hutchison [ X-Files , S:AAB] as the token evil guard. The prisoners include Graham Greene [Maverick] and Harry Dean Stanton [ Escape from New York].
The plot concerns a gigantic African-American, John Coffey, who has been sentenced to death for the murder of 2 white girls. But as you can guess, he is probably innocent. Into the bargain, he has a supernatural power, the ability to heal wounds and diseases, and even to raise the dead. John Coffey's initials are JC - he is clearly a representation of Jesus Christ.
Michael Clarke Duncan [who plays JC] worked on Armageddon , and it was Bruce Willis who suggested he apply for the role.
The movie is filled with the usual cliches - as well as the evil guard there is also the pet mouse, here called Mr Jangles. Another thing is the political correctness. Of the 4 prisoners on Death Row, the 3 amiable ones are ethnic minorities - American Indian, Cajun and African-American. The white prisoner, in comparison, is a complete and utter bastard. On the other hand, as Will Smith said in Fresh Prince of Bel Air - Any time you see a white man in prison, you know he did something BAD!
A Clockwork OrangeThis film has been banned in the UK [by the director, not the BBFC!] since the early 1970s [before this reviewer was born!] and only now the director is dead has it been granted a UK release again. This reviewer saw the film on 17th March 2000 for a couple of reasons; firstly, this was the first day of release. Secondly, 17th March is St Patrick's day, and there is no better time to see a film with Orange in the title.
Alex is portrayed by Malcolm McDowell [ Star Trek: Generations]. McDowell's voice-over starts in a bored tone, but becomes far more engaging as the film continues.
The culture depicted in the film has an apparent fascination with sex; no doubt Kubrick was inspired by the sexual revolution of the period in which the film was made. The futuristic aspects are best conveyed by the milk bar and the slang dialect used, which Burgess created by inserting Russian words. However, the only futuristic aspect in Alex's flat is his collection of micro-cassettes. Also, the scene in the indoor market features some very dated futuristic 1970s synthesizer music. Incidentally, in that scene the 2001 - a Space Odyssey soundtrack LP cover is prominently displayed.
Alex lives in a hi-rise council flat, and steals from the rich. This class war is illustrated by one of his victims, who tells him You little slummie bastard, I'll teach you to rob from REAL people!
Alex's gang turn on him, and he ends up jailed for murder. While in prison we learn more about his character - the Crucifixion scene is certainly an eye-opener.
The Government seeks to remove Alex's natural instincts for sex and violence with brainwashing and mind control. There are several moral problems with this. To start with, without his capacity for violence Alex cannot defend himself. And like destroying his ability to enjoy music, the removal of his sexual expressiveness is a serious attack on his quality of life. This attitude to Alex's personality has more to do with revenge than to any concept of justice.
The title? An orange is a living thing, like Alex - but he is made clockwork when he is brainwashed; turned into a machine.
The brainwashed Alex is released from prison, but everything has changed for him. His parents have a lodger in his room, the police confiscated his property to compensate his victims, and his victims violently attack the defenceless lad. Of note is a cameo by Dave Prowse [Darth Vader] as the crippled writer's bodyguard.
The ultimate irony? Kubrick based his script on the USA version of the novel, which for some reason lacked the final chapter. Yes, the UK version of the novel gives the REAL ending, above and beyond what happens in the film. Luckily WWW.ORB-Store.COM gives ALL versions of the film AND the book! :)
Being John MalkovichThe first half of the film is hilarious: out-of-work puppeteer John Cusack gets a job on a miniature level in a skyscraper, and discovers a portal in his office that leads to the mind of John Malkovich. Also, the scenes with Charlie Sheen [!] are worth a mention; he successfully sends up his public image as a lech!
The second half is a lot more surreal. Of special note is the scene when JM enters his own portal.
There IS a reason for the portal's existence - otherwise there would not be any way of resolving the plot. Be warned, the ending is NOT your standard Hollywood happy ending.
John Cusack has done off-the-wall stuff before, such as the excellent Grosse Point Blank. Cameron Diaz , OTOH, is a mainstream Hollywood actress who has really stretched herself for this role. She has frumped herself up and donned a Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio wig which really proves that LA Madame Heidi Fleiss was correct when she said that blonde hair could make a plain woman look attractive.
New director Spike Jonze [3 Kings] makes a cameo appearance - though unlike Hitchcock he actually speaks!
Return to the March 2000 Page.
Return to the ORBzine Homepage.
© Speculator 2000-5