Thursday 28 January 2010

The Incredible Suit's 30-Minute Freeze-Frame Challenge #2: A Clockwork Orange

Today's 30-Minute Freeze-Frame Challenge comes courtesy of mysteriously-named viewer 'The Doctor', who, I assume, is not the last remaining Time Lord, nor is he spectacularly-bequiffed legend and resolute The Incredible Suit ignorer Mark Kermode, who often goes by that moniker. In fact I'd like to know if he's a doctor at all because I'm sure you can get arrested for that kind of self-misdescription.

Anyway The Doctor suggested that Stanley Kubrick's 1971 bonkersfest A Clockwork Orange should be submitted to the rigorous testing of the 30-Minute Freeze-Frame Challenge (I've got to come up with a snappier name), and who am I to argue?

Before we examine the evidence, if you've got absolutely no idea what I'm wittering on about, go and read Challenge #1: The Shining before carrying on with this drivel. I'm not laying any pipe here, people.

So, still lacking a fanfare but occasionally speaking French nevertheless, let's crack on.

0:30:00 Here's Alex quelling dissent in the ranks of his droogs. As usual for Kubrick, even a shot of three spotty oiks in long johns and ludicrous codpieces looks perfect.

1:00:00 Here's the Minister of the Interior inspecting a prison cell at random. Turns out it's Alex's cell, which is convenient as he's about to unwittingly volunteer himself for the Minister's new rehabilitation wheeze. Quelle coincidence! Oh yeah, lovely shot. Perspective and that.

1:30:00 Here's Alex being booted out of his own house by his dear old Pee and Em. Kubrick does like to throw his backgrounds out of focus when his characters are feeling isolated, which is pretty much all the time. cf The Shining at 1:00:00.

2:00:00 Here's Alex chatting to his psychiatrist in hospital. I'm tempted to think that Kubrick cast his films entirely based on interesting faces - Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Malcolm McDowell, Keir Dullea etc - although Tom Cruise buggers that rule up a bit.


Stanley Kubrick is making a mockery of the 30MFFC, as they're all now calling it. With his insistence on perfect composition, lighting and choice of lens, focal length and actors who look a bit weird, it appears you can indeed pause his films at any random point and get what looks like a production still. It's also because he uses very long, static takes without crazy whip pans or abstract cutaways that he succeeds at the Challenge.

Despite this whole idea looking and smelling like a complete waste of time, I can assure you that it's not that easy to pass the 30MFFC. I've tried it with loads of films and almost all of them fail. I can only conclude, therefore, that Stanley Kubrick is cheating and should immediately be banned from competing again.

So let's have some more suggestions. This blog is an interactive experience, you know (i.e. I can't be arsed coming up with all the ideas).

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  1. I'm interested to see how The Godfather would do. I can't try it myself becuase our DVD player is broken.

  2. I'm keen to see a fail... perhaps a Michael Bay movie?

  3. Alfred, consider The Godfather on the list. Unless my DVD player breaks too, which would be terrible because I'd have to buy a shiny new blu-ray player.

    Anon, sadly I do not and will not have access to any Michael Bay films. For the sake of argument let's just say they're all fails. And shit.

  4. I've heard that ridley scott movies are quite good for this sort of thing. I'd start with blade runner. I wouldn't bother with his brother.

  5. Blade Runner is now on the list. I don't know His Brother.

  6. Sir Alf will be appearing in a 30MFFC near you very soon.

  7. Thanks muchly, Mr Suit.
    I sometimes lie awake wishing I was a real Doctor so I could prescribe myself awesome drugs and right sick notes for myself. Alas, I'm just a regular old fake Doctor of gonzo journalism, like Hunter S Thompson, who also had a predilection for prescribing himself drugs.
    And while I'm on the subject of Hunter S., I believe Terry Gilliam's faithful rendering of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas might be worthy of 30MFFC... there's some lovely visuals in there even if you haven't licked a hallucinogenic toad before watching.

  8. Well now Doc, I haven't seen F&L but Terry Gilliam is certainly a candidate for the 30MFFC. Watch this space! Actually don't. Read the blog instead of watching this space, it'll be less dull (just).

  9. Yeah... this space doesn't do much.