Features

Doug Thompson

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Netflix shows the movies that are the most popular among subscribers in your town.
Fayetteville’s most popular rentals recently were: “Jesus Camp,” “Stand By Me,” “Eraserhead,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula” and Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange.”
A documentary on some far-gone religious conservatives, the best family movie ever made that includes serious swearing and a brief but informative discussion of the religious backgrounds of easy girls, a cult hit noted for its weirdness, a horror flick known for its style and a masterpiece on rape, thuggish violence and brainwashing.
How I love this town. Is this a college town or what?
Let’s peer a little more through this peephole provided by Big Brother. Also, never forget that Big Brother is not the government, despite the George Bush administration. Big Brother is incorporated.
“Jesus Camp” is one I haven’t seen. It’s a documentary on a camp run by the most out-there religious conservatives you’re likely to find.
I’m sure it’s amazing, but keep something in mind: Considering the subjects of “Jesus Camp” as typical religious conservatives is like considering the dog owner in “It’s Me or the Dog” as a typical dog owner.
For those of you unfamiliar with “It’s Me or the Dog,” it’s about the only cable reality show I’ll watch. A no-nonsense professional dog trainer from Britain goes to families that have been rendered dysfunctional by the outrageous behavior of their dog. An owner whose overindulgence of the pet is almost beyond belief always caused the outrageous behavior.
“Stand By Me” is one of my favorites and one of these I got to see in a theater. Years ago, someone pointed out to me that the narrator, in the final scene, turns his computer off before going and playing with his kid. He turns the computer off without saving the document, it appears.
I’ll have to watch it again now to make sure my recollection is correct. If it is, what a great ending.
I haven’t seen “Eraserhead,” either, but I’ve heard about it for decades. It’s been a college campus cult favorite my entire adult life.
The 1992 version of “Dracula” was a bit of a disappointment for me when it came out in theaters. It has a lot of style but gets more hokey and unbelievable the longer it runs. Unfair as it might sound to call a vampire movie “unbelievable,” it ought to try at least. Today Guillermo del Toro could direct a movie that looks just as good and would convince you that it could have happened. “Pan’s Labyrinth” was even more bizarre — but you believed enough to be scared for the girl.
“Dracula” did make me a Gary Oldman fan, however. He’s over the top in this film, but does it so well. He’s alternatively charming, frightening, revolting, monstrous, dignified and a hopeless romantic. Part of the time, he’s doing all that while speaking Romanian. I don’t think another actor living could have pulled this role off.
“A Clockwork Orange” — what can one say?
This is not the type of movie one lightly recommends to friends. You can’t be sure how anyone will take it. Savagely violent and with more bare breasts than many a hard-core porno movie, this one’s a mind-bender.
The movie leaves out the book’s last chapter. More precisely, the movie is based on the original American version of the book, which leaves out the last chapter. The complete book was published in Great Britain.
Significantly, the last chapter is Chapter 21. Twenty-one years is the age of complete adulthood in Britain and America. In Chapter 21, Alex decides that although he’s been “cured,” he can’t go on living like before. He grows up. He also gives his reflections on everything that had happened.
The America editor for the book insisted that the last chapter be left off, bluntly telling author Anthony Burgess that American audiences “can take it.”
It may be the most inspired and influential piece of editing in postwar English language literature. It also destroyed the balanced structure Burgess had crafted. Later in life it galled Burgess that his most famous work wasn’t what he intended.
For what it’s worth, I agree with the editor.

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