Nailing his camera down in a corner of the Factory and letting the film run out, Andy Warhol is nothing less than cinema’s Lautréamont, "on boit le sang en léchant les blessures." Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange is the text at hand, not an enactment or even a read-through but an improvisatory distillate, an instantaneous record of a batch of amphetamine kooks making the words flesh. The hunky antihero (Gerard Malanga) is introduced in a close-up like a hangover Cocteau bust, a slow backward zoom reveals a cramped, leather-bound mise en scène that looks slapdash while in reality balancing several meticulous planes of action. "What’s your pleasure now, Scum Baby?" Motown replaces Beethoven as the droog’s music of choice, twice he launches into onanistic pirouettes to "Nowhere to Run" while one of the swells lounging in the background cackles like a mad scientist. The Ludovico technique proceeds amid ripped magazines, disco balls and dripping wax, the "reprogrammed" hustler is strapped to a chair and made to bellow through his bondage hood: "I feel pain!" Throughout these unbroken, unblinking takes, Edie Sedgwick is perched on the corner of the screen, a stranded mermaid swaying her slender arms and flicking cigarette ashes, a girlish sliver shimmering in the sadomasochistic murkiness. Warhol’s catatonic rough-trade parody, a rehearsal for a snuff spectacle, an astounding canvas of blasting frontal light and encircling chiaroscuro, and, finally, an invitation to the dance. ("Do what you like, but don’t keep me waiting," drone The Kinks as the party refuses to wind down.) If Kubrick didn’t watch this, then Fassbinder certainly did. With Ondine, J.D. McDermott, Tosh Carillo, Larry Latrae, and Jacques Potin. In black and white.
--- Fernando F. Croce