Monday, November 2, 2009

Natural Born Killers 15th Anniversary Director's Cut

It's hard to believe it's been fifteen years since Oliver Stone's groundbreaking film Natural Born Killers was released. Stone took the script by then up-and-coming writer/director Quentin Tarantino and took it from a standard blood-spattered action flick and turned it into a satirical repudiation of our media-fueled violence worshiping society.

Says Stone in the making of featurette:

"[T]he ultimate purpose of the movie—to make people think about the violence that's around them…the whole crimescape that has invaded American life and about the media's coverage of it. The media's built it up into a circus.

A lot of the younger, 90s filmmakers—I'm a little surprised that they think violence is cool and hip, And they play it that way—which is fine for a couple of films like that, but I can't see making a career out of it. Morally, it's a repugnant point of view to me…because I've been in Viet Nam, I've seen the effect of guns and it's pretty terrifying."

Stone certainly sounds like he's not only rebuking media sensationalism but the current filmmaking trend that has seen the like of Saw I-VI and the rise of the torture porn genre. Say what you will about Stone, when he discusses his philosophy behind the making of Natural Born Killers he comes across as thoughtful and intellectual--not the conspiracy theorist wackjob that some would make him out to be.

Stone uses stylistic effects, editing cuts and a throbbing soundtrack to heighten the effect of the story. The violence is graphic--but it's so over the top that it almost loses its impact. Perhaps the non-stop assault on our senses reflects how inured we've become to violence in our everyday lives: the Iraq war, drive-by shootings, etc.

The film features an amazing cast: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Sizemore, Tommy Lee Jones, Rodney Dangerfield and even a young Balthazar Getty in a small, short-lived role. But the real star is Stone's trippy use of rear screen projection, sitcom laugh tracks, animation and more to illustrate his thesis of how media has shaped our outlook and attitudes.

The 2-disc DVD includes the aforementioned making of featurette, a documentary exploring how NBK might be affected by today's instant communication technology like Facebook, Twitter, etc., deleted scenes, an alternate ending and more. Natural Born Killers is available on DVD and Blu-ray starting October 13th.

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