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Sun Oct 6, 2013, 08:35 AM

Lover Boy reviews Oliver Stone's, Natural Born Killers

Not to me but kinda to me.

I've long told him his mind is under-utilized. He happily considers himself a "work a day grunt" as he puts it and he is actually content. He certainly works hard and I'm proud of who he is.

Yet, he also has a very keen mind and a feeling soul. It is part of what has always attracted me to him. We watch movies or whatnot and he always seems to get more from them than I ever will and I was the one who went to school to be a writer.

So, I asked him if I could post his thoughts on the movie,
Natural Born Killers. He was hesitant but agreed as a favor to me. It will be noted he is not a left-leaner but I'm OK with that. His comments include political observation but the review is not politically oriented.

Presented without edit or commentary, except to say --
SPOILER WARNING

* * * * * * * * *

If you see something in a movie but the director didn't intend it, is it really there?

I'm thinking of Oliver Stone's rendition of the Quentin Tarantino story, Natural Born Killers.

I cried, but that's OK because it was a happy cry.

From what I've read about the story it bears little resemblance to the original story though I will admit I like some on the directorial/storytelling devices Stone incorporates such as using a black and white flash cut and projected scenes to portray the underlying emotion or psychosis in a scene.

But as I was reading production notes and trivia I learned that Stone's interpretation of the film was about the commercialization of human tragedy through "reality TV" when the reality is: there are humans that have been brutalized by a desensitized society that either exploits or glosses over the human tragedy thus creating the predators that torment the society that spawned them.

Well, no fucking shit. That seemed obvious throughout the film. Too obvious. In fact, the point seemed so obvious it seemed obvious that it couldn't possibly be the point.

What I saw instead was:

We watch the man on the street interviews of people idolizing Mickey and Mallory and initially we are left to think "By Jove there is some deep sickness at work here." We are supposed to hold these people in contempt that they could so easily be star struck by such depravity.

But then, as Mickey and Mallory are making their final escape from the prison you see them heading down the hallway towards the promising blue light of the outside world. Yet -- after learning of the depravity of Scagnetti (the deranged cop played by Tom Sizemore) and McClusky (the prison warden played by Tommy Lee Jones) -- you actually feel a twinge of exhilarant hope that the protagonists will be free...in spite of just how murderous we know them to be.

In other words, for a moment we become the idolizing man on the street we had earlier held in contempt.

But near as I can tell that was never Stone's intent. From Stone's descriptions it seems more an anti-capitalist you-commercializing-pigs-got-what's-coming screed the cranky, old socialist tends toward.

To me it's about 2 people clawing their way from the pit they were born in. Sure, people die but it's not like they're innocent people because -- as the Bible will tell you and the news will verify -- there is no such thing as innocence on this world.

I think an otherwise great film was "ruined" at the end by showing M&M together with a large, happy family. This exit to family also somewhat diminished the other Tarantino script (but also not directed by him) True Romance. Had the film ended with the grainy TV camera shot looking up as they limp away arm-in-arm I think it would have preserved a powerful, predatory uncertainty. Showing them as a happy family relieves us of the burden of having rooted for them. It's good to know they went on to be better humans then the parents that bore them but how much more powerful could it have been to know the lovers wandered off and remained at large, for all we know, very capable of erupting again.

Contrast this with True Romance. Clarence and Alabama started in love. The violence that swept them away was secondary; it was their reaction to save the love which was the beginning of who they were. In Kill Bill, the Bride essentially starts "in love" when she leaves behind her life as an assassin for the love of her child and her love-born reaction to having lost that child.

In NBK, M&M were born from hatred and depravity. It was what they came from, it was all they knew and they never had a chance to know anything else except from TV sitcoms parodied in the opening act. They became capable of love in spite of that. That was their Odyssean journey. Stone robbed the power of that idea from the story showing M&M happily playing with their children. While itself a good thing it robbed the audience of the joyous dread that M&M might once again strike out at us. It robbed us of the terror that should make us beg their forgiveness for what we did to them and by so begging maybe come to some form of penance and improvement. Taken rightly, the story should make us better the way the Israelites were improved having witnessed and then survived the calamities unleashed by God. You know you're no better than the other guy who is getting pasted before your very eyes so let's just fall to the ground covering our heads with dust and pray we never get what we so richly deserve.

That's what makes their escape so powerful. We want our demons to escape from the prison so that they may survive in the shadows, free to torment us the moment we backslide because if they do not then we -- the frail, reveling, over-commercialized, petty creatures that we are -- will never be improved. We need them to scare us out of the pit they were born into but we choose to slide into through our apathy, greed and cowardice.

In the end, that strikes me as the difference between what Stone filmed and I watched. It could be called the same film but Stone sees the world in materialistic terms as socialists tend where I tend to see things in a spiritual context. But if Stone never meant it to have a spiritual context does it really exist?

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