Thursday, March 9, 2017

Natural Born Killers (1994)

Natural Born Killers (1994): written by Quentin Tarantino, David Velez, Richard Rutowski, and Oliver Stone; directed by Oliver Stone; starring Woody Harrelson (Mickey), Juliette Lewis (Mallory), Tom Sizemore (Scagnetti), Rodney Dangerfield (Mallory's Father), Russell Means (Old Indian), Robert Downey, Jr. (Wayne Gale), and Tommy Lee Jones (Warden McClusky): Still as bracing and fresh and horrifying and pertinent and exciting and revolting now as it was in 1994. Maybe moreso. 

From a story by Quentin Tarantino, Natural Born Killers is the best movie either Tarantino or director/co-writer Oliver Stone was ever involved with. The often dizzying shifts in film stock and POV mark a progression for Stone from similar effects in JFK. They also anticipate Tarantino's Kill Bill, only here they're actually about something other than Tarantino's desire to wow while remaining substanceless. 

You could call it American Scream. You could call it American Dream. It's uncompromising in the most disturbing of ways, a restless meditation on a society's love of violence and the media's love of anything that secures ratings, no matter how vile or dangerous. 

I think it's a Top 100 All-Timer, a Juvenalian yawp of barbaric, cosmic, comic horror. The whole cast dazzles, though none moreso than Rodney Dangerfield as a monstrous father to Juliette Lewis' monstrous daughter. The soundtrack/score is also a triumph, highlighted by a repeated use of Leonard Cohen as a sort of mournful commentator-in-song on the horrors onscreen, suggesting that Stone may have actually read Cohen's Beautiful Losers. This is Trump's America. You're soaking in it. Highly recommended.

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