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Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

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Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Old 08-16-20, 11:39 AM
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Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

In light of our country and world *potentially* falling apart, let’s look back at one of the most notorious films of the 1990: Natural Born Killers. This is a film that stares into the abyss and says, “what a rush!”. If you think I’m praising the film: I’m not. It is a film so cowardly to not take a real moral stand on anything and instead revels in an orgy of on-screen violence and glorifying serial killers and then clucks its tongue and say “tsk tsk, isn’t it terrible the way the media glorifies serial killers?” It is just an evil film. There’s no getting around it. The “heroes”, Mickey and Mallory bludgeon, maim, rape and kill through a mountain of victims who are portrayed as little more than cartoon caricatures of human beings, so it’s “okay” to root for M and M. It was a shocker when it came out and inspiration for people to commit murder. (One of the Columbine shooters dressed themselves as Mickey Knox before the tragic shooting) The ending montage is kind of joke in light of what’s happening now: “Oh my God, Amy Fisher, The Menendez Brothers, OJ Simpson! IT’S THE APOCALYPSE!”)

On the plus column: the performances by Harrelson and Lewis are stellar; the soundtrack is incredible; the editing is mind-blowing considering that this was before digital editing and it weaves a one-of-a-kind phantasmagoric spell on anyone who watches it; and Oliver Stone did a great job of directing it. It’s a movie that’s both amazing and reprehensible at the same time.

Do you think it has any relevance today or is it simply a relic of a decade that didn’t have much in the way of real problems?
Old 08-16-20, 11:57 AM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

First time i saw the movie i hated it, but rewatched it many times and i now consider it pretty much a classic.

I think your assessment of the movie is way off base. I think the movie does a good job of showing the cyclical pattern of abuse and violence and how the media revels in pushing it on to an increasingly voyeuistic audience who are increasingly desensatized to violence. Its relevance today is even more so than when it came out. I knkw Tarantino was very verbal in his hatred of the movie, but i am not much of a fan of his, so it does nothing in forming my own opinion.

Old 08-16-20, 11:59 AM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I just watched it a week ago and it's still a masterpiece. The thing is that it wasn't glorifying violence it was a satire on the media glorifying violence. The director's cut is one of the best films of the 90's.

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Old 08-16-20, 12:02 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I rewatched a few months ago.

Incredibly entertaining. Lots to say. Predictive and aware - similar to Idiocracy and God Bless America. All around bombastic editing and energy so it plays like a good album.
Old 08-16-20, 01:09 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by james2025a
First time i saw the movie i hated it, but rewatched it many times and i now consider it pretty much a classic.

I think your assessment of the movie is way off base. I think the movie does a good job of showing the cyclical pattern of abuse and violence and how the media revels in pushing it on to an increasingly voyeuistic audience who are increasingly desensatized to violence. Its relevance today is even more so than when it came out. I knkw Tarantino was very verbal in his hatred of the movie, but i am not much of a fan of his, so it does nothing in forming my own opinion.
Maybe. NBK seems like a film that wants its cake and to it too. It wants to admonish the media's fetishizing of violent criminals by fetishizing violent criminals and use irony as a insurance policy. Also, like A Clockwork Orange, it dehumanizes the victims in the story by making them one-dimensional cartoon characters (except the Indian in the movie). Even Reservior Dogs portrays the cop as a believable human being--that's why the torture scene in that movie is so horrifying. Indeed, if the film made the victims realistic (as well as Downey Jr's, Jones, and Sizemore's characters) it might have slapped society awake rather than making something the Columbine shooters watched over and over again before going on their murderous rampage.

Last edited by PatD; 08-16-20 at 01:20 PM.
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Old 08-16-20, 01:56 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by PatD
Maybe. NBK seems like a film that wants its cake and to it too. It wants to admonish the media's fetishizing of violent criminals by fetishizing violent criminals and use irony as a insurance policy. Also, like A Clockwork Orange, it dehumanizes the victims in the story by making them one-dimensional cartoon characters (except the Indian in the movie). Even Reservior Dogs portrays the cop as a believable human being--that's why the torture scene in that movie is so horrifying. Indeed, if the film made the victims realistic (as well as Downey Jr's, Jones, and Sizemore's characters) it might have slapped society awake rather than making something the Columbine shooters watched over and over again before going on their murderous rampage.
I think the most important victim is the hostage in the motel. It's positioned perfectly, because the movie and yes, Mikey and Mallory even have been fun up until that point. There's no punches pulled in her treatment. She is frightened, vulnerable, it's heatbreaking. Mallory dismisses her like she's nothing. We see Mikey threatening her with his knife while she's completely helpless, as though he thinks this makes him a badass instead of just a coward. It's a real turning point in the movie, as this is where as a viewer Mikey and Mallory become irredeemable.

I remember someone angrily walking out at that point when I saw the movie opening night.
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Old 08-16-20, 02:25 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by Crocker Jarmen
I think the most important victim is the hostage in the motel. It's positioned perfectly, because the movie and yes, Mikey and Mallory even have been fun up until that point. There's no punches pulled in her treatment. She is frightened, vulnerable, it's heatbreaking. Mallory dismisses her like she's nothing. We see Mikey threatening her with his knife while she's completely helpless, as though he thinks this makes him a badass instead of just a coward. It's a real turning point in the movie, as this is where as a viewer Mikey and Mallory become irredeemable.

I remember someone angrily walking out at that point when I saw the movie opening night.
That's true. And the Indian. If the film had stuck with tone in the whole film it would been a devastating social commentary. But, after Mickey and Mallory leave the Indian's home and hightail it the pharmacy, it's back to cartoon-land. (Watch the scene with the pharmacist and see how broadly the character is played. He even makes a cartoon grimace when he realizes Mickey and Mallory are in his store)
Old 08-16-20, 02:39 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I re-watched it last summer. It's a fantastic satire/criticism of media and anti-heroes. I wish they kept the original ending (in the deleted scenes...), but Stone's reason for cutting it makes sense.

This flick totally holds up.
JFK, on the other hand...
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Old 08-16-20, 02:45 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I haven't watched this movie in a long time, but I always thought it was of Stone's best and way ahead of its time, not just in ideas but filmmaking techniques. Stone threw everything at the wall in this movie, and somehow, despite every reason why it shouldn't, it seemed to stick.

I think it's a very clear satire, but the best satire sometimes blurs the lines. And the best art tends to be confrontational and inspires powerful reactions. I think bringing up copycat killings is a cheap way to try to discredit a movie you don't like. Is that what you bring up when you talk about Taxi Driver? The artist can't control how others perceive the art. He can try, but some people are just misguided.

This thread has made me decide to do a long overdue rewatch.
Old 08-16-20, 02:50 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I should point out that the soundtrack got extensive play in my car as well. I remember how big soundtracks were during that time. This one, The Crow, Reality Bites were a few that almost all my friends had.
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Old 08-16-20, 02:58 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by Dan
I re-watched it last summer. It's a fantastic satire/criticism of media and anti-heroes. I wish they kept the original ending (in the deleted scenes...), but Stone's reason for cutting it makes sense.

This flick totally holds up.
JFK, on the other hand...
Whatís wrong with JFK? Sure itís theories are kind of crazy, but itís so fun to watch.
Old 08-16-20, 03:12 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Can we just take a second and acknowledge Stone's streak from Salvador (1986) to Any Given Sunday (1999) is one of the most impressive stretches by any director, ever. You're talking twelve consecutive films that are extremely interesting, to say the absolute least. Robert Richardson operating at the highest level throughout that run. Also a string of career best acting performances.
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Old 08-16-20, 03:48 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by Mabuse
Whatís wrong with JFK? Sure itís theories are kind of crazy, but itís so fun to watch.
Seconded. JFK could rival The X-Files in terms of pulsating paranoia, and it's a hell of a lot more entertaining than the aforementioned.
Old 08-16-20, 04:41 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by Finisher
Can we just take a second and acknowledge Stone's streak from Salvador (1986) to Any Given Sunday (1999) is one of the most impressive stretches by any director, ever. You're talking twelve consecutive films that are extremely interesting, to say the absolute least. Robert Richardson operating at the highest level throughout that run. Also a string of career best acting performances.

Uh...U-Turn wasn't that interesting to me and I have only been able to sit through it once. That said, I'll give you most of the others.

I too am in the camp that NBK is an underrated classic. I remember it was the first movie to come out at the very start of my Senior year in H.S. I was big into movies and had been following it through the magazines so I was very fascinated by it. I also remember them doing a novelization in the style of the sensational books that were popular for similar real life stories at the time. My initial thoughts were that it was a bit sporadic, but definitely had a raw energy to it. While QT has since disowned the movie, the fact that his name was on it as a story credit had me hooked because True Romance was a movie that had floored me when I saw it. Nowadays, I actually see it as not only as a satire on the media and violence, but also a foreshadowing of the power of the whole "reality tv" craze. I truly think Stone could re-release this movie and not need to change a single thing except the end montage. Start to include bits from the reality TV series that took over , include a shot of The Apprentice with Trump, and then the final shot is him getting sworn in as President before cutting to Cohen's The Future.
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Old 08-16-20, 06:25 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

The director's cut of JFK is awesome. It needs a 4K release.
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Old 08-16-20, 06:39 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by Why So Blu?
The director's cut of JFK is awesome. It needs a 4K release.
I prefer the theatrical cut (the DC has a scene that mentions Clay Shaw before he's introduced into the movie proper). But *YES* JFK needs a 4K release. So does Nixon, his most underrated film.
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Old 08-16-20, 07:17 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Remember renting this on VHS in 1995 from Video USA.

I saw it in the Spring and it still holds up though the choice of using Indian or middle eastern music during the prison riot is strange

Woody one of the better actors in the biz who does not get the respect he deserves.
Old 08-16-20, 07:18 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I should point out that the soundtrack got extensive play in my car as well. I remember how big soundtracks were during that time. This one, The Crow, Reality Bites were a few that almost all my friends had.
The movie soundtrack unfortunately a relic of the past and maybe could have its own separate demise of the movie soundtrack thread
Old 08-16-20, 07:51 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by PatD
I prefer the theatrical cut (the DC has a scene that mentions Clay Shaw before he's introduced into the movie proper). But *YES* JFK needs a 4K release. So does Nixon, his most underrated film.
Nixon is a great film, too. I prefer the director's cut edition, as well. I have the original BD release - the "election year" version. I think Kino picked up the rights after.
Old 08-17-20, 12:49 AM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I did end up doing a rewatch earlier today, and I think it absolutely holds up. I forgot just how insane it gets toward the end. There's definitely a lot of energy in the film. First time I've seen it on Blu-ray and with the added benefit of much better speakers than the last time I saw it. It's definitely a full experience, both visually and aurally.

It's a shame that Stone seems to have gone off the deep end the last few years. I'm sure he has pissed off a lot of people, too. But he really did loom large over cinema for a while. I kind of forget about that since he has largely been absent from the conversation for a while.
Old 08-17-20, 10:09 AM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I never quite understood the shift in his style to something that was so simple and understated. Like put Natural Born Killers next to W. Itís like a different filmmaker.

Tarantino and PTA did it too. They really abandoned the adventurous and fun style all at once. Does that come with age? Itís not wrong. Just different.

Scorsese has gone in and out of it. But put Silence next to Wolf of Wall Street. There arenít many who can really make a film that way. I guess I just kinda miss the feeling. People have music and sports and other things to give them that euphoric feeling. I always got it from movies.
Old 08-17-20, 11:06 AM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by JeffTheAlpaca
The movie soundtrack unfortunately a relic of the past and maybe could have its own separate demise of the movie soundtrack thread
What are you talking bout Willis?!

Supervised and produced by Trent Reznor, it was his first dip of his toe into working in film and it’s an eclectic sound landscape of world music, rock, rap, everything. Peter Gabriel and some of his own stuff. The soundtrack is arguably the more important piece of work.
Old 08-17-20, 11:11 AM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

There was even a music video by NIN called "Burn."

The one thing that pisses me off is that the Warner Bros BD does not have the stuff that was on the previous Pioneer boxed set LD or DVD from Trimark.





^ That version had introductions to all of the deleted scenes from Stone and that NIN music video and a bunch of other misc items.
Old 08-17-20, 12:59 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

I assume the alpaca is talking about movie soundtracks in general, not necessarily the NBK one.
Old 08-17-20, 04:51 PM
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Re: Natural Born Killers--A Trite Relic or Timely Portent?

Originally Posted by mndtrp
I assume the alpaca is talking about movie soundtracks in general, not necessarily the NBK one.
Oh, I took him the wrong way.

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