Natural Born Killer
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Natural Born Killers

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Often when you see ‘Director’s Cut’ on a film there are only minor differences between what you get and what was shown in the theaters. In Natural Born Killers, the director’s cut represents the addition of over 150 scenes that where cut by the MPAA to avoid an NC-17 rating. Perhaps one of the most violent films of all times, NBK (as it is often called) is at the core a love story. Mickey and Mallory are a young couple deeply in love. They travel around the southwest searching for a way out of their dysfunctional upbringings. Oh, by the way, Mickey and Mallory are serial killers that make Ted Bundy seem like an amateur. This young couple revels in violence, mayhem and destruction. They stop to kiss during the commission of their heinous acts. This is a story of contrasts, a story of extremes and a story of disdain for the media that has formed most of it’s audience.

Woody Harrelson plays the serial killer Mickey. This is a bet of an irony since his own father was convicted of being a serial killer. Harrelson shows just how far away from TV’s ‘Cheers’ his acting abilities has taken him and it gives us some insight in to how bright his professional future will be. Harrelson can switch at a moment’s notice between a sedate, seemingly rational human being to a raving demon bent on killing and hurting as many as possible. For example, he sits calmly by eating a Key Lime Pie as his wife kicks a man to death. Harrelson as complete command over his voice, facial expressions and mannerisms resulting in his ability to transform completely into his character. Nothing shows this talent off to the degree that NBK. Add to this mix the over the top performance of Tommy Lee Jones as the warden of the prison Mickey and Mallory are sent and the slimy TV ‘investigative reporter’ so well played by Robert Downey Jr.. Every role in this film, from the smallest to the leads, is cast to perfection.

All this attention to detail fell on the shoulders of the director, Oliver Stone. Stone is perhaps one of the most imaginative directors of our time. He is not afraid of trying something new, going off in a different direction or breaking ground as many directors are, Stone appears to remain committed to the art of film and exploring the boundaries. In NBK stone uses almost every type of camera possible, Super 8, 8, 16, 35mm, color and black and white, even video cameras are used. Each scene is painted with the textures and feel of each of these different cameras. Even within a single scene numerous cameras are employed to keep the viewer off balance as the emotions are reflected in the picture. Every film technique possible is used but the film does not come off as a film school project. It is presented as a well-honed American art film of incredible depth and feeling.

Fortunately, there is a director’s commentary track. Stone uses this track to better advantage than almost any other director I have heard. He goes into great detail as to why and how each scene was crafted. The commentary does not sound like a school lecture but rather like an old friend telling you something exciting that just happened to him. The Dolby 5.1 sound is reference quality. The sound field slams at you from all sides. The sub woofer pluses with the heartbeat of the victims, it hums with the feelings of the leads. The video is crystal clear. This film is made for digital presentation. The disc also comes with deleted scenes and a strange alternate ending. If you are into movies, into the strange or just want a really good thrill ride get this movie.

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