Natural Born Killers

Take an old plot, rehash it, but just make it even more senseless and disjointed, throw in gratitious bits of violence, and juxtapose with random TV clips---you have a hit movie. This aptly describes Oliver Stone's latest venture into the inane: Natural Born Killers.

The movie is designed to shock, and at the same time desensitise. Stone seems to be parodying how the media has almost nulled the shock of a vicious slaying, but all he ends up parodying is his ability to make movies. It is true, that in the first few minutes, you are reasonably shocked, but then you get very used to the blood, the gore and the fact that the shots dance around you much like the music videos you see on MTV. After a couple of hours of this, it gets very boring.

Sure, we all know what the media has done, right? When you look at the O.J. Simpson trial, how many of you react to (are actually shocked by) the act of violence as much as the fact that it was by a famous star or the social implications of the act? Not many, because we've seen a lot of it (and if you disagree now, just observe the audience around you during the show---there are all sorts of "shocking" female abuse happening, but sometimes the people just laugh at it). Stone, in the end, doesn't do anything really shocking, because everything he does we're used to. The movie isn't really a desensitisation of violence, it represents an dystopian attitude---a degeneration of values. Everyone in the movie seems ready to kill another, but no one is willing to be killed themselves. Only in the end you see people acknowledging the responsibility for their actions, though in a jaded fashion. Maybe Stone's real message is revealing the decline of values in today's society, in which case: more power to him. But if that is indeed so, then a lot of reviewers have missed the point.

During the movie, at certain high-action spots, nervous titters were prevalent from the audience, sometimes at very inappropriate times. What this indicates is really something I can only speculate on. I believe the laughs are an indication of a shirking of responsibility, and the whole audience reaction to the movie itself represents exactly what Stone is trying to parody.

The story is about two natural born killers, Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis), who think that killing is some sort of a higher cognitive activity (evidenced when Mickey says "I have evolved to something higher"). They do what Bonnie and Clyde did about 20 years (?) ago (allegedly this is based on a midwestern killer and his sidekick). Besides that there's not much of a plot.

But do be sure to go see this movie---it's great. Depending on how you view it, it could be an intelligent attack on your senses, revealing what the media has done to us, or a senseless attack on your intelligence, in thinking something full of well-crafted aggression can have any impact on you. Renting this out on video might be a waste of time, though.

The thing about Stone is that he does seem to be hip with the music in the movie: from Indian classical, Peter Gabriel, and Patti Smith to groups like Lard, the Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers, and Nine Inch Nails (in fact, it was Trent Reznor who spliced together the 40-odd songs that make up the additional barrage on your eardrums). The last-but-one song was very reminiscent of a Pink Floyd tune. Still, it was decently put together.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||