Saturday, September 20, 2014

Natural Born Killers ★★★★

     "If I was a mass murderer, I'd be Mickey and Mallory." So implies a young man featured on a commercially successful television show, that highlights the careers of America's hottest homicidal participants. This fatefully menacing couple are the center of  Oliver Stone's eleventh directorial ambition. One that glorifies senseless violence, all while making a profound statement of its own.

     This picture is littered with an array of disparate film techniques and tactics, which create an unforgettably frightful ambiance. Stone douses his characters in red and environments in green. Symbolism and extrinsic metaphors are fruitful and flourish within the confines of the plot. Variations of color, black and white, and animation are tamed into a spectrum of free flowing conflict. A dissension that underlines the intricacies of the relationship between freedom, society, and the media.

    Essentially, however, this picture goes beyond its cold blooded killers and provides an issue of individual versus society. Or the media. A line only of thin stature could separate the bond of these two distinctions of humanity. Stone manipulates television sitcoms in a dark satirical fashion, and even addresses television viewers, while portraying its dehumanizing proclivities.

    Our characters are even more of an extension of Stone's argument. Domestic violence and child abuse fuel their, often misguided, intentions and has molded them unfit for society. Stone accomplishes the act of feeding us this information by usage of haunting flashbacks and simple symbolic acts. Such as placing The Belle Jar in the hands of a young and absorbing Mallory.

    The often rudimentary plot is straightforward. Mickey and Mallory fall in love, and intend to take their frustrations and anger out on the external world in which they live. They kill until their hearts are content and bicker at one another, as if they have been married for decades. After much bloodshed, the dynamic duo stumbles across a Navajo rancher and his grandson. This scene lends the opportunity for several symbolically induced images and even some effortlessly interpreted meanings. Such as the projection of the Native rancher's thoughts on the young newlyweds, "too much t.v."

    Eventually, they are captured by a sadistic example of character irony in detective Jack Scagnetti, who moonlights as a vicious human being that kills for gratification. The last third of the film rests in the interior walls of a prison facility, and focuses on a live television interview with Mickey. It is conducted by Australian journalist Wayne Gale, enthusiastically portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. , and is to air during halftime of the Super Bowl. A gig that most entertainers only dream of obtaining.

    Mickey and Mallory's incarceration allows another character to make his mark. Warden Dwight McClusky is an eccentric and high blood pressured individual, who condemns our two protagonists and will not rest until their death becomes truth. Tommy Lee Jones is simply unforgettable in this role of domineering power and authority.

   What message is Stone trying to convey with this picture? He takes stabs at numerous schools of thought and even has the time to poke fun at two films that star Al Pacino. His prejudice is clear, although his motivations may never be. As mentioned above, the symbolism is so rampant that it would take one several viewings to transition from an intuitive grasp of ideals to a firm enlightenment. One thing is for certain, the style of this picture is historically significant.

    As for the violence that has supposedly been influenced by this picture; I must say that it is not surprising, as it is undoubtedly tragic. Although it has been over fifteen years since a documented homicide has referenced the film, we have to face the reality that film does influence. And that may even be constituted as an understatement.

    Whether it takes the form of a child imitating his favorite on screen superhero or an adolescent engaging in murderous acts like their cinematic role model, it will happen, and often. Blame cannot rest on the shoulders of a filmmaker for exercising his American right to create a film with fictional characters and events. Fault should lie with the accused. Even a young adolescent must know the difference between fiction and reality. If you honestly believe going on a murder spree will propel you to fame and glory, as it did Mickey and Mallory, then what hope is there for peace? Luckily for humanity, ignorance is not contagious.

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