Last year, following the trio of straight-laced, minor efforts in “World Trade Center,” “W.,” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” Oliver Stone conjured up an early nostalgic excitement for the Blake Lively/Taylor Kitsch action-drama “Savages,” promising a “return to form” from the passionate director. While that film turned out to be a muddled, occasionally entertaining mess, its spiritual predecessor, “Natural Born Killers,” landed in much more controversy, and an archival clip from 1995 examines the film’s testy British release.
Culling interviews with film critics David Thomson, Joe Queenan, as well as Stone himself, the 12-minute segment of BBC’s “Moving Pictures” series is an intriguingly-timed bit of coverage: After its critically-lambasted theatrical run in America, “Natural Born Killers” was caught up with the BBFC in Britain, who shelved it while they debated whether or not to ban it. In the end, the Woody Harrelson/Juliette Lewis satire was released, and the BBC clip contains Stone examining the critical reaction to the film, as Thomson and Queenan provide suitably unfavorable opinions.
While praising DP Robert Richardson’s work on the film, Thomson claims it’s “a test case of everything is happening visually, and there is not a single thing of interest in the picture.” Regarding reactions like these, Stone says, “I think that it’s easy to hate the movie because you don’t like it, it deals with a subject matter that is very difficult…It’s easy to say kill the messenger, which is what critics did coming after me.”
It wouldn’t be the first time Stone has been in the center of vitriol, but check out the clip below and see if it’s worth a re-watch. And the rest of the episode is worth your time too with Jack Fisk and John Dahl talking about the influence of artist Edward Hopper and Shekhar Kapur discussing “The Bandit Queen.”