Tag Archives: Woody Harrelson

Natural Born Killers

Bluray double-bill (Part 2)

I haven’t seen Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS in a very long time. I saw it twice in the theatres and couldn’t get enough of it, being the bloodthirsty little demon I was in my 20s. I last watched it on VHS or early DVD in the early 2000s, so it was high time to revisit this film.

The rapidfire editing has since been surpassed speedwise, but it retains a rather poetic and lyrical feeling to it that more modern films often lack. Robert Richardson’s cinematography still holds up very well. This was shot on 35mm, 16mm, Super8, and video, and at the time it was a very large postproduction undertaking to get it assembled. I do love the myriad textures and fluctuations of color and black and white, it certainly captures the unfettered minds of our two protagonists, Mickey and Mallory Knox (a wonderful Woody Harrelson and an impish Juliette Lewis). The writing, revised from an early Quentin Tarantino script by Stone and two others, mostly holds up despite some overdone humor notes and simplistic views on media/violence/etc.. The filmmaking and acting are what keeps this fresh and engaging.
I didn’t get the same rush as I had back when it was released, a sign of my own changing tastes and mellowing/melancholia. It is certainly a fantastic document of the 1990s, and I don’t see something like this being made in Hollywood today (unless you count Tony Scott’s DOMINO, a 2002 film which I revisited recently and quite favorably). The rock and roll energy and brazen experimentation mixed with a crazy sick loving and longing, a blood drenched vibrant twisted heart, that passion is tougher to find.

Get with it, Hollywood, we need more crazy twisted shit. Stuff your Hobbits and Die Hards.

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Film Review: Rampart

RAMPART (2011) is the second pairing of Woody Harrelson and director Oren Moverman, who first collaborated on the very fine film THE MESSENGER back in 2009.

Here, Mr. Harrelson plays tough cop David Brown who is based in the Rampart division of Los Angelos, a tough and especially volatile place back in 1999. Officer Brown prides himself in his police work, despite his unorthodox tendencies and the ability to raise hackles with his PR minded superiors. He is caught on camera assaulting a driver who accidentally runs into his squad car, and is put on suspension until the brouhaha is sorted out. Things are little better on the home front. Married and divorced twice, with a daughter from each marriage, he continues to assert his paternal position and thinks he is still vital to their existence even as all four women want him out of their lives. The few people who still let him into their lives grow tired of him and his self-destructive tendencies and his need to dominate all around him. He loses his grip on his job, his family, his health and sanity as the film progresses, and in the end his well manicured vernacular and easy charm do not save him.

I have seen Woody Harrelson in a lot of films by now, and the more I see the more I love him as a performer, actor, and gentleman. The part of Officer Brown is quite tough given his unsympathetic and often clueless nature, and Mr. Harrelson doesn’t let that stop him from digging deep into the psychology and character flaws. When Brown finally does crack, one can actually feel sorry for him even as we see how he sunk so low.

There is a great supporting cast, notably Cynthia Nixon and Anne Heche as his estranged wives, Sigourney Weaver as his tough minded boss, Ice Cube as an Internal Affairs agent who hounds Brown, Ben Foster as a homeless veteran, Ned Beatty as his older fatherly police confidant and Robin Wright as a bar-fling who is the mirror image of Brown’s own character. All were attracted to the project by the script and the Messenger film’s accomplishments.

Mr. Moverman allows everyone to inhabit their characters in an organic way, and moves the story along so fluidly and gracefully even given its dark nature. James Ellroy, the great noir author who wrote LA Confidential and White Jazz, co-wrote the script with Moverman and brings a hard edge and knowing to the scenes. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski brings the digitally shot film to great life using the Alexa camera system (God I love that camera, so many good films are being shot on it now), and editor Jay Rabinowitz keeps things moving at just the right pace all throughout.

I really recommend this film, it’s outstanding. And I hope to see more collaborations between Moverman and Harrelson, they make a great team and are committed to telling complex adult stories, which we need many more of these days.

Watched on June 21st, 2012 on Bluray in Fort Wayne IN (thank you Blockbuster!)

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