XL Popcorn – My Night At Maud’s / Natural Born Killers

One month in and it is spreading up into my neck from my right arm. Dictated reviews will be continuing until I know more about what I am dealing with.

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Title: My Night At Maud’s (Ma nuit chez Maud)
Director: Éric Rohmer
Year: 1969
Country: France

As I was watching My Night At Maud’s I knew that I recognised the rather attractive lead actor (Jean-Louis Trintignant). Turns out he was in Amour some 45 years later; a film that I adored and caused me to cry my heart out.

So, this film is the third in a series of six morality films by Éric Rohmer – the fourth to be filmed due to the need to film this around Christmas. The concept of morality is never far from the lips of Jean-Louis, the lead character who is also a somewhat-devout Catholic.

In the beginning narration he immediately states how he will marry a blonde girl at his church. He does not know her name, but his attraction is so strong that he makes a personal vow almost immediately. In his head he is morally already married.

The moral conflict comes in from the titular night at Maud’s. Jean-Louis and Maud meet through their mutual friend Vidal. It is clear from the off that there is chemistry between the two of them and they both feel it in spades. Nothing happens on that night, but it could have. They could have been perfect for each other and despite the fact that they separately have happy endings there is something melancholic about the ending. It’s a poignant film.

Title: Natural Born Killers
Director: Oliver Stone
Year: 1994
Country: USA

After watching Natural Born Killers I have come to understand how we have become a bit de-sensitized to violence. That is what Quentin Tarantino does so well with his films: yes there is a lot of violence, but he takes breaks between killing sprees. This whole film, however, just feels like one long crazy mass murder.

Then again that’s what it is. We follow the murder spree of the rather amorous Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) as they drive across the country and kill for the hell of it. We get some explanation of their backstories along the way to try and explain their behaviour… but they’re really just stone cold killers to be honest.

In order to bring across the frenzy there are a large number of cuts in made per scene, which can be between colour film and black and white. Sometimes cartoons are used, sometimes subliminal images or really anything to try and demonstrate the speed. The thing is, the director pretty much uses up all of his tricks in the first 20 minutes. As such this film started to feel incredibly repetitive very early on. What saves it somewhat are the performances from Harrilson, Lewis and Robert Downey Jr (who plays a television journalist that is following their story).

The film as a whole is meant to showcase how the media sells these sorts of tragedies for ratings. It also is meant to put the looking glass up to the audience who will devour such things. The problem is that this is not a new idea. Network took a very similar idea two decades earlier and did it amazingly well. Similarly, two years before Natural Born Killers was release there was the documentary Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer which looked at a real case far more eloquently.

The real shame about this film goes back to how much I enjoyed the first 20-30 minutes. For the rest of the film it just felt like more of the same. Senseless violence, frenzied edits, flashing lights and shifting between black and white and colour. It just feels like if a Quentin Tarantino fan tried to mash-up Bonnie and Clyde with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Interesting concept, good performances, bad overall execution.

Progress: 528/1007

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