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Natural Born Killers
Produced by Jane Hamsher, Don Murphy, and Clayton Townsend
Directed by Oliver Stone
Story by Quentin Tarantino
Screenplay by David Veloz, Richard Rutowski, and Oliver Stone
Released by Warner Brothers

The release of Oliver Stone's new film Natural Born Killers was heralded by the sort of publicity barrage that arouses the skepticism of even the most uncritical filmgoer. How can any film, still less one dealing with so exploited and exploitative a theme as serial murder, merit so much apparent hyperbole: "brilliant," "revolutionary," "flabbergasting," "dazzling," and so on? To my surprise, I could not challenge any of these claims and would go still further. Apart from its aesthetic qualities, Natural Born Killers is a powerful moral document, among the most important American films released in 20 years. It also challenges our critical vocabulary, forcing the use of terms that would never normally occur in the context of a popular film: words like radical, overwhelming, and (quite unquestionably) subversive. Comparisons to Juvenal are not absurd.

The two Natural Born Killers of the title are Micky and Mallory, played respectively by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis. Both characters are the violent products of brutally abusive homes and disturbed childhoods, and they...

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