NATURAL BORN KILLERS
Starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones, Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Palance. Directed by Oliver Stone.
Working from a script by Quentin Tarantino, Oliver Stone has abandoned Vietnam, but not violence, for a blood-splashed satirical saga of two vicious, lovestruck serial killers who become tabloid-TV darlings. ”When I first bought the material it was surreal, but in the last year, it’s become real,” says Stone, whose involvement resurrected a screenplay that many major studios and several actors, Brad Pitt reportedly among them, had rejected as too nihilistic. Producer Jane Hamsher likens the freewheeling production to ”more a psychotic episode than a movie. Oliver decided to go wild, shooting in Super-8, black and white, 16 mm, and video, all jump-cut together.” Two examples of the creative madness: One scene has the telegenic homicidal maniac (Harrelson) recalling his first meeting with his lover (Lewis) as if it were a sitcom. And while shooting at the Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison near Chicago, Stone directed real prisoners to riot — no explanation of motivation needed.
Will the cutting-edge violence of Killers overshadow the satire’s serious themes? Stone insists hip audiences will get the joke: ”I’m having some fun,” he teases. ”Somebody blows a hole in their hand. I make the hole five times bigger than a realistic hole, and I shoot another piece of action through it. That really gets a big laugh.”
Buzz: Expect a public brawl over the film’s rating and love-it-or-hate-it reactions from critics and moviegoers.
CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
Starring Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer. Directed by Phillip Noyce.
Here’s how Danger differs from 1992’s Patriot Games, Harrison Ford’s first outing as Jack Ryan: Instead of Irish terrorists, this time the CIA hero of Tom Clancy’s best-sellers battles Colombian drug thugs and renegade U.S. spooks.
Here’s how it’s similar: (1) Clancy has been badmouthing the film as a distortion of his work. Not that Ford cares: ”I’ve gotten quite used to Mr. Clancy’s lack of sympathy for our efforts,” he says, laughing. (2) Noyce is back after directing last summer’s Sharon Stone stinker, Sliver. ”It’s a lot more fun than being locked up in an apartment building with the Sliver company,” he says. ”One day we’re at the top of a mountain and the next we’re in the Oval Office.” (3) The film’s climax was in flux until late in the production — one of Danger’s three screenwriters, Donald Stewart, flew to Mexico for the final two weeks of shooting to hammer out a showdown between Ford’s Ryan and a drug lord played by Miguel Sandoval. The payoff’s the same, however. ”I’m going to hit the son of a bitch, you know,” Ford says. ”I have to.” (Aug. 5)
Buzz: Ford’s Fugitive made $183 million-but the $83 million that Patriot Games took in seems a likelier finish line for this Clancy follow-up.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY
Starring Charles Grodin, Mary Steenburgen, Kieran and Chris Culkin. Directed by Bob Clark.