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August 1994


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John R Groch <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 30 Aug 1994 15:12:22 -0400
text/plain (42 lines)
I need to be cranky; I hope you don't mind.
In all the talk, generally praiseworthy, that I've seen here of NBK,
people keep coming back to how original it is.  I must say that one of the
reasons I was entirely underwhelmed by Stone's efforts -- which I was very
much prepared to like, was even prejudiced in favor of -- is that it
struck me as incredibly derivative.  Similarities to "Breathless" seem the
least of it.  As far as I can tell, NBK had nothing new to say to anyone
with a decent recall of Bonnie & Clyde, Badlands, Network, Man Bites Dog,
Henry:  Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Mailer's Executioner's Song (as
opposed to the mini-series of the book; Stone's organization of the
narrative exactly mimics Mailer's "Western Voices/Eastern Voices"
structures and themes).  Add to that the opening moments of La Femme
Nikita (for Mallory in jail) and a rehash of Stone's own loopy mysticism
(as someone has already pointed out), last seen in The Doors, and out pops
NBK.  Sure, Stone does it all in one place, but so what?  It's rather like
taking a multi-vitamin instead of having a balanced diet.
As for Stone's message about the media, which has also been cited
admiringly here -- is he saying anything that hasn't been said in
countless New York Times Op-Ed pieces over the last few years?  Even the
montage-on-speed approach offered continued cliched use of the canted
frame, as well as that final image of Wayne Gale as Satan, which made me
groan out loud.
I'm being overly negative here -- I actually liked the movie well enough,
and thought the sitcom parody quite original -- but in every way this
actually strikes me as Stone's least original work, the supercharged
editing notwithstanding, and one of his least insightful.  One of the
first posts on it here called it a love-it-or-hate-it film, which seems to
now govern our discussion.  Am I really alone here in finding it more a
take-it-or-leave-it work, reasonably amusing and worth the price of
admission but little else?  Just wondering.
John R. Groch <[log in to unmask]>            |  "Work!  FINISH!  THEN sleep."
English Department/Film Studies Program    |     -- The Monster,
Univ. of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260  |        "Bride of Frankenstein"