A Skip with a capital “S” – and some other items while we’re at it!

Savages (2012)  *** Skip ***
Dir: Oliver Stone
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Ben, Salma Hayek, Jon Travolta, Blake Lively and Benicio Del Toro

This film is one of the most violent movies I’ve seen in the past several years.  Its plot is confusing rather than enigmatic.  While the acting and technical aspects (particularly the cinematography) are extremely well done, the movie is frustrating to watch.  So why am I commenting on it?  Because it also possesses one of the best previews I’ve seen in the past year – here’s the trailer for you to observe:

Savages Trailer

OK, so what do you see?  For me, I see a couple of good looking fellas I wouldn’t mind hanging out with for a couple hours.  In fact, there might even be some “Odd Couple” elements since one of them is more “granola” and the other is an ex-G.I. Joe… I see a gorgeous girl, who apparently is going to narrate this tale… OK, so, these three are apparently in a three way relationship with no jealousy or problems?  That’s fine… those relationships exist in the real world, right?  Somewhere?  Whatever – I’m still in!

Um, what else?  I hear some great tunes – particularly in the middle after Taylor Kitsch hauls back and smacks Travolta in the noggin…  Oh dear, I see Benicio Del Toro being crazy, which is something he does very well (see Way of the Gun, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and even the Bond film, License to Kill).  Oh, my… now I’m seeing Salma Hayek in a Bettie Page wig?  I really don’t even care what else I see, I’m going to see this film.  ASAP.

And so, whenever it was this spring when I saw this preview, I put July 6 in the back of my mind as the opening date and went about my business.  So then, why is this film such a strongly suggested “pass?”  Glad you asked!  Let me tell you why:

1.  The preview does not prepare you for the level of violence in this movie… I went in expecting a fun action romp with some rough spots.  What I got was a bad dose of Pulp Fiction stirred with Saw, not to mention a date that was ready to punch me in the eye.  And she would have been justified in doing so!
2.  The voice over by Ophelia (Blake Lively) was distracting and annoying.  I was shocked to hear so much narrative in an Oliver Stone picture.
3.  The fact that Oliver Stone directed this.  I guess he decided to try and surpass his level of violence portrayed in Natural Born Killers?
4.  Another thing – even with Natural Born Killers, the bloody story made sense!

Now then, just for example’s sake, have a look at the new trailer for the upcoming Billy Friedkin movie, Killer Joe:

Killer Joe – for download from iTunes

Do you see the difference in the preview?  This preview says to me, “See this, if you dare….”  The green title card at the beginning alerts you to the fact it’s rated NC-17.  The story is appropriately presented to you as well as the actors involved.  There’s no sexy music, rather, it’s an ominous and foreboding score.  And it’s clear there’s a director with violence in his past at the helm.  I’d agree if you told me, “Savages had the same thing.”  Yes, but its preview looked just a little sexier, didn’t it?

And another thing…. what exactly does it TAKE to be an NC-17 film?  Along those lines, have a look at this great commentary from the LA Times –


And finally – boy, I’m really going nuts with this entry – have a look at this article from today’s Hollywood Reporter:


I’m struggling to understand and appreciate the thinking of someone who posts such inappropriate material (death threats and the like) related to a movie review.  I love movies, I think you can tell that.  I get pretty adamant about them.  In fact, many of my pals could tell you how I even make movie lists for them.  I want to see the new Batman, you want to see the final chapter of this series, but let’s keep it together, shall we?

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