A coterie of assistants and studio personnel are outside the door; they arrived briefing him about his schedule, and they will leave talking about an upcoming dinner with major film bloggers. In between, in a low-key, steady cadence, Stone describes Savages, a brutally violent view into the world of Mexican drug cartels. “For me, it was like nothing I’d done before,” he said on the XFINITY barker. “Completely new. Young people versus an older generation.”
Called “a tricky, amoral, down-and-dirty crime thriller” by Entertainment Weekly, and packed with stars (Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Demian Bichir, Selma Hayek, Benico Del Toro, and John Travolta), the unrated version, with additional scenes, is now available with XFINITY On Demand. “There are six people in this movie, and every one of them changes in some way,” he said.
This movie is based on a novel by Don Winslow. What was it that made you want to turn it into a movie? I had never seen a plot that unfolded quite like this. It was original. Don WInslow had done a great novel called “Power of the Dog” on the Mexican Cartels going back to the 1960s, and it was based on facts. Here, he kind of let his imagination, his whimsy, go, and he described a situation that could hypothetically happen, though it has not happened. You have not seen that degree of violence in the deserts of Southern California…yet. And I thought that wow, what an interesting hypothesis, which always makes for an interesting movie.
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You have three young pot growers who, without blowing the story, make a deal with the cartel. And – Yes…there were six characters, the young ones, generational differences, and then the three older ones who were all corrupted in their way. But at the same time they are interesting people. They weren’t run of the mill gangsters by any means. So I saw that there were no clichés in this damn thing, you know, which is what you see in a lot of movies and books. And I thought this is original. And I’ve never seen this on the screen before. Let’s do it. Plus it’s colorful, it’s exciting, it’s got a neo-Western feel, a Laguna – Southern California homage and a dark Mexican Noir quality. Kind of a mythic contemporary.
I have only seen the unrated version, the one now available with XFINITY On Demand. I missed it in theaters. What has been added? More scenes about the backgrounds and relationships. They’re interesting, they’re perverse…depending. They’re wild and explicit. I think it’s fascinating stuff, but we cut it because it was not necessary to the tightness of the film and we wanted to make the film, which already was complicated plot wise, with 6 people, as tight as possible. The theatrical version is my director’s version. B ut because people who really may have liked it may want to know a little bit more, we did an unrated. It is not a director’s cut. It is an unrated version.
XFINITY On Demand subscribers have so many choices when they are holding their remote and looking for a movie. So help them out. Who is this for? Why should they pick ‘Savages’? Considering the menu that is available, it is unbelievable. I don’t know how anyone in their right mind would make…sometimes you can go into an ice cream store and there are just too many flavors. But definitely this is a movie for people who like movies. In fact, love movies. Every scene has a vibrancy, and a color. It is shot on film in a beautiful anamorphic, which is the wide, you know, 235 to 1 ratio ,which is – it catches the scope of what movies used to be. It has beautiful colors. They change. It goes from sort of a yellowish peach surf blue, innocence of Laguna to the Mexican Noir cartel feel to a neo-Western.
So you like it? Yeah.
Do you have a favorite scene? No I don’t have a favorite scene. I think it’s important that they all flow into one. I think it is an impactful movie with a lot of excitement. You never know what’s going to happen.
What are some little details you would tell people seeing it for the first time to watch out for, things that one might overlook the first time? Anything from your perspective as the guy who made this? Oh man, well in my movies are edited finely. I mean they are tight. So sometimes people just watch a movie one way and they don’t get that there’s another – there is a sub flow. If you like a movie, they’re always better the second time. Even if I didn’t enjoy quite a movie quite as much the first time, I go back and see things that I missed. That’s what you see in this one, the details of performance. The actors are terrific. Everyone delivers, and the plot is fast; you have to keep up. And there is a double ending, which is very tricky in modern movies and you don’t see many of them like this. On one level it is an action movie, it is a ride. But there is another level that you can go back and really appreciate once you’ve understood the whole. You can go back and try to figure out the parts.