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From my new Taki’s Magazine column:

‘Chasing the Light’: Mild Stone
Steve Sailer

August 05, 2020

While increasingly forgotten today, writer-director Oliver Stone might have been the most talked-about figure in American popular culture from 1986 through 1992, when the press suddenly went to war against him over his JFK conspiracy-theory movie.

Stone’s new memoir Chasing the Light recounts his first four decades from his birth in 1946 (not surprisingly, the first year of the baby boom) through his annus mirabilis in 1986. Staring at the fact that few directors get a chance to break through after age 40, he suddenly delivered the wildly entertaining Salvador and the universally admired Vietnam War movie Platoon.

I’ve always felt that Stone, who enlisted as a private in the Army after dropping out of Yale and was wounded twice in Vietnam, was more than entitled to be a critic of his country’s invade-the-world foreign policy.

Interestingly, before emerging in movies such as Wall Street and Born on the Fourth of July as a celebrated critic of Ronald Reagan’s policies, military and economic, Stone admits in his book that he voted for Reagan in 1980, just as he had supported Barry Goldwater as a preppie in 1964.

There isn’t much detail on Stone’s political change of heart in Chasing the Light. My guess is that Stone’s politics, like those of old-time science-fiction author Robert Heinlein, may be influenced by whoever is his current wife.

Read the whole thing there.

 
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  1. Is “man” the right term for any male whose politics are influenced by his wife?

    • LOL: Escher
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @theMann

    Is “man” the right term for any male whose politics are influenced by his wife?

    I highly doubt if Stone's politics was influenced by his wives. He most likely voted for Reagan because Carter was seen as weak and the nation needed a shot in the arm for a new direction. Incredibly, Reagan got over 40% of the Jewish vote.

    There was always something of the contrarian in Stone. The post-Watergate Democrats were supposed to clean up the country and change things, but they went on with business as usual.
    Then, the 80s had Stallone with his ludicrous Vietnam fantasies and gungho militarism in movies by Chuck Norris. Stone had enough of that and offered a counter-narrative challenging Vietnam revisionism that went from sense(greater empathy toward Vets than defaming them as 'baby-killers' and admission that communists did horrible things, as show in The Killing Fields) to nonsense(heroic US military lost the war because it was stabbed in the back and US needs to fight more wars and win to rid the nation of the Vietnam curse). Also, the tensions in Central America under Reagan administration made many fear that another Vietnam was looming on the horizon.

    Stone's Vietnam movies and JFK serve as bellwether of shift in boomer consciousness. While some boomers welcomed Vietnam revisionism, others felt nostalgia for the idealism of the anti-war movement, and they appreciated Platoon as the first truly anti-war combat movie about Vietnam, especially as Stone had been there. While movies like Apocalypse Now and Go Tell the Spartans showed the darker side of war, they were pretty gung-ho for the most part. The latter is really just a more liberal version of Green Berets. In contrast, Platoon got much closer to the ugliness of combat and US atrocities. (That said, the French saw it as jingoistic and with some justification as Stone just can't help admiring tough guys in battle doing manly things. In the final battle, the audience is left with no choice but to root for Americans against the enemy.)

    And many boomers greeted JFK as a kind of vindication, finally a mainstream movie about the destruction of Camelot by dark forces. But that was the perspective of boomers before they gained power. With Clinton, the boomers were in power and took over the reins of empire. As such, the anti-war stance was no longer convenient for Power Boomers, especially Jewish ones hellbent on using US military prowess for Israeli interests.

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @theMann

    Pussy makes the world go round. Why not some poor schmuck?

  2. Stone began his career as a screenwriter. He’s proud that he wrote six days per week while hacking a cab in Taxi Driver-era Manhattan. After a half decade of rejection, he suddenly won the Best Adaptation Oscar for 1978’s Midnight Express.


    [MORE]

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @MEH 0910

    Parker-and-Stone is too much(and without the humor of Matt Stone and Trey Parker). Both are hyper-sensationalists, and Stone and Parker is like hot sauce and habaneros. Midnight Express is one of the most obnoxious movies ever made. Parker's The Wall is atrocious and Angel Heart is crazy. I didn't see Mississippi Burning but it sounds like a comic book rendition of the Evil South, which set the tone for much to come. Not just condemnation of Old South policies but total dehumanization. (But I heard Parker's Shoot the Moon is quite good.)

    Though Stone and DePalma is rather like Stone and Parker, Scarface worked much better because the whole concept is cartoonish in nature. It's good for laughs. And for all his outlandish qualities, DePalma was a much better film-maker than Parker.

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb

    , @Steve Sailer
    @MEH 0910

    Stone seems like a pretty clear Tier 2 director behind Tier 1 directors like Hitchcock, Ford, Kubrick, and Spielberg, and above Tier 3 directors like the late Alan Parker. But Parker was a really good director with a lot of good movies in different styles.

    An interesting comparison would be Stone to Frank Capra:

    1947 Nominee Oscar Best Director It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    1940 Nominee Oscar Best Director Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
    1939 Winner Oscar Best Director You Can't Take It with You (1938)
    1937 Winner Oscar Best Director Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
    1935 Winner Oscar Best Director It Happened One Night (1934)
    1934 Nominee Oscar Best Director Lady for a Day (1933)

    You could argue that Capra deserved a 4th Oscar for his 1946 masterpiece It's a Wonderful Life, but audiences didn't really get that movie until it accidentally fell out of copyright and everybody saw it countless times on TV at Christmas. And that like Joe DiMaggio, Capra's missing 3 years in his prime for the War means his career stats are underrated.

    On the other hand, You Can't Take It With You is pretty bad compared to some other 1938 movies like Michael Curtiz's Robin Hood and Howard Hawks' Bringing Up Baby. (For fairly random reasons, 1938 happened to be worse than Hollywood's peak in 1938, but, still, it's hard to argue that You Can't Take It With You is the best directed movie of 1938.)

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

  3. My guess is that Stone’s politics, like those of old-time science-fiction author Robert Heinlein, may be influenced by whoever is his current wife.

    Hmm. A man will do whatever he has to do to get laid.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    @Mr McKenna


    Hmm. A man will do whatever he has to do to get laid.
     
    You'd think money and fame would be enough.

    Replies: @Mr McKenna

  4. Great review, Steve — informative, and fun to read. It succeeds in making me want to read the memoir and re-watch some of Stone’s movies.

    • Agree: Sean
    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Agree.

    From the review:


    the only mistake I noticed was that he confuses the 1960s F-4 fighter jet with the 1970s F-16
     
    Does this refers to the scene in Platoon where an airstrike ends the finale battle, and Stone substituted an F-16 for an F-4? The jet only appeared in silhouette, yet the obvious anachronism bothered me at the time and is still the first thing I think of when recalling what was otherwise a bracing movie. I presumed it was just cheaper to get a inventory F-16 than an obsolete F-4, whether real or model.

    Replies: @36 ulster, @Joe Stalin, @Lurker, @Bardon Kaldian, @Steve Sailer

    , @Paul Jolliffe
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    TLRC,

    I recently rewatched “Nixon”, and honestly, I don’t think Stone got it quite right.

    All kinds of critics on both the left and the right blasted Stone for being too soft (or too hard) on RMN.

    But I disagree with both sides - Stone’s take was off because he missed on the central question: Why did Nixon have such a penchant for secrecy and working outside mainstream government channels to conduct policies?

    To Stone, Nixon’s method of governing was a function of Nixon’s personality (his “paranoia”). Stone even invented dialogue for Pat Nixon to say exactly that.

    But that didn’t explain it.

    Instead, Nixon’s governing style was what it was because of his own long experience with the American Deep State.

    For more than a quarter century, Nixon had been a first hand witness to political machinations largely hidden from public scrutiny.
    Especially during his time as Eisenhower’s VP (a period excised in Stone’s movie), Nixon saw how Deep State forces could pressure or even countermand presidential decisions.

    (Eisenhower didn’t press for the May, 1960 U-2 flight - but Allen Dulles and the CIA prevailed. The ensuing disaster wrecked Ike’s hopes for a peace summit with Khrushchev, and the Cold War continued for another three decades.)

    Nixon’s secret diplomacy and his determination to keep the State Dept., the military, the CIA, and the rest of the Military Industrial Intelligence Complex away was due to Nixon’s fear that those institutions would dominate and corrupt his policies.

    Nixon’s fear was well placed - they forced him out eventually.

    So, in my view, Stone missed the reason Nixon was the he was: Nixon’s own personality was less a factor than Nixon’s knowledge of and concern with the dark forces able to counter the highest levels of American government.

    The American Deep State.

    , @Polynikes
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Steve is talented reviewer of both books and movies. In a world where he chose to hide his more controversial views, his reviews might be some of the most widely read in the country. Of course, we are all glad he never succumbed to political correctness.

    I hope he archives all his reviews somewhere. I bet they age well.

  5. Pretty good takes on Oliver Stone, Steve. He’s quite a guy, he lived the tragedies he has depicted on film and interviews. He’s an original, he’s thoughtful and probably the last of his breed, professionally.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Jim Christian

    He’s an original, he’s thoughtful and probably the last of his breed, professionally.

    Maybe Linklater is.

    Replies: @Jim Christian

  6. NYFF Q&A: Oliver Stone & James Woods, “Salvador”

    Following the 25th Anniversary Screening of “Salvador” at the 49th New York Film Festival, director Oliver Stone and actor James Woods answered questions about the film that helped establish Stone as a world-class filmmaker.

    Confession scene from Salvador 1986 Oliver Stone

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @MEH 0910

    Stone says that he told Woods to look into his black heart and then improvise his lines in the confessional.

  7. I’ve read it with interest (although I didn’t think much about Stone lately). In some ways, Stone is like a hybrid of Welles & Woody Allen.

    Goethe, it is a cliche, was a genius of personality. I’ve read a few of his best bios & it is evident that he was not just a charismatic, but also an astonishingly multitalented, protean, curious, original & deep person.Yet, his work doesn’t measure up: although he was revered in the 1st half of the 19th C, and still is among Germans- Goethe has dimmed as an author & simply is not in the company of Dostoevsky or Proust. His life is greater accomplishment than his work.

    Casually skimming through books on Orson Welles, I’ve had a similar feeling: a genius of personality (although on a much lesser scale, of course) whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts – who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call “stupidity of personality”. He didn’t have a vision that clashed with reality; it’s just his high opinion on himself, egocentricity, arrogance, laziness & gluttony ended his creative activity. Stone reminds me of him as I sense Stone is a “talent of personality” (on a lower scale, too), and Stone is probably more for what he is than what he had, or could have done. He’s got personality.

    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences. He made a few good movies during some period, was highly praised, and then couldn’t produce the goods anymore. This just happens. From 1990 on, most people were not interested in serious political films (which is Stone’s central filmmaking passion) & he fizzled. It is not so about what he knew or felt about politics, or a nation, or history, or was he right of wrong- Stone was never interested in fantasy, sci fi, domestic drama, high ideas & humanity (Malick), existential questions,… Also, I think, he never understood deep roots of class & race conflicts and identities, politics, religion, and what makes groups of people tick. His level is a kind of conspiracy of some kind of interest groups, plus his personal experience of war.

    He is, I guess, a likable & reasonable man who is gifted for filmmaking, but: he is not a passionate, dedicated director; his metier is primarily political drama as he understands it; and, creatively, he shot his bolt.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top -- Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 -- before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Neoconned, @Dave Pinsen, @Alec Leamas (hard at work), @Reg Cæsar

    , @Anonymous
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Orson Welles: a genius of personality whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts – who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call “stupidity of personality”.

    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don't pull in the crowds. Kubrick was a far more stable personality but understood he had to careful plan for every next movie as he wasn't out to make blockbusters but art films. So, despite his care, he managed to finish only 12 films, like Welles. Welles' output is all the more amazing considering he had to scrounge for money and shoot his movies in bits and pieces here and there. He still managed to make something as startling as Chimes at Midnight.


    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences.
     
    The differences are simply to big to ignore. Allen had ups and downs but his was a long stable and consistent career. He made small films, taking inspiration from directors like Rohmer. Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul. Like Alexander.

    Replies: @syonredux, @Bardon Kaldian, @Dave Pinsen

    , @Dieter Kief
    @Bardon Kaldian

    I dived into two stories lately - Goerge Floyd (s. 2 below) and the corruption of scientific standards in the public sphere (cf. 1 below).

    When I resurfaced, I found myself summing up both experiences (which consisted of hundreds of articles // and or comments read about them and countless talks and discussions (not least with my brave wife)) - after all that, I wanted to say, i resurfaced with one sentence for each topic.

    Sentence 1: Science is about the possibility to make // and reasonably correct // mistakes. It can only flourish if you keep that in mind and - allow for it. In About the Granite (Goethe had assembled one of the three biggest and most important rock collections of his time in Europe).

    Sentence 2: The desperate is forgiven everything / (Dem Verwzeifelten verzeiht man alles.)*****

    Both sentences were written down by JWv Goethe.

    II

    It is no cliché to say that Goethe achieved a lot as a person. - It's a joy!


    ***** In the appendix of his Maxims and Reflections - one of the best books ever. Don't know if it is translated well - of if that is possible. But I would wish for a shortened version - maybe 1/3rd the length of the original.

    III

    Faust is unsurpassable in that Goethe synthesizes here Religion and Science and Economy and a Great Gatsby in pill form and archaic resonances with Sex (including the female longing - very rare) & Honor. I've seen it staged two times almost perfectly well. The first time 1973 in Heidelberg - in the seat near me the most beautiful girl in town; and in 2015 in the Theater der Altstadt in Stuttgart on a very low budget (almost amateur-like) but with Goethe's wit and nonchalance - and a great Mephisto (Rock singer Reinhold Weiser from the Heidelberg (extremely) independent band Das Radioballett - the clash x Conny Frances x Comedian Harmonists x Hugo Ball (O Jolifanto bambla / O Fari bambla / O Fari bambla...)).

    I don't know if Faust works in a foreign language though. I dream of a cool Faust staged by Matthew Barney with great visuals but very reduced vocabulary - reduce to the max - - - - .

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

  8. You’d think Stone of all people would know “facts aren’t Truth”, thus making his autobiography even better.

  9. @Bardon Kaldian
    I've read it with interest (although I didn't think much about Stone lately). In some ways, Stone is like a hybrid of Welles & Woody Allen.

    Goethe, it is a cliche, was a genius of personality. I've read a few of his best bios & it is evident that he was not just a charismatic, but also an astonishingly multitalented, protean, curious, original & deep person.Yet, his work doesn't measure up: although he was revered in the 1st half of the 19th C, and still is among Germans- Goethe has dimmed as an author & simply is not in the company of Dostoevsky or Proust. His life is greater accomplishment than his work.

    Casually skimming through books on Orson Welles, I've had a similar feeling: a genius of personality (although on a much lesser scale, of course) whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts - who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call "stupidity of personality". He didn't have a vision that clashed with reality; it's just his high opinion on himself, egocentricity, arrogance, laziness & gluttony ended his creative activity. Stone reminds me of him as I sense Stone is a "talent of personality" (on a lower scale, too), and Stone is probably more for what he is than what he had, or could have done. He's got personality.

    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences. He made a few good movies during some period, was highly praised, and then couldn't produce the goods anymore. This just happens. From 1990 on, most people were not interested in serious political films (which is Stone's central filmmaking passion) & he fizzled. It is not so about what he knew or felt about politics, or a nation, or history, or was he right of wrong- Stone was never interested in fantasy, sci fi, domestic drama, high ideas & humanity (Malick), existential questions,... Also, I think, he never understood deep roots of class & race conflicts and identities, politics, religion, and what makes groups of people tick. His level is a kind of conspiracy of some kind of interest groups, plus his personal experience of war.

    He is, I guess, a likable & reasonable man who is gifted for filmmaking, but: he is not a passionate, dedicated director; his metier is primarily political drama as he understands it; and, creatively, he shot his bolt.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous, @Dieter Kief

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top — Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 — before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @Steve Sailer

    True, but artistic directors like Bergman, Tarkovsky and Malick will always have people interested in their work. Frankly, they are perpetually making the same movie; but that movie, due to their larger view on life, remains, more or less, watchable even if we know- and we know- what they mean & would like us to feel.

    Stone is shallow & only intermittently interesting. Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the "magic bullet theory", But his other movies are good only in pieces, and his Nixon stands solely on Hopkins' performance.

    Then, even if he were more realist & intelligent, Stone couldn't make any serious American movie. Nor do I think it was possible after, say, the 1940s. To show that blacks are hopelessly aggressive & retarded; that US Asians, despite everything, are unassimilable as a group; that Jews are up to power in the media; that WASP social-historical trajectory is so complex it would take 10-20 movies to make.

    Stone is less of an artist, but more than just an entertainer. And he lives in a world where an illiterate, but passionate freak like Tarantino can still be, now & then, entertaining- while Stone is, well, not.

    Replies: @Art Deco

    , @Neoconned
    @Steve Sailer

    Agreed great director.

    I think he timed out. The 60s were still relevant by the early 90s....nobody much cared about Vietnam by the yr 2000 and that seemed to be his big burn....

    , @Dave Pinsen
    @Steve Sailer

    I think the last Stone movie I saw (other than the interview with Putin) was Savages in 2012, and that was well made. I don’t know if it was Stone’s idea or it was in the script, but having Benicio Del Toro‘s Mexican gangster character show up at the site of the ambush sipping a Starbucks iced coffee was a hilarious touch.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    , @Alec Leamas (hard at work)
    @Steve Sailer


    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top — Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 — before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.
     
    I wonder whether comic actors are like rock musicians with a twist. I think both types do it for access to fame, popularity, with the ultimate goal resulting in women, however at a certain point when the comedic actor starts getting the fawning attention of really attractive women he may not want to act like a giant asshole in public and on film for attention anymore (whereas, the rock star remains cool for the duration and is hobbled by drugs and other trappings of fame). Then they turn to more serious roles when they want to become movie stars rather than jesters. At least Carrey and Sellers have been linked to really desirable women.
    , @Reg Cæsar
    @Steve Sailer


    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top...
     
    Bob Denver retired after short-lived follow-ups (follows-up?) to Gilligan because, he said, audiences wouldn't accept his type of character over age 40.

    Don Knotts would be the obvious exception, and Denver retired to Knotts's home state.
  10. @Mr McKenna

    My guess is that Stone’s politics, like those of old-time science-fiction author Robert Heinlein, may be influenced by whoever is his current wife.
     
    Hmm. A man will do whatever he has to do to get laid.

    Replies: @The Alarmist

    Hmm. A man will do whatever he has to do to get laid.

    You’d think money and fame would be enough.

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
    @The Alarmist

    Right, but Stone appears to be that rare guy in Hollywood who actually sought the respect of his wife. Okay, wives.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow

  11. I watched Stone’s 4 part interview of Putin twice. Putin put on a masterful show, half running Russia on a slow day and half explaining geo-politics as he sees them. Fascinating!

  12. Stone was a real live tough guy and walked the walk. He requested combat and was a LURP!….from Wikipedia

    Stone was admitted into Yale University, but left in June 1965 at age 18[13][20] to teach high school students English for six months in Saigon at the Free Pacific Institute in South Vietnam.[21] Afterwards, he worked for a short while as a wiper on a United States Merchant Marine ship in 1966, traveling from Asia to Oregon across the rough Pacific Ocean in January.[22] He returned to Yale, where he dropped out a second time (in part due to working on an autobiographical novel A Child’s Night Dream, published 1997 by St. Martin’s Press).[23]
    U.S. Army
    In April 1967, Stone enlisted in the United States Army and requested combat duty in Vietnam. From September 16, 1967 to April 1968, he served in Vietnam with 2nd Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division and was twice wounded in action.[21] He was then transferred to the 1st Cavalry Division participating in long-range reconnaissance patrols before being transferred again to drive for a motorized infantry unit of the division until November 1968.[24] For his service, his military awards include the Bronze Star with “V” Device for valor, the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster to denote two awards, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @conatus


    and was twice wounded in action

     

    Oh - that reminds me of the German writer and entomologist Ernst Jünger's (two beetles and - a star are named after him) achievements in the First World war especially: Jünger did lead a platoon as a lieutenant of the infantry and he too got decorated (Pour Le Mérit - theen the highest military decoration in Germany) and - severely wounded - seven times.

    The last time he got wounded was like this (from Wikipedia):

    "On 25 August, he was wounded for the seventh and final time near Favreuil, being shot through the chest while leading his company in an advance that was quickly overwhelmed by a British counter-attack. Becoming aware of the position he was lying was falling, Jünger rose, and as his lung drained of the blood spurting through the wound, recovered enough to escape in the confusing situation. He made his way to a machine-gun post that was holding out, where a doctor told him to lie down immediately. Carried to the rear in a tarpaulin, he and the bearers came under fire, and the doctor was killed. A soldier who tried to carry Jünger on his shoulders was killed after a few yards, but another took his place."


    oh - Jünger - had trouble breathing...

    As a platoon chief he encountered this - in his own dry and precise words:

    As the storm raged around us, I walked up and down my sector. The men had fixed bayonets. They stood stony and motionless, rifle in hand, on the front edge of the dip, gazing into the field. Now and then, by the light of a flare, I saw steel helmet by steel helmet, blade by glinting blade, and I was overcome by a feeling of invulnerability. We might be crushed, but surely we could not be conquered.[3]

    The invulnerability part turned out to be a tad weak (s. a.).


    Oh and there is this Oliver Stone parallel: Jünger was friends with the chemist and LSD-discoverer Albert Hofman from Basel. They had quite a few "sessions" together. The conservative Jünger (he did not believe in democracy, - that was one of the bigger kinds of beef he had with modernity)  - this ultra-conservative man wrote intensely and very detailed about drugs.

    His very well written dry and insightful book Drogen und Rausch (Drugs and Ecstasy) is just about any drug Jünger could get his hands on. - He really was experienced. But what stands out is, he found a way to react to his experiences with words. Be it combat or - be it drugs or beetles or mother nature (trees, snakes, gardening (!) those words were about, they always were precise. - The book about Jünger and Wittgenstein is not yet written. But it would be interesting.

    (I've talked to T. C. Boyle about Ernst Jünger and Albert Hoffmans connection, which should have interested him, since he was just working on his novel about LSD - which had a chapter in it about Albert Hoffmann, too, but he did not buy my central point: That the connection between Hoffman and Jünger had been so close, because Hoffman was indeed very interested in jünger's ability to close the gap between the physiological side of the LSD experience and - what was going on in the mind.

    T. C. Boyles quite good (very good!) LSD novel "Outside Looking In" might have been deepened if Boyle had had a closer look a Jünger and Hoffman.

  13. No mention of The Doors? That was definitely one of Stone’s best movies. I, at least, enjoyed it immensely.

    Of course, the plot for JFK was ridiculous, even by movie standards. Stone merged two contradictory conspiracy theories. Fletcher Prouty (Donald Sutherland) argued that the assassination of JFK was a vast, meticulously planned operation carried out by the omnipotent Deep State. Meanwhile, New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) asserted that Kennedy had been murdered by some French Quarter flaming gay boys (including Joe Pesci in a tangerine toupee) who he’d long suspected were up to no good. Hence in Stone’s telling, the entire military-industrial complex with its infinite resources had mobilized to…hire the homosexuals.

    The JFK movie certainly had its problems (Kevin Costner being one of them), but I’m not sure what makes the two ideas above “contradictory”. The deep state doesn’t like fags? What about J. Edgar Hoover? (I’m not saying he was directly involved in the Kennedy assassination. I’m just using him as an example.)

  14. @The Alarmist
    @Mr McKenna


    Hmm. A man will do whatever he has to do to get laid.
     
    You'd think money and fame would be enough.

    Replies: @Mr McKenna

    Right, but Stone appears to be that rare guy in Hollywood who actually sought the respect of his wife. Okay, wives.

    • Replies: @Unladen Swallow
    @Mr McKenna

    Also wasn't Oliver Stone one of the Hollywood celebrities caught up in the Hollywood Madam imbroglio? I wonder if that was during or between marriages?

    Replies: @JohnnyWalker123

  15. I thought “Platoon” was vastly overrated when I first saw it in theaters both in terms of filmmaking and storytelling and I’d like to think it wouldn’t receive such high praise if it were released today.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    @68W58

    It came out during a time when every movie (even science fiction) was about Vietnam and most TV shows paid lip service; even pop songs got sucked in. In that situation it managed to stand out as totally original and distinct. Its characterizations are probably its weakest part but the casting is perfect.

    Replies: @68W58

    , @Anonymous
    @68W58

    I thought “Platoon” was vastly overrated when I first saw it in theaters both in terms of filmmaking and storytelling and I’d like to think it wouldn’t receive such high praise if it were released today.

    It's one of those movies made for maximum impact, to hit the audience with something heretofore unseen or unexpressed with full shock effect. Though there had been bloody Vietnam movies before, it was war as metaphor(Deer Hunter) or war as spectacle(Apocalypse Now) or war as cartoon(Rambo). Platoon showed war as experience, up close and in your face. It's like what Michael Medved says about the movie. It shows all the sights and smells of the war experience.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn7Ioo8zwjk

    Though not exactly new in terms of style, Stone who'd seen the war up close and came of age in the era of graphic cinematic violence(Penn, Peckinpah, Coppola, Scorsese) had the knowledge and savvy to present a war movie like never before. I vividly recall the time I saw it. In the same year, I watched Come and See first, a harrowing WWII film from the Soviet Union. As horrific as it was, I still felt as a spectator. And the overt stylization of the violence as something ghoulish and nightmarish made it seem very like a movie. In contrast, Platoon pulled you right into its world. It was like your eyes, ears, and even your skin were in the jungle with the soldiers. It was perhaps the most impactful use of violence since Seven Samurai that dragged you into the dirt and mud. Even before the violence erupted, there were all these details overlooked by most movies. Like the heat, sweat, ants crawling down your neck. In the mango scene in Apocalypse Now, we are made to focus on the timeless grandeur of the jungle, which is finally punctuated by a tiger. Jungle and Tiger, it is on the level of spectacle. In contrast, Platoon is on the level of experience. You can almost smell the shit in the latrine. You feel soaked in the rain, and the suspense is palpable, as is the drowsiness and need for sleep. We share in the fatigue, which can be punctuated only by abject fear of the enemy slowly emerging from the bushes. The movie also has terrific use of tracking shots with Defoe and Berenger. It conveys both a sense of chaos and the mastery over chaos that those two seasoned soldiers have achieved. They cut through the jungle like knife through butter. I don't believe I was ever as frightened by a war movie or any action-filled movie as by Platoon when it came out. The impact was like the slaughter in Gandhi, a real shocker.

    But then, Platoon confirmed what Truffaut said, that anti-war movie is futile as cinema makes everything exciting. Upon first viewing, I would have disagreed but subsequent viewings bore this out. Platoon's overwhelming power depended on the element of suspense(audience not knowing when the violence will explode next and who will get wounded/killed), shock value, and novelty of its kind of violence. When I took it out on videotape, I was ready to be frightened all over again but instead found it rather exciting. Same with violence in Saving Private Ryan. Deeply impactful the first time but just very exciting and entertaining in subsequent viewings. Once the suspense goes and the viewer becomes desensitivized to that level of violence, it no longer works so well. Both Platoon and Saving are pretty simple-minded in their characterizations; so, once the impact wears off, they seem far less special, except as matters of technique. Same goes for Schindler's List, which was totally horrifying on first view. But on second viewing when you know when the killings will happen, you focus less on the impact and more on the characterization, and it is rather weak(and even inappropriate), like Frank Capra meets Holocaust. By the time Hacksaw Ridge came out, is anyone impacted by movie violence? I could hardly tell it apart from the parody in Tropic Thunder.

    And so, Platoon's star has faded over the years. But then, most people don't much care to see Gandhi, Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan either. I'm sure it will be the same with 12 Years a Slave, sold as 'slavery like never seen before'. But once the visceral impact wears off, then what?

    In contrast, Das Boot still fascinates as a character study of men in naval combat. And Dunkirk, on focusing more on quiet heroism than horror, is more memorable. And the Unknown Soldier, the Finnish film, is truly remarkable. We see characters who ring true, a real sense of history than the heaviness of message. As impressive as Platoon is, it is a message movie in both theme and expression. Its main point was "Vietnam Wars was REALLY like this", and it was probably necessary. Sam Fuller had seen combat and made Big Red One, but it was in the style of conventional Hollywood. Stone was the first to bring together New Hollywood, graphic violence, and a sense of veracity missing in Apocalypse Now, which for all its violence and some gore, was seen through the eyes of a master than a soldier.

    The first time you get punched in the fact is most impactful. Platoon was a new kind of punch to the face. But impact alone wears off, especially when violence keeps getting ramped up in cinema.

    Replies: @JMcG

  16. @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top -- Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 -- before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Neoconned, @Dave Pinsen, @Alec Leamas (hard at work), @Reg Cæsar

    True, but artistic directors like Bergman, Tarkovsky and Malick will always have people interested in their work. Frankly, they are perpetually making the same movie; but that movie, due to their larger view on life, remains, more or less, watchable even if we know- and we know- what they mean & would like us to feel.

    Stone is shallow & only intermittently interesting. Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the “magic bullet theory”, But his other movies are good only in pieces, and his Nixon stands solely on Hopkins’ performance.

    Then, even if he were more realist & intelligent, Stone couldn’t make any serious American movie. Nor do I think it was possible after, say, the 1940s. To show that blacks are hopelessly aggressive & retarded; that US Asians, despite everything, are unassimilable as a group; that Jews are up to power in the media; that WASP social-historical trajectory is so complex it would take 10-20 movies to make.

    Stone is less of an artist, but more than just an entertainer. And he lives in a world where an illiterate, but passionate freak like Tarantino can still be, now & then, entertaining- while Stone is, well, not.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the “magic bullet theory”,

    He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people.

    And there was no 'magic bullet theory'. Josiah Thompson promoted the notion that the Specter model was unworkable. Thompson got the idea in his head that his own schematic drawing of the vehicle and its occupants was accurate. It was not. Gov. Connolly was seated on a meridian about six inches to Kennedy's left and his body was about three inches closer to the ground (he being in a jumpseat).

    Your 'right-wing coup' replaced one mainstream Democrat with a different mainstream Democrat, a man with more populist sympathies and with a different skill set (better at manipulating politicians, worse at public relations). Heckuva job.

    Replies: @James O'Meara, @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous, @JohnnyWalker123, @David In TN

  17. Whither Michael Cimino.

    I was too young to see his early work in the theater. Over the years I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Heaven’s Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists – who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career.

    Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent’s wife?

    I have no idea.

    • Replies: @Kent Nationalist
    @Hodag

    Heaven's Gate was/is a brilliant film.

    Replies: @Servant of Gla'aki

    , @anon
    @Hodag

    He has a 1985 movie, Year of the Dragon, about Chinese organized crime transplanted to America that I thought is pretty decent. It has its over the top moments and stars over the top actor Mickey Rourke who's the white cop who wants to put an end to Chinese organized crime in NYC, lol.

    As for why Cimino was essentially blackballed, I would think it would be difficult to arrange film financing for a director who is a drug addict and who's previous movie literally bankrupted a legendary studio. You sometimes hear about out of control actors who can't be insured as a principal in a movie, I would imagine the same goes for directors. That said, five years after Heaven's Gate, Cimino was able to do Year of the Dragon.

    , @Anonymous
    @Hodag

    I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is, in some ways, his best film, but it already shows a penchant for visual megalomania. It has to be the crime caper with most magnificent vistas of the American West. Sometimes, you're not sure whether you're watching an action movie or travelogue(or nature program).

    Heaven’s Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists – who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career. Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent’s wife?

    He was allowed to make Year of the Dragon which did pretty okay at the box office. What really killed his career was the next movie, The Sicilian. Actually, it's pretty good(and rather thoughtful about intersection of crime and politics) but didn't go over with critics and the audience. Perhaps the international cast made it all very confusing. Also, Cimino focused more on visuals than on dramatics, especially as Christopher Lambert is not a very expressive actor. Still, worth a look.

    Cimino became addicted to and associated with bigness of a kind that was no longer in fashion.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard, @syonredux

    , @Servant of Gla'aki
    @Hodag


    So why was Cimino essentially black-balled?
     
    I'm not sure if this is symptom or cause...but I strongly suspect it's related.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Cimino%27s_unrealized_projects

    I assume that not many directors have an entire Wikipedia article devoted to their never-completed film projects....
    , @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Hodag

    Ugh, The Deer Hunter is just terrible. Overrated, over-produced nonsense. Russian roulette as a metaphor for Vietnam? WTF? And get this, the original script, with the whole Russian roulette theme, was set not in Vietnam, but in... Las Vegas.

    What drivel.

    Replies: @Abolish_public_education, @Rapparee

    , @Sam Malone
    @Hodag

    Is bankrupting a (smallish) studio not enough?

    , @Steve Sailer
    @Hodag

    Cimino had a huge success with The Deer Hunter, Best Picture Oscar and lots of money. Then he blew a colossal amount of money making Heaven's Gate and it destroyed the studio that financed it when it flopped (and caused Hollywood to decide cocaine was a bad thing).

    Stone wrote the script for Cimino's 1985 movie "Year of the Dragon" with Mickey Rourke as a tough cop investigating Chinese drug smugglers. I liked it a lot but most people didn't and it flopped at the box office. Stone admired Cimino more than the other directors who made movies from his scripts -- Alan Parker ("cold"), John Milius (employed his surf buddies on "Conan"), and Brian DePalma (unenergetic on "Scarface's" long shoot) -- but he has a lot of anecdotes about Cimino's self-defeating artistic lavishness and grandiosity as a filmmaker.

    Italian artists have a tendency toward megalomania. Coppola's exwife made this amazing documentary called Hearts of Darkness about the filming of Apocalypse Now in which everybody working on the movie is sleeping in tents during the monsoon and catching malaria, while Francis F.C. has had himself built and extremely comfortable bungalow in the jungle and is shipped a case of the finest champagne. While he's opening the case Coppola tells the camera, like a Renaissance prince: I just want every moment of my life to be MAGNIFICENT. (But when I try to look up this quote, all I find are links to 2Blowhard comments where I'm repeating this same anecdote. So maybe I imagined it all?

    Also, Cimino apparently started dressing as a woman at some point (Stone refers to it as Cimino's "crossdressing, transition, whatever," which didn't help his career).

    But still, Cimino made The Deer Hunter.

    Replies: @Ray P

  18. @Hodag
    Whither Michael Cimino.

    I was too young to see his early work in the theater. Over the years I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Heaven's Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists - who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career.

    Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent's wife?

    I have no idea.

    Replies: @Kent Nationalist, @anon, @Anonymous, @Servant of Gla'aki, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Sam Malone, @Steve Sailer

    Heaven’s Gate was/is a brilliant film.

    • Replies: @Servant of Gla'aki
    @Kent Nationalist


    Heaven’s Gate was/is a brilliant film.
     
    I recently watched it (not the truncated version, but the 219-minute entirety), and I didn't really care for it very much.

    But it's certainly not as bad as everyone (whose never seen it), invariably enjoys claiming.

  19. Great review; Stone is talented, and good at his craft. I enjoyed Platoon; JFK was entertaining if a bit outlandish. Still, in most interviews I’ve seen of him, he comes off as a d**k. NYC born and raised, so a Northeasterner, and prone to the messianic tendencies of that breed. But I get it Steve, you live at the (current) epicenter of the entertainment industry, so your bread must be partially buttered in that way. Still, given a choice between Stone and one of your more regular topical American icons, Tom Wolfe, to have dinner and a drink, it’s Wolfe hands down. I’ll take Virginia gentility over New York “earnestness” everyday. I don’t mind wearing my bias on my sleeve.

    • Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose
    @Captain Tripps


    I’ll take Virginia gentility over New York “earnestness” everyday.
     
    I get what you mean, but Tom Wolfe did live in New York for well over 50 years.

    Replies: @Captain Tripps

  20. One small thing to add: Steve is, I think, wrong when he ascribes to the media & cultural-political climate too much.

    JFK was financially a success & Stone was called to testify before the Congress (weirdness of American politics). Mel Gibson was reviled by Jewish neurotic identitarians for his Passion, which was a huge commercial success, followed by financially successful Apocalypto. Liberal boneheads crucified Eastwood’s American Sniper – but it rolled over all of them.

    So, it, when it’s not artsy-fartsy types like Chantal Ackerman (whose ass & tits I’ve been watching, masochistically, for hours just to see if there is anything in her films)-it all comes down to money.

    No neocon, woke, Jewish, feminist, homo … mafia & cultural media climate can undermine a good movie that resonates with something deeper in the audience. And if it makes bucks. It is just that Stone, Gibson, Eastwood (OK, this is age) had said what they wanted to say…and that’s it.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    @Bardon Kaldian


    JFK was financially a success & Stone was called to testify before the Congress (weirdness of American politics).
     
    The movie was also critical in getting Congress to pass "The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992," which released countless records related to the assassination that were not due to be made public until 2039.

    JFK is perhaps the most influential piece of filmic propaganda to ever be put out by Hollywood since Birth of a Nation. It reinvigorated the movement of conspiracy theorists who study JFK's assassination with Talmudic intensity by bringing in fresh recruits for a new generation.

    The film is complete bullshit as history, but that doesn't mean it was ineffective as propaganda.
  21. Liking to make decisions is why Stone has filmed so many movies about presidents: He can imagine himself in the role.

    What the heck … why not?

    Nice review, @Steve … it actually makes me want to read the book. Despite the ending.

  22. Another observation: JFK and gay angle. OK, it is weird. But:

    1. haven’t gays always been implicated in conspiracies, excesses, spying, various nefarious stuff?

    2. perhaps homo orgiastic atmosphere is visually exaggerated. Why wouldn’t it be possible that local mafia was involved, and some of those guys were, well, gays- just as a side show, not that their whole lives revolved around it.

    3. what is “realistic” and acceptable as “real”? F. Forsyth commented on the Litvinenko case that it was one of those cases where reality is stranger than fiction: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-poisoning-thrillers/spy-writers-litvinenko-case-stranger-than-fiction-idUSL1175199520061211

    So-why wouldn’t something barely believable be untrue, simply because is seems bizarre & not rational? In that category I put possible gay involvement in that movie.

    Of course, there are things that are purely imaginative & are not real in any sense: Castaneda’s supposedly ethnographic material, alien abductions etc.

    • Replies: @Brutusale
    @Bardon Kaldian

    https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35360172

  23. @The Last Real Calvinist
    Great review, Steve -- informative, and fun to read. It succeeds in making me want to read the memoir and re-watch some of Stone's movies.

    Replies: @Almost Missouri, @Paul Jolliffe, @Polynikes

    Agree.

    From the review:

    the only mistake I noticed was that he confuses the 1960s F-4 fighter jet with the 1970s F-16

    Does this refers to the scene in Platoon where an airstrike ends the finale battle, and Stone substituted an F-16 for an F-4? The jet only appeared in silhouette, yet the obvious anachronism bothered me at the time and is still the first thing I think of when recalling what was otherwise a bracing movie. I presumed it was just cheaper to get a inventory F-16 than an obsolete F-4, whether real or model.

    • Replies: @36 ulster
    @Almost Missouri

    In the airstrike scene, the aircraft looked like a Northrop F-5, probably of the Philippine Air Force, which performed the famous napalm strike scene in Apocalypse Now. A combat variant of the long-serving T-38, thousands of F-5 were built, mostly for the air forces of U.S. allies. They're still used by the Marines, Navy and USAF as "aggressor" aircraft in dogfighting exercises. A true "pilot's airplane."

    , @Joe Stalin
    @Almost Missouri

    https://youtu.be/CS-a69aCb24?t=121

    Northrup F-5.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJD2CHticqg

    , @Lurker
    @Almost Missouri

    And @Steve Sailer

    Often depends on military cooperation (or none). Heartbreak Ridge was initially started with US Army support and was meant to be about the army then support was withdrawn but the Marines stepped in. Thus Clint's character and his buddy are depicted as Marines but the movie explains that they were in the army in the Korean war but transferred to the USMC.

    Anyhow . . .

    Platoon was shot in the Philippines and the jet is a Philippine Air Force F-5 not an F-16. This is OK in historical terms since the South Vietnam Air Force also used a version of the F-5. Apocalypse Now was also shot in the Philippines and PAF F-5s are again featured - the ones dropping the napalm (though it's implied they are USAF aircraft).

    Meanwhile the F-4 was still in use in 1986, the USAF and Marines were both still flying it until the 1990s.

    Replies: @Old Prude, @Anonymous

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @Almost Missouri

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOjtznmxFtc

    , @Steve Sailer
    @Almost Missouri

    I haven't seen Platoon since 1986 so I don't recall which jet is in the movie. I'm just objecting to the couple of times in recollecting his memories of combat in his book where he refers to an F-16. Did the Philippines air force have F-16s in 1986?

    Replies: @Joe Stalin

  24. Oliver Stone was one of the few famous directors I saw in real life, at a conference or film presentation, I forget when or where. The other one was Woody Allen. Neither was impressive in person, but Stone seemed more spontaneous.

    His best films are possibly the ones he wrote but not directed (Scarface, Midnight Express). As a director, I don’t think he’s that great, many of his films feel dated in looks and style (i.e. Wall Street), although JFK was interesting at the time.

    I think he lately disappeared simply because, even if he was a leftist, he was not so interested in the fads of the time (demonizing white people, celebrating gays, etc). And with “JFK” he stirred up a hornet’s nest of conspiracies, and of course the status quo did not like that.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    @Dumbo

    Wall Street is about Wall Street in the ‘80s. It’s not dated - it’s a period piece filmed during the period.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard, @Anonymous

  25. @The Last Real Calvinist
    Great review, Steve -- informative, and fun to read. It succeeds in making me want to read the memoir and re-watch some of Stone's movies.

    Replies: @Almost Missouri, @Paul Jolliffe, @Polynikes

    TLRC,

    I recently rewatched “Nixon”, and honestly, I don’t think Stone got it quite right.

    All kinds of critics on both the left and the right blasted Stone for being too soft (or too hard) on RMN.

    But I disagree with both sides – Stone’s take was off because he missed on the central question: Why did Nixon have such a penchant for secrecy and working outside mainstream government channels to conduct policies?

    To Stone, Nixon’s method of governing was a function of Nixon’s personality (his “paranoia”). Stone even invented dialogue for Pat Nixon to say exactly that.

    But that didn’t explain it.

    Instead, Nixon’s governing style was what it was because of his own long experience with the American Deep State.

    For more than a quarter century, Nixon had been a first hand witness to political machinations largely hidden from public scrutiny.
    Especially during his time as Eisenhower’s VP (a period excised in Stone’s movie), Nixon saw how Deep State forces could pressure or even countermand presidential decisions.

    (Eisenhower didn’t press for the May, 1960 U-2 flight – but Allen Dulles and the CIA prevailed. The ensuing disaster wrecked Ike’s hopes for a peace summit with Khrushchev, and the Cold War continued for another three decades.)

    Nixon’s secret diplomacy and his determination to keep the State Dept., the military, the CIA, and the rest of the Military Industrial Intelligence Complex away was due to Nixon’s fear that those institutions would dominate and corrupt his policies.

    Nixon’s fear was well placed – they forced him out eventually.

    So, in my view, Stone missed the reason Nixon was the he was: Nixon’s own personality was less a factor than Nixon’s knowledge of and concern with the dark forces able to counter the highest levels of American government.

    The American Deep State.

  26. I think Stone’s films from his prime are still good, but it always seemed to me he really did lose his edge after JFK (though let’s not forget “The Doors”). I don’t know if some of the criticism got to him, or if digging into that conspiracy theory made him sort of lose his mind.

    I compare him to Francis Ford Coppola, who also very clearly lost his edge after Apocalypse Now, and people say he sort of lost of his mind while making that film.

    Both men had, at best, a decade of great filmmaking in them but managed to survive in Hollywood for another 30 years alternating between OK and bad films, never again approaching their early peak, but continuing to leverage their original reputation to stay in the business.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    @Wency


    I think Stone’s films from his prime are still good, but it always seemed to me he really did lose his edge after JFK (though let’s not forget “The Doors”).
     
    Natural Born Killers was pretty edgy. Technically, it was brilliant, although distasteful morally. It may be one of the most iconic movies from the 90s, along with Pulp Fiction. I heard that U-turn and Any Given Sunday were pretty good too, although I've never seen them.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

  27. While increasingly forgotten today,

    That’s true of most Hollywood directors, and even, actors. How many kids today would even know who Bette Davis or James Stewart were?

    Oliver Stone was a hunk when he was young.

    may be influenced by whoever is his current wife.

    Yeah, sure, always blame the woman. There have been a lot of Hollywood characters who were weird combinations of left-libertarian-conservative. Dennis Hopper, Milius, Coppola.

    Whatever happened to Milius?

    To say nothing of James Woods, who has come out full bore right wing. He’s not black-pilled on race, though, because I think he still harbors fantasies of a Comeback.

  28. It should be sold in the book section of all book stores listed under Fiction

  29. @Almost Missouri
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Agree.

    From the review:


    the only mistake I noticed was that he confuses the 1960s F-4 fighter jet with the 1970s F-16
     
    Does this refers to the scene in Platoon where an airstrike ends the finale battle, and Stone substituted an F-16 for an F-4? The jet only appeared in silhouette, yet the obvious anachronism bothered me at the time and is still the first thing I think of when recalling what was otherwise a bracing movie. I presumed it was just cheaper to get a inventory F-16 than an obsolete F-4, whether real or model.

    Replies: @36 ulster, @Joe Stalin, @Lurker, @Bardon Kaldian, @Steve Sailer

    In the airstrike scene, the aircraft looked like a Northrop F-5, probably of the Philippine Air Force, which performed the famous napalm strike scene in Apocalypse Now. A combat variant of the long-serving T-38, thousands of F-5 were built, mostly for the air forces of U.S. allies. They’re still used by the Marines, Navy and USAF as “aggressor” aircraft in dogfighting exercises. A true “pilot’s airplane.”

  30. @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top -- Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 -- before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Neoconned, @Dave Pinsen, @Alec Leamas (hard at work), @Reg Cæsar

    Agreed great director.

    I think he timed out. The 60s were still relevant by the early 90s….nobody much cared about Vietnam by the yr 2000 and that seemed to be his big burn….

  31. He had a series of interviews with Putin on Amazon or Netflix. Putin claimed that the American government armed and funded Chechen rebels and terrorists during the 1990s wars with Russia.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Thea

    Not directly, but the U.S. did provide significant aid to Georgia in that era, and its reasonable to assume that a nontrivial amount of this found its way to the Chechens with the quiet approval of Washington.

    (The political alignments of the countries of that region are complicated and tend to have more to do with national interest than religion. The Islamic Republic of Iran supported Armenia in its war with Muslim Azerbaijan for similar reasons.)

    Replies: @Thea

  32. @The Last Real Calvinist
    Great review, Steve -- informative, and fun to read. It succeeds in making me want to read the memoir and re-watch some of Stone's movies.

    Replies: @Almost Missouri, @Paul Jolliffe, @Polynikes

    Steve is talented reviewer of both books and movies. In a world where he chose to hide his more controversial views, his reviews might be some of the most widely read in the country. Of course, we are all glad he never succumbed to political correctness.

    I hope he archives all his reviews somewhere. I bet they age well.

    • Agree: Dieter Kief, Voltarde
  33. @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top -- Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 -- before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Neoconned, @Dave Pinsen, @Alec Leamas (hard at work), @Reg Cæsar

    I think the last Stone movie I saw (other than the interview with Putin) was Savages in 2012, and that was well made. I don’t know if it was Stone’s idea or it was in the script, but having Benicio Del Toro‘s Mexican gangster character show up at the site of the ambush sipping a Starbucks iced coffee was a hilarious touch.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Dave Pinsen

    I think the last Stone movie I saw (other than the interview with Putin) was Savages in 2012, and that was well made.

    Well-made but totally trashy. Stone aping Tarantino and trying to be hip with young ones. Slick, soulless movie.

    , @Steve Sailer
    @Dave Pinsen

    I enjoyed "Savages" a fair amount. It's rather a weird movie in that the two main characters -- the Jewish wheel-dealer and the gentile soldier who are partners in a marijuana business -- seem to be meant to be more aspects of Stone's personality than real individuals: e.g., they share a girlfriend without jealousy.

  34. eD says:

    In view of some of the negative comments on Stone above, to the effect that he didn’t really use his gifts and his career was disappointing, I went to the Wikipedia article on Stone and looked at the filmography. For comparison, I also went to the articles on John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. This is a tough crowd, but I think that most people reading this would recognize either or both Ford and Hitchcock as great movie makers.

    Stone is credited with 38 movies, 8 documentaries, and 6 TV shows (“Wild Palms” is really good). I think he made one great movie, “Nixon”, but there are about half a dozen other titles most people would recognize or have as favorites.

    Hitchcock is credited for 59 movies, 11 of them silent movies. Probably the best one is “Vertigo”, but I counted ten obviously great movies or classics.

    Ford is credited for 137 movies as a director. Some of these were documentaries. He also directed 2 TV productions and a stage production for charity. There were some years where he directed three movies. However, in my opinion most of these titles people will not have heard of most of these titles. Probably five or six of these movies were great or memorable.

    This tends to support my impression that as a movie maker, Stone was very good but obviously not in the Hitchcock/ Ford league. Hitchcock was one of the best half dozen directors of all time. Stone had one, maybe two, great movies to about ten for Hitchcock and maybe five for Ford. But this is an excellent career.

    I have a theory that in the storytelling arts (novels, epic poems, plays, movies) the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works, usually less, in rare instances more but never more than a dozen.

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
    @eD

    "I think he made one great movie, 'Nixon'"

    Nixon (1995) is my favorite Oliver Stone film. It's about as close to Shakespearean kingly tragedy as Hollywood can get. Richard Nixon is a fascinating, gothic character.

    "the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works"

    I think this is probably true. But even the minor works of a great composer, artist, writer, filmmaker, are worth one's time.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    , @68W58
    @eD

    Five great movies for John Ford?!? Good Lord man-“The Searchers”, “Mister Roberts”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “How Green Was My Valley”, “The Quiet Man”, “Stagecoach”, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Fort Apache”, “They Were Expendable” and “Young Mr. Lincoln”. The man is probably the greatest director of westerns to have ever lived. The only American director who surpasses him IMHO is Kubrick and that’s mostly a matter of taste.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @SunBakedSuburb

    , @Dave Pinsen
    @eD

    IIRC, Tarantino said he didn’t want to direct more than 10 films.

    , @Anonymous
    @eD

    In view of some of the negative comments on Stone above, to the effect that he didn’t really use his gifts and his career was disappointing... For comparison, I also went to the articles on John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock...

    Comparing old directors with the new crop of directors who emerged in 70s and 80s is misguided. For all the personal touches in Hitchcock and Ford's movies, they were creatures of the studio system. They knew what was expected of them and stuck to it with consistency and reliability. Their personalities were added to what were essentially genre staples, much like Old Hollywood actors understood their niche though they could expand on it. In contrast, someone like Marlon Brando dug deeper and acted not only with his body but his soul. He tried to make every role, however ridiculous, unique and genuine. In this regard, he was as much an inspiration for later directors as the great directors were.

    Stone as director sought to do as he wished, wholly different in spirit from Hitchcock and Ford's approach. The approach of Stone and his peers was both blessing and curse. They had far greater freedom to explore their ideas but could lose themselves to self-indulgence.
    This is why Welles was the gold standard for the new generation of film-makers. As much as they admired the craft and talent of men like Hitchcock and Ford, they also knew even most of the great Hollywood directors played it safe and remained, more or less, on the farm. In contrast, Welles went out of his way to do as he wanted, and he paid a heavy price for it. But that made him a romantic figure, a hero-artist who didn't compromise. But then, Welles was a genius whereas most wanna-be-welles were not.

    Finally, with waning of censorship, new cultural trends, and fall of old studio system, there emerged a number of directors with the freedom to be personal and visionary. And Stone both benefited and suffered from this freedom. He could make a masterwork like Nixon or something as insanely stupid as Natural Born Killers, which only has value as cry of desperation as Stone found liberals and conservatives equally guilty and soulless in the creation of a vapid TV-addicted America(and it was meant as mea culpa as he too had contributed to mindless violence). With works like W and World Trade Center and Edward Snowden, he's grown less showy and more assured, but some of the fire is missing.

    Stone's problem(but also advantage) is he's always been all over the map. He wants to be a true artist but is also a shameless sensationalist. And his instincts are more journalistic than artistic. Oddly enough, his documentaries about hot-button topics are less sensationalist than his feature films. A true artist is impervious to the latest trends, but Stone craves being at the center of attention like the character in La Dolce Vita. Kubrick created his own space and did his own thing regardless of what the world thought. Stone is half-artist but also half-charlatan and playboy who craves the spotlight. One part of him is sincere, another part is just slick. Take the Indian in The Doors. Stone pays sincere tribute to American Indian spirituality but it's also MTV-like fantasy pandering to youth and New Age nonsense. JFK strives to be at once probing political quest, tabloid conspiracy theorizing, and Capra-esque tale of American Idealism. Wall Street is both celebration and condemnation of greed and ultra-individualism. Seriously, how can anyone not identify most with Gordon Gekko, the most charismatic figure in the movie? Alexander is both historical epic and remake of The Doors with the Macedonian leader as proto-rock-star poet.
    This restless quality has prevented Stone from doing something truly awesome on the level of Scorsese and Kubrick. But then, I don't think he has the natural talent of some of the others. If anything, his overripe style served as compensation for lack of depth as artist, as trickery over truth.

    , @Steve Sailer
    @eD

    Basically, in his 30s Stone wrote one surprise hit movie, Midnight Express, and one fairly legendary movie, Scarface. In his 40s, he wrote and directed ten movies, a huge output, only one of which was a damp squib (talk radio)

    1995 Nixon
    1994 Natural Born Killers
    1993 Heaven & Earth
    1991 JFK
    1991 The Doors
    1989 Born on the Fourth of July
    1988 Talk Radio
    1987 Wall Street
    1986 Platoon
    1986 Salvador

    Three -- Platoon, Wall Street, and JFK -- were among the 20 or so most famous movies of their era, and that's not counting Born on the Fourth of July, for which he won his second Best Director Oscar.

    But after age 50 he was just another writer-director. Not a bad one, and keep in mind that he had the problem that his personality was so much a part of the 1986-1995 era that it was difficult for him to come up with new takes that were in sync with his personality.

    John Ford made two of his most famous movies in his 60s -- The Searchers and Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. That's impressive.

    Hitchcock peaked late, around age 60 with Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho, then didn't do much that was memorable after The Birds in mid-60s. That's impressive too.

    But, also, neither Ford nor Hitchcock were screenwriters.

    Stone is kind of like a baseball player like Sandy Koufax who had five straight great seasons, then was burned out.

    On the other hand, Koufax remains a particularly glamorous name because he walked away after going 27-9 in 1966. If we'd watched him run up a 5-7 win-loss record in 1973, he'd seem less legendary. Stone stuck around another 20 years and came back to earth.

  35. I know that Platoon was a deeply personal movie for Stone, so I don’t begrudge him having made it how he saw fit, however I found the ending – Willem Dafoe’s character dying in slow motion to the strains of Samuel Barber – to be a melodramtic. A lot of the rest of the movie was pretty good though. On the whole I thought Born on the Fouth of July was the better movie.

    Stone is kind of an old-fashioned liberal. He seems to like the old masculine America – the America of his youth. He recently mentioned that in today’s environment he couldn’t make the movies he made, as they wouldn’t be approved of by today’s SJW gate-keepers. Overall, he seems like an honorable and even admirable man. Except for his Castro-fawning, which was embarrassing – I just don’t get that.

    • Agree: utu
    • Replies: @Bragadocious
    @Mr. Anon

    If nothing else, that scene in Platoon provided Ben Stiller with the inspiration for his mocking slo-mo scenes in "Tropic Thunder."


    Except for his Castro-fawning, which was embarrassing – I just don’t get that
     
    De riguer for old school American leftists. That was the issue in the 70s and 80s. This is why Tony Montana was such a reprobate -- only a reprobate would despise Castro. But! Scarface was also a wonderfully unintended screed against uncontrolled immigration. Of course we must realize that it does not in any way apply to Mexico, Central America or the Dominican Republic.

    Replies: @Mr. Anon

    , @Dave Pinsen
    @Mr. Anon

    Dafoe’s death scene was one of those scenes that’s so good it becomes iconic and then, years later, seems clichéd. You have to experience it with fresh eyes (and ears, since the use of Barber’s Adagio for Strings for death scenes has become clichéd. Also, that wasn’t the ending.

  36. “raise funds for anti-communist rebels”

    You forgot about Oliver North’s Somocista allies who opened up a Medellin franchise in LA in the early 1980s. The Reaganaut anti-communist crusade in Central America was one of the factors in the crack cocaine epidemic.

    “French Quarter flaming gay boys”

    Second World War and Cold War-era homosexuals were well-represented in the ranks of the American, British, and Nazi intelligence services. The double lives they lived made them natural spies. The cabal of right-wing homosexuals in the French Quarter at that time — Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, ect. — were all attached to domestic CIA activities. David Ferrie was an early groomer of LH Oswald before Oswald enlisted in the USMC.

    “silly script for JFK”

    It’s not a silly script.

    “John Huston’s An Open Book”

    Agreed. It’s a great book.

    Thanks for the review, Steve. Oliver Stone is one of the few people in this industry who serves as an inspiration. I look forward to reading this first installment of his life Odyssey.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    @SunBakedSuburb


    You forgot about Oliver North’s Somocista allies who opened up a Medellin franchise in LA in the early 1980s. The Reaganaut anti-communist crusade in Central America was one of the factors in the crack cocaine epidemic.
     
    Good movie about that general subject: https://m.imdb.com/title/tt3532216/?ref_=m_nmfmd_act_8
  37. @eD
    In view of some of the negative comments on Stone above, to the effect that he didn't really use his gifts and his career was disappointing, I went to the Wikipedia article on Stone and looked at the filmography. For comparison, I also went to the articles on John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. This is a tough crowd, but I think that most people reading this would recognize either or both Ford and Hitchcock as great movie makers.

    Stone is credited with 38 movies, 8 documentaries, and 6 TV shows ("Wild Palms" is really good). I think he made one great movie, "Nixon", but there are about half a dozen other titles most people would recognize or have as favorites.

    Hitchcock is credited for 59 movies, 11 of them silent movies. Probably the best one is "Vertigo", but I counted ten obviously great movies or classics.

    Ford is credited for 137 movies as a director. Some of these were documentaries. He also directed 2 TV productions and a stage production for charity. There were some years where he directed three movies. However, in my opinion most of these titles people will not have heard of most of these titles. Probably five or six of these movies were great or memorable.

    This tends to support my impression that as a movie maker, Stone was very good but obviously not in the Hitchcock/ Ford league. Hitchcock was one of the best half dozen directors of all time. Stone had one, maybe two, great movies to about ten for Hitchcock and maybe five for Ford. But this is an excellent career.

    I have a theory that in the storytelling arts (novels, epic poems, plays, movies) the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works, usually less, in rare instances more but never more than a dozen.

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb, @68W58, @Dave Pinsen, @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    “I think he made one great movie, ‘Nixon’”

    Nixon (1995) is my favorite Oliver Stone film. It’s about as close to Shakespearean kingly tragedy as Hollywood can get. Richard Nixon is a fascinating, gothic character.

    “the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works”

    I think this is probably true. But even the minor works of a great composer, artist, writer, filmmaker, are worth one’s time.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Now, you're waay, way exaggerating.

    Repent.

  38. @Almost Missouri
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Agree.

    From the review:


    the only mistake I noticed was that he confuses the 1960s F-4 fighter jet with the 1970s F-16
     
    Does this refers to the scene in Platoon where an airstrike ends the finale battle, and Stone substituted an F-16 for an F-4? The jet only appeared in silhouette, yet the obvious anachronism bothered me at the time and is still the first thing I think of when recalling what was otherwise a bracing movie. I presumed it was just cheaper to get a inventory F-16 than an obsolete F-4, whether real or model.

    Replies: @36 ulster, @Joe Stalin, @Lurker, @Bardon Kaldian, @Steve Sailer

    Northrup F-5.

  39. @eD
    In view of some of the negative comments on Stone above, to the effect that he didn't really use his gifts and his career was disappointing, I went to the Wikipedia article on Stone and looked at the filmography. For comparison, I also went to the articles on John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. This is a tough crowd, but I think that most people reading this would recognize either or both Ford and Hitchcock as great movie makers.

    Stone is credited with 38 movies, 8 documentaries, and 6 TV shows ("Wild Palms" is really good). I think he made one great movie, "Nixon", but there are about half a dozen other titles most people would recognize or have as favorites.

    Hitchcock is credited for 59 movies, 11 of them silent movies. Probably the best one is "Vertigo", but I counted ten obviously great movies or classics.

    Ford is credited for 137 movies as a director. Some of these were documentaries. He also directed 2 TV productions and a stage production for charity. There were some years where he directed three movies. However, in my opinion most of these titles people will not have heard of most of these titles. Probably five or six of these movies were great or memorable.

    This tends to support my impression that as a movie maker, Stone was very good but obviously not in the Hitchcock/ Ford league. Hitchcock was one of the best half dozen directors of all time. Stone had one, maybe two, great movies to about ten for Hitchcock and maybe five for Ford. But this is an excellent career.

    I have a theory that in the storytelling arts (novels, epic poems, plays, movies) the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works, usually less, in rare instances more but never more than a dozen.

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb, @68W58, @Dave Pinsen, @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    Five great movies for John Ford?!? Good Lord man-“The Searchers”, “Mister Roberts”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “How Green Was My Valley”, “The Quiet Man”, “Stagecoach”, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Fort Apache”, “They Were Expendable” and “Young Mr. Lincoln”. The man is probably the greatest director of westerns to have ever lived. The only American director who surpasses him IMHO is Kubrick and that’s mostly a matter of taste.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @68W58

    Five great movies for John Ford?!? Good Lord man... The man is probably the greatest director of westerns to have ever lived.

    I see your point. The movies you listed could be considered as great, but 'great' is a big word. What is great as Hollywood entertainment may not be great as art. So, while John Ford made many great Hollywood movies, he probably made just a handful of movies that would be great by standards of art.

    "Grapes of Wrath" is well done and works as popular cinema, but how does it compare with the novel? Or with truly wrenching works like La Terra Trema? For the most part, it sticks to conventions. "Young Mr. Lincoln" is a fine work of folkish propaganda, but you won't learn much about the Lincoln the real man. It's myth-making.

    Replies: @68W58

    , @SunBakedSuburb
    @68W58

    The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is John Ford's best film. The source material and Henry Fonda's performance are the reasons for its success. Ford's westerns are hokey. And John Wayne is an unconvincing cowboy. A friend of mine said Ford's westerns work if you view them as white American mythology.

    Replies: @68W58

  40. Orson Welles had a great second half career selling no wine before its time.

    How many commercials has Stone done?

  41. @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top -- Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 -- before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Neoconned, @Dave Pinsen, @Alec Leamas (hard at work), @Reg Cæsar

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top — Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 — before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.

    I wonder whether comic actors are like rock musicians with a twist. I think both types do it for access to fame, popularity, with the ultimate goal resulting in women, however at a certain point when the comedic actor starts getting the fawning attention of really attractive women he may not want to act like a giant asshole in public and on film for attention anymore (whereas, the rock star remains cool for the duration and is hobbled by drugs and other trappings of fame). Then they turn to more serious roles when they want to become movie stars rather than jesters. At least Carrey and Sellers have been linked to really desirable women.

  42. Steve,

    Someone else will probably post this too, but at least back in the 1990s Oliver Stone could make light of the stereotype of him as a “conspiracy nut”:

    • LOL: LondonBob
  43. @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top -- Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, maybe Peter Sellers had 8 or 10 -- before audiences figure out their act. Dramatic talents like Stone are probably similar, although with a little longer run before audiences get tired of them.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Neoconned, @Dave Pinsen, @Alec Leamas (hard at work), @Reg Cæsar

    Comedy movie stars in movies have about 5 years at the top…

    Bob Denver retired after short-lived follow-ups (follows-up?) to Gilligan because, he said, audiences wouldn’t accept his type of character over age 40.

    Don Knotts would be the obvious exception, and Denver retired to Knotts’s home state.

  44. anon[278] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hodag
    Whither Michael Cimino.

    I was too young to see his early work in the theater. Over the years I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Heaven's Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists - who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career.

    Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent's wife?

    I have no idea.

    Replies: @Kent Nationalist, @anon, @Anonymous, @Servant of Gla'aki, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Sam Malone, @Steve Sailer

    He has a 1985 movie, Year of the Dragon, about Chinese organized crime transplanted to America that I thought is pretty decent. It has its over the top moments and stars over the top actor Mickey Rourke who’s the white cop who wants to put an end to Chinese organized crime in NYC, lol.

    As for why Cimino was essentially blackballed, I would think it would be difficult to arrange film financing for a director who is a drug addict and who’s previous movie literally bankrupted a legendary studio. You sometimes hear about out of control actors who can’t be insured as a principal in a movie, I would imagine the same goes for directors. That said, five years after Heaven’s Gate, Cimino was able to do Year of the Dragon.

  45. @Almost Missouri
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Agree.

    From the review:


    the only mistake I noticed was that he confuses the 1960s F-4 fighter jet with the 1970s F-16
     
    Does this refers to the scene in Platoon where an airstrike ends the finale battle, and Stone substituted an F-16 for an F-4? The jet only appeared in silhouette, yet the obvious anachronism bothered me at the time and is still the first thing I think of when recalling what was otherwise a bracing movie. I presumed it was just cheaper to get a inventory F-16 than an obsolete F-4, whether real or model.

    Replies: @36 ulster, @Joe Stalin, @Lurker, @Bardon Kaldian, @Steve Sailer

    And

    Often depends on military cooperation (or none). Heartbreak Ridge was initially started with US Army support and was meant to be about the army then support was withdrawn but the Marines stepped in. Thus Clint’s character and his buddy are depicted as Marines but the movie explains that they were in the army in the Korean war but transferred to the USMC.

    Anyhow . . .

    Platoon was shot in the Philippines and the jet is a Philippine Air Force F-5 not an F-16. This is OK in historical terms since the South Vietnam Air Force also used a version of the F-5. Apocalypse Now was also shot in the Philippines and PAF F-5s are again featured – the ones dropping the napalm (though it’s implied they are USAF aircraft).

    Meanwhile the F-4 was still in use in 1986, the USAF and Marines were both still flying it until the 1990s.

    • Agree: The Alarmist
    • Replies: @Old Prude
    @Lurker

    That clarifies things. I saw Platoon when it first came out and an F16 in Nam would have set my gag reflex off. As I read through the comments I kept thinking “Stone is too good a filmmaker to be that lazy. It would ruin any authenticity”. F5s are as apt as A4s. Carry on, soldier

    Replies: @Anonymous

    , @Anonymous
    @Lurker

    Considering what unit, when and where in Viet Nam the action in Platoon takes place, the Air Force units providing air support would have been flying F-100s. That airplane is pretty much forgotten today, but it did a lot of mud moving in its day.

    https://i.imgur.com/lZR1HoK.jpg

    Replies: @Lurker

  46. @Lurker
    @Almost Missouri

    And @Steve Sailer

    Often depends on military cooperation (or none). Heartbreak Ridge was initially started with US Army support and was meant to be about the army then support was withdrawn but the Marines stepped in. Thus Clint's character and his buddy are depicted as Marines but the movie explains that they were in the army in the Korean war but transferred to the USMC.

    Anyhow . . .

    Platoon was shot in the Philippines and the jet is a Philippine Air Force F-5 not an F-16. This is OK in historical terms since the South Vietnam Air Force also used a version of the F-5. Apocalypse Now was also shot in the Philippines and PAF F-5s are again featured - the ones dropping the napalm (though it's implied they are USAF aircraft).

    Meanwhile the F-4 was still in use in 1986, the USAF and Marines were both still flying it until the 1990s.

    Replies: @Old Prude, @Anonymous

    That clarifies things. I saw Platoon when it first came out and an F16 in Nam would have set my gag reflex off. As I read through the comments I kept thinking “Stone is too good a filmmaker to be that lazy. It would ruin any authenticity”. F5s are as apt as A4s. Carry on, soldier

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Old Prude


    F5s are as apt as A4s. Carry on, soldier
     
    Yeah...no. Neither US Navy nor Marine A4s would have been flying CAS for units of the 25th Infantry Division. And the RVNAF did not begin receiving F-5s until June, 1967, one of their six fighter squadrons, the 522nd, being equipped with them, while three other squadrons equipped with A-37s and the two remaining kept their A-1s.
    The RVNAF flew its missions in support of the ARVN while the USAF supported the US Army, using, during the time-frame of the movie, predominantly F-100s south of the 17th parallel. The A4 was used by the US Marines flying out of Chu Lai to support Marine units and was not normally seen south of I Corps.

    Replies: @Old Prude

  47. Anonymous[416] • Disclaimer says:
    @theMann
    Is "man" the right term for any male whose politics are influenced by his wife?

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Bardon Kaldian

    Is “man” the right term for any male whose politics are influenced by his wife?

    I highly doubt if Stone’s politics was influenced by his wives. He most likely voted for Reagan because Carter was seen as weak and the nation needed a shot in the arm for a new direction. Incredibly, Reagan got over 40% of the Jewish vote.

    There was always something of the contrarian in Stone. The post-Watergate Democrats were supposed to clean up the country and change things, but they went on with business as usual.
    Then, the 80s had Stallone with his ludicrous Vietnam fantasies and gungho militarism in movies by Chuck Norris. Stone had enough of that and offered a counter-narrative challenging Vietnam revisionism that went from sense(greater empathy toward Vets than defaming them as ‘baby-killers’ and admission that communists did horrible things, as show in The Killing Fields) to nonsense(heroic US military lost the war because it was stabbed in the back and US needs to fight more wars and win to rid the nation of the Vietnam curse). Also, the tensions in Central America under Reagan administration made many fear that another Vietnam was looming on the horizon.

    Stone’s Vietnam movies and JFK serve as bellwether of shift in boomer consciousness. While some boomers welcomed Vietnam revisionism, others felt nostalgia for the idealism of the anti-war movement, and they appreciated Platoon as the first truly anti-war combat movie about Vietnam, especially as Stone had been there. While movies like Apocalypse Now and Go Tell the Spartans showed the darker side of war, they were pretty gung-ho for the most part. The latter is really just a more liberal version of Green Berets. In contrast, Platoon got much closer to the ugliness of combat and US atrocities. (That said, the French saw it as jingoistic and with some justification as Stone just can’t help admiring tough guys in battle doing manly things. In the final battle, the audience is left with no choice but to root for Americans against the enemy.)

    And many boomers greeted JFK as a kind of vindication, finally a mainstream movie about the destruction of Camelot by dark forces. But that was the perspective of boomers before they gained power. With Clinton, the boomers were in power and took over the reins of empire. As such, the anti-war stance was no longer convenient for Power Boomers, especially Jewish ones hellbent on using US military prowess for Israeli interests.

  48. Anonymous[140] • Disclaimer says:
    @MEH 0910

    Stone began his career as a screenwriter. He’s proud that he wrote six days per week while hacking a cab in Taxi Driver-era Manhattan. After a half decade of rejection, he suddenly won the Best Adaptation Oscar for 1978’s Midnight Express.
     
    https://twitter.com/thr/status/1289225844137685000

    https://twitter.com/NYTObits/status/1289988593830699010

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    Parker-and-Stone is too much(and without the humor of Matt Stone and Trey Parker). Both are hyper-sensationalists, and Stone and Parker is like hot sauce and habaneros. Midnight Express is one of the most obnoxious movies ever made. Parker’s The Wall is atrocious and Angel Heart is crazy. I didn’t see Mississippi Burning but it sounds like a comic book rendition of the Evil South, which set the tone for much to come. Not just condemnation of Old South policies but total dehumanization. (But I heard Parker’s Shoot the Moon is quite good.)

    Though Stone and DePalma is rather like Stone and Parker, Scarface worked much better because the whole concept is cartoonish in nature. It’s good for laughs. And for all his outlandish qualities, DePalma was a much better film-maker than Parker.

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
    @Anonymous

    "Parker's The Wall is atrocious and Angel Heart is crazy."

    Both films are visually splendid and artistically successful but not for a general audience.

    "I didn't see Mississippi Burning but it sounds like a comic book rendition of the Evil South"

    You're correct on this one. Mississippi Burning is typical show biz white savior stuff. Parker applies his usual visual style and Gene Hackman is fun to watch. Otherwise it is morally tedious.

  49. Anonymous[110] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim Christian
    Pretty good takes on Oliver Stone, Steve. He's quite a guy, he lived the tragedies he has depicted on film and interviews. He's an original, he's thoughtful and probably the last of his breed, professionally.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    He’s an original, he’s thoughtful and probably the last of his breed, professionally.

    Maybe Linklater is.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
    @Anonymous

    Linklater? Steve, I gotta admit the truth, I had to go look up his particulars. So Linklater, his biggest work being Slackers and a remake of Bad News Bears is anything but a major falloff from Stone (Platoon, Midnight Express and a dozen others between screenplays and as movies-as-director, you know them all)? The comparison is anything but comparable. Lots of difference between early and late boomers in any case as regards mandated service in Vietnam. I was born three years before Linklater and I wasn't close to being drafted, even if I did join up and spend three years with these guys:
    http://www.seaforces.org/usnair/VA/Attack-Squadron-35-Dateien/image137.jpg

    Now, Linklater went into oil platforms (I'm assuming roughneck), those guys get cred for doing shit at least as risky (or insane) as my flight decks.

    So, all this said, Steve, what am I missing? Ron Howard, Opie and all, dwarfs Linklater. Of course, Howard escapes everyone's gaze, but what am I missing about Linklater? Just wonderin. I'd heard of him, but had no idea of his work. Yet, you plucked him from nowhere.

    NOT bustin' balls. But for a guy like you to think of him as regards Stone has me curious.

    Replies: @Anonymous

  50. @Captain Tripps
    Great review; Stone is talented, and good at his craft. I enjoyed Platoon; JFK was entertaining if a bit outlandish. Still, in most interviews I've seen of him, he comes off as a d**k. NYC born and raised, so a Northeasterner, and prone to the messianic tendencies of that breed. But I get it Steve, you live at the (current) epicenter of the entertainment industry, so your bread must be partially buttered in that way. Still, given a choice between Stone and one of your more regular topical American icons, Tom Wolfe, to have dinner and a drink, it's Wolfe hands down. I'll take Virginia gentility over New York "earnestness" everyday. I don't mind wearing my bias on my sleeve.

    Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose

    I’ll take Virginia gentility over New York “earnestness” everyday.

    I get what you mean, but Tom Wolfe did live in New York for well over 50 years.

    • Replies: @Captain Tripps
    @Ghost of Bull Moose

    GOBM, I take your point. Consider, though, that Tom Wolfe maybe enjoyed playing the part of the southern gentleman amongst the brusque New Yorkers, like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court. Also, if you aspire to be a writer, New York is the place to ply your trade (and mine for golden writing material).

    Replies: @syonredux, @Ghost of Bull Moose

  51. Anonymous[110] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bardon Kaldian
    I've read it with interest (although I didn't think much about Stone lately). In some ways, Stone is like a hybrid of Welles & Woody Allen.

    Goethe, it is a cliche, was a genius of personality. I've read a few of his best bios & it is evident that he was not just a charismatic, but also an astonishingly multitalented, protean, curious, original & deep person.Yet, his work doesn't measure up: although he was revered in the 1st half of the 19th C, and still is among Germans- Goethe has dimmed as an author & simply is not in the company of Dostoevsky or Proust. His life is greater accomplishment than his work.

    Casually skimming through books on Orson Welles, I've had a similar feeling: a genius of personality (although on a much lesser scale, of course) whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts - who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call "stupidity of personality". He didn't have a vision that clashed with reality; it's just his high opinion on himself, egocentricity, arrogance, laziness & gluttony ended his creative activity. Stone reminds me of him as I sense Stone is a "talent of personality" (on a lower scale, too), and Stone is probably more for what he is than what he had, or could have done. He's got personality.

    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences. He made a few good movies during some period, was highly praised, and then couldn't produce the goods anymore. This just happens. From 1990 on, most people were not interested in serious political films (which is Stone's central filmmaking passion) & he fizzled. It is not so about what he knew or felt about politics, or a nation, or history, or was he right of wrong- Stone was never interested in fantasy, sci fi, domestic drama, high ideas & humanity (Malick), existential questions,... Also, I think, he never understood deep roots of class & race conflicts and identities, politics, religion, and what makes groups of people tick. His level is a kind of conspiracy of some kind of interest groups, plus his personal experience of war.

    He is, I guess, a likable & reasonable man who is gifted for filmmaking, but: he is not a passionate, dedicated director; his metier is primarily political drama as he understands it; and, creatively, he shot his bolt.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous, @Dieter Kief

    Orson Welles: a genius of personality whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts – who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call “stupidity of personality”.

    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don’t pull in the crowds. Kubrick was a far more stable personality but understood he had to careful plan for every next movie as he wasn’t out to make blockbusters but art films. So, despite his care, he managed to finish only 12 films, like Welles. Welles’ output is all the more amazing considering he had to scrounge for money and shoot his movies in bits and pieces here and there. He still managed to make something as startling as Chimes at Midnight.

    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences.

    The differences are simply to big to ignore. Allen had ups and downs but his was a long stable and consistent career. He made small films, taking inspiration from directors like Rohmer. Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul. Like Alexander.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    @Anonymous


    he had to careful plan for every next movie as he wasn’t out to make blockbusters but art films.
     
    In many cases, he wanted to make art films that were also blockbusters. 2001: A Space Odyssey cost 10.5 million dollars in 1966-'68, back when that was a pretty big budget . And 2001 earned 146 million.....quite a tidy sum.....

    Replies: @Anonymous

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @Anonymous


    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don’t pull in the crowds.
     
    Read what I write. The only common thing between Goethe and Welles is "genius of personality", and I referred to it because it is something specific. For instance, from what we know, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, ... did not possess that quality. As for Welles..

    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/oct/22/orson-welles-citizen-kane
    .............................

    Though Orson Welles scrutinised himself intently, there's little evidence that he sought professional advice – even when his over-eating was sure to kill him. (He was only 70 when he died – yet in his early 20s Hollywood had welcomed him as a new Tyrone Power!) When it came to self-destruction's allure, he liked to tell the story of the scorpion and the frog – of how the scorpion begged a lift across a stream; how the frog did not trust the scorpion; of how the scorpion said, but if I sting you, froggie, you will die, and I will drown. And so they set out and the frog had gone halfway when he felt the pain of the stinger. Why? he cries out, why did you do it? Now we will all die. I know, says the scorpion, but it is my character.
    ......................................................
    Many of the people who revered Welles – and worshipped a system in which Kane might be made – overlooked his faults. People who knew Orson believed this above all: you never let him meet the money people. Why? He was his own worst enemy. You could say: now, Orson, just sit with them for a lunch, be patient, be polite, tell good stories, let them know the patrons of art and progress they would be if they gave you a little of their money. Just be humble. And Orson would say: of course, of course – I get it. Then lunch began and in 10 minutes he had been unruly, offensive, ugly. He turned on the moneybags and lashed them with envy and contempt. He blew it! Because he could not be humble. If you watch Citizen Kane closely, you can see the same trait and the same cocksure grin that goes with it.

    Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul.
     
    Allen knew his limitations, but he was, compared with Stone, a Renaissance man. It is just silly to exalt Stone's abilities.

    Since we began with lit, we could as well end up with it. Two writers who were contemporaries- sort of-are Ernest Hemingway and Hermann Broch. I've read both of them. Hemingway was a very good short story writer, good novelette author, below average novelist & worthless gossipy memoirist. Yet- Hemingway is a legend.

    Hermann Broch is, on the other hand, a novelist of genius & brilliant essayist/cultural analyst (Hugo Hoffmansthal, Spirit of times,...). Hemingway is, compared to Broch, something like The Podunk Institute for Hamburger Technology to MIT. A dwarf to a giant.

    And yet, virtually no one has heard of Broch.

    Here, Stone is Hemingway. Podunk Institute mistaken for MIT.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @The Germ Theory of Disease

    , @Dave Pinsen
    @Anonymous

    Stone’s Alexander may not be perfect, but it’s probably the best Alexander film ever.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous

  52. Anonymous[258] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hodag
    Whither Michael Cimino.

    I was too young to see his early work in the theater. Over the years I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Heaven's Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists - who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career.

    Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent's wife?

    I have no idea.

    Replies: @Kent Nationalist, @anon, @Anonymous, @Servant of Gla'aki, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Sam Malone, @Steve Sailer

    I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is, in some ways, his best film, but it already shows a penchant for visual megalomania. It has to be the crime caper with most magnificent vistas of the American West. Sometimes, you’re not sure whether you’re watching an action movie or travelogue(or nature program).

    Heaven’s Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists – who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career. Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent’s wife?

    He was allowed to make Year of the Dragon which did pretty okay at the box office. What really killed his career was the next movie, The Sicilian. Actually, it’s pretty good(and rather thoughtful about intersection of crime and politics) but didn’t go over with critics and the audience. Perhaps the international cast made it all very confusing. Also, Cimino focused more on visuals than on dramatics, especially as Christopher Lambert is not a very expressive actor. Still, worth a look.

    Cimino became addicted to and associated with bigness of a kind that was no longer in fashion.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
    @Anonymous


    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is, in some ways, his best film, but it already shows a penchant for visual megalomania. It has to be the crime caper with most magnificent vistas of the American West.
     
    The cinematography sold me on Montana.

    There are even more beautiful places in Montana than what was shown in T & L.
    , @syonredux
    @Anonymous

    Speaking of Cimino, I've been re-watching some of the films of John Ford, and I'm quite struck by the enormous impact that Ford had on him. Take grand landscapes, for example.Cimino was well known for his fondness for geographical beauty, but Ford practically has the patent on the aptly named Monument Valley:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBHYJm775DQ




    Then there's Ford's almost obsessive interest in parties and dancing as moments of social integration:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_70Ht9e7pY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDbUOG7elXA


    One gets the feeling that Cimino felt that he had to top the *Master, offering dance scenes and celebrations that were bigger and grander than anything that he attempted:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2_pfQvSP7I


    *


    When asked which directors he liked best, Orson Welles famously said, “I like the old masters … by which I mean John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.” The comment continued: “With Ford at his best, you get a sense of what the earth is made of–even if the script is by Mother Machree.”

     

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

  53. One interesting thing here is Stone lamenting not getting Tom Cruise for Wall Street. I think it would have been worse with Cruise – he was too handsome, charismatic, and likable for the Bud Fox role. Real life Wall Streeters embraced Bud Fox unironically as it was (for years after, they’d post help wanted ads in the New York Times saying “Wanted: Bud Fox”). Plus, with Charlie Sheen, Stone got to cast a real life father and son as father and son.

  54. Anonymous[248] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dave Pinsen
    @Steve Sailer

    I think the last Stone movie I saw (other than the interview with Putin) was Savages in 2012, and that was well made. I don’t know if it was Stone’s idea or it was in the script, but having Benicio Del Toro‘s Mexican gangster character show up at the site of the ambush sipping a Starbucks iced coffee was a hilarious touch.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    I think the last Stone movie I saw (other than the interview with Putin) was Savages in 2012, and that was well made.

    Well-made but totally trashy. Stone aping Tarantino and trying to be hip with young ones. Slick, soulless movie.

    • Agree: Servant of Gla'aki
  55. @eD
    In view of some of the negative comments on Stone above, to the effect that he didn't really use his gifts and his career was disappointing, I went to the Wikipedia article on Stone and looked at the filmography. For comparison, I also went to the articles on John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. This is a tough crowd, but I think that most people reading this would recognize either or both Ford and Hitchcock as great movie makers.

    Stone is credited with 38 movies, 8 documentaries, and 6 TV shows ("Wild Palms" is really good). I think he made one great movie, "Nixon", but there are about half a dozen other titles most people would recognize or have as favorites.

    Hitchcock is credited for 59 movies, 11 of them silent movies. Probably the best one is "Vertigo", but I counted ten obviously great movies or classics.

    Ford is credited for 137 movies as a director. Some of these were documentaries. He also directed 2 TV productions and a stage production for charity. There were some years where he directed three movies. However, in my opinion most of these titles people will not have heard of most of these titles. Probably five or six of these movies were great or memorable.

    This tends to support my impression that as a movie maker, Stone was very good but obviously not in the Hitchcock/ Ford league. Hitchcock was one of the best half dozen directors of all time. Stone had one, maybe two, great movies to about ten for Hitchcock and maybe five for Ford. But this is an excellent career.

    I have a theory that in the storytelling arts (novels, epic poems, plays, movies) the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works, usually less, in rare instances more but never more than a dozen.

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb, @68W58, @Dave Pinsen, @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    IIRC, Tarantino said he didn’t want to direct more than 10 films.

  56. @Hodag
    Whither Michael Cimino.

    I was too young to see his early work in the theater. Over the years I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Heaven's Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists - who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career.

    Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent's wife?

    I have no idea.

    Replies: @Kent Nationalist, @anon, @Anonymous, @Servant of Gla'aki, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Sam Malone, @Steve Sailer

    So why was Cimino essentially black-balled?

    I’m not sure if this is symptom or cause…but I strongly suspect it’s related.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Cimino%27s_unrealized_projects

    I assume that not many directors have an entire Wikipedia article devoted to their never-completed film projects….

  57. @Almost Missouri
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Agree.

    From the review:


    the only mistake I noticed was that he confuses the 1960s F-4 fighter jet with the 1970s F-16
     
    Does this refers to the scene in Platoon where an airstrike ends the finale battle, and Stone substituted an F-16 for an F-4? The jet only appeared in silhouette, yet the obvious anachronism bothered me at the time and is still the first thing I think of when recalling what was otherwise a bracing movie. I presumed it was just cheaper to get a inventory F-16 than an obsolete F-4, whether real or model.

    Replies: @36 ulster, @Joe Stalin, @Lurker, @Bardon Kaldian, @Steve Sailer

  58. Anonymous[105] • Disclaimer says:
    @eD
    In view of some of the negative comments on Stone above, to the effect that he didn't really use his gifts and his career was disappointing, I went to the Wikipedia article on Stone and looked at the filmography. For comparison, I also went to the articles on John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. This is a tough crowd, but I think that most people reading this would recognize either or both Ford and Hitchcock as great movie makers.

    Stone is credited with 38 movies, 8 documentaries, and 6 TV shows ("Wild Palms" is really good). I think he made one great movie, "Nixon", but there are about half a dozen other titles most people would recognize or have as favorites.

    Hitchcock is credited for 59 movies, 11 of them silent movies. Probably the best one is "Vertigo", but I counted ten obviously great movies or classics.

    Ford is credited for 137 movies as a director. Some of these were documentaries. He also directed 2 TV productions and a stage production for charity. There were some years where he directed three movies. However, in my opinion most of these titles people will not have heard of most of these titles. Probably five or six of these movies were great or memorable.

    This tends to support my impression that as a movie maker, Stone was very good but obviously not in the Hitchcock/ Ford league. Hitchcock was one of the best half dozen directors of all time. Stone had one, maybe two, great movies to about ten for Hitchcock and maybe five for Ford. But this is an excellent career.

    I have a theory that in the storytelling arts (novels, epic poems, plays, movies) the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works, usually less, in rare instances more but never more than a dozen.

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb, @68W58, @Dave Pinsen, @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    In view of some of the negative comments on Stone above, to the effect that he didn’t really use his gifts and his career was disappointing… For comparison, I also went to the articles on John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock…

    Comparing old directors with the new crop of directors who emerged in 70s and 80s is misguided. For all the personal touches in Hitchcock and Ford’s movies, they were creatures of the studio system. They knew what was expected of them and stuck to it with consistency and reliability. Their personalities were added to what were essentially genre staples, much like Old Hollywood actors understood their niche though they could expand on it. In contrast, someone like Marlon Brando dug deeper and acted not only with his body but his soul. He tried to make every role, however ridiculous, unique and genuine. In this regard, he was as much an inspiration for later directors as the great directors were.

    Stone as director sought to do as he wished, wholly different in spirit from Hitchcock and Ford’s approach. The approach of Stone and his peers was both blessing and curse. They had far greater freedom to explore their ideas but could lose themselves to self-indulgence.
    This is why Welles was the gold standard for the new generation of film-makers. As much as they admired the craft and talent of men like Hitchcock and Ford, they also knew even most of the great Hollywood directors played it safe and remained, more or less, on the farm. In contrast, Welles went out of his way to do as he wanted, and he paid a heavy price for it. But that made him a romantic figure, a hero-artist who didn’t compromise. But then, Welles was a genius whereas most wanna-be-welles were not.

    Finally, with waning of censorship, new cultural trends, and fall of old studio system, there emerged a number of directors with the freedom to be personal and visionary. And Stone both benefited and suffered from this freedom. He could make a masterwork like Nixon or something as insanely stupid as Natural Born Killers, which only has value as cry of desperation as Stone found liberals and conservatives equally guilty and soulless in the creation of a vapid TV-addicted America(and it was meant as mea culpa as he too had contributed to mindless violence). With works like W and World Trade Center and Edward Snowden, he’s grown less showy and more assured, but some of the fire is missing.

    Stone’s problem(but also advantage) is he’s always been all over the map. He wants to be a true artist but is also a shameless sensationalist. And his instincts are more journalistic than artistic. Oddly enough, his documentaries about hot-button topics are less sensationalist than his feature films. A true artist is impervious to the latest trends, but Stone craves being at the center of attention like the character in La Dolce Vita. Kubrick created his own space and did his own thing regardless of what the world thought. Stone is half-artist but also half-charlatan and playboy who craves the spotlight. One part of him is sincere, another part is just slick. Take the Indian in The Doors. Stone pays sincere tribute to American Indian spirituality but it’s also MTV-like fantasy pandering to youth and New Age nonsense. JFK strives to be at once probing political quest, tabloid conspiracy theorizing, and Capra-esque tale of American Idealism. Wall Street is both celebration and condemnation of greed and ultra-individualism. Seriously, how can anyone not identify most with Gordon Gekko, the most charismatic figure in the movie? Alexander is both historical epic and remake of The Doors with the Macedonian leader as proto-rock-star poet.
    This restless quality has prevented Stone from doing something truly awesome on the level of Scorsese and Kubrick. But then, I don’t think he has the natural talent of some of the others. If anything, his overripe style served as compensation for lack of depth as artist, as trickery over truth.

  59. @Ghost of Bull Moose
    @Captain Tripps


    I’ll take Virginia gentility over New York “earnestness” everyday.
     
    I get what you mean, but Tom Wolfe did live in New York for well over 50 years.

    Replies: @Captain Tripps

    GOBM, I take your point. Consider, though, that Tom Wolfe maybe enjoyed playing the part of the southern gentleman amongst the brusque New Yorkers, like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court. Also, if you aspire to be a writer, New York is the place to ply your trade (and mine for golden writing material).

    • Replies: @syonredux
    @Captain Tripps


    like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court.
     
    Yeah, Franklin, the life-long urbanite (Boston, Philadelphia, London, Paris) play-acting as a son of the frontier was definitely one of his better jokes.But, as Melville notes in Israel Potter, Franklin was something of a genius at shape-shifting:

    Having carefully weighed the world, Franklin could act any part in it. By nature turned to knowledge, his mind was often grave, but never serious. At times he had seriousness—­extreme seriousness—­for others, but never for himself. Tranquillity was to him instead of it. This philosophical levity of tranquillity, so to speak, is shown in his easy variety of pursuits. Printer, postmaster, almanac maker, essayist, chemist, orator, tinker, statesman, humorist, philosopher, parlor man, political economist, professor of housewifery, ambassador, projector, maxim-monger, herb-doctor, wit:—­Jack of all trades, master of each and mastered by none—­the type and genius of his land.
     

    Replies: @R.G. Camara, @Captain Tripps

    , @Ghost of Bull Moose
    @Captain Tripps

    "Consider, though, that Tom Wolfe maybe enjoyed playing the part of the southern gentleman amongst the brusque New Yorkers, like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court."

    There's something to that. I don't consider Oliver Stone much of a New Yorker in his sensibility, even though he was born here and went to NYU. He seems more 'California' to me, or maybe I mean Hollywood. I don't consider him much of a Jew, either, though his father was. Maybe he's perceived that way more by non-NYers?

    A Jewish friend who spent time in Israel said he felt more Jewish when in America and more American when in Israel. Maybe when Wolfe went home to Virginia he felt more of a New Yorker? He did cultivate his persona (just a little) with the white suits and cars. He was an ultra NY insider though; the last encounter with him by anyone I know was at a Manhattan Institute dinner.

    The Franklin example is a good one. Steely Dan moved from New York to LA and immediately started writing anti-nostalgic NY-centric songs with a West Coast sound. Donald Fagan said he and Becker felt very much like NYers in LA. I'm sure we could keep coming up with examples.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

  60. @Hodag
    Whither Michael Cimino.

    I was too young to see his early work in the theater. Over the years I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Heaven's Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists - who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career.

    Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent's wife?

    I have no idea.

    Replies: @Kent Nationalist, @anon, @Anonymous, @Servant of Gla'aki, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Sam Malone, @Steve Sailer

    Ugh, The Deer Hunter is just terrible. Overrated, over-produced nonsense. Russian roulette as a metaphor for Vietnam? WTF? And get this, the original script, with the whole Russian roulette theme, was set not in Vietnam, but in… Las Vegas.

    What drivel.

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob, LondonBob
    • Replies: @Abolish_public_education
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    What metaphor?

    A Vietnam Vet-friend remembers seeing the game (but not the betting).

    I loved Any Given Sunday.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @The Germ Theory of Disease

    , @Rapparee
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    Whilst watching the film, I quickly did the math on the odds of surviving that many rounds of Russian Roulette, and it immediately broke my suspension of disbelief. True, the movie drops a few hints that there is some kind of preternatural willpower-alters-reality effect at work, but it’s so half-baked and in contrast with the tone of the rest of the movie that it doesn’t really play.

    The Deer Hunter is really three totally different films spliced together, one good, one ludicrous, and one having potential but sorely underdeveloped- one’s a slice-of-life last-night-of-innocence flick loosely in the same genre as American Graffiti, one’s a weird dark magical-realist fantasy about Russian Roulette, and one is a meditation on how returning combat veterans sometimes have trouble reintegrating in society. As three different movies developed on their own terms, at least a couple of them might have worked. Together, a big hot mess.

  61. My feeling on Stone is that he’s very self-absorbed in his own Boomer world. This worked well when Boomers were so dominant in pop culture, but it causes his films to age very badly when viewed out of the Boomer-world view.

    Take his disaster Alexander; utterly failed at the box office and finally killed Colin Farrell’s chances of being a leading man. I remember an interview with Stone right around then, and he made a comment about how “Everyone grew up seeing these black-and-white crap documentaries in school where Alexander steps out and gives a boring monologue about his accomplishments, and I wanted to do something different.”

    As a non-Boomer, I laughed. Clearly Stone was referencing his own childhood experience, and not the experience of anyone who wasn’t a Boomer. I had never seen a boring didactic documentary like that, in or out of school; it sounded like something Mystery Science Theater 3000 would’ve lampooned back in the day. But Stone really couldn’t see that his childhood was the Universal Childhood Experience anymore, and his arrogance that everyone had the same childhood made his films hermetic. He couldn’t get out of his own Boomer head.

    I mean, look at the subjects of his best-known films: Vietnam, Vietnam, Drugs, JFK. Fascinating for Boomers, but for non-Boomers the subjects are much smaller and far less interesting. And all of his films do not reach out and make the subjects interesting for people who didn’t live through them.

    Stone might well be remembered as the Boomer Director.

    • Agree: Ian Smith
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara


    Stone is that he’s very self-absorbed in his own Boomer world. This worked well when Boomers were so dominant in pop culture, but it causes his films to age very badly when viewed out of the Boomer-world view. Take his disaster Alexander; utterly failed at the box office and finally killed Colin Farrell’s chances of being a leading man... he made a comment about how “Everyone grew up seeing these black-and-white crap documentaries in school where Alexander steps out and gives a boring monologue about his accomplishments, and I wanted to do something different.” As a non-Boomer, I laughed. Clearly Stone was referencing his own childhood experience, and not the experience of anyone who wasn’t a Boomer.
     
    Alexander failed because it was a shapeless mess. Also, it was too complex for mass audience and too simpleminded for serious viewers. It is both a singular vision of a strong cinematic personality and pandering to what Stone(and Hollywood) would work with the mass audiences. But then, Troy has the same problem. It's both too smart for the dummies and too dumb for the smarties. It did better at the box office because its was dumber and had Brad Pitt(and had a simpler story), but I'm not sure it recouped its cost of $185 million.

    Alexander failed both commercially and artistically due to its lack of focus. Also, Stone went with his passion than sense. When working on a massive project, one needs the instincts of a general, not a rock star. But it was as if Stone wanted to make the movie like Alexander was conquering the world. With sheer will and inspiration. He should have planned it more carefully and then followed the script. Method-directing usually doesn't work. Apocalypse Now works best when Coppola has things under control but unravels when he wings it and improvises in search of an ending, as if the muse will present him the most inspiring solution.

    Scorsese is as much a boomer-mentality as Stone, but he's had a long illustrious career. Why? He has better focus and concentration. Also a more assured style and more perceptive understanding of cinema as art and expression. Scorsese mastered cinema as a sweet science. Stone is like a brawler who never got the 'science' of cinema. He often flailed away. When he lands, it's a mighty blow, but when he misses far more than connects, as in Alexander(and all through Natural Born Killers), it's painful to watch, like Oscar Bonavena, a powerful puncher who lacked grace. So much wasted energy. Still, the brawler Stone, which maybe ended with Alexander, had an element of passion. In contrast, while Wall Street Money Never Sleeps and Edward Snowden were made with proficiency, they lack the wild energy that made his earlier movies exciting.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @R.G. Camara, @Dave Pinsen

    , @Dave Pinsen
    @R.G. Camara

    Alexander is a pretty good movie. Sure, it could have been better, if Stone ignored the gay angle and focused more on the politics and strategy, but still. And Colin Farrell was a leading man in Michael Mann's Miami Vice two years later.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @R.G. Camara

  62. @Hodag
    Whither Michael Cimino.

    I was too young to see his early work in the theater. Over the years I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Heaven's Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists - who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career.

    Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent's wife?

    I have no idea.

    Replies: @Kent Nationalist, @anon, @Anonymous, @Servant of Gla'aki, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Sam Malone, @Steve Sailer

    Is bankrupting a (smallish) studio not enough?

  63. “Even America’s most notorious conspiracy theorist doesn’t take the media’s Russiagate conspiracy theory seriously.”

    Just because he does not mention it in his book? We know what he said in 2017…

    and in 2019.

    Of course, Mr. Sailer, context is key here. something that you tend not to explore if it does not suit your narrative. Stone is discussing matters from the lens of his longstanding (and legitimate) distrust of our intelligence community, specifically the actions taken by Bush, Jr. in the Middle. Naturally, as a result of neo-con foreign policies, he is especially harsh toward the CIA. But that does not mean that we, as the American people, ought to or must totally discount what they do to protect America. To me, an honest public separates good deeds from bad deeds, past and present, and takes into acute consideration there are members of the intelligence community dedicated to ensuring the safety of American citizens. In other words, assess each situation based on the merits, rather than go in full “Deep State” mode.

    Stone, like a number of Americans, said where was the evidence of “this hack to influence the election”. Well, he focused something the Mueller Report NEVER investigated, but was reported by conservative media (and you) as being contrary. There are two books (and a third on the way) by an author I am certain you have read about. That is why I believe you do not broach this topic in the manner by which it deserves. I get it, there are bills to pay.

    “[Mueller’s work] was narrow in scope—and the narrowness of the key inquiry in a criminal probe (proof beyond a reasonable doubt) versus a counterintelligence one that is ongoing (evidence of compromise or other national security risk). His report focused only on Russia, and focused only on the narrow crime of conspiracy—and at that, only a before-the-fact conspiracy, rather than aiding and abetting a conspiracy after the fact. Trump critics never alleged a before-the-fact Trump-Russia conspiracy involving hacking or propaganda to influence the election—the claim was *always* that Trump had been bribed by Russia, solicited illegal aid from Russia, and aided and abetted Russian crimes after the fact. As a matter of both criminal law and counterintelligence, that is *not* the same thing as President Trump having been *formally recruited* as a Russian intelligence agent under direct orders from Putin—something that was never argued and *the evidence we have does not support*.

    “Chasing the Light is striking for a 2020 book for its lack of Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

    Cagey, Mr. Sailer. Perhaps Stone’s intention was NOT to focus on Trump in his book. Curious as to why you neglected to investigate Stone’s views on Trump. Here, let me help you fill in the gaps. First, the video from 2019 calls him a “disaster”.

    Second…

    Source — https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/oliver-stone-donald-trump-biopic-health-richard-nixon-george-w-bush-a9614986.html

    Oliver Stone has discussed the possibility of making a Donald Trump movie, while suggesting the US president’s popularity stems from him being a “fool”…”There’s nothing that could quite capture this fellow. He’s quite a whirlwind, a fascinating dramatic character. Shakespearean too, in the sense that he’s so emotional – at times he creates a storm, almost purposely every day, to keep the energy going. He creates a storm inside himself. He’s King Lear in a strange way too – which daughter loves me more?”

    Finally…

    “There is something vastly wrong with his ego,” Stone said. He added of the president: “He doesn’t have the same consistency of any of the presidents.”

    “There isn’t much detail on Stone’s political change of heart in Chasing the Light. My guess is that Stone’s politics, like those of old-time science-fiction author Robert Heinlein, may be influenced by whoever is his current wife.”

    I absolutely relish you traversing into cavalier territory. It makes it that much more enjoyable when you get exposed, since his politics have been influenced by his own experiences and observations of the world, as the sources I provided demonstrate.

    • Troll: R.G. Camara
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Corvinus

    That seems like a promising notion Stone has for a Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined.

    But Stone says he's too old to make more feature films.

    Replies: @utu, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Corvinus

  64. RE:Hollywood

    David Cole has some thoughts on fractures in the BIPOC coalition:

    The antiwhite blacklist is being carried out in the name of the “BIPOC” coalition: “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.” As The New York Times explained last month, the term “BIPOC” is used primarily to pacify blacks, many of whom dislike the more generalized “people of color” label, because they feel it doesn’t give blacks an “individual identity” separate from Latinos, Injuns, and Asians. BIPOC makes clear that this is a coalition of BLACKS (first) and POCs (second).

    There’s simmering rivalry in the acronym. Remember that; it’ll prove relevant. But first, the tale of the cancellation that wasn’t.

    Lesly Kahn is one of the most influential and respected acting coaches in the business. She draws a lot of water in this town, and she never gives impractical advice. In leaked 2018 audio from one of Kahn’s classes, the esteemed teacher told a Jewish actress who had ambiguously “ethnic” features that she should pretend to be Latina for the sake of getting work. Kahn told the young student to change her name to “Rosa Ramirez” and go all ¡ay Chihuahua! at auditions:

    The Latin could actually get you interviews for representation. Just the fact that your name is Rosa Ramirez is gonna get you a meeting…. So you might try it…. Go to the headshot shop and tell them you’re Latin. Wear something fucking red. Wear some f[**]king sparkly earrings. Just f[**]king come up with the most Latin name you can come up with…. Aren’t we allowed to change our names to whatever we want to change our names to? Make sure before you change it to Rosa Ramirez that there isn’t already a Rosa Ramirez in SAG, and if there is, we try a slightly different name.

    Funny enough, there’s historical precedent for what Kahn suggested. There were so many popular “Latin” leading men and women in Hollywood’s early days, several non-Hispanic actors rose to great prominence by pretending to be spicy frijoles (for example, New York-born Jew Jacob Krantz, who found cinematic fame as “Latin lover” Ricardo Cortez).

    So Kahn’s advice is time-tested…and very, very “problematic” in today’s climate. Yet if you haven’t heard about this controversy, there’s a reason. Although it made the trade papers for a few days, Kahn quickly “settled” with BIPOC groups by pledging to fund a special “Latino scholarship” for actors who meet the “one drop” rule, and the matter was quickly forgotten. Kahn is still one of the industry’s most successful and respected coaches, and no one, anywhere, utters as much as one word about the “racist” scandal she escaped unscathed.

    Odd, isn’t it? People have been canceled over so much less. Why’d Kahn get let off the hook? The reason our benevolent BIPOC overlords let this one go is that they were petrified the publicity might popularize Kahn’s strategy. Better to reach a quick settlement and hush the whole thing up. It takes a lot to get BIPOCs to forgo vengeance. Most of them attack whites specifically for the joy that cancellation brings. But in Kahn’s case, the race warriors wanted those headlines gone.

    Because her “fake Latina” scheme is like the deadly toxin from Three the Hard Way—a targeted danger to the “B” in BIPOC.

    Black Americans are in a bind. Their suicidal support of open borders has made Hispanics the superpowerful Democrat voting bloc of the future. It’s no coincidence that the same Hispanics who’ve taken so many black jobs demand to be part of any black scheme to take jobs from whites. And blacks are in no position to say no to such a powerful demographic.

    The problem is, “Hispanic” can be many things, including white. When blacks are forced to do the “BIPOC” dance, they’re entering into a coalition with people who can be and often are as white as, say, Cameron Diaz, Lynda Carter, and Raquel Welch.

    Hispanics give Hollywood an easy out. Producers can cast women who are essentially white while still adhering to their pledge to only hire from the BIPOC pool. This is not a new problem; previous black attempts to team up with Hispanics in the fight to racially remake Hollywood have turned sour fast. Back in 2000, when a BIPOC coalition formed with the goal of strong-arming the TV networks into hiring more actors of color, the NAACP double-crossed its Hispanic partners behind their backs to forge a separate deal with the networks that favored only blacks, much to the chagrin of the “browns.”

    In 2004, Angharad Valdivia, a professor of gender, media, and Latino studies at the University of Illinois, outlined the controversy in a paper titled “Latinas as Radical Hybrid”:

    Latina actresses can play a broad range of characters, including black, white, and everything in between, thus providing casting directors with an easy way to foreground the few famous Latinas out there who by virtue of ambiguity can slip into these roles. This presents both an employment opportunity as well as the possibility of seeing more people of color on the screen and in print. However the second effect is that hybrid Latinas and ethnic ambiguity also provide mainstream culture with a chance to displace and replace blackness. Blackness once more gets pushed to the margin.

    So this is an old issue, and one that frightens blacks worse than an open-water relay. Like most of current-day black America’s preoccupations, the goal isn’t just to be pro-black but antiwhite. Hispanics are “backdoor whites,” but there’s no way that blacks can keep them off the BIPOC team.

    The very last thing that blacks want “amplified” is that there are influential people like Lesly Kahn encouraging a deliberate blurring of the lines between “white Hispanic” and “white white.” Which is exactly why I’m recommending that very strategy to white actors. It’s a great way to keep working: Just change your name from Henderson to Hernandez, and talk about your dear old abuela from Jalisco. But even better, it’s a way to fuck with BLM, which is always its own reward. The goal would be to build up enough paranoia in blacks (who skew paranoid anyway) that they’d begin to view with suspicion every new “Hispanic” actresses allowed in by the BIPOC mafia. Make blacks demand that Hispanics “prove” their ethnicity. That’ll lead to discord and fracturing and maybe sink this coalition like the last one.

    https://www.takimag.com/article/rise-of-the-crypto-caucasians/

    Divide and rule is a highly effective strategy; unfortunately, the Republicans are too dumb to use it…..

  65. A bit off-topic, but still film-related…I just now realized that rabbi Michael Lerner, and the actor Michael Lerner, are two entirely different people. In fairness, they do spell their names the same, and were both born in the early 1940s. I still think it’s funny I was under the impression that the rabbi had a sideline in acting….

  66. @Captain Tripps
    @Ghost of Bull Moose

    GOBM, I take your point. Consider, though, that Tom Wolfe maybe enjoyed playing the part of the southern gentleman amongst the brusque New Yorkers, like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court. Also, if you aspire to be a writer, New York is the place to ply your trade (and mine for golden writing material).

    Replies: @syonredux, @Ghost of Bull Moose

    like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court.

    Yeah, Franklin, the life-long urbanite (Boston, Philadelphia, London, Paris) play-acting as a son of the frontier was definitely one of his better jokes.But, as Melville notes in Israel Potter, Franklin was something of a genius at shape-shifting:

    Having carefully weighed the world, Franklin could act any part in it. By nature turned to knowledge, his mind was often grave, but never serious. At times he had seriousness—­extreme seriousness—­for others, but never for himself. Tranquillity was to him instead of it. This philosophical levity of tranquillity, so to speak, is shown in his easy variety of pursuits. Printer, postmaster, almanac maker, essayist, chemist, orator, tinker, statesman, humorist, philosopher, parlor man, political economist, professor of housewifery, ambassador, projector, maxim-monger, herb-doctor, wit:—­Jack of all trades, master of each and mastered by none—­the type and genius of his land.

    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
    @syonredux

    Ben Franklin and Bill Clinton strike me as exceedingly similar in temperament and personality.

    Both were extremely adept politically. Both molded their personalities to the moment and read people very well. Yet both of them, when they made their protean changes, did not come off as fake to the majority of people, which used to enrage the people who saw through them that others could not. And both were obsessed with sex, and both joined secret societies (Franklin the Hellfire Club and the Masons, Clinton the Bildeberg group) to advance themselves.

    The difference being that Franklin was a true polymath genius beyond politics. Clinton's only talents have been in getting himself elected, taking bribes well, raping women, and covering up his crimes well enough to avoid conviction.

    It's fair to say Franklin's life was what Clinton's would have been had Clinton been less of a sociopath and allowed himself pursuits beyond power and sex.

    , @Captain Tripps
    @syonredux

    syon, agree button isn't working on mobile device; agree and thanks.

  67. @Captain Tripps
    @Ghost of Bull Moose

    GOBM, I take your point. Consider, though, that Tom Wolfe maybe enjoyed playing the part of the southern gentleman amongst the brusque New Yorkers, like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court. Also, if you aspire to be a writer, New York is the place to ply your trade (and mine for golden writing material).

    Replies: @syonredux, @Ghost of Bull Moose

    “Consider, though, that Tom Wolfe maybe enjoyed playing the part of the southern gentleman amongst the brusque New Yorkers, like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court.”

    There’s something to that. I don’t consider Oliver Stone much of a New Yorker in his sensibility, even though he was born here and went to NYU. He seems more ‘California’ to me, or maybe I mean Hollywood. I don’t consider him much of a Jew, either, though his father was. Maybe he’s perceived that way more by non-NYers?

    A Jewish friend who spent time in Israel said he felt more Jewish when in America and more American when in Israel. Maybe when Wolfe went home to Virginia he felt more of a New Yorker? He did cultivate his persona (just a little) with the white suits and cars. He was an ultra NY insider though; the last encounter with him by anyone I know was at a Manhattan Institute dinner.

    The Franklin example is a good one. Steely Dan moved from New York to LA and immediately started writing anti-nostalgic NY-centric songs with a West Coast sound. Donald Fagan said he and Becker felt very much like NYers in LA. I’m sure we could keep coming up with examples.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Ghost of Bull Moose


    I don’t consider Oliver Stone much of a New Yorker in his sensibility, even though he was born here and went to NYU.
     
    Stone, like Norman Mailer, is both in-and-outer. He has enough credentials, educational and political, to be with the in-crowd of NY artists and intellectuals, but his manly obsessions with war and adventure make him stand apart from most NY types. As with Mailer, Stone very much lived the Hemingway ideal of the American male archetype who is 'liberal' in politics but 'conservative' in manly swagger . Mailer was both loved and loathed. Loved as a hostile critic of society but loathed as macho man who sometimes punched out other intellectuals and, on occasion, mouthed admiration for Mussolini. That Stone is half-Jewish makes him a more ambivalent figure than Mailer.

    This also shows up in Paul Newman, another half-Jew. Though politically on the left, his movies are usually more appealing to right-wing types. There's a scene in Victor/Victoria where James Garner, in order to prove that he's a real man and not a pansy, goes into a bar and starts a fight. It's as if Paul Newman, fearing that his do-goody politics would make him seem overly goo, went out of his way to be involved in movies like Hud, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, Sometimes a Great Notion, Slap Shot, and Towering Inferno. Be good boy in politics but play bad boy in movies. Boys will be Boys kind of thing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZeEbLT3U1Q

    Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose

    , @Steve Sailer
    @Ghost of Bull Moose

    Stone went to a prep boarding school, The Hill School, in Pennsylvania. And he spent a fair amount of time with his French grandmother in Paris. So his upbringing was kind of Whit Stillman Urban Haute-Bourgeois. But he wanted the kind of experiences that he-man 1930s novelists had so he did stuff like go to sea (37 day crossing of the Pacific working in a freighter boilerroom, which was enough of the sea for one lifetime for him) and volunteer for combat duty in Vietnam.

    Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose, @JMcG

  68. @Anonymous
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Orson Welles: a genius of personality whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts – who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call “stupidity of personality”.

    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don't pull in the crowds. Kubrick was a far more stable personality but understood he had to careful plan for every next movie as he wasn't out to make blockbusters but art films. So, despite his care, he managed to finish only 12 films, like Welles. Welles' output is all the more amazing considering he had to scrounge for money and shoot his movies in bits and pieces here and there. He still managed to make something as startling as Chimes at Midnight.


    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences.
     
    The differences are simply to big to ignore. Allen had ups and downs but his was a long stable and consistent career. He made small films, taking inspiration from directors like Rohmer. Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul. Like Alexander.

    Replies: @syonredux, @Bardon Kaldian, @Dave Pinsen

    he had to careful plan for every next movie as he wasn’t out to make blockbusters but art films.

    In many cases, he wanted to make art films that were also blockbusters. 2001: A Space Odyssey cost 10.5 million dollars in 1966-’68, back when that was a pretty big budget . And 2001 earned 146 million…..quite a tidy sum…..

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @syonredux

    In many cases, he wanted to make art films that were also blockbusters.

    Ideally, all aspiring directors want to make both a great movie and a big hit, like The Godfather.
    Still, there is a difference between making something with both eyes on the project and making something with one eye on the project and one eye on the publicity. Coppola threw himself entirely into The Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now. Not that he was oblivious to publicity but he was committed to doing his own thing. The only time I sensed with Stone was with Nixon. With most of his other movies, he seemed distracted by or pandering to publicity. To make a statement, to hog the limelight, to be the talk of the town, the hottest sensation, biggest controversy, and etc. As such, his works haven't dated so well. As enjoyable as Wall Street is, it's very much a part of 80s Zeitgeist. Platoon, though anti-Rambo, belongs very much to that period. In contrast, Full Metal Jacket seems timeless as art despite its faults.

    Stone's multiple personalities as artist, entertainer, journalist, propagandist, moralist, and egotist led to some interesting creative tension but also mind-boggling simple-mindedness. Born on Fourth of July progresses as a story about a man who loses his innocence and gains a deeper understanding of war and self, but then it ends on a simpleminded anti-war note. Was Stone even aware of this irony? That Kovic went from pro-war simpleton to antiwar simpleton?

    But then, 60s nostalgia is a strange thing. Nostalgia is intrinsically conservative, a longing for lost times and how it used to be. But 60s were marked by change and radicalism. And this contradiction shows up in Stone's work. Another contradiction is he's both moralist and nihilist. His political stance is anti-empire, but in many ways, his most ambitious and personal work was Alexander, a movie that extols one of the first great empire-builders as a timeless hero and god-man. And Wall Street is like The Fountainhead made by a Marxist. It loves what it hates.

    Replies: @syonredux

  69. Anonymous[136] • Disclaimer says:
    @Lurker
    @Almost Missouri

    And @Steve Sailer

    Often depends on military cooperation (or none). Heartbreak Ridge was initially started with US Army support and was meant to be about the army then support was withdrawn but the Marines stepped in. Thus Clint's character and his buddy are depicted as Marines but the movie explains that they were in the army in the Korean war but transferred to the USMC.

    Anyhow . . .

    Platoon was shot in the Philippines and the jet is a Philippine Air Force F-5 not an F-16. This is OK in historical terms since the South Vietnam Air Force also used a version of the F-5. Apocalypse Now was also shot in the Philippines and PAF F-5s are again featured - the ones dropping the napalm (though it's implied they are USAF aircraft).

    Meanwhile the F-4 was still in use in 1986, the USAF and Marines were both still flying it until the 1990s.

    Replies: @Old Prude, @Anonymous

    Considering what unit, when and where in Viet Nam the action in Platoon takes place, the Air Force units providing air support would have been flying F-100s. That airplane is pretty much forgotten today, but it did a lot of mud moving in its day.

    • Replies: @Lurker
    @Anonymous

    They certainly CGI'd some into We Were Soldiers. Not an option in 1986 of course. At least an F-5 doesn't set off jarring dissonance even if it's not correct under closer inspection. Unlike the Bell 47 seen in Where Eagles Dare!

    https://youtu.be/TOFzswp9LEs?t=105

    Replies: @J.Ross

  70. Anonymous[380] • Disclaimer says:
    @syonredux
    @Anonymous


    he had to careful plan for every next movie as he wasn’t out to make blockbusters but art films.
     
    In many cases, he wanted to make art films that were also blockbusters. 2001: A Space Odyssey cost 10.5 million dollars in 1966-'68, back when that was a pretty big budget . And 2001 earned 146 million.....quite a tidy sum.....

    Replies: @Anonymous

    In many cases, he wanted to make art films that were also blockbusters.

    Ideally, all aspiring directors want to make both a great movie and a big hit, like The Godfather.
    Still, there is a difference between making something with both eyes on the project and making something with one eye on the project and one eye on the publicity. Coppola threw himself entirely into The Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now. Not that he was oblivious to publicity but he was committed to doing his own thing. The only time I sensed with Stone was with Nixon. With most of his other movies, he seemed distracted by or pandering to publicity. To make a statement, to hog the limelight, to be the talk of the town, the hottest sensation, biggest controversy, and etc. As such, his works haven’t dated so well. As enjoyable as Wall Street is, it’s very much a part of 80s Zeitgeist. Platoon, though anti-Rambo, belongs very much to that period. In contrast, Full Metal Jacket seems timeless as art despite its faults.

    Stone’s multiple personalities as artist, entertainer, journalist, propagandist, moralist, and egotist led to some interesting creative tension but also mind-boggling simple-mindedness. Born on Fourth of July progresses as a story about a man who loses his innocence and gains a deeper understanding of war and self, but then it ends on a simpleminded anti-war note. Was Stone even aware of this irony? That Kovic went from pro-war simpleton to antiwar simpleton?

    But then, 60s nostalgia is a strange thing. Nostalgia is intrinsically conservative, a longing for lost times and how it used to be. But 60s were marked by change and radicalism. And this contradiction shows up in Stone’s work. Another contradiction is he’s both moralist and nihilist. His political stance is anti-empire, but in many ways, his most ambitious and personal work was Alexander, a movie that extols one of the first great empire-builders as a timeless hero and god-man. And Wall Street is like The Fountainhead made by a Marxist. It loves what it hates.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    @Anonymous


    Ideally, all aspiring directors want to make both a great movie and a big hit, like The Godfather.
    Still, there is a difference between making something with both eyes on the project and making something with one eye on the project and one eye on the publicity.
     
    Kubrick was very interested in publicity and marketing:

    Then, the unexpected. The Christian Science Monitor, the highly respected national newspaper based in Boston, published an elegantly designed full-page essay by John Allen, declaring the film [2001] a masterpiece with Kubrick reinventing the medium. This was the breakthrough, coming from a distinguished newspaper with substantial weight to balance the establishment consensus. Combined with a bubbling movement from the counterculture media, and the near-unprecedented second review by Newsday's Joseph Gelmis reversing his negative opinion within days of his first (only Newsweek's Joe Morgenstern had ever done this previously with his Bonnie and Clyde switch), the Monitor piece could refocus the film's future.
     

    When the film came out, Stanley set up an office in the conference room on the 26th floor of the MGM building. Tearsheets of ads and reviews from every publication lined the walls. The Monitor essay had to be reprinted immediately, as an ad in the following Sunday's New York Times (Adler's weak review had just appeared) and for insurance sake, in the next issue of the Village Voice, in case Sarris was negative. Most importantly, it had to be read as an editorial; it could not look like an advertisement. The only commercial information would be a discreet line at the very end stating "2001: A Space Odyssey is showing at Loew's Capitol theatre."

     


    Stanley got it immediately. Our plan was that I'd make the case and he'd play back-up if necessary. My boss bought the concept; there was nothing to lose. Business was well below average for a major release. And I was the film's designated point man, having Kubrick's trust. Advertising layouts were ordered immediately. But when the mock-ups arrived, I was shaken. Instead of an editorial look, the Monitor reprint was contained within the standard corporate information: MGM credits and the distinctive unfolding Cinerama logo fought the copy. It was too radical to remove the studio's corporate identity. The intended impact would be lost.
     

    Stanley made his move. Privately, he went to the studio bosses to talk about the film's future openings, saw the mock-ups, and walked out with the layout we wanted - his calm logic prevailing. The advertising agency also delivered with placement. On Sunday, the piece appeared opposite the New York Times' main film page, making it look like a two-page editorial spread. There was nothing stating it was a paid ad. On Thursday, it ran opposite Sarris' lengthy negative review in the Village Voice. The campaign to turn the tide was engaged.
     

    During the next four years, from the release of 2001, through its relaunch a year later with my "Ultimate Trip"/Starchild campaign, and the release of A Clockwork Orange (Stanley had asked me to leave MGM to work directly with him), we talked and strategised film distribution daily. We remained in close contact afterwards, watching Barry Lyndon with the American ratings chief in the large Shepperton screening room with his newly completed print; I visited the set of The Shining and later tried to persuade him to change the ad and slogan; I called him after seeing Full Metal Jacket to say I broke down at the visceral impact of the graveside scene, because my mother had died months before (he said, "There's nothing worse; it's like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer"). From then on periodically - I'd get a call and we'd speak for an hour or more as if it were yesterday.
     
    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2007/nov/02/marketingandpr

    Kubrick wanted to shape every aspect of the film’s [CLOCKWORK] reception. “He had people going to the cinemas where it was going to be shown to make sure that the screens were clean,” remembers Castle. It was in the same spirit of absolute control that Kubrick sent his poster designer a statue from the Korova Milkbar so he could portray its dimensions correctly. On the decaying sculpture in Castle’s lounge rests a bowler hat. This too is an original prop from the film given to him so he could get the curve of its brim just right.
     

    It was logical that a film so richly designed should also take art into the cinema lobby and on to the streets. Kubrick and his team published a mock newspaper, The Clockwork Times, for which Castle created some of his best works – lurid paintings of images from the film that dwell on its sex and violence. He has a photograph of his young family proudly posing under a huge billboard version of his poster on a London street. Yet the powerful publicity campaign in which he played such a central part backfired.

     

    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/07/stanley-kubrick-and-me-designing-clockwork-orange-poster




    And, of course, Kubrick was fascinated by commercials:

    TV commercials have figured that out. Leave content out of it, and some of the most spectacular examples of film art are in the best TV commercials. [For example:] the Michelob commercials. I'm a pro football fan, and I have videotapes of the games sent over to me, commercials and all. Last year Michelob did a series, just impressions of people having a good time -- The big city at night -- And the editing, the photography, was some of the most brilliant work I've ever seen. Forget what they're doing -- selling beer -- and it's visual poetry. Incredible eight-frame cuts. And you realize that in thirty seconds they've created an impression of something rather complex. If you could ever tell a story, something with some content, using that kind of visual poetry, you could handle vastly more complex and subtle material.
     
    Stanley Kubrick, 1987

    http://shotcontext.blogspot.com/2012/07/stanley-kubricks-favorite-commercial.html

    Replies: @Anonymous

  71. @Anonymous
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Orson Welles: a genius of personality whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts – who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call “stupidity of personality”.

    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don't pull in the crowds. Kubrick was a far more stable personality but understood he had to careful plan for every next movie as he wasn't out to make blockbusters but art films. So, despite his care, he managed to finish only 12 films, like Welles. Welles' output is all the more amazing considering he had to scrounge for money and shoot his movies in bits and pieces here and there. He still managed to make something as startling as Chimes at Midnight.


    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences.
     
    The differences are simply to big to ignore. Allen had ups and downs but his was a long stable and consistent career. He made small films, taking inspiration from directors like Rohmer. Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul. Like Alexander.

    Replies: @syonredux, @Bardon Kaldian, @Dave Pinsen

    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don’t pull in the crowds.

    Read what I write. The only common thing between Goethe and Welles is “genius of personality”, and I referred to it because it is something specific. For instance, from what we know, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, … did not possess that quality. As for Welles..

    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/oct/22/orson-welles-citizen-kane
    ………………………..

    Though Orson Welles scrutinised himself intently, there’s little evidence that he sought professional advice – even when his over-eating was sure to kill him. (He was only 70 when he died – yet in his early 20s Hollywood had welcomed him as a new Tyrone Power!) When it came to self-destruction’s allure, he liked to tell the story of the scorpion and the frog – of how the scorpion begged a lift across a stream; how the frog did not trust the scorpion; of how the scorpion said, but if I sting you, froggie, you will die, and I will drown. And so they set out and the frog had gone halfway when he felt the pain of the stinger. Why? he cries out, why did you do it? Now we will all die. I know, says the scorpion, but it is my character.
    ………………………………………………
    Many of the people who revered Welles – and worshipped a system in which Kane might be made – overlooked his faults. People who knew Orson believed this above all: you never let him meet the money people. Why? He was his own worst enemy. You could say: now, Orson, just sit with them for a lunch, be patient, be polite, tell good stories, let them know the patrons of art and progress they would be if they gave you a little of their money. Just be humble. And Orson would say: of course, of course – I get it. Then lunch began and in 10 minutes he had been unruly, offensive, ugly. He turned on the moneybags and lashed them with envy and contempt. He blew it! Because he could not be humble. If you watch Citizen Kane closely, you can see the same trait and the same cocksure grin that goes with it.

    Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul.

    Allen knew his limitations, but he was, compared with Stone, a Renaissance man. It is just silly to exalt Stone’s abilities.

    Since we began with lit, we could as well end up with it. Two writers who were contemporaries- sort of-are Ernest Hemingway and Hermann Broch. I’ve read both of them. Hemingway was a very good short story writer, good novelette author, below average novelist & worthless gossipy memoirist. Yet- Hemingway is a legend.

    Hermann Broch is, on the other hand, a novelist of genius & brilliant essayist/cultural analyst (Hugo Hoffmansthal, Spirit of times,…). Hemingway is, compared to Broch, something like The Podunk Institute for Hamburger Technology to MIT. A dwarf to a giant.

    And yet, virtually no one has heard of Broch.

    Here, Stone is Hemingway. Podunk Institute mistaken for MIT.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Read what I write. The only common thing between Goethe and Welles is “genius of personality”, and I referred to it because it is something specific.

    But you also said Goethe committed himself 100% to his works whereas Welles frittered a lot of energies on distractions. My point is it's nearly impossible for a film-maker like Welles to do as he wishes in the film industry. Even if Welles had been 100% disciplined and focused, he would have difficult time raising money for the kind of movies he wanted to make. Even when he made genre movies like Lady from Shanghai and Touch of Evil, the final cut was taken away from him. He had a devilish time making Othello, Mr. Arkakin, and The Trial because the money ran out and people who promised him money were often con-men and charlatan hustlers.

    Many of the people who revered Welles – and worshipped a system in which Kane might be made – overlooked his faults.

    Some do that, and it's stupid. But who can deny his possibly greatest work The Magnificent Ambersons was taken from him and butchered? If the studio had at least saved the cut scenes in a vault somewhere, it might be forgivable. It destroyed all of it. Welles moved to Europe because his freewheeling creativity was ahead of its time and too much for Hollywood.
    And consider. For all their limitations, films like Macbeth(shot in two weeks), Othello, Mr. Arkadin, Touch of Evil, The Trial, and Chimes at Midnight(and Immortal Story) are far more interesting, original, and daring than most American movies made during the period. Even his throwaway movie The Stranger is pretty impressive.

    Now, there's a kind of divide. Older generation of critics tend to value the early Welles but dismiss the later ones. They feel the same about Kubrick, regarding Strangelove as his peak. But the younger generation of critics came to regard the later works in a different way.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/121721/orson-welles-100th-birthday-retrospective-stanley-kauffmann

    Allen knew his limitations, but he was, compared with Stone, a Renaissance man. It is just silly to exalt Stone’s abilities.

    His 70s comedies were that of a renaissance man of humor. His later films are classicist. He gave up on innovation and just tried to make more perfect films.

    Hermann Broch is, on the other hand, a novelist of genius & brilliant essayist/cultural analyst (Hugo Hoffmansthal, Spirit of times,…).

    What's with all the high-brow stuff? Don't you know we're all philistines here?

    , @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Bardon Kaldian

    There's a hilarious recording that circulates in sound-editor circles: it's an out-take from a studio recording, where a drunk Orson Welles is trying to record a voice track for a radio commercial for fish-sticks. The guy running the thing keeps helpfully trying to give Orson direction, and you can hear the great man muttering under his breath things like "I can't fucking believe this, I made Citizen Kane, and now I've got this punk telling me how to pronounce the word fish sticks..."

    It's hysterical and sad at the same time.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Giancarlo M. Kumquat

  72. @Anonymous
    @Hodag

    I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is, in some ways, his best film, but it already shows a penchant for visual megalomania. It has to be the crime caper with most magnificent vistas of the American West. Sometimes, you're not sure whether you're watching an action movie or travelogue(or nature program).

    Heaven’s Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists – who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career. Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent’s wife?

    He was allowed to make Year of the Dragon which did pretty okay at the box office. What really killed his career was the next movie, The Sicilian. Actually, it's pretty good(and rather thoughtful about intersection of crime and politics) but didn't go over with critics and the audience. Perhaps the international cast made it all very confusing. Also, Cimino focused more on visuals than on dramatics, especially as Christopher Lambert is not a very expressive actor. Still, worth a look.

    Cimino became addicted to and associated with bigness of a kind that was no longer in fashion.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard, @syonredux

    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is, in some ways, his best film, but it already shows a penchant for visual megalomania. It has to be the crime caper with most magnificent vistas of the American West.

    The cinematography sold me on Montana.

    There are even more beautiful places in Montana than what was shown in T & L.

  73. Wall Street (1987) is Stone’s best film because it so perfectly captures the time and place it depicts and Michael Douglas gave an all-time great performance as Gordon Gekko.

  74. Anonymous[380] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ghost of Bull Moose
    @Captain Tripps

    "Consider, though, that Tom Wolfe maybe enjoyed playing the part of the southern gentleman amongst the brusque New Yorkers, like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court."

    There's something to that. I don't consider Oliver Stone much of a New Yorker in his sensibility, even though he was born here and went to NYU. He seems more 'California' to me, or maybe I mean Hollywood. I don't consider him much of a Jew, either, though his father was. Maybe he's perceived that way more by non-NYers?

    A Jewish friend who spent time in Israel said he felt more Jewish when in America and more American when in Israel. Maybe when Wolfe went home to Virginia he felt more of a New Yorker? He did cultivate his persona (just a little) with the white suits and cars. He was an ultra NY insider though; the last encounter with him by anyone I know was at a Manhattan Institute dinner.

    The Franklin example is a good one. Steely Dan moved from New York to LA and immediately started writing anti-nostalgic NY-centric songs with a West Coast sound. Donald Fagan said he and Becker felt very much like NYers in LA. I'm sure we could keep coming up with examples.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    I don’t consider Oliver Stone much of a New Yorker in his sensibility, even though he was born here and went to NYU.

    Stone, like Norman Mailer, is both in-and-outer. He has enough credentials, educational and political, to be with the in-crowd of NY artists and intellectuals, but his manly obsessions with war and adventure make him stand apart from most NY types. As with Mailer, Stone very much lived the Hemingway ideal of the American male archetype who is ‘liberal’ in politics but ‘conservative’ in manly swagger . Mailer was both loved and loathed. Loved as a hostile critic of society but loathed as macho man who sometimes punched out other intellectuals and, on occasion, mouthed admiration for Mussolini. That Stone is half-Jewish makes him a more ambivalent figure than Mailer.

    This also shows up in Paul Newman, another half-Jew. Though politically on the left, his movies are usually more appealing to right-wing types. There’s a scene in Victor/Victoria where James Garner, in order to prove that he’s a real man and not a pansy, goes into a bar and starts a fight. It’s as if Paul Newman, fearing that his do-goody politics would make him seem overly goo, went out of his way to be involved in movies like Hud, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, Sometimes a Great Notion, Slap Shot, and Towering Inferno. Be good boy in politics but play bad boy in movies. Boys will be Boys kind of thing.

    • Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose
    @Anonymous

    There's a certain kind of lefty tough guy director. Like Sam Fuller, and I really like Sam Fuller.

  75. Anonymous[136] • Disclaimer says:
    @Old Prude
    @Lurker

    That clarifies things. I saw Platoon when it first came out and an F16 in Nam would have set my gag reflex off. As I read through the comments I kept thinking “Stone is too good a filmmaker to be that lazy. It would ruin any authenticity”. F5s are as apt as A4s. Carry on, soldier

    Replies: @Anonymous

    F5s are as apt as A4s. Carry on, soldier

    Yeah…no. Neither US Navy nor Marine A4s would have been flying CAS for units of the 25th Infantry Division. And the RVNAF did not begin receiving F-5s until June, 1967, one of their six fighter squadrons, the 522nd, being equipped with them, while three other squadrons equipped with A-37s and the two remaining kept their A-1s.
    The RVNAF flew its missions in support of the ARVN while the USAF supported the US Army, using, during the time-frame of the movie, predominantly F-100s south of the 17th parallel. The A4 was used by the US Marines flying out of Chu Lai to support Marine units and was not normally seen south of I Corps.

    • Replies: @Old Prude
    @Anonymous

    Hey: I wasn't there. I just saw the movie.

  76. @Dumbo
    Oliver Stone was one of the few famous directors I saw in real life, at a conference or film presentation, I forget when or where. The other one was Woody Allen. Neither was impressive in person, but Stone seemed more spontaneous.

    His best films are possibly the ones he wrote but not directed (Scarface, Midnight Express). As a director, I don't think he's that great, many of his films feel dated in looks and style (i.e. Wall Street), although JFK was interesting at the time.

    I think he lately disappeared simply because, even if he was a leftist, he was not so interested in the fads of the time (demonizing white people, celebrating gays, etc). And with "JFK" he stirred up a hornet's nest of conspiracies, and of course the status quo did not like that.

    Replies: @Dave Pinsen

    Wall Street is about Wall Street in the ‘80s. It’s not dated – it’s a period piece filmed during the period.

    • Agree: SunBakedSuburb
    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
    @Dave Pinsen

    I think an argument can be made that Wall Street is the best mid/late 80s period piece, and possibly one of the all-time great period pieces.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    , @Anonymous
    @Dave Pinsen


    it’s a period piece filmed during the period.
     
    Is such a thing possible? I can see Wolf of Wall Street as a period piece about the 80s, but how can a period piece be made IN the period? It's like nostalgia in the moment. Nostalgia and period-perspective come after the fact with some reflection and looking back.

    As entertaining as Wall Street is, I didn't find it all that convincing. Too many Hollywood conventions and cliches. I doubt the world of the rich is so glamorous. Yes, the rich can afford nice things, but the glam factor is what most of them don't have. Gordon Gekko is too much of an archetype, an idealized image of greed as bad but cool, to be convincing as an accurate representation of what is wrong with Wall Street and the new economy. It is rather like how Wall Street sharks want to see themselves, just like Tony Montana is a fantasy idol of all the thugs who are mostly grubby scum.
    You won't learn anything real about Wall Street, just like The Bad and the Beautiful, while purporting to be an expose of Hollywood and its ruthless dealings, merely skims the surface and is just another star vehicle full of glamour(though nicely done). Likewise, I thought Altman's The Player was mostly phony(though amusing). One could say the same thing about The Godfather as opposed to Goodfellas, a truly honest and harrowing film about the workings of organized crime. Still, The Godfather is so beautifully acted and executed on every level as a story of family and culture that it rises to the level of art. Not so with Wall Street. Very entertaining but pure Hollywood.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4mG-4HBn1w
  77. Anonymous[337] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thea
    He had a series of interviews with Putin on Amazon or Netflix. Putin claimed that the American government armed and funded Chechen rebels and terrorists during the 1990s wars with Russia.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Not directly, but the U.S. did provide significant aid to Georgia in that era, and its reasonable to assume that a nontrivial amount of this found its way to the Chechens with the quiet approval of Washington.

    (The political alignments of the countries of that region are complicated and tend to have more to do with national interest than religion. The Islamic Republic of Iran supported Armenia in its war with Muslim Azerbaijan for similar reasons.)

    • Replies: @Thea
    @Anonymous

    It seems that either the US DOD doesn’t really know or keep track of whom it is funding or arming

    OR

    The USDOD deliberately supports the worst of the worst for nefarious reasons.

    Not sure which is more ridiculous and terrifying.

  78. @Anonymous
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Orson Welles: a genius of personality whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts – who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call “stupidity of personality”.

    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don't pull in the crowds. Kubrick was a far more stable personality but understood he had to careful plan for every next movie as he wasn't out to make blockbusters but art films. So, despite his care, he managed to finish only 12 films, like Welles. Welles' output is all the more amazing considering he had to scrounge for money and shoot his movies in bits and pieces here and there. He still managed to make something as startling as Chimes at Midnight.


    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences.
     
    The differences are simply to big to ignore. Allen had ups and downs but his was a long stable and consistent career. He made small films, taking inspiration from directors like Rohmer. Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul. Like Alexander.

    Replies: @syonredux, @Bardon Kaldian, @Dave Pinsen

    Stone’s Alexander may not be perfect, but it’s probably the best Alexander film ever.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @Dave Pinsen

    That movie was a disaster. The only great thing about it was Vangelis ending:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVK_OAc6J0s

    , @Anonymous
    @Dave Pinsen

    Stone’s Alexander may not be perfect, but it’s probably the best Alexander film ever.

    Isn't that kind of like saying Game of Thrones is the best story with dwarf as lord? How many Alexander movies have there been?

    Part of Stone's problem is personality. He succeeded as writer/director but has the personality of a diva-actor. No wonder he loves to make documentaries that follows him meeting world leaders and the like. Werner Herzog has done this too, but he comes across as bit more thoughtful. In his docus, he always plays second-fiddle to the subject matter, whereas Stone presents himself as a near-equal with whomever he is interviewing. He doesn't take this as far as the loathsome Michael Moore, but he wants to be at the center.
    But what Herzog and Stone do have in common is a near-inability or unwillingness to go for genuine ensemble characterization and acting. In several films, Herzog's idea of characterization was to just focus on Klaus Kinski as Mr. Gargoyle. Stone, with a big personality, identifies so much with the Big Man on screen -- who serves as alter ego, conscience, doppleganger, his repressed Id, or etc -- that he usually neglects the other characters and renders them as secondary or disposable. In a way, this was a problem from the beginning. The only memorable character in Salvador is James Woods'. Everyone else is a cartoonish baddie, shallow flunky, weakling, victim, saint, or clown. Only Woods has been realized as a three-dimensional character. And the only memorable character in Platoon is Willem Defoe who serves as combination of man-of-action, man-of-thought, man-of-duty, man-of-conscience. Even if too good to be true, he is more than black or white. In contrast, Berenger is all scars and grunts. Scary but hardly a character. And Sheen is really just a stand-in for the audience. He watches and hears for us. If he was meant to portray the young Stone at war, it doesn't quite work because he lacks any kind of psychological depth. The young Stone was surely a complex individual. None of that is conveyed in the movie. Sheen could be just anybody who must choose between Good and Evil and finally opts for the Good. He's generic. Same goes for Wall Street. Only Gekko is memorable. Sheen is likable but merely reprises his role in Platoon. Again, he must choose between the good(blue-collar father) and bad(white-collar crook). The difference is that in Wall Street, the bad crook is developed into a 3D character whereas the good father is cardboard. He's all goodness and sunshine, just like Berenger is all darkness and doom.
    Going back even further, Scarface was a one-man show, as was Midnight Express. Stone has a tendency to identify so closely with the main character or the most 'iconic' character and invests most of his creative energies into him. It's like what Montana says? "Who do I trust? ME!!"
    In contrast, consider how Scorsese made everyone shine in Mean Streets. Even minor characters like the fat guy who calls another a 'mook' is memorable. And even though Taxi Driver is 90% Bickle, who can forget Sport and Iris? Or the golden girl? And Raging Bull is as much Joe Pesci's as DeNiro's. And even the minor characters of the hood are memorable. But does anyone remember anything but Kilmer as Morrison from the Doors? Manzarek and others are mere backdrop.
    Perhaps, Nixon and Heaven & Earth are richer as ensemble movies because Stone couldn't identify very closely with the main characters. James Wood, Powers Boothe, and Paul Sorvino really shine in that work. And as the main character of Heaven & Earth is a woman(and a Vietnamese one at that), it's as if Stone learned to follow and watch than merely latch onto her as his big fat alter-ego.

    The problem with Alexander is it is too much a one-man show. Though Michael is at the center of The Godfather, every character is memorable, even down to the women, Kay and Connie. One cannot forget Sal and Clemenza. Or the brash Hollywood boss and the Turk and the corrupt police chief. Or the bodyguard who wants to go to America or the girl's father. Despite their limited screen times, each is a fully-realized character. But apart from Jolie(who may actually be just another aspect of Stone's ego), Alexander is all Alexander and nothing else. It might as well be a stand-up routine. Even though there are scenes of strategy and intrigue, no one registers as anything but backdrop. Jared Leto's role as friend/lover is weak. Kilmer as Philip is as one-dimensional as Berenger in Platoon. As such, the movie lacks dramatic tension and chemistry. The only real roles are Alexander and HISTORY. It's about Alexander and his will to power, so most of the movie is about him wrestling with himself and treating other characters as mere necessary nuisance. In contrast, The Wild Bunch works so well because each character is colorfully realized, even the crude Gorch brothers.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

  79. @SunBakedSuburb
    @eD

    "I think he made one great movie, 'Nixon'"

    Nixon (1995) is my favorite Oliver Stone film. It's about as close to Shakespearean kingly tragedy as Hollywood can get. Richard Nixon is a fascinating, gothic character.

    "the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works"

    I think this is probably true. But even the minor works of a great composer, artist, writer, filmmaker, are worth one's time.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    Now, you’re waay, way exaggerating.

    Repent.

  80. @Dave Pinsen
    @Anonymous

    Stone’s Alexander may not be perfect, but it’s probably the best Alexander film ever.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous

    That movie was a disaster. The only great thing about it was Vangelis ending:

  81. Anonymous[201] • Disclaimer says:
    @R.G. Camara
    My feeling on Stone is that he's very self-absorbed in his own Boomer world. This worked well when Boomers were so dominant in pop culture, but it causes his films to age very badly when viewed out of the Boomer-world view.

    Take his disaster Alexander; utterly failed at the box office and finally killed Colin Farrell's chances of being a leading man. I remember an interview with Stone right around then, and he made a comment about how "Everyone grew up seeing these black-and-white crap documentaries in school where Alexander steps out and gives a boring monologue about his accomplishments, and I wanted to do something different."

    As a non-Boomer, I laughed. Clearly Stone was referencing his own childhood experience, and not the experience of anyone who wasn't a Boomer. I had never seen a boring didactic documentary like that, in or out of school; it sounded like something Mystery Science Theater 3000 would've lampooned back in the day. But Stone really couldn't see that his childhood was the Universal Childhood Experience anymore, and his arrogance that everyone had the same childhood made his films hermetic. He couldn't get out of his own Boomer head.

    I mean, look at the subjects of his best-known films: Vietnam, Vietnam, Drugs, JFK. Fascinating for Boomers, but for non-Boomers the subjects are much smaller and far less interesting. And all of his films do not reach out and make the subjects interesting for people who didn't live through them.

    Stone might well be remembered as the Boomer Director.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Dave Pinsen

    Stone is that he’s very self-absorbed in his own Boomer world. This worked well when Boomers were so dominant in pop culture, but it causes his films to age very badly when viewed out of the Boomer-world view. Take his disaster Alexander; utterly failed at the box office and finally killed Colin Farrell’s chances of being a leading man… he made a comment about how “Everyone grew up seeing these black-and-white crap documentaries in school where Alexander steps out and gives a boring monologue about his accomplishments, and I wanted to do something different.” As a non-Boomer, I laughed. Clearly Stone was referencing his own childhood experience, and not the experience of anyone who wasn’t a Boomer.

    Alexander failed because it was a shapeless mess. Also, it was too complex for mass audience and too simpleminded for serious viewers. It is both a singular vision of a strong cinematic personality and pandering to what Stone(and Hollywood) would work with the mass audiences. But then, Troy has the same problem. It’s both too smart for the dummies and too dumb for the smarties. It did better at the box office because its was dumber and had Brad Pitt(and had a simpler story), but I’m not sure it recouped its cost of $185 million.

    Alexander failed both commercially and artistically due to its lack of focus. Also, Stone went with his passion than sense. When working on a massive project, one needs the instincts of a general, not a rock star. But it was as if Stone wanted to make the movie like Alexander was conquering the world. With sheer will and inspiration. He should have planned it more carefully and then followed the script. Method-directing usually doesn’t work. Apocalypse Now works best when Coppola has things under control but unravels when he wings it and improvises in search of an ending, as if the muse will present him the most inspiring solution.

    Scorsese is as much a boomer-mentality as Stone, but he’s had a long illustrious career. Why? He has better focus and concentration. Also a more assured style and more perceptive understanding of cinema as art and expression. Scorsese mastered cinema as a sweet science. Stone is like a brawler who never got the ‘science’ of cinema. He often flailed away. When he lands, it’s a mighty blow, but when he misses far more than connects, as in Alexander(and all through Natural Born Killers), it’s painful to watch, like Oscar Bonavena, a powerful puncher who lacked grace. So much wasted energy. Still, the brawler Stone, which maybe ended with Alexander, had an element of passion. In contrast, while Wall Street Money Never Sleeps and Edward Snowden were made with proficiency, they lack the wild energy that made his earlier movies exciting.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Anonymous

    Stone enrolled as an overage undergrad on the GI Bill in the NYU film school. The first time he ever got much of an endorsement that his creative ambitions were reasonable was when he made a short about a Vietnam vet for his NYU class. When it was over, the young professor said, "Now that's a filmmaker!" That professor was a then still unknown Martin Scorsese.

    Unfortunately, Stone muffs this anecdote by introducing Scorsese a few pages before. In general, Stone tells his own story without working to increase the impact of his anecdotes, whereas back in the 1980s, he was really good at putting incidents in the right order for maximum dramatic effect, like James Woods going to confession in the Murder in the Cathedral sequence in "Salvador."

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

    , @R.G. Camara
    @Anonymous

    Scorcese is not as much of a boomer-mentality as Stone, because Scorcese makes stories that can be explained to non-boomers without having lived it. Plus Scorcese largely focuses on Italian-American street criminals, which he grew up with, and yet is doing so to explain them to people who didn't grow up Italian-American street criminals.

    Scorcese tries repeatedly to tell his stories to people who haven't heard them before, while Stone tells his stories to people who've lived them/heard them before and want a dramatization of what they know or already believe.

    It's interesting how Scorcese, who focuses on smaller historical events (e.g. the Lufthansa heist, the Frank Rosenthal/Anthony Spilotro partnership in Las Vegas), is much more successful in making timeless iconic characters than Stone has done doing large-scale historical events that he expects his audience to already know (Alexander, 9/11, JFK assasination, Vietnam).

    Replies: @Agathoklis, @Anonymous

    , @Dave Pinsen
    @Anonymous

    Alexander wasn't shapeless. It had a pretty neat bookend narration set-up with Anthony Hopkins as the last surviving general from Alexander's army dictating his memoirs from Alexandria, Egypt 4o years later.

    This is good film making.

    https://youtu.be/T0prLQxx9II

    Replies: @Anonymous

  82. Anonymous[345] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bardon Kaldian
    @Anonymous


    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don’t pull in the crowds.
     
    Read what I write. The only common thing between Goethe and Welles is "genius of personality", and I referred to it because it is something specific. For instance, from what we know, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, ... did not possess that quality. As for Welles..

    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/oct/22/orson-welles-citizen-kane
    .............................

    Though Orson Welles scrutinised himself intently, there's little evidence that he sought professional advice – even when his over-eating was sure to kill him. (He was only 70 when he died – yet in his early 20s Hollywood had welcomed him as a new Tyrone Power!) When it came to self-destruction's allure, he liked to tell the story of the scorpion and the frog – of how the scorpion begged a lift across a stream; how the frog did not trust the scorpion; of how the scorpion said, but if I sting you, froggie, you will die, and I will drown. And so they set out and the frog had gone halfway when he felt the pain of the stinger. Why? he cries out, why did you do it? Now we will all die. I know, says the scorpion, but it is my character.
    ......................................................
    Many of the people who revered Welles – and worshipped a system in which Kane might be made – overlooked his faults. People who knew Orson believed this above all: you never let him meet the money people. Why? He was his own worst enemy. You could say: now, Orson, just sit with them for a lunch, be patient, be polite, tell good stories, let them know the patrons of art and progress they would be if they gave you a little of their money. Just be humble. And Orson would say: of course, of course – I get it. Then lunch began and in 10 minutes he had been unruly, offensive, ugly. He turned on the moneybags and lashed them with envy and contempt. He blew it! Because he could not be humble. If you watch Citizen Kane closely, you can see the same trait and the same cocksure grin that goes with it.

    Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul.
     
    Allen knew his limitations, but he was, compared with Stone, a Renaissance man. It is just silly to exalt Stone's abilities.

    Since we began with lit, we could as well end up with it. Two writers who were contemporaries- sort of-are Ernest Hemingway and Hermann Broch. I've read both of them. Hemingway was a very good short story writer, good novelette author, below average novelist & worthless gossipy memoirist. Yet- Hemingway is a legend.

    Hermann Broch is, on the other hand, a novelist of genius & brilliant essayist/cultural analyst (Hugo Hoffmansthal, Spirit of times,...). Hemingway is, compared to Broch, something like The Podunk Institute for Hamburger Technology to MIT. A dwarf to a giant.

    And yet, virtually no one has heard of Broch.

    Here, Stone is Hemingway. Podunk Institute mistaken for MIT.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @The Germ Theory of Disease

    Read what I write. The only common thing between Goethe and Welles is “genius of personality”, and I referred to it because it is something specific.

    But you also said Goethe committed himself 100% to his works whereas Welles frittered a lot of energies on distractions. My point is it’s nearly impossible for a film-maker like Welles to do as he wishes in the film industry. Even if Welles had been 100% disciplined and focused, he would have difficult time raising money for the kind of movies he wanted to make. Even when he made genre movies like Lady from Shanghai and Touch of Evil, the final cut was taken away from him. He had a devilish time making Othello, Mr. Arkakin, and The Trial because the money ran out and people who promised him money were often con-men and charlatan hustlers.

    Many of the people who revered Welles – and worshipped a system in which Kane might be made – overlooked his faults.

    Some do that, and it’s stupid. But who can deny his possibly greatest work The Magnificent Ambersons was taken from him and butchered? If the studio had at least saved the cut scenes in a vault somewhere, it might be forgivable. It destroyed all of it. Welles moved to Europe because his freewheeling creativity was ahead of its time and too much for Hollywood.
    And consider. For all their limitations, films like Macbeth(shot in two weeks), Othello, Mr. Arkadin, Touch of Evil, The Trial, and Chimes at Midnight(and Immortal Story) are far more interesting, original, and daring than most American movies made during the period. Even his throwaway movie The Stranger is pretty impressive.

    Now, there’s a kind of divide. Older generation of critics tend to value the early Welles but dismiss the later ones. They feel the same about Kubrick, regarding Strangelove as his peak. But the younger generation of critics came to regard the later works in a different way.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/121721/orson-welles-100th-birthday-retrospective-stanley-kauffmann

    Allen knew his limitations, but he was, compared with Stone, a Renaissance man. It is just silly to exalt Stone’s abilities.

    His 70s comedies were that of a renaissance man of humor. His later films are classicist. He gave up on innovation and just tried to make more perfect films.

    Hermann Broch is, on the other hand, a novelist of genius & brilliant essayist/cultural analyst (Hugo Hoffmansthal, Spirit of times,…).

    What’s with all the high-brow stuff? Don’t you know we’re all philistines here?

  83. @Bardon Kaldian
    @Steve Sailer

    True, but artistic directors like Bergman, Tarkovsky and Malick will always have people interested in their work. Frankly, they are perpetually making the same movie; but that movie, due to their larger view on life, remains, more or less, watchable even if we know- and we know- what they mean & would like us to feel.

    Stone is shallow & only intermittently interesting. Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the "magic bullet theory", But his other movies are good only in pieces, and his Nixon stands solely on Hopkins' performance.

    Then, even if he were more realist & intelligent, Stone couldn't make any serious American movie. Nor do I think it was possible after, say, the 1940s. To show that blacks are hopelessly aggressive & retarded; that US Asians, despite everything, are unassimilable as a group; that Jews are up to power in the media; that WASP social-historical trajectory is so complex it would take 10-20 movies to make.

    Stone is less of an artist, but more than just an entertainer. And he lives in a world where an illiterate, but passionate freak like Tarantino can still be, now & then, entertaining- while Stone is, well, not.

    Replies: @Art Deco

    Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the “magic bullet theory”,

    He propagated Jim Garrison’s silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people.

    And there was no ‘magic bullet theory’. Josiah Thompson promoted the notion that the Specter model was unworkable. Thompson got the idea in his head that his own schematic drawing of the vehicle and its occupants was accurate. It was not. Gov. Connolly was seated on a meridian about six inches to Kennedy’s left and his body was about three inches closer to the ground (he being in a jumpseat).

    Your ‘right-wing coup’ replaced one mainstream Democrat with a different mainstream Democrat, a man with more populist sympathies and with a different skill set (better at manipulating politicians, worse at public relations). Heckuva job.

    • Replies: @James O'Meara
    @Art Deco

    Right about Garrison. I've heard that the military guy (whose name escapes me but was called "Mr. X" in the movie; great performance by Sutherland) persuaded Stone to promote the least plausible of various theories. Typical technique of smearing all theories by emphasizing the worst one: "Oh, you're one of those people who thinks a bunch of CIA fags killed Kennedy!"

    Thompson: was a Kierkegaard scholar. There was a SK conference at my university and they invited Thompson, who had just published Six Seconds in Dallas. He came, but refused to talk about SK, said Christianity was stupid, just wanted to talk about JFK. I found that wonderful.

    Arlen Specter's Magic bullet theory subject to vastly more criticism than Thompson's 50 year old book; more Garrison style indirection, hmmm?

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @Art Deco

    It is absurd if I need to prove the existence of single-bullet theory (and sheer lunacy of it in any variant). Go see for yourself.

    Right wing coup firmly established MIC, more than ever before & sent the Deep State message to every further POTUS: Don't mess with us, or- else...

    Even Soviets sensed there was something more....https://www.rferl.org/a/soviets-claimed-us-right-wing-lyndon-johnson-behind-kennedy-assassination-files-show/28820677.html

    Soviets Claimed U.S. Right Wing Was Behind Kennedy Assassination, Files Show

    While the FBI was investigating possible involvement of the Soviet Union in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Soviet authorities were voicing suspicions that U.S. right-wing groups -- and even Kennedy's own vice president -- were behind the killing, newly released documents show.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin

    , @Anonymous
    @Art Deco

    I read Garrison’s book long before I saw the movie. Garrison was just a nasty opportunist who should have gone to prison and been disbarred for what he did to the totally innocent Clay Shaw. The county should have been held liable for Shaw’s legal defense fees and heavy punitive damages for what the county employee Garrison did to Shaw.

    Garrison had no evidence, not even circumstantial evidence against Clay Shaw. Shaw was a tall White man with white hair and Oswald was once seen with a tall white haired White man. Shaw renovated houses and gentrified the French Quarter. Shaw was on the board of directors of an oil company. Shaw was on the board of directors of the port of New Orleans.

    The problem with the movie is that it was based on Garrison’s baseless theories. The last scenes were ridiculous even in the context of movie trials. Costner’s lines were just rambling “
    “ there must have been some kind of conspiracy and Shaw did something to further the conspiracy.”

    Shaw was rightfully acquitted in less than an hour.

    Garrison’s attack on Shaw was as criminal and just plain opportunistic viciousness as James Field’s arrest and 400 year sentence for hitting a member of the mob that attacked his car and him.

    Read the book before you believe Shaw was guilty of conspiring to kill JFK.

    I’m a boomer. And I well remember the Kennedy publicity machine starting about 4 years before Kennedy was elected. My parents subscribed to several magazines. Kennedy’s were on the faces of the magazines for years. Then he was elected and the Camelot myth began.
    Boomers were teens and younger children, some in their early 20s.

    JFK was just another mediocre President with an attractive wife. Who by the way, got more publicity than he did. Because her clothes were more interesting than what Kennedy was doing.

    Whatever the truth about who was behind Kennedy’s assassination, Clay Shaw had nothing to do with it.

    The movie didn’t even emphasize the one defendant Garrison managed to prosecute. Just a lot of rambling generalized accusations

    , @JohnnyWalker123
    @Art Deco

    Back and to the left.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nmGS8rVuIM

    , @David In TN
    @Art Deco

    "He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people."

    Garrison knowingly prosecuted an innocent man for murder of the President of the United States. Garrison had been totally discredited in the minds of serious people by the mid-70s, even with many conspiracy believers.

    Stone used Garrison as his protagonist in order to have a "hero" the movie revolved around.

    To me, the most entertaining part of JFK was Donald Sutherland's performance as the Deep State renegade who tells Kevin Costner how it went down. Had someone like this testified at Shaw's trial, he would have been laughed off the stand during cross examination.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Anonymous

  84. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Hodag

    Ugh, The Deer Hunter is just terrible. Overrated, over-produced nonsense. Russian roulette as a metaphor for Vietnam? WTF? And get this, the original script, with the whole Russian roulette theme, was set not in Vietnam, but in... Las Vegas.

    What drivel.

    Replies: @Abolish_public_education, @Rapparee

    What metaphor?

    A Vietnam Vet-friend remembers seeing the game (but not the betting).

    I loved Any Given Sunday.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Abolish_public_education

    Stone talks about having to take out a high interest rate bank loan in the 1970s to pay off his debts from his NFL gambling obsession.

    , @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Abolish_public_education

    I'm sure your Vietnam-vet friend did in fact see that, but that was his own personal experience. Cimino clearly tries to use it as a metaphor for Vietnam, and it's ludicrous. IOW, Russian roulette takes place in many venues -- brothels, safe houses, back alleys, who knows where -- but that doesn't make it a metaphor for those things. Cimino seems to believe he's Saying Something Important, when he's either bluffing or confused about his subject.

    The script that the movie is originally based on was set in Las Vegas, where Russian roulette was the ultimate kick for gambling addicts who can't get their highs from ordinary gambling any more. Thats not even a metaphor, it's just an interesting observation. The guys in The Deer Hunter joined up for a sense of duty, not for kicks. So it makes no sense on a personal level, and as a political insight, it's gibberish. Cimino was bluffing.

  85. At the end…

    Why do you people insist on that boomer label? This is as fake as astrology. Putting very different individuals in the same imaginary category which doesn’t, in real life, mean anything.

    New York, Virginia, Tom Wolfe…. there may be something to it, but you label people according to their, frequently invented persona, mask. Some people, true, try to present themselves to the “world” through their personas, but, this is ultimately, fake. Many/most public figures are actors, one way or another. But those who are mostly actors- they’re, essentially, second rate.

    As regards films, we, of course, cannot come to an agreement. I like, from time to time, to quote Bergman. So, here is Bergman on:

    Citizen Kane

    A total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie has is absolutely unbelievable!

    Jean Luc Godard

    I’ve never been able to appreciate any of his films, nor even understand them… I find his films affected, intellectual, self-obsessed and, as cinema, without interest and frankly dull… I’ve always thought that he made films for critics.

    Alfred Hitchcock

    A very good technician. And he has something in Psycho, he had some moments. Psycho is one of his most interesting pictures because he had to make the picture very fast, with very primitive means…. He is completely infantile, and I would like to know more — no, I don’t want to know — about his behavior with, or, rather, against women.

    • Agree: Dieter Kief
  86. @Kent Nationalist
    @Hodag

    Heaven's Gate was/is a brilliant film.

    Replies: @Servant of Gla'aki

    Heaven’s Gate was/is a brilliant film.

    I recently watched it (not the truncated version, but the 219-minute entirety), and I didn’t really care for it very much.

    But it’s certainly not as bad as everyone (whose never seen it), invariably enjoys claiming.

  87. Anonymous[304] • Disclaimer says:
    @68W58
    @eD

    Five great movies for John Ford?!? Good Lord man-“The Searchers”, “Mister Roberts”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “How Green Was My Valley”, “The Quiet Man”, “Stagecoach”, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Fort Apache”, “They Were Expendable” and “Young Mr. Lincoln”. The man is probably the greatest director of westerns to have ever lived. The only American director who surpasses him IMHO is Kubrick and that’s mostly a matter of taste.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @SunBakedSuburb

    Five great movies for John Ford?!? Good Lord man… The man is probably the greatest director of westerns to have ever lived.

    I see your point. The movies you listed could be considered as great, but ‘great’ is a big word. What is great as Hollywood entertainment may not be great as art. So, while John Ford made many great Hollywood movies, he probably made just a handful of movies that would be great by standards of art.

    “Grapes of Wrath” is well done and works as popular cinema, but how does it compare with the novel? Or with truly wrenching works like La Terra Trema? For the most part, it sticks to conventions. “Young Mr. Lincoln” is a fine work of folkish propaganda, but you won’t learn much about the Lincoln the real man. It’s myth-making.

    • Replies: @68W58
    @Anonymous

    I once read that Stephen King doesn’t like the movie “The Shining”, which is all well and good, but that Stanley Kubrick does and he made the movie based on his vision, not King’s. Now, the film is based on the novel and the two are obviously related but what one artist does with a piece of work is different than what another artist would do (see, for example, both versions of “True Grit”). So I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare the film “The Grapes of Wrath” to the book. The movie usually fares poorly in comparison to the source book, but filmmaking is a different art form and has to be evaluated in a different way. Ford, and other filmmakers, have to tell the story in a much different way than does an author and I think he deserves a lot of credit for the works he brought to the big screen.

    Replies: @Anonymous

  88. @Anonymous
    @Jim Christian

    He’s an original, he’s thoughtful and probably the last of his breed, professionally.

    Maybe Linklater is.

    Replies: @Jim Christian

    Linklater? Steve, I gotta admit the truth, I had to go look up his particulars. So Linklater, his biggest work being Slackers and a remake of Bad News Bears is anything but a major falloff from Stone (Platoon, Midnight Express and a dozen others between screenplays and as movies-as-director, you know them all)? The comparison is anything but comparable. Lots of difference between early and late boomers in any case as regards mandated service in Vietnam. I was born three years before Linklater and I wasn’t close to being drafted, even if I did join up and spend three years with these guys:

    Now, Linklater went into oil platforms (I’m assuming roughneck), those guys get cred for doing shit at least as risky (or insane) as my flight decks.

    So, all this said, Steve, what am I missing? Ron Howard, Opie and all, dwarfs Linklater. Of course, Howard escapes everyone’s gaze, but what am I missing about Linklater? Just wonderin. I’d heard of him, but had no idea of his work. Yet, you plucked him from nowhere.

    NOT bustin’ balls. But for a guy like you to think of him as regards Stone has me curious.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Jim Christian

    Linklater? ... So Linklater, his biggest work being Slackers and a remake of Bad News Bears is anything but a major falloff from Stone (Platoon, Midnight Express and a dozen others between screenplays and as movies-as-director, you know them all)? Now, Linklater went into oil platforms (I’m assuming roughneck), those guys get cred for doing shit at least as risky (or insane) as my flight decks... Ron Howard, Opie and all, dwarfs Linklater.

    Linklater is 'thoughtful and last of his breed' in being more of a free-thinker, free spirit, and a man of varied interests. Also, he appreciates manhood(as well as other-hoods). He's also deeply empathetic of all sides, even those he disagrees with. We saw that in Dazed and Confused, his best work. Slacker got him noticed, and he made some crowd pleasers like Bad News Bears, but even that movie wasn't just for money but a tribute to the 70s when things were looser and more libertine, less hung up with PC and speech codes and so many rules about everything. Back then, the idea of making the entire nation wear masks would have been laughable. Because Linklater was both jock, brain, and arty type, he has a broad perspective. In contrast, many film-makers of his generation seem to be forever fighting the high school war against the jocks, mean girls, or whatever. Linklater, though not without judgement, accepts them all as part of humanity. It's far less formulaic.

    In contrast, Todd Solondnz sees humanity as a puss. Alexander Payne focuses on hypocrisy. Smarmy David O Russell likes to mock everyone(though American Hustle was a great improvement). P.T. Anderson is a hopeless sap for his epic grandstanding. Linklater, at least at his best, just sees people as they are. Even someone you hate can be cool with someone you admire. The tapestry of life in Dazed and Confused is truly rich. Clint the nasty bully to one kid could be a pretty cool guy with other kids.

    And he's tried different things. He experimented with live-action animation in Waking Life and Scanner Darkly. He did film-plays with Tape. Me and Orson Welles is a first-rate movie about the theater world. I didn't care for Boyhood but it was thoughtful and done with lots of love.

    In Everyone Wants Some, he's not afraid put male culture, warts and all, on full display.
    He's not in this mode of the ever-resentful beta-male forever thrashing away at the Frat Boys or Big Men on the Campus. Too many film-makers are geeks who are either afraid of manhood(and mock and subvert it) or can celebrate only as cartoonish superhero fantasies. So, there's so much anti-male stuff(often from other males, just like females often rag on other females) and so much fantasy-male stuff but not much real male stuff. (Superhero fantasy male stuff is really a geek fantasy, e.g. nerd Peter Park gets bitten by spider and can beat up everyone; Clark Kent the dork turn into Superman, etc). Linklater seems one of the few directors who are comfortable with normal virile manhood. He gets on with nerds and jocks. And that's cool.

    Michael Mann, older director, is also pretty cool with real manhood.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

  89. @Bardon Kaldian
    I've read it with interest (although I didn't think much about Stone lately). In some ways, Stone is like a hybrid of Welles & Woody Allen.

    Goethe, it is a cliche, was a genius of personality. I've read a few of his best bios & it is evident that he was not just a charismatic, but also an astonishingly multitalented, protean, curious, original & deep person.Yet, his work doesn't measure up: although he was revered in the 1st half of the 19th C, and still is among Germans- Goethe has dimmed as an author & simply is not in the company of Dostoevsky or Proust. His life is greater accomplishment than his work.

    Casually skimming through books on Orson Welles, I've had a similar feeling: a genius of personality (although on a much lesser scale, of course) whose achievement is significant, but- here he differs from Goethe, who maximally used his gifts - who created less than 30% of what he could have done, simply because of abominable character flaws & something I would call "stupidity of personality". He didn't have a vision that clashed with reality; it's just his high opinion on himself, egocentricity, arrogance, laziness & gluttony ended his creative activity. Stone reminds me of him as I sense Stone is a "talent of personality" (on a lower scale, too), and Stone is probably more for what he is than what he had, or could have done. He's got personality.

    Then, his career is Woodyallean, despite all the differences. He made a few good movies during some period, was highly praised, and then couldn't produce the goods anymore. This just happens. From 1990 on, most people were not interested in serious political films (which is Stone's central filmmaking passion) & he fizzled. It is not so about what he knew or felt about politics, or a nation, or history, or was he right of wrong- Stone was never interested in fantasy, sci fi, domestic drama, high ideas & humanity (Malick), existential questions,... Also, I think, he never understood deep roots of class & race conflicts and identities, politics, religion, and what makes groups of people tick. His level is a kind of conspiracy of some kind of interest groups, plus his personal experience of war.

    He is, I guess, a likable & reasonable man who is gifted for filmmaking, but: he is not a passionate, dedicated director; his metier is primarily political drama as he understands it; and, creatively, he shot his bolt.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous, @Dieter Kief

    I dived into two stories lately – Goerge Floyd (s. 2 below) and the corruption of scientific standards in the public sphere (cf. 1 below).

    When I resurfaced, I found myself summing up both experiences (which consisted of hundreds of articles // and or comments read about them and countless talks and discussions (not least with my brave wife)) – after all that, I wanted to say, i resurfaced with one sentence for each topic.

    Sentence 1: Science is about the possibility to make // and reasonably correct // mistakes. It can only flourish if you keep that in mind and – allow for it. In About the Granite (Goethe had assembled one of the three biggest and most important rock collections of his time in Europe).

    Sentence 2: The desperate is forgiven everything / (Dem Verwzeifelten verzeiht man alles.)*****

    Both sentences were written down by JWv Goethe.

    II

    It is no cliché to say that Goethe achieved a lot as a person. – It’s a joy!

    ***** In the appendix of his Maxims and Reflections – one of the best books ever. Don’t know if it is translated well – of if that is possible. But I would wish for a shortened version – maybe 1/3rd the length of the original.

    III

    Faust is unsurpassable in that Goethe synthesizes here Religion and Science and Economy and a Great Gatsby in pill form and archaic resonances with Sex (including the female longing – very rare) & Honor. I’ve seen it staged two times almost perfectly well. The first time 1973 in Heidelberg – in the seat near me the most beautiful girl in town; and in 2015 in the Theater der Altstadt in Stuttgart on a very low budget (almost amateur-like) but with Goethe’s wit and nonchalance – and a great Mephisto (Rock singer Reinhold Weiser from the Heidelberg (extremely) independent band Das Radioballett – the clash x Conny Frances x Comedian Harmonists x Hugo Ball (O Jolifanto bambla / O Fari bambla / O Fari bambla…)).

    I don’t know if Faust works in a foreign language though. I dream of a cool Faust staged by Matthew Barney with great visuals but very reduced vocabulary – reduce to the max – – – – .

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @Dieter Kief

    I strongly disagree. Won't address other topics, but Faust is simply not "Faustian". He should have been something like a new Prometheus, thirsting for power, knowledge & eternity (eternity is here something like Nietzsche's: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zarathustra%27s_roundelay).

    And what does he do?

    He turns out to be a 4th rate Casanova, first with Gretchen, then with Helen of Troy. And Goethe ends his work with famous hymn to the Eternally Feminine.

    This is an anti-climax, like Goethe's embarrassing geriatric infatuation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marienbad_Elegy

    This is not Faustian; this is not archetypal; this is not larger than life. This is simply....embarrassing & humiliating.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

  90. Yes, Welles alienated everybody. It was his most serious character flaw. This FY attitude was probably an asset early on. He likely couldn’t have made Kane without it. But it made him many enemies, first in Hollywood, later elsewhere. This caused him a lot of problems.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Anonymous

    Welles alienated everybody... This FY attitude was probably an asset early on. He likely couldn’t have made Kane without it. But it made him many enemies, first in Hollywood, later elsewhere. This caused him a lot of problems.

    But plenty of film-makers, producers, and actors were vain and difficult, pain in the ass to work with. John Ford often insulted John Wayne and was sometimes drunk out of his mind. Hitchcock also made enemies, and many later told bitter tales.

    The real problem with Welles was Hollywood simply had no use for his kind of movies. Even if Welles had been so friendly and kindly with everyone, the movie industry was simply not interested in what he wanted to do. And in Europe, his projects were too big for adequate financing. With few exceptions, like Fellini with La Dolce Vita and Visconti with The Leopard(a huge flop), European directors mostly made do with small projects. Bergman lasted as long as he did because he made small personal films that, on average, were 90 min.
    Welles' imagination could be brought to fruition only with the scale provided by Hollywood. But Hollywood was too square and conventional. He found a more appreciative audience in Europe, but Europeans didn't have the means and funds to help him realize his big-idea projects. This makes some of his later films fascinating. Mr. Arkadin, The Trial, and Chimes at Midnight are Big Concept works made under indie-production values. It's like a great chef preparing a feast with second-rate ingredients. Still, what marvels. Creativity goes a long way.

  91. @Dieter Kief
    @Bardon Kaldian

    I dived into two stories lately - Goerge Floyd (s. 2 below) and the corruption of scientific standards in the public sphere (cf. 1 below).

    When I resurfaced, I found myself summing up both experiences (which consisted of hundreds of articles // and or comments read about them and countless talks and discussions (not least with my brave wife)) - after all that, I wanted to say, i resurfaced with one sentence for each topic.

    Sentence 1: Science is about the possibility to make // and reasonably correct // mistakes. It can only flourish if you keep that in mind and - allow for it. In About the Granite (Goethe had assembled one of the three biggest and most important rock collections of his time in Europe).

    Sentence 2: The desperate is forgiven everything / (Dem Verwzeifelten verzeiht man alles.)*****

    Both sentences were written down by JWv Goethe.

    II

    It is no cliché to say that Goethe achieved a lot as a person. - It's a joy!


    ***** In the appendix of his Maxims and Reflections - one of the best books ever. Don't know if it is translated well - of if that is possible. But I would wish for a shortened version - maybe 1/3rd the length of the original.

    III

    Faust is unsurpassable in that Goethe synthesizes here Religion and Science and Economy and a Great Gatsby in pill form and archaic resonances with Sex (including the female longing - very rare) & Honor. I've seen it staged two times almost perfectly well. The first time 1973 in Heidelberg - in the seat near me the most beautiful girl in town; and in 2015 in the Theater der Altstadt in Stuttgart on a very low budget (almost amateur-like) but with Goethe's wit and nonchalance - and a great Mephisto (Rock singer Reinhold Weiser from the Heidelberg (extremely) independent band Das Radioballett - the clash x Conny Frances x Comedian Harmonists x Hugo Ball (O Jolifanto bambla / O Fari bambla / O Fari bambla...)).

    I don't know if Faust works in a foreign language though. I dream of a cool Faust staged by Matthew Barney with great visuals but very reduced vocabulary - reduce to the max - - - - .

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    I strongly disagree. Won’t address other topics, but Faust is simply not “Faustian”. He should have been something like a new Prometheus, thirsting for power, knowledge & eternity (eternity is here something like Nietzsche’s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zarathustra%27s_roundelay).

    And what does he do?

    He turns out to be a 4th rate Casanova, first with Gretchen, then with Helen of Troy. And Goethe ends his work with famous hymn to the Eternally Feminine.

    This is an anti-climax, like Goethe’s embarrassing geriatric infatuation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marienbad_Elegy

    This is not Faustian; this is not archetypal; this is not larger than life. This is simply….embarrassing & humiliating.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @Bardon Kaldian


    Goehte's geriatric infatuation - the Marienbad Elegy
     
    The Marienbad Elegy is one of the most perfect examples of an existential mishap/mistake put into form. It's wrong throughout, Goethe does make a fool of himself here big style, I agree! But: works of art need not necessarily convey what's right or tasteful, artists can be brilliant while being self-deceptive quite easily. Art at its core is not about truth, but about form, it's not necessarily a depiction of what is reasonable or real, but it is necessarily a depiction of what is witty, well made, and playful.

    The existential mishap turned poem of the Marienbad Elegy helps me a bit personally too at times - not least yesterday, a swirlingly beautiful summer day,  when I rode the bike into town right at mid-day (Pan's hour of godly lust and madness) and that meant - I cycled right into a flood bath of flashes of - - - - (young) women's flesh. One of the pleasures and the threats to my sanity - and that of quite a few other regular guys too these days.

    If my Marienbader Elegie-interpretation would be true, this would be fun though, because then what I think are crucial lines of Goethe (who was a great scientist - all his experiments in his Color Theory book were run again by a group of physics in the last years - and all of them replicated: His dozens of experiments did show what Goethe had said they would (cf. the book by Olaf L. Müller - Mehr Licht, Frankfurt/M. 2015 (Müller has studied physics (amongst other things (mathematics - he is now a science historian)). Ahh -  the fun part: Goethe the man would profit from Goethe the science-theorist since not only in science but also in real life it is essential to allow yourself to be wrong (while trying to act reasonably) - the Marienbader Elegie can thus be read as a proof that Goethe was not only right about the nature of modern science (as a predecessor of Wittgenstein, Gödel, Carl Popper, Friedrich Kambartel, Michael Dummett, Habermas et. al.)  but also about life. Ok with my last remark I'm rumbling through the door you've opened in your comment No. 7 above. 

    Friedrich Nietzsche liked Goethe very much indeed, maybe more than any other writer (with the possible exception of - himself...) - something which does not go along perfectly well with your Nietzsche-Goethe argumentation above.

    Science and all that dwarfed the protean character - this insight lies at the core of modernity.

    If that's right, your main point against Goethe's Faust would be rather nostalgic.
    And I'd hold that that is right, - in other words -  not the physically strong hero reigns successfully any longer, but the rather clear-minded type. Goethe (and Shakespeare)  bridged the gap between the medieval Kingdoms with their reliance on the physical strength of the emperor and our (in the physical sense) rather unheroic times. I now think of the (by both Goethe and Nietzsche) highly estimated Miguel Cervantes and his Don Quichotte. And Cervantes not only marked the end of the period of the physically strong hero - he also showed that those medieval heroes had something about them which was quite wrong so that they were not only heroic but also quite comical. - Something that people did not allow themselves to notice too much and too well as long as the physically strong leader was indeed a leading figure in pre-modern societies because then it would have been simply too dangerous to really ridicule these leaders - people then needed them badly to protect them. All of a sudden it was possible though  - and some great writers realized the comical potential of this new constellation: To name just three:

    1) Cervantes

     2) Shakespeare: "The fool thinks he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." - Or his brilliant and funny fool in The Twelfth's Night and

    3) Johann Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen and his quite cruel and fun 30-Year War novel Simplicius Simplicissimus


    (Honorable mention here for Fischart's grotesque meta-novel Geschicht-Klitterung and the source of his 16th-century intellectual tour de force to the bottom (and the dirty (!) roots) of reason and taste fuelled by humor - Francois Rabelais' grotesquerie Gargantua and Pantagruel. (The last two - Fischart and Rabelais - are interesting, but maybe only for the crazy ones amongst the happy few... - I know of nobody in Germany who follows this path... it's lonely at the top of some thought-mountains and I#d rather have company than adopt the Nietzschean poisonous pleasure of being the Superman...).

    So - Goethe made the right choice in putting the scientist at the center of his Faust. Because it was all kinds of scientists, who made the modern state less dependent on the physical strength of the mighty ones and more dependent on rationality.

    One last thought: Goethe was very clear in Faust (but not only there)  about the fact, that rationality (and brightness) alone won't do.  


    Ahh - a quote from the above-mentioned Geschicht-Klitterung about women: Where the lusts of women kick in - nothing can be too dear - as a comment of Fischart about the blood-lust of the maddened Ajax. Ajax - who had been described by Homer as "the strongest and the bulwark of all Archaens" - strong and powerful, a perfect fighter - brought to kill himself by the goddess Anthea (who helped him to avoid what would have been an even greater mistake in his eyes...namely, to kill not his enemies, but to kill his friends...). Modern man thus is not too far away from the ancient hero. And modern women neither. -

    - Nothing can be done - My heart (=your heart...) is a smoking gun

    Joni Mitchell

  92. @Bardon Kaldian
    @Anonymous


    Welles had character flaws to be sure, but most artists do. It makes no sense to compare Goethe with Welles because a writer can write as he chooses. A film-maker relies on money, which is hard to come by for someone whose works generally don’t pull in the crowds.
     
    Read what I write. The only common thing between Goethe and Welles is "genius of personality", and I referred to it because it is something specific. For instance, from what we know, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, ... did not possess that quality. As for Welles..

    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/oct/22/orson-welles-citizen-kane
    .............................

    Though Orson Welles scrutinised himself intently, there's little evidence that he sought professional advice – even when his over-eating was sure to kill him. (He was only 70 when he died – yet in his early 20s Hollywood had welcomed him as a new Tyrone Power!) When it came to self-destruction's allure, he liked to tell the story of the scorpion and the frog – of how the scorpion begged a lift across a stream; how the frog did not trust the scorpion; of how the scorpion said, but if I sting you, froggie, you will die, and I will drown. And so they set out and the frog had gone halfway when he felt the pain of the stinger. Why? he cries out, why did you do it? Now we will all die. I know, says the scorpion, but it is my character.
    ......................................................
    Many of the people who revered Welles – and worshipped a system in which Kane might be made – overlooked his faults. People who knew Orson believed this above all: you never let him meet the money people. Why? He was his own worst enemy. You could say: now, Orson, just sit with them for a lunch, be patient, be polite, tell good stories, let them know the patrons of art and progress they would be if they gave you a little of their money. Just be humble. And Orson would say: of course, of course – I get it. Then lunch began and in 10 minutes he had been unruly, offensive, ugly. He turned on the moneybags and lashed them with envy and contempt. He blew it! Because he could not be humble. If you watch Citizen Kane closely, you can see the same trait and the same cocksure grin that goes with it.

    Allen knew his limitations, accepted them, and kept with his craft. In contrast, Stone considered himself a visionary, even a conqueror and prophet. He was often over-ambitious but without the requisite talent or self-control. He went for home runs but usually hit really big foul balls that went out of the ballpark but were still foul.
     
    Allen knew his limitations, but he was, compared with Stone, a Renaissance man. It is just silly to exalt Stone's abilities.

    Since we began with lit, we could as well end up with it. Two writers who were contemporaries- sort of-are Ernest Hemingway and Hermann Broch. I've read both of them. Hemingway was a very good short story writer, good novelette author, below average novelist & worthless gossipy memoirist. Yet- Hemingway is a legend.

    Hermann Broch is, on the other hand, a novelist of genius & brilliant essayist/cultural analyst (Hugo Hoffmansthal, Spirit of times,...). Hemingway is, compared to Broch, something like The Podunk Institute for Hamburger Technology to MIT. A dwarf to a giant.

    And yet, virtually no one has heard of Broch.

    Here, Stone is Hemingway. Podunk Institute mistaken for MIT.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @The Germ Theory of Disease

    There’s a hilarious recording that circulates in sound-editor circles: it’s an out-take from a studio recording, where a drunk Orson Welles is trying to record a voice track for a radio commercial for fish-sticks. The guy running the thing keeps helpfully trying to give Orson direction, and you can hear the great man muttering under his breath things like “I can’t fucking believe this, I made Citizen Kane, and now I’ve got this punk telling me how to pronounce the word fish sticks…”

    It’s hysterical and sad at the same time.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    In the Welles out-take I've heard, everything he says about what's wrong with the copy he is supposed to read makes perfect sense. After all, he's Orson Welles. He knows more than anybody else involved about what words on paper will sound like when spoken.

    Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Bardon Kaldian, @MEH 0910

    , @Giancarlo M. Kumquat
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    The phrase "We will sell no wine before it's time" became a funny catch phrase in the 70s. Remember Welles filling in on the Tonight Show? He should have saved more money.

  93. @Anonymous
    @syonredux

    In many cases, he wanted to make art films that were also blockbusters.

    Ideally, all aspiring directors want to make both a great movie and a big hit, like The Godfather.
    Still, there is a difference between making something with both eyes on the project and making something with one eye on the project and one eye on the publicity. Coppola threw himself entirely into The Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now. Not that he was oblivious to publicity but he was committed to doing his own thing. The only time I sensed with Stone was with Nixon. With most of his other movies, he seemed distracted by or pandering to publicity. To make a statement, to hog the limelight, to be the talk of the town, the hottest sensation, biggest controversy, and etc. As such, his works haven't dated so well. As enjoyable as Wall Street is, it's very much a part of 80s Zeitgeist. Platoon, though anti-Rambo, belongs very much to that period. In contrast, Full Metal Jacket seems timeless as art despite its faults.

    Stone's multiple personalities as artist, entertainer, journalist, propagandist, moralist, and egotist led to some interesting creative tension but also mind-boggling simple-mindedness. Born on Fourth of July progresses as a story about a man who loses his innocence and gains a deeper understanding of war and self, but then it ends on a simpleminded anti-war note. Was Stone even aware of this irony? That Kovic went from pro-war simpleton to antiwar simpleton?

    But then, 60s nostalgia is a strange thing. Nostalgia is intrinsically conservative, a longing for lost times and how it used to be. But 60s were marked by change and radicalism. And this contradiction shows up in Stone's work. Another contradiction is he's both moralist and nihilist. His political stance is anti-empire, but in many ways, his most ambitious and personal work was Alexander, a movie that extols one of the first great empire-builders as a timeless hero and god-man. And Wall Street is like The Fountainhead made by a Marxist. It loves what it hates.

    Replies: @syonredux

    Ideally, all aspiring directors want to make both a great movie and a big hit, like The Godfather.
    Still, there is a difference between making something with both eyes on the project and making something with one eye on the project and one eye on the publicity.

    Kubrick was very interested in publicity and marketing:

    Then, the unexpected. The Christian Science Monitor, the highly respected national newspaper based in Boston, published an elegantly designed full-page essay by John Allen, declaring the film [2001] a masterpiece with Kubrick reinventing the medium. This was the breakthrough, coming from a distinguished newspaper with substantial weight to balance the establishment consensus. Combined with a bubbling movement from the counterculture media, and the near-unprecedented second review by Newsday’s Joseph Gelmis reversing his negative opinion within days of his first (only Newsweek’s Joe Morgenstern had ever done this previously with his Bonnie and Clyde switch), the Monitor piece could refocus the film’s future.

    When the film came out, Stanley set up an office in the conference room on the 26th floor of the MGM building. Tearsheets of ads and reviews from every publication lined the walls. The Monitor essay had to be reprinted immediately, as an ad in the following Sunday’s New York Times (Adler’s weak review had just appeared) and for insurance sake, in the next issue of the Village Voice, in case Sarris was negative. Most importantly, it had to be read as an editorial; it could not look like an advertisement. The only commercial information would be a discreet line at the very end stating “2001: A Space Odyssey is showing at Loew’s Capitol theatre.”

    Stanley got it immediately. Our plan was that I’d make the case and he’d play back-up if necessary. My boss bought the concept; there was nothing to lose. Business was well below average for a major release. And I was the film’s designated point man, having Kubrick’s trust. Advertising layouts were ordered immediately. But when the mock-ups arrived, I was shaken. Instead of an editorial look, the Monitor reprint was contained within the standard corporate information: MGM credits and the distinctive unfolding Cinerama logo fought the copy. It was too radical to remove the studio’s corporate identity. The intended impact would be lost.

    Stanley made his move. Privately, he went to the studio bosses to talk about the film’s future openings, saw the mock-ups, and walked out with the layout we wanted – his calm logic prevailing. The advertising agency also delivered with placement. On Sunday, the piece appeared opposite the New York Times’ main film page, making it look like a two-page editorial spread. There was nothing stating it was a paid ad. On Thursday, it ran opposite Sarris’ lengthy negative review in the Village Voice. The campaign to turn the tide was engaged.

    During the next four years, from the release of 2001, through its relaunch a year later with my “Ultimate Trip”/Starchild campaign, and the release of A Clockwork Orange (Stanley had asked me to leave MGM to work directly with him), we talked and strategised film distribution daily. We remained in close contact afterwards, watching Barry Lyndon with the American ratings chief in the large Shepperton screening room with his newly completed print; I visited the set of The Shining and later tried to persuade him to change the ad and slogan; I called him after seeing Full Metal Jacket to say I broke down at the visceral impact of the graveside scene, because my mother had died months before (he said, “There’s nothing worse; it’s like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer”). From then on periodically – I’d get a call and we’d speak for an hour or more as if it were yesterday.

    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2007/nov/02/marketingandpr

    Kubrick wanted to shape every aspect of the film’s [CLOCKWORK] reception. “He had people going to the cinemas where it was going to be shown to make sure that the screens were clean,” remembers Castle. It was in the same spirit of absolute control that Kubrick sent his poster designer a statue from the Korova Milkbar so he could portray its dimensions correctly. On the decaying sculpture in Castle’s lounge rests a bowler hat. This too is an original prop from the film given to him so he could get the curve of its brim just right.

    It was logical that a film so richly designed should also take art into the cinema lobby and on to the streets. Kubrick and his team published a mock newspaper, The Clockwork Times, for which Castle created some of his best works – lurid paintings of images from the film that dwell on its sex and violence. He has a photograph of his young family proudly posing under a huge billboard version of his poster on a London street. Yet the powerful publicity campaign in which he played such a central part backfired.

    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/07/stanley-kubrick-and-me-designing-clockwork-orange-poster

    And, of course, Kubrick was fascinated by commercials:

    TV commercials have figured that out. Leave content out of it, and some of the most spectacular examples of film art are in the best TV commercials. [For example:] the Michelob commercials. I’m a pro football fan, and I have videotapes of the games sent over to me, commercials and all. Last year Michelob did a series, just impressions of people having a good time — The big city at night — And the editing, the photography, was some of the most brilliant work I’ve ever seen. Forget what they’re doing — selling beer — and it’s visual poetry. Incredible eight-frame cuts. And you realize that in thirty seconds they’ve created an impression of something rather complex. If you could ever tell a story, something with some content, using that kind of visual poetry, you could handle vastly more complex and subtle material.

    Stanley Kubrick, 1987

    http://shotcontext.blogspot.com/2012/07/stanley-kubricks-favorite-commercial.html

    • Thanks: SunBakedSuburb
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @syonredux

    Kubrick was very interested in publicity and marketing:

    But there's a difference. Kubrick had to be strategic because he wanted to work on big projects and do it his own way. If Allen is like Mozart who happily composed many symphonies, some great and others not so great, Kubrick was like Beethoven who composed only nine symphonies but each to his standards of perfection. Still, movies are expensive and must make money. Barry Lyndon, though a great film, nearly destroyed Kubrick. So, he sought out projects where he could maximize his artistic freedom while keeping it bankable. If Allen's movie fails at the box office, it's no great loss. If a Kubrick film fails, it's a lot of money down the sinkhole. So, Kubrick sought out big-name stars like Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. Or he made movies with some genre appeal, like sci-fi, horror, and war movie.

    That said, once the project began, Kubrick worked with a great deal of patience and was making movies for the ages than for the moment. He completely immersed himself in the work. He didn't care if the movie didn't win awards or immediate recognition among critics. And over time, Barry Lyndon has come to be recognized as a great work of art. And The Shining, though initially met with mixed reviews, came to be regarded as one of the greatest horrors.

    In contrast, Stone was far more involved in the Moment.

  94. @SunBakedSuburb
    "raise funds for anti-communist rebels"

    You forgot about Oliver North's Somocista allies who opened up a Medellin franchise in LA in the early 1980s. The Reaganaut anti-communist crusade in Central America was one of the factors in the crack cocaine epidemic.

    "French Quarter flaming gay boys"

    Second World War and Cold War-era homosexuals were well-represented in the ranks of the American, British, and Nazi intelligence services. The double lives they lived made them natural spies. The cabal of right-wing homosexuals in the French Quarter at that time -- Clay Shaw, David Ferrie, ect. -- were all attached to domestic CIA activities. David Ferrie was an early groomer of LH Oswald before Oswald enlisted in the USMC.

    "silly script for JFK"

    It's not a silly script.

    "John Huston's An Open Book"

    Agreed. It's a great book.

    Thanks for the review, Steve. Oliver Stone is one of the few people in this industry who serves as an inspiration. I look forward to reading this first installment of his life Odyssey.

    Replies: @Dave Pinsen

    You forgot about Oliver North’s Somocista allies who opened up a Medellin franchise in LA in the early 1980s. The Reaganaut anti-communist crusade in Central America was one of the factors in the crack cocaine epidemic.

    Good movie about that general subject: https://m.imdb.com/title/tt3532216/?ref_=m_nmfmd_act_8

  95. Stone’s interviews of Putin, while pestered by a small amount of mandatory brainless Russophobia, are the best English language look at the leader of Russia.

  96. @Art Deco
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the “magic bullet theory”,

    He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people.

    And there was no 'magic bullet theory'. Josiah Thompson promoted the notion that the Specter model was unworkable. Thompson got the idea in his head that his own schematic drawing of the vehicle and its occupants was accurate. It was not. Gov. Connolly was seated on a meridian about six inches to Kennedy's left and his body was about three inches closer to the ground (he being in a jumpseat).

    Your 'right-wing coup' replaced one mainstream Democrat with a different mainstream Democrat, a man with more populist sympathies and with a different skill set (better at manipulating politicians, worse at public relations). Heckuva job.

    Replies: @James O'Meara, @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous, @JohnnyWalker123, @David In TN

    Right about Garrison. I’ve heard that the military guy (whose name escapes me but was called “Mr. X” in the movie; great performance by Sutherland) persuaded Stone to promote the least plausible of various theories. Typical technique of smearing all theories by emphasizing the worst one: “Oh, you’re one of those people who thinks a bunch of CIA fags killed Kennedy!”

    Thompson: was a Kierkegaard scholar. There was a SK conference at my university and they invited Thompson, who had just published Six Seconds in Dallas. He came, but refused to talk about SK, said Christianity was stupid, just wanted to talk about JFK. I found that wonderful.

    Arlen Specter’s Magic bullet theory subject to vastly more criticism than Thompson’s 50 year old book; more Garrison style indirection, hmmm?

  97. @Anonymous
    @Lurker

    Considering what unit, when and where in Viet Nam the action in Platoon takes place, the Air Force units providing air support would have been flying F-100s. That airplane is pretty much forgotten today, but it did a lot of mud moving in its day.

    https://i.imgur.com/lZR1HoK.jpg

    Replies: @Lurker

    They certainly CGI’d some into We Were Soldiers. Not an option in 1986 of course. At least an F-5 doesn’t set off jarring dissonance even if it’s not correct under closer inspection. Unlike the Bell 47 seen in Where Eagles Dare!

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    @Lurker

    My favorite 60s movie anachronism is probably the buzz-bomb "targeting" and then missing a British nuclear power plant in Operation Crossbow.

  98. @68W58
    I thought “Platoon” was vastly overrated when I first saw it in theaters both in terms of filmmaking and storytelling and I’d like to think it wouldn’t receive such high praise if it were released today.

    Replies: @J.Ross, @Anonymous

    It came out during a time when every movie (even science fiction) was about Vietnam and most TV shows paid lip service; even pop songs got sucked in. In that situation it managed to stand out as totally original and distinct. Its characterizations are probably its weakest part but the casting is perfect.

    • Replies: @68W58
    @J.Ross

    There’s a lot to what you say, but I still think it’s overrated. We were told at the time that it was very “realistic” and that Vietnam vets were breaking down in tears at the theater. Well my Vietnam vet relatives weren’t especially impressed and I thought it was somewhat overwrought in terms of storytelling. Many of the actors are great, but, aside from the scene where Willem Dafoe is killed, is there any scene that stands out visually? Is there a single line of quotable dialogue? It isn’t fair to compare most directors to Stanley Kubrick, but I ask readers to think of “Full Metal Jacket” a contemporary of “Platoon” and think about which one holds up better over time. Several scenes in FMJ spring readily to mind, both in terms of visuals and dialogue-same time frame and subject but it seems to me that Full Metal Jacket is a vastly superior film.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @J.Ross

  99. @Lurker
    @Anonymous

    They certainly CGI'd some into We Were Soldiers. Not an option in 1986 of course. At least an F-5 doesn't set off jarring dissonance even if it's not correct under closer inspection. Unlike the Bell 47 seen in Where Eagles Dare!

    https://youtu.be/TOFzswp9LEs?t=105

    Replies: @J.Ross

    My favorite 60s movie anachronism is probably the buzz-bomb “targeting” and then missing a British nuclear power plant in Operation Crossbow.

  100. @68W58
    @eD

    Five great movies for John Ford?!? Good Lord man-“The Searchers”, “Mister Roberts”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “How Green Was My Valley”, “The Quiet Man”, “Stagecoach”, “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Fort Apache”, “They Were Expendable” and “Young Mr. Lincoln”. The man is probably the greatest director of westerns to have ever lived. The only American director who surpasses him IMHO is Kubrick and that’s mostly a matter of taste.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @SunBakedSuburb

    The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is John Ford’s best film. The source material and Henry Fonda’s performance are the reasons for its success. Ford’s westerns are hokey. And John Wayne is an unconvincing cowboy. A friend of mine said Ford’s westerns work if you view them as white American mythology.

    • Replies: @68W58
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Well I’ve never heard “The Searchers” called “hokey” before and it consistently ranks in the top 5 of AFI’s list of westerns. “Mister Roberts” is a great character driven film and so is “The Quiet Man”, which also has great cinematography. Ford was great as a cinematographer, as David Lean admitted that he copied Ford’s approach to using great landscapes in filming “Lawrence of Arabia”.

    Replies: @Anonymous

  101. @Dave Pinsen
    @Dumbo

    Wall Street is about Wall Street in the ‘80s. It’s not dated - it’s a period piece filmed during the period.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard, @Anonymous

    I think an argument can be made that Wall Street is the best mid/late 80s period piece, and possibly one of the all-time great period pieces.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @The Wild Geese Howard

    "Wall Street" came out in December 1987 only about 6 weeks after Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities," which had been exciting for how much there was about newly Masters of the Universe bond traders. So Wall Street was a rare period piece of the moment. To put it in perspective, Michael Lewis's "Liar's Poker" was the first bestselling nonfiction book by somebody who had worked on Wall Street in the 1980s, and it didn't come out until a year or two after the movie Wall Street. It's a lot easier to get a memoir published than to get a movie made.

    So "Wall Street" hit that sweet spot that IIRC journalist A.J. Liebling boasted of: nobody who is faster is better and nobody who is better is faster.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

  102. @Art Deco
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the “magic bullet theory”,

    He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people.

    And there was no 'magic bullet theory'. Josiah Thompson promoted the notion that the Specter model was unworkable. Thompson got the idea in his head that his own schematic drawing of the vehicle and its occupants was accurate. It was not. Gov. Connolly was seated on a meridian about six inches to Kennedy's left and his body was about three inches closer to the ground (he being in a jumpseat).

    Your 'right-wing coup' replaced one mainstream Democrat with a different mainstream Democrat, a man with more populist sympathies and with a different skill set (better at manipulating politicians, worse at public relations). Heckuva job.

    Replies: @James O'Meara, @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous, @JohnnyWalker123, @David In TN

    It is absurd if I need to prove the existence of single-bullet theory (and sheer lunacy of it in any variant). Go see for yourself.

    Right wing coup firmly established MIC, more than ever before & sent the Deep State message to every further POTUS: Don’t mess with us, or- else…

    Even Soviets sensed there was something more….https://www.rferl.org/a/soviets-claimed-us-right-wing-lyndon-johnson-behind-kennedy-assassination-files-show/28820677.html

    Soviets Claimed U.S. Right Wing Was Behind Kennedy Assassination, Files Show

    While the FBI was investigating possible involvement of the Soviet Union in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Soviet authorities were voicing suspicions that U.S. right-wing groups — and even Kennedy’s own vice president — were behind the killing, newly released documents show.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    @Bardon Kaldian

    There's nothing magical about the "magic bullet" theory, and Stone's illustrations in his film prove nothing since they are highly inaccurate in showing Connelly sitting directly in front of Kennedy when he was actually sitting somewhat to the left.

    The inaccurate illustration (similar to what is shown in JFK):

    https://frankwarner.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451cd3769e201156fbfc775970c-500wi

    Where Kennedy and Connelly were actually sitting on November 22nd, 1963:

    https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fqph.fs.quoracdn.net%2Fmain-qimg-00d0cf75f46f319ce256a1a0d4613979-c&f=1&nofb=1

  103. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Bardon Kaldian

    There's a hilarious recording that circulates in sound-editor circles: it's an out-take from a studio recording, where a drunk Orson Welles is trying to record a voice track for a radio commercial for fish-sticks. The guy running the thing keeps helpfully trying to give Orson direction, and you can hear the great man muttering under his breath things like "I can't fucking believe this, I made Citizen Kane, and now I've got this punk telling me how to pronounce the word fish sticks..."

    It's hysterical and sad at the same time.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Giancarlo M. Kumquat

    In the Welles out-take I’ve heard, everything he says about what’s wrong with the copy he is supposed to read makes perfect sense. After all, he’s Orson Welles. He knows more than anybody else involved about what words on paper will sound like when spoken.

    • Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Steve Sailer

    Well it's possible to be right about something, petulant and drunk simultaneously. Lawd knows I've pulled off that particular hat trick. But, I never got around to making Citizen Kane, so there's that.

    Orson Welles complaining about the quality of the ad copy for a radio spot is a little like MFK Fisher complaining about a Big Mac.

    Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @Steve Sailer

    Welles was a larger than life character of near-genius whose legacy is, so it seems, destined to remain in the region of myth & then to be gradually forgotten and marginalized- unless some unseen Muses intervene....

    Personally, I think of him as as the more gifted Cagliostro, along with other overrated people & categories (celebrities, Columbus, French & Italian cuisine, healthy life-style, JFK (person), Churchill, computer programmers, athletes, pundits, The Beatles, Soviet post WW2 tanks, global Shakespeare's & Einstein's reputation, Islamic Golden Age, Woodstock, Citizen Kane, depth of classical German Idealism, Cold war, Moon landing, opera, New Age, India in past 100 years, Latin lover stereotype, actors, post-modernism, progress of medicine in past 50 years, Tom cruise, Northern Irish troubles, American Congress, European political elites, Rothschilds, rap, Reagan's Star wars, ....

    , @MEH 0910
    @Steve Sailer

    Obscure Audio 2: Orson Welles Outtakes - Frozen Peas
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol5RpDEzLzY

    yes always
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uWW--w4SRs

  104. Most good rock musicians used to have one good album in them. This is because they would spend a few years plying their trade in bars and clubs and build up a set of maybe 10 songs with a few fillers and covers. They put those songs on record and then when it comes to do the second record, they would have no songs because they had been on the road and the drugs and other problems set in. So, under pressure from the record company to push out product, they would essentially replicate the first 10 good songs. However, given rock audiences; and especially, critics are fickle, the shine would come off quickly. Sometimes, the rock musicians who thought they were actually artists would get creative on the second album but the audiences really wanted to hear the first 10 songs. In exceptional cases, those rock musicians who were half talented and would produce 2-3 good albums (The Clash , The Who – some of their best were double albums) and the even more talented ones would produce 4-5 good albums (Beatles, the Stones, Bowie). Sometimes it would take years for them to hit their stride. After their Golden Period they would just settle in to rake in the money they did not make during their Golden Period. They became more creative in making money than music.

    Oliver Stone probably sits in the lower end of the second category. He wrote or made probably 2-3 good movies at that time. However, with the exception of Salvador they feel quite dated today. His Alexander movie was atrocious despite having Robin Lane Fox as an advisor. There is no suggestion in the most reliable Alexander biographer, Arrian who relied on first hand accounts to write his Anabasis that Alexander had homosexual relations with his companion, Hephaestion. This suggestion is usually peddled by modern homosexuals that confuse brotherhood and companionship with homosexuality. It is also unlikely there will be a Oliver Stone revival one day. He is simply not cool enough for the artsy crowd to rediscover his films and hold retrospectives in some so-called hip American town. I’d leave the book for the moment and wait until it is available in a bargain bin in 2-3 years time.

  105. @Abolish_public_education
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    What metaphor?

    A Vietnam Vet-friend remembers seeing the game (but not the betting).

    I loved Any Given Sunday.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @The Germ Theory of Disease

    Stone talks about having to take out a high interest rate bank loan in the 1970s to pay off his debts from his NFL gambling obsession.

  106. This is surprising to read:

    [Stone] mentions a couple of casting regrets: Tom Cruise would have been ideal for his 1987 Wall Street (he ended up going back to his Platoon star Charlie Sheen), but Cruise was waiting around for Dustin Hoffman to start filming Rain Man. In turn, while Cruise was fine in Stone’s 1989 Born on the Fourth of July as wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, Stone regrets that few ever saw Al Pacino’s rehearsals in the late 1970s for a Born that was called off for lack of financing.

    I thought Cruise was incredible in Born on the Fourth of July (and Sheen nearly as good in Wall Street). He carried the movie. The strength of the movie depends entirely on Cruise making his role of Ron Kovic come alive. That role was Cruise’s first in which he doesn’t merely tag along as other great actors (Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman) show him how to carry a scene in a serious movie, but he has to carry nearly every scene off by himself. And he did. I’d say Cruise’s performance was better than the actual movie.

    Pacino couldn’t have done it nearly as well. Too ethnic and too old. Even in the mid-seventies, Pacino was in his mid-thirties. Cruise, by contrast, was twenty-five or twenty-six when filming Born on the Fourth of July and since the first thirty minutes of the movie portrays the young idealistic Kovic before he joined the Marines, the actor needed to be able to convincingly play a high school kid for nearly the first quarter of the film.

    Could a thirty-five-year-old-plus Pacino have done that? Maybe, but I have my doubts. Certainly, by the late eighties, it was out of the question.

    Sheen was also quite good in Wall Street, but less important to the success of a movie which depended almost entirely on the strength of Michael Douglas’s performance of Gordon Gecko. While I’m sure Cruise would’ve been quite good in the Sheen role, I don’t think it would have made much difference to the movie.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Pincher Martin

    "Pacino couldn’t have done it nearly as well. Too ethnic and too old. Even in the mid-seventies, Pacino was in his mid-thirties. Cruise, by contrast, was twenty-five or twenty-six when filming Born on the Fourth of July and since the first thirty minutes of the movie portrays the young idealistic Kovic before he joined the Marines, the actor needed to be able to convincingly play a high school kid for nearly the first quarter of the film."

    Stone says that the teenage scenes would have been a real problem for a Pacino "Born on the Fourth of July."

    , @Anonymous
    @Pincher Martin

    I thought Cruise was incredible in Born on the Fourth of July (and Sheen nearly as good in Wall Street). He carried the movie. The strength of the movie depends entirely on Cruise making his role of Ron Kovic come alive

    It's one of those A-for-effort roles. Cruise was never a great actor, and one might say he strains in Born on Fourth, but that over-eager earnestness conveys Kovic's naive All-American self into red, white, and blue. Cruise's desperate effort to be a Great Actor parallels Kovic's sincere devotion to be a Great Patriot. In the first half of the movie, Cruise does Audie Murphy and the second half, he does Voigt in Coming Home.
    The most interesting thing about the movie is it didn't sugarcoat the nastiness of the black staff at the veteran's hospital. In some ways, it was more harrowing than scenes in the battle field. Out of the jungle, into the jungle.

    It's an interesting role because Cruise plays both type and against-type. He's the same old Tom Cruise, the over-enthused hot shot in All the Right Moves and Top Gun. But as the movie is about disillusionment of the dream, Cruise has to meet the challenge of playing against type and does reasonably well, though to the very end, he doesn't so much grow into manhood as shift his boyhood obsession from war hero to war martyr. (Though Sean Penn was much lauded for Casualties of War, I thought Michael J. Fox held his own and then some by making goodness a matter of strength and conviction than self-righteous posturing.)

    Pacino couldn’t have done it nearly as well.

    Stone has to be kidding the reader. The idea is so far-fetched that he couldn't have been serious. Was he thinking of Pacino in Cruising where a straight cop comes face to face with pathology of the homo world? Pacino did a creditable job in the much maligned Revolution, but he always came across as too smart and knowing to believe in Audie Murphy and heroism. Even in The Godfather, Michael joined the military not so much because he was into red, white, and blue but because he wanted to his own man than have his destiny decided by his father and others. In contrast, Kovic in the movie is someone without a proper sense of self.

    Sheen was also quite good in Wall Street... While I’m sure Cruise would’ve been quite good in the Sheen role, I don’t think it would have made much difference to the movie.

    Cruise already did Wall Street. It was called Risky Business, a better film.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin

  107. @Anonymous
    @MEH 0910

    Parker-and-Stone is too much(and without the humor of Matt Stone and Trey Parker). Both are hyper-sensationalists, and Stone and Parker is like hot sauce and habaneros. Midnight Express is one of the most obnoxious movies ever made. Parker's The Wall is atrocious and Angel Heart is crazy. I didn't see Mississippi Burning but it sounds like a comic book rendition of the Evil South, which set the tone for much to come. Not just condemnation of Old South policies but total dehumanization. (But I heard Parker's Shoot the Moon is quite good.)

    Though Stone and DePalma is rather like Stone and Parker, Scarface worked much better because the whole concept is cartoonish in nature. It's good for laughs. And for all his outlandish qualities, DePalma was a much better film-maker than Parker.

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb

    “Parker’s The Wall is atrocious and Angel Heart is crazy.”

    Both films are visually splendid and artistically successful but not for a general audience.

    “I didn’t see Mississippi Burning but it sounds like a comic book rendition of the Evil South”

    You’re correct on this one. Mississippi Burning is typical show biz white savior stuff. Parker applies his usual visual style and Gene Hackman is fun to watch. Otherwise it is morally tedious.

  108. The prestige press, with its dependence upon Deep State sources, turned on Stone with a vengeance, denouncing him as a “conspiracy theorist.” Today, after nearly three decades of the Establishment demonizing conspiracy theorizing, it’s hard to remember that in the 1970s and 1980s dreaming up paranoid conspiracies had been considered rather cool.

    That was one of the things that struck me in Roger Stone’s “Nixon’s Secrets” book. The role of “elite” reporters and their near absolute dependence on Deep State power players. That it’s closely akin to how high-end prostitutes are defined by their clientele, not so much actual substance and ability.

    Stone establishes a very convincing case that the Watergate break-in was in fact a CIA operation intended to take down President Nixon via scandal. That a few members within “The Plummers” team intended to get caught and sabotaged the operation by making rookie mistakes and leaving evidence that gaslighted authorities toward Nixon. (For Millennials the whole Watergate thing looks very minor and it’s bizarre that a very odd break-in brought down a sitting President. We were raised on doctrines of Executive Supremacy granted via The Patriot Act.)

    A crucial component in that plan involved Bob Woodward and the anonymous “Deep Throat.” Stone contends that Woodward (but not Bernstein) more or less understood his role in the CIA’s plan to topple Nixon.

    In fact, at the same time Haig was working closely with another young naval officer who served as a liaison between the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon. His name was Bob Woodward. Three years later, supplied with a steady diet of information from Haig and other malcontents in the military and intelligence community, the Washington Post reporter kept the Watergate story alive and pinned it directly on the president and his top staff. “How does a guy that is nine months at the Washington Post City section have a source at the highest level of our government, who trusts him with damaging information about the President of the United States?” asked Len Colodny.33

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    @Kronos

    Why would the CIA have wanted Nixon gone? The agency's image is quite divorced from the reality: political culture leans establishment, always has. You could see VC flags in Langley offices by 1970 while they simultaneously collaborated with a right-wing military dictator in Brazil against Allende. Moreover, nobody could have anticipated Watergate would have developed into what it was. It took a long laundry list of unlikely factors from the internal dynamics of the White House to the right series of hearings in Congress to get the scandal to even blow up, let alone lead to resignation. The CIA could have hardly expected that J. Edgar Hoover would die in May 1972, for example, or that Nixon had a non-controllable taping system catching him with the intent to obstruct justice.

    My own take on Watergate is pretty prosaic, TBH: Magruder and Company wanted to prove they were Hard Men.

    >(For Millennials the whole Watergate thing looks very minor and it’s bizarre that a very odd break-in brought down a sitting President. We were raised on doctrines of Executive Supremacy granted via The Patriot Act.)

    I agree that Watergate looks pretty unremarkable for someone whose formative experiences were in the post-PATRIOT era, but you have to judge people in their historical context. Nixon was not the kind of guy you wanted in charge of a United States in the throes of massive cultural transitions. After Nixon's downfall, the Church Committee showed just how down and dirty the United States government had gotten during the previous decades: it's hard to understate how much of a rupture this was with America's self-image. The lefties confused this with a massive cultural shift that didn't exist, though: and they got that so wrong that it took until 2008 for a non-Southern technocrat Democrat to get into the White House.

    On a tangentially related subject, given his record as a Bush II and general "Deep State" apologist, Woodward's most recent treatment of Nixon and Vietnam is hypocritical, to put it kindly. I read parts of it. I immediately could sense the agenda when he failed to mention that the "zilch" memo was in response to a less-than-week long initial strike in late 1971 after a bombing halt that had been in effect for over three years. The real bombing campaign would not commence until the spring of '72, and that had anything but a "zilch" effect: Vietnamese and Soviet archives make that very clear. Partly, this was because the war itself had become much more conventional-in effect, LBJ and Nixon were fighting two different wars. Nixon also could gamble on the Soviets and Chinese not intervening in a way Johnson couldn't. But Linebacker was also carried out far more competently than Rolling Thunder.

    Replies: @Kronos

  109. Great review on Taki’s! I was for a while in the same social circles as Stone’s second wife. She was affiliated with the Socialist Workers Party — these were the guys in the 1970s who were always trying to sell a copy of their rag, called “The Militant”. Nice people, cool people, on the Trotskyite side of things. In hindsight, I can see that they didn’t have a clue about how the economy or society really worked.

  110. @Mr. Anon
    I know that Platoon was a deeply personal movie for Stone, so I don't begrudge him having made it how he saw fit, however I found the ending - Willem Dafoe's character dying in slow motion to the strains of Samuel Barber - to be a melodramtic. A lot of the rest of the movie was pretty good though. On the whole I thought Born on the Fouth of July was the better movie.

    Stone is kind of an old-fashioned liberal. He seems to like the old masculine America - the America of his youth. He recently mentioned that in today's environment he couldn't make the movies he made, as they wouldn't be approved of by today's SJW gate-keepers. Overall, he seems like an honorable and even admirable man. Except for his Castro-fawning, which was embarrassing - I just don't get that.

    Replies: @Bragadocious, @Dave Pinsen

    If nothing else, that scene in Platoon provided Ben Stiller with the inspiration for his mocking slo-mo scenes in “Tropic Thunder.”

    Except for his Castro-fawning, which was embarrassing – I just don’t get that

    De riguer for old school American leftists. That was the issue in the 70s and 80s. This is why Tony Montana was such a reprobate — only a reprobate would despise Castro. But! Scarface was also a wonderfully unintended screed against uncontrolled immigration. Of course we must realize that it does not in any way apply to Mexico, Central America or the Dominican Republic.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    @Bragadocious


    De riguer for old school American leftists. That was the issue in the 70s and 80s. This is why Tony Montana was such a reprobate — only a reprobate would despise Castro.
     
    And yet, Stone made Montana into a semi-admirable character. He was not without a moral code - he refused to blow up the journalists' family.

    I'm not sure it's just leftists, but even garden variety liberals. Stone never struck me as a hard-leftist, more just a Kennedy-liberal, with a leavening of 60s hippy-dippy sensibility. Spielberg isn't really a leftist either - in fact, he's not all that different than Stone, in some ways - but Spielberg had a big man-crush on El Commandante too. It's unseemly.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous, @Rapparee

  111. @Steve Sailer
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    In the Welles out-take I've heard, everything he says about what's wrong with the copy he is supposed to read makes perfect sense. After all, he's Orson Welles. He knows more than anybody else involved about what words on paper will sound like when spoken.

    Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Bardon Kaldian, @MEH 0910

    Well it’s possible to be right about something, petulant and drunk simultaneously. Lawd knows I’ve pulled off that particular hat trick. But, I never got around to making Citizen Kane, so there’s that.

    Orson Welles complaining about the quality of the ad copy for a radio spot is a little like MFK Fisher complaining about a Big Mac.

    • Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    Actually, now that I think of it, weirdly enough, I was once simultaneously drunk, petulant, and right about something, /while IN Orson Welles's house!/. Well, the house he once lived in. Nice place.

  112. @Pincher Martin
    This is surprising to read:

    [Stone] mentions a couple of casting regrets: Tom Cruise would have been ideal for his 1987 Wall Street (he ended up going back to his Platoon star Charlie Sheen), but Cruise was waiting around for Dustin Hoffman to start filming Rain Man. In turn, while Cruise was fine in Stone’s 1989 Born on the Fourth of July as wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, Stone regrets that few ever saw Al Pacino’s rehearsals in the late 1970s for a Born that was called off for lack of financing.
     
    I thought Cruise was incredible in Born on the Fourth of July (and Sheen nearly as good in Wall Street). He carried the movie. The strength of the movie depends entirely on Cruise making his role of Ron Kovic come alive. That role was Cruise's first in which he doesn't merely tag along as other great actors (Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman) show him how to carry a scene in a serious movie, but he has to carry nearly every scene off by himself. And he did. I'd say Cruise's performance was better than the actual movie.

    Pacino couldn't have done it nearly as well. Too ethnic and too old. Even in the mid-seventies, Pacino was in his mid-thirties. Cruise, by contrast, was twenty-five or twenty-six when filming Born on the Fourth of July and since the first thirty minutes of the movie portrays the young idealistic Kovic before he joined the Marines, the actor needed to be able to convincingly play a high school kid for nearly the first quarter of the film.

    Could a thirty-five-year-old-plus Pacino have done that? Maybe, but I have my doubts. Certainly, by the late eighties, it was out of the question.

    Sheen was also quite good in Wall Street, but less important to the success of a movie which depended almost entirely on the strength of Michael Douglas's performance of Gordon Gecko. While I'm sure Cruise would've been quite good in the Sheen role, I don't think it would have made much difference to the movie.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous

    “Pacino couldn’t have done it nearly as well. Too ethnic and too old. Even in the mid-seventies, Pacino was in his mid-thirties. Cruise, by contrast, was twenty-five or twenty-six when filming Born on the Fourth of July and since the first thirty minutes of the movie portrays the young idealistic Kovic before he joined the Marines, the actor needed to be able to convincingly play a high school kid for nearly the first quarter of the film.”

    Stone says that the teenage scenes would have been a real problem for a Pacino “Born on the Fourth of July.”

    • Thanks: Pincher Martin
  113. It’s interesting you mention how Stone’s (and Heinlein’s) politics are likely shaped by who he’s married to at a point in time. Michael Wolff said in his Rupert Murdoch book that Murdoch has been the same way with his political views shifting with changes in wives.

  114. Anonymous[383] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dave Pinsen
    @Dumbo

    Wall Street is about Wall Street in the ‘80s. It’s not dated - it’s a period piece filmed during the period.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard, @Anonymous

    it’s a period piece filmed during the period.

    Is such a thing possible? I can see Wolf of Wall Street as a period piece about the 80s, but how can a period piece be made IN the period? It’s like nostalgia in the moment. Nostalgia and period-perspective come after the fact with some reflection and looking back.

    As entertaining as Wall Street is, I didn’t find it all that convincing. Too many Hollywood conventions and cliches. I doubt the world of the rich is so glamorous. Yes, the rich can afford nice things, but the glam factor is what most of them don’t have. Gordon Gekko is too much of an archetype, an idealized image of greed as bad but cool, to be convincing as an accurate representation of what is wrong with Wall Street and the new economy. It is rather like how Wall Street sharks want to see themselves, just like Tony Montana is a fantasy idol of all the thugs who are mostly grubby scum.
    You won’t learn anything real about Wall Street, just like The Bad and the Beautiful, while purporting to be an expose of Hollywood and its ruthless dealings, merely skims the surface and is just another star vehicle full of glamour(though nicely done). Likewise, I thought Altman’s The Player was mostly phony(though amusing). One could say the same thing about The Godfather as opposed to Goodfellas, a truly honest and harrowing film about the workings of organized crime. Still, The Godfather is so beautifully acted and executed on every level as a story of family and culture that it rises to the level of art. Not so with Wall Street. Very entertaining but pure Hollywood.

  115. @syonredux
    @Captain Tripps


    like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court.
     
    Yeah, Franklin, the life-long urbanite (Boston, Philadelphia, London, Paris) play-acting as a son of the frontier was definitely one of his better jokes.But, as Melville notes in Israel Potter, Franklin was something of a genius at shape-shifting:

    Having carefully weighed the world, Franklin could act any part in it. By nature turned to knowledge, his mind was often grave, but never serious. At times he had seriousness—­extreme seriousness—­for others, but never for himself. Tranquillity was to him instead of it. This philosophical levity of tranquillity, so to speak, is shown in his easy variety of pursuits. Printer, postmaster, almanac maker, essayist, chemist, orator, tinker, statesman, humorist, philosopher, parlor man, political economist, professor of housewifery, ambassador, projector, maxim-monger, herb-doctor, wit:—­Jack of all trades, master of each and mastered by none—­the type and genius of his land.
     

    Replies: @R.G. Camara, @Captain Tripps

    Ben Franklin and Bill Clinton strike me as exceedingly similar in temperament and personality.

    Both were extremely adept politically. Both molded their personalities to the moment and read people very well. Yet both of them, when they made their protean changes, did not come off as fake to the majority of people, which used to enrage the people who saw through them that others could not. And both were obsessed with sex, and both joined secret societies (Franklin the Hellfire Club and the Masons, Clinton the Bildeberg group) to advance themselves.

    The difference being that Franklin was a true polymath genius beyond politics. Clinton’s only talents have been in getting himself elected, taking bribes well, raping women, and covering up his crimes well enough to avoid conviction.

    It’s fair to say Franklin’s life was what Clinton’s would have been had Clinton been less of a sociopath and allowed himself pursuits beyond power and sex.

  116. Anonymous[383] • Disclaimer says:
    @syonredux
    @Anonymous


    Ideally, all aspiring directors want to make both a great movie and a big hit, like The Godfather.
    Still, there is a difference between making something with both eyes on the project and making something with one eye on the project and one eye on the publicity.
     
    Kubrick was very interested in publicity and marketing:

    Then, the unexpected. The Christian Science Monitor, the highly respected national newspaper based in Boston, published an elegantly designed full-page essay by John Allen, declaring the film [2001] a masterpiece with Kubrick reinventing the medium. This was the breakthrough, coming from a distinguished newspaper with substantial weight to balance the establishment consensus. Combined with a bubbling movement from the counterculture media, and the near-unprecedented second review by Newsday's Joseph Gelmis reversing his negative opinion within days of his first (only Newsweek's Joe Morgenstern had ever done this previously with his Bonnie and Clyde switch), the Monitor piece could refocus the film's future.
     

    When the film came out, Stanley set up an office in the conference room on the 26th floor of the MGM building. Tearsheets of ads and reviews from every publication lined the walls. The Monitor essay had to be reprinted immediately, as an ad in the following Sunday's New York Times (Adler's weak review had just appeared) and for insurance sake, in the next issue of the Village Voice, in case Sarris was negative. Most importantly, it had to be read as an editorial; it could not look like an advertisement. The only commercial information would be a discreet line at the very end stating "2001: A Space Odyssey is showing at Loew's Capitol theatre."

     


    Stanley got it immediately. Our plan was that I'd make the case and he'd play back-up if necessary. My boss bought the concept; there was nothing to lose. Business was well below average for a major release. And I was the film's designated point man, having Kubrick's trust. Advertising layouts were ordered immediately. But when the mock-ups arrived, I was shaken. Instead of an editorial look, the Monitor reprint was contained within the standard corporate information: MGM credits and the distinctive unfolding Cinerama logo fought the copy. It was too radical to remove the studio's corporate identity. The intended impact would be lost.
     

    Stanley made his move. Privately, he went to the studio bosses to talk about the film's future openings, saw the mock-ups, and walked out with the layout we wanted - his calm logic prevailing. The advertising agency also delivered with placement. On Sunday, the piece appeared opposite the New York Times' main film page, making it look like a two-page editorial spread. There was nothing stating it was a paid ad. On Thursday, it ran opposite Sarris' lengthy negative review in the Village Voice. The campaign to turn the tide was engaged.
     

    During the next four years, from the release of 2001, through its relaunch a year later with my "Ultimate Trip"/Starchild campaign, and the release of A Clockwork Orange (Stanley had asked me to leave MGM to work directly with him), we talked and strategised film distribution daily. We remained in close contact afterwards, watching Barry Lyndon with the American ratings chief in the large Shepperton screening room with his newly completed print; I visited the set of The Shining and later tried to persuade him to change the ad and slogan; I called him after seeing Full Metal Jacket to say I broke down at the visceral impact of the graveside scene, because my mother had died months before (he said, "There's nothing worse; it's like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer"). From then on periodically - I'd get a call and we'd speak for an hour or more as if it were yesterday.
     
    https://www.theguardian.com/film/2007/nov/02/marketingandpr

    Kubrick wanted to shape every aspect of the film’s [CLOCKWORK] reception. “He had people going to the cinemas where it was going to be shown to make sure that the screens were clean,” remembers Castle. It was in the same spirit of absolute control that Kubrick sent his poster designer a statue from the Korova Milkbar so he could portray its dimensions correctly. On the decaying sculpture in Castle’s lounge rests a bowler hat. This too is an original prop from the film given to him so he could get the curve of its brim just right.
     

    It was logical that a film so richly designed should also take art into the cinema lobby and on to the streets. Kubrick and his team published a mock newspaper, The Clockwork Times, for which Castle created some of his best works – lurid paintings of images from the film that dwell on its sex and violence. He has a photograph of his young family proudly posing under a huge billboard version of his poster on a London street. Yet the powerful publicity campaign in which he played such a central part backfired.

     

    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/07/stanley-kubrick-and-me-designing-clockwork-orange-poster




    And, of course, Kubrick was fascinated by commercials:

    TV commercials have figured that out. Leave content out of it, and some of the most spectacular examples of film art are in the best TV commercials. [For example:] the Michelob commercials. I'm a pro football fan, and I have videotapes of the games sent over to me, commercials and all. Last year Michelob did a series, just impressions of people having a good time -- The big city at night -- And the editing, the photography, was some of the most brilliant work I've ever seen. Forget what they're doing -- selling beer -- and it's visual poetry. Incredible eight-frame cuts. And you realize that in thirty seconds they've created an impression of something rather complex. If you could ever tell a story, something with some content, using that kind of visual poetry, you could handle vastly more complex and subtle material.
     
    Stanley Kubrick, 1987

    http://shotcontext.blogspot.com/2012/07/stanley-kubricks-favorite-commercial.html

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Kubrick was very interested in publicity and marketing:

    But there’s a difference. Kubrick had to be strategic because he wanted to work on big projects and do it his own way. If Allen is like Mozart who happily composed many symphonies, some great and others not so great, Kubrick was like Beethoven who composed only nine symphonies but each to his standards of perfection. Still, movies are expensive and must make money. Barry Lyndon, though a great film, nearly destroyed Kubrick. So, he sought out projects where he could maximize his artistic freedom while keeping it bankable. If Allen’s movie fails at the box office, it’s no great loss. If a Kubrick film fails, it’s a lot of money down the sinkhole. So, Kubrick sought out big-name stars like Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. Or he made movies with some genre appeal, like sci-fi, horror, and war movie.

    That said, once the project began, Kubrick worked with a great deal of patience and was making movies for the ages than for the moment. He completely immersed himself in the work. He didn’t care if the movie didn’t win awards or immediate recognition among critics. And over time, Barry Lyndon has come to be recognized as a great work of art. And The Shining, though initially met with mixed reviews, came to be regarded as one of the greatest horrors.

    In contrast, Stone was far more involved in the Moment.

  117. @Steve Sailer
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    In the Welles out-take I've heard, everything he says about what's wrong with the copy he is supposed to read makes perfect sense. After all, he's Orson Welles. He knows more than anybody else involved about what words on paper will sound like when spoken.

    Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Bardon Kaldian, @MEH 0910

    Welles was a larger than life character of near-genius whose legacy is, so it seems, destined to remain in the region of myth & then to be gradually forgotten and marginalized- unless some unseen Muses intervene….

    Personally, I think of him as as the more gifted Cagliostro, along with other overrated people & categories (celebrities, Columbus, French & Italian cuisine, healthy life-style, JFK (person), Churchill, computer programmers, athletes, pundits, The Beatles, Soviet post WW2 tanks, global Shakespeare’s & Einstein’s reputation, Islamic Golden Age, Woodstock, Citizen Kane, depth of classical German Idealism, Cold war, Moon landing, opera, New Age, India in past 100 years, Latin lover stereotype, actors, post-modernism, progress of medicine in past 50 years, Tom cruise, Northern Irish troubles, American Congress, European political elites, Rothschilds, rap, Reagan’s Star wars, ….

  118. @Bardon Kaldian
    One small thing to add: Steve is, I think, wrong when he ascribes to the media & cultural-political climate too much.

    JFK was financially a success & Stone was called to testify before the Congress (weirdness of American politics). Mel Gibson was reviled by Jewish neurotic identitarians for his Passion, which was a huge commercial success, followed by financially successful Apocalypto. Liberal boneheads crucified Eastwood's American Sniper - but it rolled over all of them.

    So, it, when it's not artsy-fartsy types like Chantal Ackerman (whose ass & tits I've been watching, masochistically, for hours just to see if there is anything in her films)-it all comes down to money.

    No neocon, woke, Jewish, feminist, homo ... mafia & cultural media climate can undermine a good movie that resonates with something deeper in the audience. And if it makes bucks. It is just that Stone, Gibson, Eastwood (OK, this is age) had said what they wanted to say...and that's it.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin

    JFK was financially a success & Stone was called to testify before the Congress (weirdness of American politics).

    The movie was also critical in getting Congress to pass The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992,” which released countless records related to the assassination that were not due to be made public until 2039.

    JFK is perhaps the most influential piece of filmic propaganda to ever be put out by Hollywood since Birth of a Nation. It reinvigorated the movement of conspiracy theorists who study JFK’s assassination with Talmudic intensity by bringing in fresh recruits for a new generation.

    The film is complete bullshit as history, but that doesn’t mean it was ineffective as propaganda.

  119. Anonymous[287] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous
    Yes, Welles alienated everybody. It was his most serious character flaw. This FY attitude was probably an asset early on. He likely couldn't have made Kane without it. But it made him many enemies, first in Hollywood, later elsewhere. This caused him a lot of problems.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Welles alienated everybody… This FY attitude was probably an asset early on. He likely couldn’t have made Kane without it. But it made him many enemies, first in Hollywood, later elsewhere. This caused him a lot of problems.

    But plenty of film-makers, producers, and actors were vain and difficult, pain in the ass to work with. John Ford often insulted John Wayne and was sometimes drunk out of his mind. Hitchcock also made enemies, and many later told bitter tales.

    The real problem with Welles was Hollywood simply had no use for his kind of movies. Even if Welles had been so friendly and kindly with everyone, the movie industry was simply not interested in what he wanted to do. And in Europe, his projects were too big for adequate financing. With few exceptions, like Fellini with La Dolce Vita and Visconti with The Leopard(a huge flop), European directors mostly made do with small projects. Bergman lasted as long as he did because he made small personal films that, on average, were 90 min.
    Welles’ imagination could be brought to fruition only with the scale provided by Hollywood. But Hollywood was too square and conventional. He found a more appreciative audience in Europe, but Europeans didn’t have the means and funds to help him realize his big-idea projects. This makes some of his later films fascinating. Mr. Arkadin, The Trial, and Chimes at Midnight are Big Concept works made under indie-production values. It’s like a great chef preparing a feast with second-rate ingredients. Still, what marvels. Creativity goes a long way.

  120. @SunBakedSuburb
    @68W58

    The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is John Ford's best film. The source material and Henry Fonda's performance are the reasons for its success. Ford's westerns are hokey. And John Wayne is an unconvincing cowboy. A friend of mine said Ford's westerns work if you view them as white American mythology.

    Replies: @68W58

    Well I’ve never heard “The Searchers” called “hokey” before and it consistently ranks in the top 5 of AFI’s list of westerns. “Mister Roberts” is a great character driven film and so is “The Quiet Man”, which also has great cinematography. Ford was great as a cinematographer, as David Lean admitted that he copied Ford’s approach to using great landscapes in filming “Lawrence of Arabia”.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @68W58

    Well I’ve never heard “The Searchers” called “hokey” before and it consistently ranks in the top 5 of AFI’s list of westerns.

    The Searchers is plenty hokey, and that's a good thing. Ford's humor was not sophisticated, and he often repeated the same boorish gags. His Westerns are full of folksy sentimentality. He made movies before things had to be 'cool'.

    Many scenes with Marty, the guitar-strummer, and Old Mose are hokey but in a good way. It feels like 'home', life down on the farm. Some of that Old MacDonald Had a Farm, eah eah oh.

    In the later Westerns, people are more aloof, the violence is more over-the-top, heroes are more cool, and style dominates. Or some hipster sensibility. Ford wasn't afraid to be old-fashioned and make movies that appealed as much to grampy and granny as to the young ones.

    True, Searchers is highly regarded by cinephiles and even the intellectual community, but its real strength is as folkish popular entertainment for Middle America. And they don't make them like they used to. The scene where Mrs. Jorgenson talks about Texicans is good ole common folk wisdom about life. Hokily, the husband says, "She was a school teacher, you know." Directors today would blush to include a scene like that. But Ford did it happily and good for him.

    Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose

  121. @Anonymous
    @68W58

    Five great movies for John Ford?!? Good Lord man... The man is probably the greatest director of westerns to have ever lived.

    I see your point. The movies you listed could be considered as great, but 'great' is a big word. What is great as Hollywood entertainment may not be great as art. So, while John Ford made many great Hollywood movies, he probably made just a handful of movies that would be great by standards of art.

    "Grapes of Wrath" is well done and works as popular cinema, but how does it compare with the novel? Or with truly wrenching works like La Terra Trema? For the most part, it sticks to conventions. "Young Mr. Lincoln" is a fine work of folkish propaganda, but you won't learn much about the Lincoln the real man. It's myth-making.

    Replies: @68W58

    I once read that Stephen King doesn’t like the movie “The Shining”, which is all well and good, but that Stanley Kubrick does and he made the movie based on his vision, not King’s. Now, the film is based on the novel and the two are obviously related but what one artist does with a piece of work is different than what another artist would do (see, for example, both versions of “True Grit”). So I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare the film “The Grapes of Wrath” to the book. The movie usually fares poorly in comparison to the source book, but filmmaking is a different art form and has to be evaluated in a different way. Ford, and other filmmakers, have to tell the story in a much different way than does an author and I think he deserves a lot of credit for the works he brought to the big screen.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @68W58

    I once read that Stephen King doesn’t like the movie “The Shining”, which is all well and good, but that Stanley Kubrick does and he made the movie based on his vision, not King’s.

    That dummy is just sour because Kubrick turned trash into treasure.

    Replies: @Anonymous

  122. Anonymous[509] • Disclaimer says:
    @Pincher Martin
    This is surprising to read:

    [Stone] mentions a couple of casting regrets: Tom Cruise would have been ideal for his 1987 Wall Street (he ended up going back to his Platoon star Charlie Sheen), but Cruise was waiting around for Dustin Hoffman to start filming Rain Man. In turn, while Cruise was fine in Stone’s 1989 Born on the Fourth of July as wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, Stone regrets that few ever saw Al Pacino’s rehearsals in the late 1970s for a Born that was called off for lack of financing.
     
    I thought Cruise was incredible in Born on the Fourth of July (and Sheen nearly as good in Wall Street). He carried the movie. The strength of the movie depends entirely on Cruise making his role of Ron Kovic come alive. That role was Cruise's first in which he doesn't merely tag along as other great actors (Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman) show him how to carry a scene in a serious movie, but he has to carry nearly every scene off by himself. And he did. I'd say Cruise's performance was better than the actual movie.

    Pacino couldn't have done it nearly as well. Too ethnic and too old. Even in the mid-seventies, Pacino was in his mid-thirties. Cruise, by contrast, was twenty-five or twenty-six when filming Born on the Fourth of July and since the first thirty minutes of the movie portrays the young idealistic Kovic before he joined the Marines, the actor needed to be able to convincingly play a high school kid for nearly the first quarter of the film.

    Could a thirty-five-year-old-plus Pacino have done that? Maybe, but I have my doubts. Certainly, by the late eighties, it was out of the question.

    Sheen was also quite good in Wall Street, but less important to the success of a movie which depended almost entirely on the strength of Michael Douglas's performance of Gordon Gecko. While I'm sure Cruise would've been quite good in the Sheen role, I don't think it would have made much difference to the movie.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous

    I thought Cruise was incredible in Born on the Fourth of July (and Sheen nearly as good in Wall Street). He carried the movie. The strength of the movie depends entirely on Cruise making his role of Ron Kovic come alive

    It’s one of those A-for-effort roles. Cruise was never a great actor, and one might say he strains in Born on Fourth, but that over-eager earnestness conveys Kovic’s naive All-American self into red, white, and blue. Cruise’s desperate effort to be a Great Actor parallels Kovic’s sincere devotion to be a Great Patriot. In the first half of the movie, Cruise does Audie Murphy and the second half, he does Voigt in Coming Home.
    The most interesting thing about the movie is it didn’t sugarcoat the nastiness of the black staff at the veteran’s hospital. In some ways, it was more harrowing than scenes in the battle field. Out of the jungle, into the jungle.

    It’s an interesting role because Cruise plays both type and against-type. He’s the same old Tom Cruise, the over-enthused hot shot in All the Right Moves and Top Gun. But as the movie is about disillusionment of the dream, Cruise has to meet the challenge of playing against type and does reasonably well, though to the very end, he doesn’t so much grow into manhood as shift his boyhood obsession from war hero to war martyr. (Though Sean Penn was much lauded for Casualties of War, I thought Michael J. Fox held his own and then some by making goodness a matter of strength and conviction than self-righteous posturing.)

    Pacino couldn’t have done it nearly as well.

    Stone has to be kidding the reader. The idea is so far-fetched that he couldn’t have been serious. Was he thinking of Pacino in Cruising where a straight cop comes face to face with pathology of the homo world? Pacino did a creditable job in the much maligned Revolution, but he always came across as too smart and knowing to believe in Audie Murphy and heroism. Even in The Godfather, Michael joined the military not so much because he was into red, white, and blue but because he wanted to his own man than have his destiny decided by his father and others. In contrast, Kovic in the movie is someone without a proper sense of self.

    Sheen was also quite good in Wall Street… While I’m sure Cruise would’ve been quite good in the Sheen role, I don’t think it would have made much difference to the movie.

    Cruise already did Wall Street. It was called Risky Business, a better film.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    @Anonymous

    I think Cruise is a highly underrated actor. He's certainly well above average among Hollywood's leading men. I'd put him above Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford and many other handsome leading stars of the eighties and nineties. I don't think he started off that way. But Cruise's determined focus early on in developing his acting career paid off with him working with great directors & actors, and getting some choice roles, before he was thirty. That early experience seems to have eventually helped him to develop into a pretty good actor. Cruise was not a great actor in Risky Business or Top Gun or Cocktail or even The Color of Money (probably his best acting before Born on the Fourth of July).

    The first half-hour of Born on the Fourth of July was just Cruise melding together variations of the same Cruise he had always played before - the sometimes overeager, sometimes naive, sometimes playful American boy that America had grown to love, but with Stone giving him more of an ideological edge than Cruise had ever previously shown in any other role.

    But the final two-thirds of the movie required much more from Cruise than he had ever demonstrated. I can still remember two scenes from Born of the Fourth of July that showed Cruise's extending his acting range.

    The most memorable was the wheelchair fight between Cruise's Kovic and William DaFoe's Charlie which leads to Kovic's short cathartic speech at the end that was incredibly moving ("Do you remember when things made sense. Before we all got so lost.").

    The other was much briefer, but no less affecting and it showed what Cruise could convey with just a look. Cruise's Kovic was returning to a Mexican bordello after he had just had a reviving sexual encounter with a Mexican señorita, hoping to meet her again. He had fallen in love with the idea of her, and so he had brought a gift for their second encounter. But as he sees her come down the stairs with another client, looking much dirtier and less attractive than he remembered, his smile freezes and he pockets the gift. Such a tiny and seemingly insignificant scene, but one Cruise pulled off very well.

    Replies: @Anonymous

  123. @The Wild Geese Howard
    @Dave Pinsen

    I think an argument can be made that Wall Street is the best mid/late 80s period piece, and possibly one of the all-time great period pieces.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    “Wall Street” came out in December 1987 only about 6 weeks after Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities,” which had been exciting for how much there was about newly Masters of the Universe bond traders. So Wall Street was a rare period piece of the moment. To put it in perspective, Michael Lewis’s “Liar’s Poker” was the first bestselling nonfiction book by somebody who had worked on Wall Street in the 1980s, and it didn’t come out until a year or two after the movie Wall Street. It’s a lot easier to get a memoir published than to get a movie made.

    So “Wall Street” hit that sweet spot that IIRC journalist A.J. Liebling boasted of: nobody who is faster is better and nobody who is better is faster.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
    @Steve Sailer


    So “Wall Street” hit that sweet spot that IIRC journalist A.J. Liebling boasted of: nobody who is faster is better and nobody who is better is faster.
     
    It also came out less than two months after Black Monday:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Monday_(1987)

    I don't think Wall Street's release could have been timed more perfectly.

    Stewart Copeland, the drummer for the Police, also did an excellent job with his score for the film:

    https://youtu.be/PkCnTxpBab0

    https://youtu.be/9nrnIgefCSw
  124. Anonymous[556] • Disclaimer says:
    @68W58
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Well I’ve never heard “The Searchers” called “hokey” before and it consistently ranks in the top 5 of AFI’s list of westerns. “Mister Roberts” is a great character driven film and so is “The Quiet Man”, which also has great cinematography. Ford was great as a cinematographer, as David Lean admitted that he copied Ford’s approach to using great landscapes in filming “Lawrence of Arabia”.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Well I’ve never heard “The Searchers” called “hokey” before and it consistently ranks in the top 5 of AFI’s list of westerns.

    The Searchers is plenty hokey, and that’s a good thing. Ford’s humor was not sophisticated, and he often repeated the same boorish gags. His Westerns are full of folksy sentimentality. He made movies before things had to be ‘cool’.

    Many scenes with Marty, the guitar-strummer, and Old Mose are hokey but in a good way. It feels like ‘home’, life down on the farm. Some of that Old MacDonald Had a Farm, eah eah oh.

    In the later Westerns, people are more aloof, the violence is more over-the-top, heroes are more cool, and style dominates. Or some hipster sensibility. Ford wasn’t afraid to be old-fashioned and make movies that appealed as much to grampy and granny as to the young ones.

    True, Searchers is highly regarded by cinephiles and even the intellectual community, but its real strength is as folkish popular entertainment for Middle America. And they don’t make them like they used to. The scene where Mrs. Jorgenson talks about Texicans is good ole common folk wisdom about life. Hokily, the husband says, “She was a school teacher, you know.” Directors today would blush to include a scene like that. But Ford did it happily and good for him.

    • Thanks: 68W58
    • Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose
    @Anonymous

    Also the color-drenched VistaVision widescreen. It holds up on small screen, but Turner put in in theaters and it was spectacular.

  125. @J.Ross
    @68W58

    It came out during a time when every movie (even science fiction) was about Vietnam and most TV shows paid lip service; even pop songs got sucked in. In that situation it managed to stand out as totally original and distinct. Its characterizations are probably its weakest part but the casting is perfect.

    Replies: @68W58

    There’s a lot to what you say, but I still think it’s overrated. We were told at the time that it was very “realistic” and that Vietnam vets were breaking down in tears at the theater. Well my Vietnam vet relatives weren’t especially impressed and I thought it was somewhat overwrought in terms of storytelling. Many of the actors are great, but, aside from the scene where Willem Dafoe is killed, is there any scene that stands out visually? Is there a single line of quotable dialogue? It isn’t fair to compare most directors to Stanley Kubrick, but I ask readers to think of “Full Metal Jacket” a contemporary of “Platoon” and think about which one holds up better over time. Several scenes in FMJ spring readily to mind, both in terms of visuals and dialogue-same time frame and subject but it seems to me that Full Metal Jacket is a vastly superior film.

    • Agree: Ghost of Bull Moose
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @68W58

    I saw "Platoon" opening weekend and haven't seen it since. It's much less memorable in my mind than Kubrick's movie. But ... Stone got "Platoon" out a year earlier than "Full Metal Jacket."

    , @J.Ross
    @68W58

    >overwrought in terms of storytelling
    Yes, absolutely.
    >FMJ
    Be aware that the boot camp suicide sequence is not in either of the books claimed as sources, nor anywhere else American. The iconic and marine-defaming scene is very, very close to a depiction -- of Imperial Japanese basic training, in the ten hour long (seriously) centrist epic The Human Condition. Generations of people have accepted the extreme horror story as fictitious-yet-representative, when Kubrick took it from a completely different situation. There was hazing and overpunishment in 60s marine basic training, but obviously Imperial Japan was on another level.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

  126. Anonymous[337] • Disclaimer says:

    The test of a man’s talent is what he can do with limited resources. Napoleon’s genius wasn’t much in evidence when he was commanding vast armies at the peak of his career. He would just crush his opponents with overwhelming force. Anyone can do that. It was at the beginning and very end of his career, when he had only small forces at his disposal, that you really see the brilliance of the man.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    @Anonymous

    One of the best Napoleon stories is right at the start of his career. Inter-revolutionary governments in Paris were doing a terrible job of running things and suffered arbitrary restrictions, at the same time that riots and little revolutions were breaking out. Napoleon got mentioned by a comrade to the powers that were and was asked for a sample plan. He demanded leeway to do what he wanted, then explained how he would defuse the situation without excess damage, then proceeded to do exactly what he had described with total success. It was actually more complex than scaring off rioters with grapeshot as the quote goes.

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @Anonymous

    Absolutely wrong. Napoleon was s super-human genius.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20821092-napoleon

  127. @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara


    Stone is that he’s very self-absorbed in his own Boomer world. This worked well when Boomers were so dominant in pop culture, but it causes his films to age very badly when viewed out of the Boomer-world view. Take his disaster Alexander; utterly failed at the box office and finally killed Colin Farrell’s chances of being a leading man... he made a comment about how “Everyone grew up seeing these black-and-white crap documentaries in school where Alexander steps out and gives a boring monologue about his accomplishments, and I wanted to do something different.” As a non-Boomer, I laughed. Clearly Stone was referencing his own childhood experience, and not the experience of anyone who wasn’t a Boomer.
     
    Alexander failed because it was a shapeless mess. Also, it was too complex for mass audience and too simpleminded for serious viewers. It is both a singular vision of a strong cinematic personality and pandering to what Stone(and Hollywood) would work with the mass audiences. But then, Troy has the same problem. It's both too smart for the dummies and too dumb for the smarties. It did better at the box office because its was dumber and had Brad Pitt(and had a simpler story), but I'm not sure it recouped its cost of $185 million.

    Alexander failed both commercially and artistically due to its lack of focus. Also, Stone went with his passion than sense. When working on a massive project, one needs the instincts of a general, not a rock star. But it was as if Stone wanted to make the movie like Alexander was conquering the world. With sheer will and inspiration. He should have planned it more carefully and then followed the script. Method-directing usually doesn't work. Apocalypse Now works best when Coppola has things under control but unravels when he wings it and improvises in search of an ending, as if the muse will present him the most inspiring solution.

    Scorsese is as much a boomer-mentality as Stone, but he's had a long illustrious career. Why? He has better focus and concentration. Also a more assured style and more perceptive understanding of cinema as art and expression. Scorsese mastered cinema as a sweet science. Stone is like a brawler who never got the 'science' of cinema. He often flailed away. When he lands, it's a mighty blow, but when he misses far more than connects, as in Alexander(and all through Natural Born Killers), it's painful to watch, like Oscar Bonavena, a powerful puncher who lacked grace. So much wasted energy. Still, the brawler Stone, which maybe ended with Alexander, had an element of passion. In contrast, while Wall Street Money Never Sleeps and Edward Snowden were made with proficiency, they lack the wild energy that made his earlier movies exciting.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @R.G. Camara, @Dave Pinsen

    Stone enrolled as an overage undergrad on the GI Bill in the NYU film school. The first time he ever got much of an endorsement that his creative ambitions were reasonable was when he made a short about a Vietnam vet for his NYU class. When it was over, the young professor said, “Now that’s a filmmaker!” That professor was a then still unknown Martin Scorsese.

    Unfortunately, Stone muffs this anecdote by introducing Scorsese a few pages before. In general, Stone tells his own story without working to increase the impact of his anecdotes, whereas back in the 1980s, he was really good at putting incidents in the right order for maximum dramatic effect, like James Woods going to confession in the Murder in the Cathedral sequence in “Salvador.”

    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
    @Steve Sailer

    Interesting how there's a parallel to how, as people age into senior citizen status, their verbal stories become far less powerful. They start rambling on and either assume you know who they're talking about or forget to explain key points and then keep going after they should be done. And then they repeat themselves.

    "Oh, Grandpa's telling that old story again...."

  128. @Bardon Kaldian
    @Art Deco

    It is absurd if I need to prove the existence of single-bullet theory (and sheer lunacy of it in any variant). Go see for yourself.

    Right wing coup firmly established MIC, more than ever before & sent the Deep State message to every further POTUS: Don't mess with us, or- else...

    Even Soviets sensed there was something more....https://www.rferl.org/a/soviets-claimed-us-right-wing-lyndon-johnson-behind-kennedy-assassination-files-show/28820677.html

    Soviets Claimed U.S. Right Wing Was Behind Kennedy Assassination, Files Show

    While the FBI was investigating possible involvement of the Soviet Union in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Soviet authorities were voicing suspicions that U.S. right-wing groups -- and even Kennedy's own vice president -- were behind the killing, newly released documents show.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin

    There’s nothing magical about the “magic bullet” theory, and Stone’s illustrations in his film prove nothing since they are highly inaccurate in showing Connelly sitting directly in front of Kennedy when he was actually sitting somewhat to the left.

    The inaccurate illustration (similar to what is shown in JFK):

    https://frankwarner.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451cd3769e201156fbfc775970c-500wi

    Where Kennedy and Connelly were actually sitting on November 22nd, 1963:

    https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fqph.fs.quoracdn.net%2Fmain-qimg-00d0cf75f46f319ce256a1a0d4613979-c&f=1&nofb=1

  129. @68W58
    @J.Ross

    There’s a lot to what you say, but I still think it’s overrated. We were told at the time that it was very “realistic” and that Vietnam vets were breaking down in tears at the theater. Well my Vietnam vet relatives weren’t especially impressed and I thought it was somewhat overwrought in terms of storytelling. Many of the actors are great, but, aside from the scene where Willem Dafoe is killed, is there any scene that stands out visually? Is there a single line of quotable dialogue? It isn’t fair to compare most directors to Stanley Kubrick, but I ask readers to think of “Full Metal Jacket” a contemporary of “Platoon” and think about which one holds up better over time. Several scenes in FMJ spring readily to mind, both in terms of visuals and dialogue-same time frame and subject but it seems to me that Full Metal Jacket is a vastly superior film.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @J.Ross

    I saw “Platoon” opening weekend and haven’t seen it since. It’s much less memorable in my mind than Kubrick’s movie. But … Stone got “Platoon” out a year earlier than “Full Metal Jacket.”

  130. @Steve Sailer
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    In the Welles out-take I've heard, everything he says about what's wrong with the copy he is supposed to read makes perfect sense. After all, he's Orson Welles. He knows more than anybody else involved about what words on paper will sound like when spoken.

    Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Bardon Kaldian, @MEH 0910

    Obscure Audio 2: Orson Welles Outtakes – Frozen Peas

    [MORE]

    yes always

  131. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Steve Sailer

    Well it's possible to be right about something, petulant and drunk simultaneously. Lawd knows I've pulled off that particular hat trick. But, I never got around to making Citizen Kane, so there's that.

    Orson Welles complaining about the quality of the ad copy for a radio spot is a little like MFK Fisher complaining about a Big Mac.

    Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease

    Actually, now that I think of it, weirdly enough, I was once simultaneously drunk, petulant, and right about something, /while IN Orson Welles’s house!/. Well, the house he once lived in. Nice place.

  132. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Hodag

    Ugh, The Deer Hunter is just terrible. Overrated, over-produced nonsense. Russian roulette as a metaphor for Vietnam? WTF? And get this, the original script, with the whole Russian roulette theme, was set not in Vietnam, but in... Las Vegas.

    What drivel.

    Replies: @Abolish_public_education, @Rapparee

    Whilst watching the film, I quickly did the math on the odds of surviving that many rounds of Russian Roulette, and it immediately broke my suspension of disbelief. True, the movie drops a few hints that there is some kind of preternatural willpower-alters-reality effect at work, but it’s so half-baked and in contrast with the tone of the rest of the movie that it doesn’t really play.

    The Deer Hunter is really three totally different films spliced together, one good, one ludicrous, and one having potential but sorely underdeveloped- one’s a slice-of-life last-night-of-innocence flick loosely in the same genre as American Graffiti, one’s a weird dark magical-realist fantasy about Russian Roulette, and one is a meditation on how returning combat veterans sometimes have trouble reintegrating in society. As three different movies developed on their own terms, at least a couple of them might have worked. Together, a big hot mess.

  133. Anonymous[556] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim Christian
    @Anonymous

    Linklater? Steve, I gotta admit the truth, I had to go look up his particulars. So Linklater, his biggest work being Slackers and a remake of Bad News Bears is anything but a major falloff from Stone (Platoon, Midnight Express and a dozen others between screenplays and as movies-as-director, you know them all)? The comparison is anything but comparable. Lots of difference between early and late boomers in any case as regards mandated service in Vietnam. I was born three years before Linklater and I wasn't close to being drafted, even if I did join up and spend three years with these guys:
    http://www.seaforces.org/usnair/VA/Attack-Squadron-35-Dateien/image137.jpg

    Now, Linklater went into oil platforms (I'm assuming roughneck), those guys get cred for doing shit at least as risky (or insane) as my flight decks.

    So, all this said, Steve, what am I missing? Ron Howard, Opie and all, dwarfs Linklater. Of course, Howard escapes everyone's gaze, but what am I missing about Linklater? Just wonderin. I'd heard of him, but had no idea of his work. Yet, you plucked him from nowhere.

    NOT bustin' balls. But for a guy like you to think of him as regards Stone has me curious.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Linklater? … So Linklater, his biggest work being Slackers and a remake of Bad News Bears is anything but a major falloff from Stone (Platoon, Midnight Express and a dozen others between screenplays and as movies-as-director, you know them all)? Now, Linklater went into oil platforms (I’m assuming roughneck), those guys get cred for doing shit at least as risky (or insane) as my flight decks… Ron Howard, Opie and all, dwarfs Linklater.

    Linklater is ‘thoughtful and last of his breed’ in being more of a free-thinker, free spirit, and a man of varied interests. Also, he appreciates manhood(as well as other-hoods). He’s also deeply empathetic of all sides, even those he disagrees with. We saw that in Dazed and Confused, his best work. Slacker got him noticed, and he made some crowd pleasers like Bad News Bears, but even that movie wasn’t just for money but a tribute to the 70s when things were looser and more libertine, less hung up with PC and speech codes and so many rules about everything. Back then, the idea of making the entire nation wear masks would have been laughable. Because Linklater was both jock, brain, and arty type, he has a broad perspective. In contrast, many film-makers of his generation seem to be forever fighting the high school war against the jocks, mean girls, or whatever. Linklater, though not without judgement, accepts them all as part of humanity. It’s far less formulaic.

    In contrast, Todd Solondnz sees humanity as a puss. Alexander Payne focuses on hypocrisy. Smarmy David O Russell likes to mock everyone(though American Hustle was a great improvement). P.T. Anderson is a hopeless sap for his epic grandstanding. Linklater, at least at his best, just sees people as they are. Even someone you hate can be cool with someone you admire. The tapestry of life in Dazed and Confused is truly rich. Clint the nasty bully to one kid could be a pretty cool guy with other kids.

    And he’s tried different things. He experimented with live-action animation in Waking Life and Scanner Darkly. He did film-plays with Tape. Me and Orson Welles is a first-rate movie about the theater world. I didn’t care for Boyhood but it was thoughtful and done with lots of love.

    In Everyone Wants Some, he’s not afraid put male culture, warts and all, on full display.
    He’s not in this mode of the ever-resentful beta-male forever thrashing away at the Frat Boys or Big Men on the Campus. Too many film-makers are geeks who are either afraid of manhood(and mock and subvert it) or can celebrate only as cartoonish superhero fantasies. So, there’s so much anti-male stuff(often from other males, just like females often rag on other females) and so much fantasy-male stuff but not much real male stuff. (Superhero fantasy male stuff is really a geek fantasy, e.g. nerd Peter Park gets bitten by spider and can beat up everyone; Clark Kent the dork turn into Superman, etc). Linklater seems one of the few directors who are comfortable with normal virile manhood. He gets on with nerds and jocks. And that’s cool.

    Michael Mann, older director, is also pretty cool with real manhood.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @Anonymous

    Jonathan Demme?

    Replies: @Anonymous

  134. @syonredux
    @Captain Tripps


    like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court.
     
    Yeah, Franklin, the life-long urbanite (Boston, Philadelphia, London, Paris) play-acting as a son of the frontier was definitely one of his better jokes.But, as Melville notes in Israel Potter, Franklin was something of a genius at shape-shifting:

    Having carefully weighed the world, Franklin could act any part in it. By nature turned to knowledge, his mind was often grave, but never serious. At times he had seriousness—­extreme seriousness—­for others, but never for himself. Tranquillity was to him instead of it. This philosophical levity of tranquillity, so to speak, is shown in his easy variety of pursuits. Printer, postmaster, almanac maker, essayist, chemist, orator, tinker, statesman, humorist, philosopher, parlor man, political economist, professor of housewifery, ambassador, projector, maxim-monger, herb-doctor, wit:—­Jack of all trades, master of each and mastered by none—­the type and genius of his land.
     

    Replies: @R.G. Camara, @Captain Tripps

    syon, agree button isn’t working on mobile device; agree and thanks.

  135. Anonymous[371] • Disclaimer says:
    @68W58
    @Anonymous

    I once read that Stephen King doesn’t like the movie “The Shining”, which is all well and good, but that Stanley Kubrick does and he made the movie based on his vision, not King’s. Now, the film is based on the novel and the two are obviously related but what one artist does with a piece of work is different than what another artist would do (see, for example, both versions of “True Grit”). So I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare the film “The Grapes of Wrath” to the book. The movie usually fares poorly in comparison to the source book, but filmmaking is a different art form and has to be evaluated in a different way. Ford, and other filmmakers, have to tell the story in a much different way than does an author and I think he deserves a lot of credit for the works he brought to the big screen.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    I once read that Stephen King doesn’t like the movie “The Shining”, which is all well and good, but that Stanley Kubrick does and he made the movie based on his vision, not King’s.

    That dummy is just sour because Kubrick turned trash into treasure.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Anonymous

    King ripped off "Burnt Offerings" for that story anyway. I bet the original author was pretty bummed at all the money King/Kubrick made off of it.

  136. @68W58
    @J.Ross

    There’s a lot to what you say, but I still think it’s overrated. We were told at the time that it was very “realistic” and that Vietnam vets were breaking down in tears at the theater. Well my Vietnam vet relatives weren’t especially impressed and I thought it was somewhat overwrought in terms of storytelling. Many of the actors are great, but, aside from the scene where Willem Dafoe is killed, is there any scene that stands out visually? Is there a single line of quotable dialogue? It isn’t fair to compare most directors to Stanley Kubrick, but I ask readers to think of “Full Metal Jacket” a contemporary of “Platoon” and think about which one holds up better over time. Several scenes in FMJ spring readily to mind, both in terms of visuals and dialogue-same time frame and subject but it seems to me that Full Metal Jacket is a vastly superior film.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @J.Ross

    >overwrought in terms of storytelling
    Yes, absolutely.
    >FMJ
    Be aware that the boot camp suicide sequence is not in either of the books claimed as sources, nor anywhere else American. The iconic and marine-defaming scene is very, very close to a depiction — of Imperial Japanese basic training, in the ten hour long (seriously) centrist epic The Human Condition. Generations of people have accepted the extreme horror story as fictitious-yet-representative, when Kubrick took it from a completely different situation. There was hazing and overpunishment in 60s marine basic training, but obviously Imperial Japan was on another level.

    • Thanks: utu
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @J.Ross

    Japanese WWII pilot training involved lots of beatings of trainee pilots. Not surprisingly, the U.S. trained a whole lot more adequate pilots during WWII than did the Japanese.

    Replies: @J.Ross, @J.Ross

  137. @Anonymous
    The test of a man's talent is what he can do with limited resources. Napoleon's genius wasn't much in evidence when he was commanding vast armies at the peak of his career. He would just crush his opponents with overwhelming force. Anyone can do that. It was at the beginning and very end of his career, when he had only small forces at his disposal, that you really see the brilliance of the man.

    Replies: @J.Ross, @Bardon Kaldian

    One of the best Napoleon stories is right at the start of his career. Inter-revolutionary governments in Paris were doing a terrible job of running things and suffered arbitrary restrictions, at the same time that riots and little revolutions were breaking out. Napoleon got mentioned by a comrade to the powers that were and was asked for a sample plan. He demanded leeway to do what he wanted, then explained how he would defuse the situation without excess damage, then proceeded to do exactly what he had described with total success. It was actually more complex than scaring off rioters with grapeshot as the quote goes.

    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
    @J.Ross

    Best story about Napoleon I heard was after a battle, he would walk through the various encampments of his troops, ask for the soldier who had done the bravest deed or was the most wounded, sit with the man and listen to his story, and then, his face filled with emotion, he would rip a medal off his own chest and put it on the man, and loudly declaim how wonderful the man was to his comrades.

    The troops would be moved by this and cheer.

    Then at the next camp a dozen yards away he would do the same for another solider, until every group thought Napoleon had personally blessed them with his own medals.

    In truth, Napoleon had a whole chest full of fake medals he would clamp to his chest before beginning this charade to give away in fake emotion, all to rouse the troops' morale and make himself their hero.

    He reportedly said something like, "A man will crawl through a hundred yards of shit and get shot a dozen times for a small hunk of crap medal and a cheap ribbon."

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

  138. @Abolish_public_education
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    What metaphor?

    A Vietnam Vet-friend remembers seeing the game (but not the betting).

    I loved Any Given Sunday.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @The Germ Theory of Disease

    I’m sure your Vietnam-vet friend did in fact see that, but that was his own personal experience. Cimino clearly tries to use it as a metaphor for Vietnam, and it’s ludicrous. IOW, Russian roulette takes place in many venues — brothels, safe houses, back alleys, who knows where — but that doesn’t make it a metaphor for those things. Cimino seems to believe he’s Saying Something Important, when he’s either bluffing or confused about his subject.

    The script that the movie is originally based on was set in Las Vegas, where Russian roulette was the ultimate kick for gambling addicts who can’t get their highs from ordinary gambling any more. Thats not even a metaphor, it’s just an interesting observation. The guys in The Deer Hunter joined up for a sense of duty, not for kicks. So it makes no sense on a personal level, and as a political insight, it’s gibberish. Cimino was bluffing.

  139. Anonymous[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Art Deco
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the “magic bullet theory”,

    He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people.

    And there was no 'magic bullet theory'. Josiah Thompson promoted the notion that the Specter model was unworkable. Thompson got the idea in his head that his own schematic drawing of the vehicle and its occupants was accurate. It was not. Gov. Connolly was seated on a meridian about six inches to Kennedy's left and his body was about three inches closer to the ground (he being in a jumpseat).

    Your 'right-wing coup' replaced one mainstream Democrat with a different mainstream Democrat, a man with more populist sympathies and with a different skill set (better at manipulating politicians, worse at public relations). Heckuva job.

    Replies: @James O'Meara, @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous, @JohnnyWalker123, @David In TN

    I read Garrison’s book long before I saw the movie. Garrison was just a nasty opportunist who should have gone to prison and been disbarred for what he did to the totally innocent Clay Shaw. The county should have been held liable for Shaw’s legal defense fees and heavy punitive damages for what the county employee Garrison did to Shaw.

    Garrison had no evidence, not even circumstantial evidence against Clay Shaw. Shaw was a tall White man with white hair and Oswald was once seen with a tall white haired White man. Shaw renovated houses and gentrified the French Quarter. Shaw was on the board of directors of an oil company. Shaw was on the board of directors of the port of New Orleans.

    The problem with the movie is that it was based on Garrison’s baseless theories. The last scenes were ridiculous even in the context of movie trials. Costner’s lines were just rambling “
    “ there must have been some kind of conspiracy and Shaw did something to further the conspiracy.”

    Shaw was rightfully acquitted in less than an hour.

    Garrison’s attack on Shaw was as criminal and just plain opportunistic viciousness as James Field’s arrest and 400 year sentence for hitting a member of the mob that attacked his car and him.

    Read the book before you believe Shaw was guilty of conspiring to kill JFK.

    I’m a boomer. And I well remember the Kennedy publicity machine starting about 4 years before Kennedy was elected. My parents subscribed to several magazines. Kennedy’s were on the faces of the magazines for years. Then he was elected and the Camelot myth began.
    Boomers were teens and younger children, some in their early 20s.

    JFK was just another mediocre President with an attractive wife. Who by the way, got more publicity than he did. Because her clothes were more interesting than what Kennedy was doing.

    Whatever the truth about who was behind Kennedy’s assassination, Clay Shaw had nothing to do with it.

    The movie didn’t even emphasize the one defendant Garrison managed to prosecute. Just a lot of rambling generalized accusations

  140. @Anonymous
    @Pincher Martin

    I thought Cruise was incredible in Born on the Fourth of July (and Sheen nearly as good in Wall Street). He carried the movie. The strength of the movie depends entirely on Cruise making his role of Ron Kovic come alive

    It's one of those A-for-effort roles. Cruise was never a great actor, and one might say he strains in Born on Fourth, but that over-eager earnestness conveys Kovic's naive All-American self into red, white, and blue. Cruise's desperate effort to be a Great Actor parallels Kovic's sincere devotion to be a Great Patriot. In the first half of the movie, Cruise does Audie Murphy and the second half, he does Voigt in Coming Home.
    The most interesting thing about the movie is it didn't sugarcoat the nastiness of the black staff at the veteran's hospital. In some ways, it was more harrowing than scenes in the battle field. Out of the jungle, into the jungle.

    It's an interesting role because Cruise plays both type and against-type. He's the same old Tom Cruise, the over-enthused hot shot in All the Right Moves and Top Gun. But as the movie is about disillusionment of the dream, Cruise has to meet the challenge of playing against type and does reasonably well, though to the very end, he doesn't so much grow into manhood as shift his boyhood obsession from war hero to war martyr. (Though Sean Penn was much lauded for Casualties of War, I thought Michael J. Fox held his own and then some by making goodness a matter of strength and conviction than self-righteous posturing.)

    Pacino couldn’t have done it nearly as well.

    Stone has to be kidding the reader. The idea is so far-fetched that he couldn't have been serious. Was he thinking of Pacino in Cruising where a straight cop comes face to face with pathology of the homo world? Pacino did a creditable job in the much maligned Revolution, but he always came across as too smart and knowing to believe in Audie Murphy and heroism. Even in The Godfather, Michael joined the military not so much because he was into red, white, and blue but because he wanted to his own man than have his destiny decided by his father and others. In contrast, Kovic in the movie is someone without a proper sense of self.

    Sheen was also quite good in Wall Street... While I’m sure Cruise would’ve been quite good in the Sheen role, I don’t think it would have made much difference to the movie.

    Cruise already did Wall Street. It was called Risky Business, a better film.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin

    I think Cruise is a highly underrated actor. He’s certainly well above average among Hollywood’s leading men. I’d put him above Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford and many other handsome leading stars of the eighties and nineties. I don’t think he started off that way. But Cruise’s determined focus early on in developing his acting career paid off with him working with great directors & actors, and getting some choice roles, before he was thirty. That early experience seems to have eventually helped him to develop into a pretty good actor. Cruise was not a great actor in Risky Business or Top Gun or Cocktail or even The Color of Money (probably his best acting before Born on the Fourth of July).

    The first half-hour of Born on the Fourth of July was just Cruise melding together variations of the same Cruise he had always played before – the sometimes overeager, sometimes naive, sometimes playful American boy that America had grown to love, but with Stone giving him more of an ideological edge than Cruise had ever previously shown in any other role.

    But the final two-thirds of the movie required much more from Cruise than he had ever demonstrated. I can still remember two scenes from Born of the Fourth of July that showed Cruise’s extending his acting range.

    The most memorable was the wheelchair fight between Cruise’s Kovic and William DaFoe’s Charlie which leads to Kovic’s short cathartic speech at the end that was incredibly moving (“Do you remember when things made sense. Before we all got so lost.”).

    The other was much briefer, but no less affecting and it showed what Cruise could convey with just a look. Cruise’s Kovic was returning to a Mexican bordello after he had just had a reviving sexual encounter with a Mexican señorita, hoping to meet her again. He had fallen in love with the idea of her, and so he had brought a gift for their second encounter. But as he sees her come down the stairs with another client, looking much dirtier and less attractive than he remembered, his smile freezes and he pockets the gift. Such a tiny and seemingly insignificant scene, but one Cruise pulled off very well.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Pincher Martin

    I think Cruise is a highly underrated actor. He’s certainly well above average among Hollywood’s leading men.

    He did a fine job in BORN, but the effort shows. In contrast, look how Edward Norton does his magic. He disappears into the role almost effortlessly. And even though I don't like Matt Damon, there is a real intelligence in what he does. Bland boy can zelig in and out of roles. No wonder he was so good in Talented Mr. Ripley. And his brilliant performance in The Informant. He's almost as gifted as Seymour Philip Kaufman and with less showiness. And he works well with other actors, and this may be why Ford v Ferrari worked so well. Bale the 'American Psycho' is the kind of actor who must bend everything to his will. Damon can take lead but also tune into other personalities and egos. In that sense, Damon and Bale were perfectly cast. Damon plays someone who accepts reality and plays the diplomat whereas Bale plays a guy who must do everything his way. Both are strong in their own ways but in different ways.

    Cruise can be a real actor but is really star material. And Brad Pitt does best as co-actor. Despite his alpha-male stature, his personality lights up only in reaction to another, as in Fight Club and Once Upon Hollywood. He's like a flint stone that needs another stone to create sparks. In contrast, the immensely likable Cruise can light up a scene all on his own.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin, @Pincher Martin

  141. @Mr. Anon
    I know that Platoon was a deeply personal movie for Stone, so I don't begrudge him having made it how he saw fit, however I found the ending - Willem Dafoe's character dying in slow motion to the strains of Samuel Barber - to be a melodramtic. A lot of the rest of the movie was pretty good though. On the whole I thought Born on the Fouth of July was the better movie.

    Stone is kind of an old-fashioned liberal. He seems to like the old masculine America - the America of his youth. He recently mentioned that in today's environment he couldn't make the movies he made, as they wouldn't be approved of by today's SJW gate-keepers. Overall, he seems like an honorable and even admirable man. Except for his Castro-fawning, which was embarrassing - I just don't get that.

    Replies: @Bragadocious, @Dave Pinsen

    Dafoe’s death scene was one of those scenes that’s so good it becomes iconic and then, years later, seems clichéd. You have to experience it with fresh eyes (and ears, since the use of Barber’s Adagio for Strings for death scenes has become clichéd. Also, that wasn’t the ending.

  142. @Anonymous
    @Hodag

    I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is, in some ways, his best film, but it already shows a penchant for visual megalomania. It has to be the crime caper with most magnificent vistas of the American West. Sometimes, you're not sure whether you're watching an action movie or travelogue(or nature program).

    Heaven’s Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists – who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career. Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent’s wife?

    He was allowed to make Year of the Dragon which did pretty okay at the box office. What really killed his career was the next movie, The Sicilian. Actually, it's pretty good(and rather thoughtful about intersection of crime and politics) but didn't go over with critics and the audience. Perhaps the international cast made it all very confusing. Also, Cimino focused more on visuals than on dramatics, especially as Christopher Lambert is not a very expressive actor. Still, worth a look.

    Cimino became addicted to and associated with bigness of a kind that was no longer in fashion.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard, @syonredux

    Speaking of Cimino, I’ve been re-watching some of the films of John Ford, and I’m quite struck by the enormous impact that Ford had on him. Take grand landscapes, for example.Cimino was well known for his fondness for geographical beauty, but Ford practically has the patent on the aptly named Monument Valley:

    Then there’s Ford’s almost obsessive interest in parties and dancing as moments of social integration:

    One gets the feeling that Cimino felt that he had to top the *Master, offering dance scenes and celebrations that were bigger and grander than anything that he attempted:

    *

    When asked which directors he liked best, Orson Welles famously said, “I like the old masters … by which I mean John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.” The comment continued: “With Ford at his best, you get a sense of what the earth is made of–even if the script is by Mother Machree.”

    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
    @syonredux

    Yet Ford, for all his grandiose backdrops, was a master of efficient story telling and economy. His movies never went over budget, always made money, and were shot on time, for the most part. And general audiences could watch them and like them without needed to go film school to get the messages. His party scenes and Monument valley shots served purposes to tell the story to the 80-100 IQ crowd and didn't bore them.

    With the 1970s indulgences, Cimino and his buddies made sprawling epics that spoke only to the 110+ crowds that studied and argued about film. The people who enjoy those films are people who know who Pauline Kael is and think her opinion on film should always hold sway.

    You can sit down today, relax, and watch any John Ford movie and be entertained without knowing anything about him or it before you press play. If you want to watch a Cimino film, you need a dictionary of film reference and a two hour lecture on what to look for before you can "enjoy" his stuff (except perhaps Deer Hunter, which spoke to general audiences well).

    Replies: @Anonymous

  143. @Steve Sailer
    @Anonymous

    Stone enrolled as an overage undergrad on the GI Bill in the NYU film school. The first time he ever got much of an endorsement that his creative ambitions were reasonable was when he made a short about a Vietnam vet for his NYU class. When it was over, the young professor said, "Now that's a filmmaker!" That professor was a then still unknown Martin Scorsese.

    Unfortunately, Stone muffs this anecdote by introducing Scorsese a few pages before. In general, Stone tells his own story without working to increase the impact of his anecdotes, whereas back in the 1980s, he was really good at putting incidents in the right order for maximum dramatic effect, like James Woods going to confession in the Murder in the Cathedral sequence in "Salvador."

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

    Interesting how there’s a parallel to how, as people age into senior citizen status, their verbal stories become far less powerful. They start rambling on and either assume you know who they’re talking about or forget to explain key points and then keep going after they should be done. And then they repeat themselves.

    “Oh, Grandpa’s telling that old story again….”

  144. @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara


    Stone is that he’s very self-absorbed in his own Boomer world. This worked well when Boomers were so dominant in pop culture, but it causes his films to age very badly when viewed out of the Boomer-world view. Take his disaster Alexander; utterly failed at the box office and finally killed Colin Farrell’s chances of being a leading man... he made a comment about how “Everyone grew up seeing these black-and-white crap documentaries in school where Alexander steps out and gives a boring monologue about his accomplishments, and I wanted to do something different.” As a non-Boomer, I laughed. Clearly Stone was referencing his own childhood experience, and not the experience of anyone who wasn’t a Boomer.
     
    Alexander failed because it was a shapeless mess. Also, it was too complex for mass audience and too simpleminded for serious viewers. It is both a singular vision of a strong cinematic personality and pandering to what Stone(and Hollywood) would work with the mass audiences. But then, Troy has the same problem. It's both too smart for the dummies and too dumb for the smarties. It did better at the box office because its was dumber and had Brad Pitt(and had a simpler story), but I'm not sure it recouped its cost of $185 million.

    Alexander failed both commercially and artistically due to its lack of focus. Also, Stone went with his passion than sense. When working on a massive project, one needs the instincts of a general, not a rock star. But it was as if Stone wanted to make the movie like Alexander was conquering the world. With sheer will and inspiration. He should have planned it more carefully and then followed the script. Method-directing usually doesn't work. Apocalypse Now works best when Coppola has things under control but unravels when he wings it and improvises in search of an ending, as if the muse will present him the most inspiring solution.

    Scorsese is as much a boomer-mentality as Stone, but he's had a long illustrious career. Why? He has better focus and concentration. Also a more assured style and more perceptive understanding of cinema as art and expression. Scorsese mastered cinema as a sweet science. Stone is like a brawler who never got the 'science' of cinema. He often flailed away. When he lands, it's a mighty blow, but when he misses far more than connects, as in Alexander(and all through Natural Born Killers), it's painful to watch, like Oscar Bonavena, a powerful puncher who lacked grace. So much wasted energy. Still, the brawler Stone, which maybe ended with Alexander, had an element of passion. In contrast, while Wall Street Money Never Sleeps and Edward Snowden were made with proficiency, they lack the wild energy that made his earlier movies exciting.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @R.G. Camara, @Dave Pinsen

    Scorcese is not as much of a boomer-mentality as Stone, because Scorcese makes stories that can be explained to non-boomers without having lived it. Plus Scorcese largely focuses on Italian-American street criminals, which he grew up with, and yet is doing so to explain them to people who didn’t grow up Italian-American street criminals.

    Scorcese tries repeatedly to tell his stories to people who haven’t heard them before, while Stone tells his stories to people who’ve lived them/heard them before and want a dramatization of what they know or already believe.

    It’s interesting how Scorcese, who focuses on smaller historical events (e.g. the Lufthansa heist, the Frank Rosenthal/Anthony Spilotro partnership in Las Vegas), is much more successful in making timeless iconic characters than Stone has done doing large-scale historical events that he expects his audience to already know (Alexander, 9/11, JFK assasination, Vietnam).

    • Replies: @Agathoklis
    @R.G. Camara

    Scorcese (and DeNiro) had the courage to speak very positively and present an honorary Oscar to Elia Kazan (Ηλίας Καζαντζόγλουa) at the Academy Awards whereas most of Hollywood turned their backs on this genius. Simply that act means Scorcese is cut from a different cloth from his colleagues.

    , @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara

    Scorcese is not as much of a boomer-mentality as Stone, because Scorsese makes stories that can be explained to non-boomers without having lived it. Plus Scorcese largely focuses on Italian-American street criminals... Scorsese tries repeatedly to tell his stories to people who haven’t heard them before, while Stone tells his stories to people who’ve lived them/heard them before and want a dramatization of what they know or already believe.

    There's truth in what you say, but I would say Scorsese is as much a boomer as anything else.
    His most personal film, MEAN STREETS, is wall-to-wall rock music. The character have one foot in his generation that spawned youth culture & rock culture and the other foot in the world of Little Italy that has been more insular from the social changes. The same kind of tension exists in Taxi Driver. It is very much a movie of its time with a Vietnam vet as main character. He drives a cab in seedy NY with prostitution, gangs in the street, porno movies in theaters, etc. Bickle is very much a part of this NY but also someone apart, a misfit for the ages. The script was by Paul Schrader who threw himself into the new culture but with puritanical hangups of his youth that he couldn't wholly expunge from his heart. So, it is both of-its-time and out-of-time. Same goes for The King of Comedy. Scorsese's trendiest work was maybe After Hours made in the middle of yuppie 80s, and it makes for interesting comparison with Wall Street. Another film that reflected the moment was Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore made around the time of Bad News Bears and women's lib.
    And then, there are his documentaries. The Last Waltz, Shine a Light, Bob Dylan No Direction Home, George Harrison, all 60s icons. Granted, a part of his fascination with The Band, Dylan, Stones, and Harrison probably had to do with not only their leading roles in the Counterculture but apartness from it. Stones were rockers but rooted in blues. Dylan was the spokesman of his generation but rooted in deep tradition of folk music and receded from the scene in late 60s, and the Band developed their folky rock art alongside Dylan. Harrison got into Eastern mysticism and felt alienated from hippies and drug culture.

    Also, Last Temptation, a mess like Alexander, cannot be understood apart from the Counterculture. It's like Jesus Christ Superstar without the songs. Scorsese also contributed to New York Stories with one about a contemporary artist. Goodfellas, like Mean Streets, has a main character who has one foot in the mafia world and other foot in the drug-fueled 60s world. It is wall-to-wall rock music. And Bringing Out the Dead was, I think, meant as a kind of new Taxi Driver but with a man who drives an ambulance than taxi. It is very much a movie of its time, and any New Yorker or city dweller would have recognized the problems of crime, drugs, and general degradation.

    The main difference between Scorsese and Stone is talent, temperament, and public persona.
    Scorsese is prodigiously far more talented. Stone often masks his lack of mastery with superficial fireworks of editing and other trickery. (Why Scorsese directed Gangs of NY in the manner of the worthless The Gladiator is puzzling.) Though most Scorsese movies didn't make that much money or even lost a lot, his prestige as film artist was so well-recognized that Hollywood was willing to keep him on, as long as he didn't lost too much money or made a little. Stone, though talented, isn't a genius film-maker. He either sticks too close to conventions(as in Wall Street, which any talented hack could have made) or loses himself in experimentation, as with JFK and Natural Born Killers. Stone's basic understanding of cinema is conventional and anything beyond that is superficial. So, the experimentalism in The Doors and Natural Born Killers doesn't much above what you see on MTV. The problem with The Doors is it's a movies about 60s counterculture made in 80s MTV style, making it unintentionally pomo.
    To compensate for his relative lack of talent(alongside true greats), Stone had to pad his resume with publicity and controversy. And his restless temperament thrived on this. But publicity is a double-edged sword. It can be wind on your back when the Power approves of you and finds you useful but a wind against your face when you're seen as problematic. (Scorsese, far more cautions and diplomatic, was careful not to politicize himself too much. Scorsese has both been critical of the Hollywood blacklist and admiring of Elia Kazan. He made some very disturbing and 'triggering' movies but always presents himself as man-of-reason in public. He's rather like Charlie in Mean Streets who is both gangster and flunky to the hierarchy. In contrast, Johnny Boy is a wild horse. Perhaps, Scorsese as NYU professor was impressed by Stone because Stone had more balls and was more brazen, willing to stick his neck out. It's the same reason why Charlie, on some level, admires Johnny Boy who, though crazy, has more guts to stick it to everyone.) Once Stone fell out of favor, he had increasing problem in Hollywood.
    Still, his two huge box office failures with Heaven and Earth and Nixon must be blamed on critics and audience. Those may be his best works, but they got mixed reviews, and people stayed away. If Platoon and Born on Fourth can be seen as 'boomer' movies, Heaven & Earth and Nixon cannot; neither is about what boomers experienced. H & E is from the perspective of a foreigner, a Vietnamese woman, and what she went through. Nixon is from the psychlogical perspective of Tricky Dick. It's not about how most boomers saw him but how Nixon may have felt in his own skin. It's as if, as in the Fantastic Voyage, Stone delved deep into Nixon's psyche and saw the world from inside that troubled Greatest Generation. (Alexander seems both like Kennedy and Nixon. A natural charmer beloved by his men and a superstar, yet so uncomfortable in his own skin, like the awkward and sweaty Nixon hounded by demons; both men are haunted by their mothers.) So, when Stone did something different and with greater mastery than usual, the people turned away and a lot of critics were unkind.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

  145. @syonredux
    @Anonymous

    Speaking of Cimino, I've been re-watching some of the films of John Ford, and I'm quite struck by the enormous impact that Ford had on him. Take grand landscapes, for example.Cimino was well known for his fondness for geographical beauty, but Ford practically has the patent on the aptly named Monument Valley:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBHYJm775DQ




    Then there's Ford's almost obsessive interest in parties and dancing as moments of social integration:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_70Ht9e7pY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDbUOG7elXA


    One gets the feeling that Cimino felt that he had to top the *Master, offering dance scenes and celebrations that were bigger and grander than anything that he attempted:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2_pfQvSP7I


    *


    When asked which directors he liked best, Orson Welles famously said, “I like the old masters … by which I mean John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.” The comment continued: “With Ford at his best, you get a sense of what the earth is made of–even if the script is by Mother Machree.”

     

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

    Yet Ford, for all his grandiose backdrops, was a master of efficient story telling and economy. His movies never went over budget, always made money, and were shot on time, for the most part. And general audiences could watch them and like them without needed to go film school to get the messages. His party scenes and Monument valley shots served purposes to tell the story to the 80-100 IQ crowd and didn’t bore them.

    With the 1970s indulgences, Cimino and his buddies made sprawling epics that spoke only to the 110+ crowds that studied and argued about film. The people who enjoy those films are people who know who Pauline Kael is and think her opinion on film should always hold sway.

    You can sit down today, relax, and watch any John Ford movie and be entertained without knowing anything about him or it before you press play. If you want to watch a Cimino film, you need a dictionary of film reference and a two hour lecture on what to look for before you can “enjoy” his stuff (except perhaps Deer Hunter, which spoke to general audiences well).

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara

    Yet Ford, for all his grandiose backdrops, was a master of efficient story telling and economy. His movies never went over budget, always made money, and were shot on time, for the most part.

    That was both the strength and limitation of people like Ford(and many others). They worked efficiently and staved off excess, but it also meant mostly keeping with conventions and cliches, sometimes ad nauseum. Stick with the tried-and-true and the familiar. Ford had the goods to make it work, but it also means an unwillingness to damn the torpedoes and go for greatness. It's like a general who knows how to win battles but not how to conquer and create an empire. Ford stuck with what he did best, and good for him, and he made some excellent films, but he never made anything like Citizen Kane, Wages of Fear, Seven Samurai, Paths of Glory, and The Leopard. When it came to pushing the boundaries, Hawks and Hitchcock went somewhat further. Hawks was tremendously versatile, and his Red River, his first Western, truly changed the game. And Hitchcock, with Vertigo and Psycho, outdid himself.

    And general audiences could watch them and like them without needed to go film school to get the messages. His party scenes and Monument valley shots served purposes to tell the story to the 80-100 IQ crowd and didn’t bore them.

    In their time.

    General Audience tastes change, and by the late 70s, most general audiences were more willing to watch The Deer Hunter than something like old Ford movies, just like 70s audiences loved Deliverance(and made it a big hit) but would have found Howard Hawks adventure movies old-fashioned.

    With the 1970s indulgences, Cimino and his buddies made sprawling epics that spoke only to the 110+ crowds that studied and argued about film. The people who enjoy those films are people who know who Pauline Kael is and think her opinion on film should always hold sway.

    Kael often sided with the popular audience against the critics. She didn't care for Badlands and preferred Sugarland Express. He loved Jaws and E.T. She didn't care for Star Wars but loved Empire Strikes Back. Her favorite kind of movie was one that clicked with both critics and the audience, like The Godfather. Kael hated The Deer Hunter and cared for Heaven's Gate less. But then, it was hated by most critics. (Well, it sure LOOKS great. Robin Wood thinks it's the greatest Western.)

    https://scrapsfromtheloft.com/2016/07/05/god-bless-america-symphony/

    https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1993-12-26-ca-5498-story.html

    https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/2568-heaven-s-gate-western-promises

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dDY74wzwbY

  146. @Mr McKenna
    @The Alarmist

    Right, but Stone appears to be that rare guy in Hollywood who actually sought the respect of his wife. Okay, wives.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow

    Also wasn’t Oliver Stone one of the Hollywood celebrities caught up in the Hollywood Madam imbroglio? I wonder if that was during or between marriages?

    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123
    @Unladen Swallow

    A large fraction of Hollywood has been involved with a "Hollywood Madam" at some point. Either as a client or as an employee.

    Everyone else is either gay or impotent from too much drug use.

    People have this glamorous image (created by clever PR people) of celebrities swimming in a sea of star-struck groupies. The less glamorous reality is that prostitution and homosexuality/bisexuality are rampant in the industry.

    Hollywood has a ritzy surface, but a seedy underbelly.

  147. @R.G. Camara
    My feeling on Stone is that he's very self-absorbed in his own Boomer world. This worked well when Boomers were so dominant in pop culture, but it causes his films to age very badly when viewed out of the Boomer-world view.

    Take his disaster Alexander; utterly failed at the box office and finally killed Colin Farrell's chances of being a leading man. I remember an interview with Stone right around then, and he made a comment about how "Everyone grew up seeing these black-and-white crap documentaries in school where Alexander steps out and gives a boring monologue about his accomplishments, and I wanted to do something different."

    As a non-Boomer, I laughed. Clearly Stone was referencing his own childhood experience, and not the experience of anyone who wasn't a Boomer. I had never seen a boring didactic documentary like that, in or out of school; it sounded like something Mystery Science Theater 3000 would've lampooned back in the day. But Stone really couldn't see that his childhood was the Universal Childhood Experience anymore, and his arrogance that everyone had the same childhood made his films hermetic. He couldn't get out of his own Boomer head.

    I mean, look at the subjects of his best-known films: Vietnam, Vietnam, Drugs, JFK. Fascinating for Boomers, but for non-Boomers the subjects are much smaller and far less interesting. And all of his films do not reach out and make the subjects interesting for people who didn't live through them.

    Stone might well be remembered as the Boomer Director.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Dave Pinsen

    Alexander is a pretty good movie. Sure, it could have been better, if Stone ignored the gay angle and focused more on the politics and strategy, but still. And Colin Farrell was a leading man in Michael Mann’s Miami Vice two years later.

    • Replies: @Unladen Swallow
    @Dave Pinsen

    I found it an overlong, disheveled mess, that seemed even longer in running time than it actually was, and it was long already. It was pretty evident by that point to me that Stone was in decline as a director.

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

    , @R.G. Camara
    @Dave Pinsen

    Fair enough, but Farrell's chance to be the "It" guy was gone by Miami Vice. And Miami Vice disappointed, because the studio wanted a franchise and Mann delivered something that disappointed at the box office and was not franchisable; it was an attempt at artistry of his old TV product.

    Farrell was like Jude Law: they had great agents and studio backers who pushed them and pushed them and pushed them as above-the-title stars in many big-budget movies designed to be hits, and yet neither one grasped the ring with audiences or had a huge breakout hit.

    Hollywood likes superstar actor types because they are bankable. Tom Cruise being in a movie guarantees a certain box office take up front. Ditto for Will Smith, although his star has faded. Ditto for Arnold in the 80's and 90s. Ditto for all the classic Golden Age stars. Superstars guarantee revenue.

    Chris Rock hosted the Oscars around the time of Law's push and delivered an unintentionally devastating blow to Law's chances to be a superstar leading man when, at the show, he made a joke about how if you wanted Tom Cruise but could only get Jude Law, you should hold off on producing the movie.

    The Academy audience laughed & booed a bit too loud at that one.

    Jeremy Irons, who was up hosting the next segment, said something about Law being a fine actor to try to remove Rock's sting, but Rock's joke remains a wince-inducing moment that cemented for many the idea that Law was not going to be an It guy.

    Oh well. Law's had a very good career as a supporting actor in big name movies and then being the lead in lesser-budget films. I don't feel too bad for him or Farrell in terms of their career arcs.

    Replies: @Jim Don Bob, @Anonymous

  148. @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara


    Stone is that he’s very self-absorbed in his own Boomer world. This worked well when Boomers were so dominant in pop culture, but it causes his films to age very badly when viewed out of the Boomer-world view. Take his disaster Alexander; utterly failed at the box office and finally killed Colin Farrell’s chances of being a leading man... he made a comment about how “Everyone grew up seeing these black-and-white crap documentaries in school where Alexander steps out and gives a boring monologue about his accomplishments, and I wanted to do something different.” As a non-Boomer, I laughed. Clearly Stone was referencing his own childhood experience, and not the experience of anyone who wasn’t a Boomer.
     
    Alexander failed because it was a shapeless mess. Also, it was too complex for mass audience and too simpleminded for serious viewers. It is both a singular vision of a strong cinematic personality and pandering to what Stone(and Hollywood) would work with the mass audiences. But then, Troy has the same problem. It's both too smart for the dummies and too dumb for the smarties. It did better at the box office because its was dumber and had Brad Pitt(and had a simpler story), but I'm not sure it recouped its cost of $185 million.

    Alexander failed both commercially and artistically due to its lack of focus. Also, Stone went with his passion than sense. When working on a massive project, one needs the instincts of a general, not a rock star. But it was as if Stone wanted to make the movie like Alexander was conquering the world. With sheer will and inspiration. He should have planned it more carefully and then followed the script. Method-directing usually doesn't work. Apocalypse Now works best when Coppola has things under control but unravels when he wings it and improvises in search of an ending, as if the muse will present him the most inspiring solution.

    Scorsese is as much a boomer-mentality as Stone, but he's had a long illustrious career. Why? He has better focus and concentration. Also a more assured style and more perceptive understanding of cinema as art and expression. Scorsese mastered cinema as a sweet science. Stone is like a brawler who never got the 'science' of cinema. He often flailed away. When he lands, it's a mighty blow, but when he misses far more than connects, as in Alexander(and all through Natural Born Killers), it's painful to watch, like Oscar Bonavena, a powerful puncher who lacked grace. So much wasted energy. Still, the brawler Stone, which maybe ended with Alexander, had an element of passion. In contrast, while Wall Street Money Never Sleeps and Edward Snowden were made with proficiency, they lack the wild energy that made his earlier movies exciting.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @R.G. Camara, @Dave Pinsen

    Alexander wasn’t shapeless. It had a pretty neat bookend narration set-up with Anthony Hopkins as the last surviving general from Alexander’s army dictating his memoirs from Alexandria, Egypt 4o years later.

    This is good film making.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Dave Pinsen


    Alexander wasn’t shapeless.
     
    But it was apeless.
  149. @Anonymous
    @68W58

    Well I’ve never heard “The Searchers” called “hokey” before and it consistently ranks in the top 5 of AFI’s list of westerns.

    The Searchers is plenty hokey, and that's a good thing. Ford's humor was not sophisticated, and he often repeated the same boorish gags. His Westerns are full of folksy sentimentality. He made movies before things had to be 'cool'.

    Many scenes with Marty, the guitar-strummer, and Old Mose are hokey but in a good way. It feels like 'home', life down on the farm. Some of that Old MacDonald Had a Farm, eah eah oh.

    In the later Westerns, people are more aloof, the violence is more over-the-top, heroes are more cool, and style dominates. Or some hipster sensibility. Ford wasn't afraid to be old-fashioned and make movies that appealed as much to grampy and granny as to the young ones.

    True, Searchers is highly regarded by cinephiles and even the intellectual community, but its real strength is as folkish popular entertainment for Middle America. And they don't make them like they used to. The scene where Mrs. Jorgenson talks about Texicans is good ole common folk wisdom about life. Hokily, the husband says, "She was a school teacher, you know." Directors today would blush to include a scene like that. But Ford did it happily and good for him.

    Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose

    Also the color-drenched VistaVision widescreen. It holds up on small screen, but Turner put in in theaters and it was spectacular.

  150. @Anonymous
    @Ghost of Bull Moose


    I don’t consider Oliver Stone much of a New Yorker in his sensibility, even though he was born here and went to NYU.
     
    Stone, like Norman Mailer, is both in-and-outer. He has enough credentials, educational and political, to be with the in-crowd of NY artists and intellectuals, but his manly obsessions with war and adventure make him stand apart from most NY types. As with Mailer, Stone very much lived the Hemingway ideal of the American male archetype who is 'liberal' in politics but 'conservative' in manly swagger . Mailer was both loved and loathed. Loved as a hostile critic of society but loathed as macho man who sometimes punched out other intellectuals and, on occasion, mouthed admiration for Mussolini. That Stone is half-Jewish makes him a more ambivalent figure than Mailer.

    This also shows up in Paul Newman, another half-Jew. Though politically on the left, his movies are usually more appealing to right-wing types. There's a scene in Victor/Victoria where James Garner, in order to prove that he's a real man and not a pansy, goes into a bar and starts a fight. It's as if Paul Newman, fearing that his do-goody politics would make him seem overly goo, went out of his way to be involved in movies like Hud, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, Sometimes a Great Notion, Slap Shot, and Towering Inferno. Be good boy in politics but play bad boy in movies. Boys will be Boys kind of thing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZeEbLT3U1Q

    Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose

    There’s a certain kind of lefty tough guy director. Like Sam Fuller, and I really like Sam Fuller.

  151. @Dave Pinsen
    @R.G. Camara

    Alexander is a pretty good movie. Sure, it could have been better, if Stone ignored the gay angle and focused more on the politics and strategy, but still. And Colin Farrell was a leading man in Michael Mann's Miami Vice two years later.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @R.G. Camara

    I found it an overlong, disheveled mess, that seemed even longer in running time than it actually was, and it was long already. It was pretty evident by that point to me that Stone was in decline as a director.

    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
    @Unladen Swallow

    And to get the movie made, Stone took on the studio-pushed actors of Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie. Farrell was proving he wasn't an "It" guy, and Jolie was nearly box-office poison at that point and highly overrated as an actress and a beauty. I think Stone thought he could work with them, but they were the wrong fits.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Steve Sailer

  152. @Dave Pinsen
    @R.G. Camara

    Alexander is a pretty good movie. Sure, it could have been better, if Stone ignored the gay angle and focused more on the politics and strategy, but still. And Colin Farrell was a leading man in Michael Mann's Miami Vice two years later.

    Replies: @Unladen Swallow, @R.G. Camara

    Fair enough, but Farrell’s chance to be the “It” guy was gone by Miami Vice. And Miami Vice disappointed, because the studio wanted a franchise and Mann delivered something that disappointed at the box office and was not franchisable; it was an attempt at artistry of his old TV product.

    Farrell was like Jude Law: they had great agents and studio backers who pushed them and pushed them and pushed them as above-the-title stars in many big-budget movies designed to be hits, and yet neither one grasped the ring with audiences or had a huge breakout hit.

    Hollywood likes superstar actor types because they are bankable. Tom Cruise being in a movie guarantees a certain box office take up front. Ditto for Will Smith, although his star has faded. Ditto for Arnold in the 80’s and 90s. Ditto for all the classic Golden Age stars. Superstars guarantee revenue.

    Chris Rock hosted the Oscars around the time of Law’s push and delivered an unintentionally devastating blow to Law’s chances to be a superstar leading man when, at the show, he made a joke about how if you wanted Tom Cruise but could only get Jude Law, you should hold off on producing the movie.

    The Academy audience laughed & booed a bit too loud at that one.

    Jeremy Irons, who was up hosting the next segment, said something about Law being a fine actor to try to remove Rock’s sting, but Rock’s joke remains a wince-inducing moment that cemented for many the idea that Law was not going to be an It guy.

    Oh well. Law’s had a very good career as a supporting actor in big name movies and then being the lead in lesser-budget films. I don’t feel too bad for him or Farrell in terms of their career arcs.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
    @R.G. Camara

    Farrell was very funny in The Gentlemen as the owner of a boxing studio.

    https://youtu.be/yXA9TwUMWPw?t=131

    , @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara

    Farrell was like Jude Law: they had great agents and studio backers who pushed them and pushed them and pushed them as above-the-title stars in many big-budget movies designed to be hits, and yet neither one grasped the ring with audiences or had a huge breakout hit.

    But for different reasons. Jude Law looks too refined and aristo for most Hollywood movies, and Farrell looks too rough and grubby. Law looks like the kind of guy who carries around a gold-plated cigarette case whereas Farrell looks like someone in a cheap diner bumming off a cigarette. (Law was the dandiest gigolo in AI.)

    Also, both are more actors than stars. In contrast, Tom Cruise, though lesser as actor, has natural star quality, as does Brad Pitt. As for Matt Damon, he's so bland that, like a blank slate, you can carve anything on him.

  153. @Unladen Swallow
    @Dave Pinsen

    I found it an overlong, disheveled mess, that seemed even longer in running time than it actually was, and it was long already. It was pretty evident by that point to me that Stone was in decline as a director.

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

    And to get the movie made, Stone took on the studio-pushed actors of Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie. Farrell was proving he wasn’t an “It” guy, and Jolie was nearly box-office poison at that point and highly overrated as an actress and a beauty. I think Stone thought he could work with them, but they were the wrong fits.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @R.G. Camara

    Farrell is like Jude Law or maybe Paul Bettany. A fine actor, but not quite a leading man.

    There was a big rush to make an Alexander the Great movie after the success of Gladiator: Stone, Scorsese, Gibson, and Luhrmann all-wanted to make Alexander movies, I think Scorsese and Luhrmann both wanted DiCaprio.

    Stone won the race to get his movie started first, but paid the price for rushing. It's a pretty bad movie. I can recall having a sinking feeling during its opening credits because the typeface was cheesy. Uh-oh, if they can't get that right ...

    Replies: @R.G. Camara, @Bardon Kaldian

    , @Steve Sailer
    @R.G. Camara

    Farrell is like Jude Law or maybe Paul Bettany. A fine actor, but not quite a leading man.

    There was a big rush to make an Alexander the Great movie after the success of Gladiator: Stone, Scorsese, Gibson, and Luhrmann all-wanted to make Alexander movies, I think Scorsese and Luhrmann both wanted DiCaprio.

    Stone won the race to get his movie started first, but paid the price for rushing. It's a pretty bad movie. I can recall having a sinking feeling during its opening credits because the typeface was cheesy. Uh-oh, if they can't get that right ...

  154. @Bragadocious
    @Mr. Anon

    If nothing else, that scene in Platoon provided Ben Stiller with the inspiration for his mocking slo-mo scenes in "Tropic Thunder."


    Except for his Castro-fawning, which was embarrassing – I just don’t get that
     
    De riguer for old school American leftists. That was the issue in the 70s and 80s. This is why Tony Montana was such a reprobate -- only a reprobate would despise Castro. But! Scarface was also a wonderfully unintended screed against uncontrolled immigration. Of course we must realize that it does not in any way apply to Mexico, Central America or the Dominican Republic.

    Replies: @Mr. Anon

    De riguer for old school American leftists. That was the issue in the 70s and 80s. This is why Tony Montana was such a reprobate — only a reprobate would despise Castro.

    And yet, Stone made Montana into a semi-admirable character. He was not without a moral code – he refused to blow up the journalists’ family.

    I’m not sure it’s just leftists, but even garden variety liberals. Stone never struck me as a hard-leftist, more just a Kennedy-liberal, with a leavening of 60s hippy-dippy sensibility. Spielberg isn’t really a leftist either – in fact, he’s not all that different than Stone, in some ways – but Spielberg had a big man-crush on El Commandante too. It’s unseemly.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Mr. Anon

    Fidel Castro would likely have made a strong movie star.

    , @Anonymous
    @Mr. Anon


    And yet, Stone made Montana into a semi-admirable character. He was not without a moral code – he refused to blow up the journalists’ family.
     
    I'm not sure he was really motivated by any kind of code. The night before, he had a falling out his wife whose womb was poisoned by drugs. Montana can't have any kids with her because the very stuff that made him rich rendered his wife infertile. So, on the subconscious level, the idea of killing the entire family repulses him at the moment. But usually, he's capable of Anything, even shooting his partner.
    , @Rapparee
    @Mr. Anon

    Scarface is an upside-down Greek tragedy- instead of a great and noble man brought low by his one tragic flaw, it’s the tale of a vicious piece of human garbage whose rise in the dog-eat-dog criminal underworld is undermined by the one tiny scrap of decency he allows to remain in his soul. I remember being very surprised at how much I liked it, since like Mr. Sailer, I usually have trouble with gangster movies because I don’t like murderers.

    Replies: @Anonymous

  155. @Wency
    I think Stone's films from his prime are still good, but it always seemed to me he really did lose his edge after JFK (though let's not forget "The Doors"). I don't know if some of the criticism got to him, or if digging into that conspiracy theory made him sort of lose his mind.

    I compare him to Francis Ford Coppola, who also very clearly lost his edge after Apocalypse Now, and people say he sort of lost of his mind while making that film.

    Both men had, at best, a decade of great filmmaking in them but managed to survive in Hollywood for another 30 years alternating between OK and bad films, never again approaching their early peak, but continuing to leverage their original reputation to stay in the business.

    Replies: @Mr. Anon

    I think Stone’s films from his prime are still good, but it always seemed to me he really did lose his edge after JFK (though let’s not forget “The Doors”).

    Natural Born Killers was pretty edgy. Technically, it was brilliant, although distasteful morally. It may be one of the most iconic movies from the 90s, along with Pulp Fiction. I heard that U-turn and Any Given Sunday were pretty good too, although I’ve never seen them.

    • Agree: utu
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Mr. Anon

    "Any Given Sunday" is fine. It's an NFL movie with Al Pacino as the head coach having to deal with his first black quarterback. Stone doesn't feel that blacks are above criticism so it's pretty even-handed.

    On the other hand, it's slower-paced and less scintillating than Stone at his technical peak in the early 1990s. I think at some point he lost his crew of terrific underlings like cameraman Robert Richardson and he could no longer make the type of show-offy movies he could at his peak of prestige.

  156. @R.G. Camara
    @Anonymous

    Scorcese is not as much of a boomer-mentality as Stone, because Scorcese makes stories that can be explained to non-boomers without having lived it. Plus Scorcese largely focuses on Italian-American street criminals, which he grew up with, and yet is doing so to explain them to people who didn't grow up Italian-American street criminals.

    Scorcese tries repeatedly to tell his stories to people who haven't heard them before, while Stone tells his stories to people who've lived them/heard them before and want a dramatization of what they know or already believe.

    It's interesting how Scorcese, who focuses on smaller historical events (e.g. the Lufthansa heist, the Frank Rosenthal/Anthony Spilotro partnership in Las Vegas), is much more successful in making timeless iconic characters than Stone has done doing large-scale historical events that he expects his audience to already know (Alexander, 9/11, JFK assasination, Vietnam).

    Replies: @Agathoklis, @Anonymous

    Scorcese (and DeNiro) had the courage to speak very positively and present an honorary Oscar to Elia Kazan (Ηλίας Καζαντζόγλουa) at the Academy Awards whereas most of Hollywood turned their backs on this genius. Simply that act means Scorcese is cut from a different cloth from his colleagues.

  157. @conatus
    Stone was a real live tough guy and walked the walk. He requested combat and was a LURP!....from Wikipedia

    Stone was admitted into Yale University, but left in June 1965 at age 18[13][20] to teach high school students English for six months in Saigon at the Free Pacific Institute in South Vietnam.[21] Afterwards, he worked for a short while as a wiper on a United States Merchant Marine ship in 1966, traveling from Asia to Oregon across the rough Pacific Ocean in January.[22] He returned to Yale, where he dropped out a second time (in part due to working on an autobiographical novel A Child's Night Dream, published 1997 by St. Martin's Press).[23]
    U.S. Army
    In April 1967, Stone enlisted in the United States Army and requested combat duty in Vietnam. From September 16, 1967 to April 1968, he served in Vietnam with 2nd Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division and was twice wounded in action.[21] He was then transferred to the 1st Cavalry Division participating in long-range reconnaissance patrols before being transferred again to drive for a motorized infantry unit of the division until November 1968.[24] For his service, his military awards include the Bronze Star with "V" Device for valor, the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster to denote two awards, the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    and was twice wounded in action

    Oh – that reminds me of the German writer and entomologist Ernst Jünger’s (two beetles and – a star are named after him) achievements in the First World war especially: Jünger did lead a platoon as a lieutenant of the infantry and he too got decorated (Pour Le Mérit – theen the highest military decoration in Germany) and – severely wounded – seven times.

    The last time he got wounded was like this (from Wikipedia):

    “On 25 August, he was wounded for the seventh and final time near Favreuil, being shot through the chest while leading his company in an advance that was quickly overwhelmed by a British counter-attack. Becoming aware of the position he was lying was falling, Jünger rose, and as his lung drained of the blood spurting through the wound, recovered enough to escape in the confusing situation. He made his way to a machine-gun post that was holding out, where a doctor told him to lie down immediately. Carried to the rear in a tarpaulin, he and the bearers came under fire, and the doctor was killed. A soldier who tried to carry Jünger on his shoulders was killed after a few yards, but another took his place.”

    oh – Jünger – had trouble breathing…

    As a platoon chief he encountered this – in his own dry and precise words:

    As the storm raged around us, I walked up and down my sector. The men had fixed bayonets. They stood stony and motionless, rifle in hand, on the front edge of the dip, gazing into the field. Now and then, by the light of a flare, I saw steel helmet by steel helmet, blade by glinting blade, and I was overcome by a feeling of invulnerability. We might be crushed, but surely we could not be conquered.[3]

    The invulnerability part turned out to be a tad weak (s. a.).

    Oh and there is this Oliver Stone parallel: Jünger was friends with the chemist and LSD-discoverer Albert Hofman from Basel. They had quite a few “sessions” together. The conservative Jünger (he did not believe in democracy, – that was one of the bigger kinds of beef he had with modernity)  – this ultra-conservative man wrote intensely and very detailed about drugs.

    His very well written dry and insightful book Drogen und Rausch (Drugs and Ecstasy) is just about any drug Jünger could get his hands on. – He really was experienced. But what stands out is, he found a way to react to his experiences with words. Be it combat or – be it drugs or beetles or mother nature (trees, snakes, gardening (!) those words were about, they always were precise. – The book about Jünger and Wittgenstein is not yet written. But it would be interesting.

    (I’ve talked to T. C. Boyle about Ernst Jünger and Albert Hoffmans connection, which should have interested him, since he was just working on his novel about LSD – which had a chapter in it about Albert Hoffmann, too, but he did not buy my central point: That the connection between Hoffman and Jünger had been so close, because Hoffman was indeed very interested in jünger’s ability to close the gap between the physiological side of the LSD experience and – what was going on in the mind.

    T. C. Boyles quite good (very good!) LSD novel “Outside Looking In” might have been deepened if Boyle had had a closer look a Jünger and Hoffman.

  158. @Art Deco
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the “magic bullet theory”,

    He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people.

    And there was no 'magic bullet theory'. Josiah Thompson promoted the notion that the Specter model was unworkable. Thompson got the idea in his head that his own schematic drawing of the vehicle and its occupants was accurate. It was not. Gov. Connolly was seated on a meridian about six inches to Kennedy's left and his body was about three inches closer to the ground (he being in a jumpseat).

    Your 'right-wing coup' replaced one mainstream Democrat with a different mainstream Democrat, a man with more populist sympathies and with a different skill set (better at manipulating politicians, worse at public relations). Heckuva job.

    Replies: @James O'Meara, @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous, @JohnnyWalker123, @David In TN

    Back and to the left.

    • Agree: Bardon Kaldian
  159. @Unladen Swallow
    @Mr McKenna

    Also wasn't Oliver Stone one of the Hollywood celebrities caught up in the Hollywood Madam imbroglio? I wonder if that was during or between marriages?

    Replies: @JohnnyWalker123

    A large fraction of Hollywood has been involved with a “Hollywood Madam” at some point. Either as a client or as an employee.

    Everyone else is either gay or impotent from too much drug use.

    People have this glamorous image (created by clever PR people) of celebrities swimming in a sea of star-struck groupies. The less glamorous reality is that prostitution and homosexuality/bisexuality are rampant in the industry.

    Hollywood has a ritzy surface, but a seedy underbelly.

    • Agree: Bardon Kaldian
  160. @Mr. Anon
    @Wency


    I think Stone’s films from his prime are still good, but it always seemed to me he really did lose his edge after JFK (though let’s not forget “The Doors”).
     
    Natural Born Killers was pretty edgy. Technically, it was brilliant, although distasteful morally. It may be one of the most iconic movies from the 90s, along with Pulp Fiction. I heard that U-turn and Any Given Sunday were pretty good too, although I've never seen them.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    “Any Given Sunday” is fine. It’s an NFL movie with Al Pacino as the head coach having to deal with his first black quarterback. Stone doesn’t feel that blacks are above criticism so it’s pretty even-handed.

    On the other hand, it’s slower-paced and less scintillating than Stone at his technical peak in the early 1990s. I think at some point he lost his crew of terrific underlings like cameraman Robert Richardson and he could no longer make the type of show-offy movies he could at his peak of prestige.

  161. Stone’s politics changed because, by raising himself up to the position of monkey, instead of lowly dog like the rest of us, he got access to knowing more or less what the lions and tigers are doing.

    You probably think Oswald did it. Making you really credible. To imbeciles.

  162. @Mr. Anon
    @Bragadocious


    De riguer for old school American leftists. That was the issue in the 70s and 80s. This is why Tony Montana was such a reprobate — only a reprobate would despise Castro.
     
    And yet, Stone made Montana into a semi-admirable character. He was not without a moral code - he refused to blow up the journalists' family.

    I'm not sure it's just leftists, but even garden variety liberals. Stone never struck me as a hard-leftist, more just a Kennedy-liberal, with a leavening of 60s hippy-dippy sensibility. Spielberg isn't really a leftist either - in fact, he's not all that different than Stone, in some ways - but Spielberg had a big man-crush on El Commandante too. It's unseemly.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous, @Rapparee

    Fidel Castro would likely have made a strong movie star.

  163. @R.G. Camara
    @Unladen Swallow

    And to get the movie made, Stone took on the studio-pushed actors of Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie. Farrell was proving he wasn't an "It" guy, and Jolie was nearly box-office poison at that point and highly overrated as an actress and a beauty. I think Stone thought he could work with them, but they were the wrong fits.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Steve Sailer

    Farrell is like Jude Law or maybe Paul Bettany. A fine actor, but not quite a leading man.

    There was a big rush to make an Alexander the Great movie after the success of Gladiator: Stone, Scorsese, Gibson, and Luhrmann all-wanted to make Alexander movies, I think Scorsese and Luhrmann both wanted DiCaprio.

    Stone won the race to get his movie started first, but paid the price for rushing. It’s a pretty bad movie. I can recall having a sinking feeling during its opening credits because the typeface was cheesy. Uh-oh, if they can’t get that right …

    • Replies: @R.G. Camara
    @Steve Sailer

    Great minds think alike; I made a comment about Farrell being like Jude Law here before you posted this.

    Gladiator caused a revival of sword-and-sandal movies, but I'm pretty sure Alexander killed off a lot of that momentum. Still, The Rock made a serviceable B-movie version of Hercules, the Spartacus TV series was fun (even though the leading man died of HGH-induced cancer after the first season, which he took to maintain a body-builder's physique for the show), Troy was pretty good, and various other incarnations have been entertaining since.

    Sword-and-sandal movies are really only good when they are epic, and epic requires a large budget AND a director who can handle such a colossal scale. Even many great directors can't do epic scale films, it takes a certain knack. Anyway, when one of those two factors don't happen you get a lot of cinematic trash, but trash can be entertaining and fun when done right.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @Steve Sailer

    This film has two basic flaws.

    1. the entire concept was wrong. It had to be legendary, majestic, mythic- while it is mostly, although not entirely, faux realism.

    2. then, Stone should get someone magnetic for the central role. And no one was available, at least no one among people he had in mind. Someone with something, Welles had been talking about:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfghSj5Y93I

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

  164. @R.G. Camara
    @Unladen Swallow

    And to get the movie made, Stone took on the studio-pushed actors of Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie. Farrell was proving he wasn't an "It" guy, and Jolie was nearly box-office poison at that point and highly overrated as an actress and a beauty. I think Stone thought he could work with them, but they were the wrong fits.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Steve Sailer

    Farrell is like Jude Law or maybe Paul Bettany. A fine actor, but not quite a leading man.

    There was a big rush to make an Alexander the Great movie after the success of Gladiator: Stone, Scorsese, Gibson, and Luhrmann all-wanted to make Alexander movies, I think Scorsese and Luhrmann both wanted DiCaprio.

    Stone won the race to get his movie started first, but paid the price for rushing. It’s a pretty bad movie. I can recall having a sinking feeling during its opening credits because the typeface was cheesy. Uh-oh, if they can’t get that right …

  165. People remember movies differently, I realize. I would never say that “Salvador” was “funny,” although I do remember that Jim Belushi’s character is portrayed as a careless drunken doofus, and that perhaps we are meant to be entertained when he gives Woods’s character a heads-up about the fate of the kid who ended up on a slab for mocking a death squad soldier type. (“He’s really effed up, man!” he exclaims as he stumbles past with a bottle. The Woods character is then shown coming upon the poor youngster’s mangled corpse.) For me, the impact of “Salvador,” which overpowered any of its comic content, was the over-the-top depictions of rape and murder, with the assault and execution of the nuns, in which one of the feral rapists is literally drooling over his victim. It sickened and horrifed me, even as I could see that it was an attempt to honestly depict what amounted to unleashed demonic hatred and defilement expressed via sexual violence, and to portray the inhumanity that can be given a license by misplaced political loyalties. That scene. and the execution of the nuns, when the armed Aztec brute walks up to the young female friend of the Woods character, she crosses herself, and he fires, has haunted me ever since, and I saw the movie over thirty years ago. I have wondered for decades about whether such depictions are justified in order to show the reality of evil, or if there is an all-too-real principality of enforced passivity and morbid voyeurism foisted upon the helpless viewer, which are themselves an invitation to despair, and are therefore evil in and of themselves. I once very nearly got into a fistfight with a housemate who rented the Gaspare Noe film, “Irreversible,” and I happened to wander into the living room where he and a drunk party girl were watching it, during a similarly horrific scene. Maybe some degree of philistinism can be forgiven. I certainly forgive myself.

    • Agree: utu
  166. @J.Ross
    @68W58

    >overwrought in terms of storytelling
    Yes, absolutely.
    >FMJ
    Be aware that the boot camp suicide sequence is not in either of the books claimed as sources, nor anywhere else American. The iconic and marine-defaming scene is very, very close to a depiction -- of Imperial Japanese basic training, in the ten hour long (seriously) centrist epic The Human Condition. Generations of people have accepted the extreme horror story as fictitious-yet-representative, when Kubrick took it from a completely different situation. There was hazing and overpunishment in 60s marine basic training, but obviously Imperial Japan was on another level.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Japanese WWII pilot training involved lots of beatings of trainee pilots. Not surprisingly, the U.S. trained a whole lot more adequate pilots during WWII than did the Japanese.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    @Steve Sailer

    The brilliant Tameichi Hara (who, before his great career captaining destroyers, invented a highly useful new type of torpedo) would sit down his chiefs when he took over a new boat, and tell them he didn't want to see any corporal punishment, and he says effectively they would look like he had just told them they couldn't go to the big game.
    https://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Destroyer-Captain-Tameichi-Hara/dp/034531767X

    , @J.Ross
    @Steve Sailer

    In fact, there's a closer illystration from war pulps: Saburo Sakai was probably the best fighter pilot of WWII, both from normal performance and from his amazing long-distance flight while severely injured after encountering a new American plane with extra guns pointed aft. In addition to straight suckerpunching for discipline, Sakai, who was enlisted (and, for completely insane reasons, never promoted or decorated despite his performance), had to put up with far inferior officers and ask for permission to use the john and that sort of thing.

  167. @Steve Sailer
    @R.G. Camara

    Farrell is like Jude Law or maybe Paul Bettany. A fine actor, but not quite a leading man.

    There was a big rush to make an Alexander the Great movie after the success of Gladiator: Stone, Scorsese, Gibson, and Luhrmann all-wanted to make Alexander movies, I think Scorsese and Luhrmann both wanted DiCaprio.

    Stone won the race to get his movie started first, but paid the price for rushing. It's a pretty bad movie. I can recall having a sinking feeling during its opening credits because the typeface was cheesy. Uh-oh, if they can't get that right ...

    Replies: @R.G. Camara, @Bardon Kaldian

    Great minds think alike; I made a comment about Farrell being like Jude Law here before you posted this.

    Gladiator caused a revival of sword-and-sandal movies, but I’m pretty sure Alexander killed off a lot of that momentum. Still, The Rock made a serviceable B-movie version of Hercules, the Spartacus TV series was fun (even though the leading man died of HGH-induced cancer after the first season, which he took to maintain a body-builder’s physique for the show), Troy was pretty good, and various other incarnations have been entertaining since.

    Sword-and-sandal movies are really only good when they are epic, and epic requires a large budget AND a director who can handle such a colossal scale. Even many great directors can’t do epic scale films, it takes a certain knack. Anyway, when one of those two factors don’t happen you get a lot of cinematic trash, but trash can be entertaining and fun when done right.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara

    Gladiator caused a revival of sword-and-sandal movies, but I’m pretty sure Alexander killed off a lot of that momentum.

    The main problem with Alexander is Stone's conception and direction. Even another actor couldn't have saved it. The only player who came alive was Angelina Jolie who played it so crazy that it outclassed Stone's craziness. It was a kooky performance for the ages, and I loved it(and I don't even like her). "I can out-craze you." Everyone else, even Alexander by Farrell, was buried under Stone's avalanche of excess.

    By failure, box-office or artistic? A film can work as art and still fail with audiences. There have been too many films like that: Barry Lyndon to just name one. (Visconti's The Leopard, now universally recognized as a great great film, was a huge disaster.) Or we can discuss why a movie failed artistically, regardless of whether it made money or not.

    Alexander failed with both critics and the audience and for good reason. Its sheer ambition made it rather enjoyable the first time. Stone's passion carried it along. But upon closer inspection on the TV screen, it fails on so many levels. And it doesn't matter how Stone rearranges it: theatrical cut, director's cut, final cut, alternative cut, whatever. The problem isn't the arrangement but the content itself.

    Now, Farrell is as or more talented than actors like DiCaprio, Cruise, Pitt, you name it. But his bushy eyebrows and five-o-clock-shadow look cause problems with color photography. He would have been ideal in b/w Old Hollywood movies. In b/w, his starkness would be an advantage. In color, he always looks grubby, like some Irish gypsy. As such, he's problematic as lead. But even that wasn't the main problem. By nature, Farrell is an excessive actor and Stone is an excessive director, and when you have excess encouraging excess to be excessive, it's all too much. We feel like the Greek-Macedonian-and-other soldiers on the borders of India. "Must we carry on more with this craziness?"

    Still, I can understand how Stone wanted to do something different'. His Alexander is both a legendary near-mythic figure and a very human & fragile one. He has the will of the gods but can't chase away his demons. He can conquer kingdoms but is a mama's boy to the end(as well as a bi-sexual fruit). Stone presented Alexander as hero and human. The speech he gives to his men before invading India conveys this duality. The music swells as he gives a rousing speech in the Hollywood mode. But then, the speech turns into bitter tirade. At once, he pays his tribute to his men as loyal soldier and admonishes them as potential traitors. Stone wanted to present a mythic but also psychologically complex Alexander. And Farrell really got into the role and gave all his heart. But all this excessive passion and the demands of complexity didn't blend well. Complexity requires control and balance, but too often the movie goes off the rails. (As for Farrell, he seems to love excess as he soon partnered with uber-excessive Malick for the unbearable New World.)

    Also, by turning the story into in something of an allegory of the 60s, things get confused even further. Ptolemy's speech at the end is like Nixon looking at JFK and saying, "they love you for what you are, they see me for what I am" or something like that. Deep in his heart, Nixon feels that the Deep State had JFK killed because he was too much of a shining prince who wanted to pull back the empire from Vietnam. (In contrast, the deep state is after Nixon because he didn't go to the right school and doesn't have the right creds.) But if Stone admires JFK as anti-imperialist, what is he doing praising Alexander, the supreme imperialist? If it's true that the Deep State had JFK killed for his anti-imperialism whereas the generals assassinated Alexander for his excess imperialist ambitions, didn't the two leaders stand for utterly different value systems?
    And then, is Alexander to be admired as a rock star, an agent of chaos, or as a great soldier, an agent of order? The casting of Val Kilmer as the father is most likely a nod to The Doors. Jim Morrison lived and died as an agent of chaos. In contrast, Alexander, like Pacino in Any Given Sunday, must keep things together to win battles. His kind of power must be more like the one in Triumph of the Will than in Woodstock or Altamont. We are to admire Alexander as both rock n roll rebel and Patton. Now, when the movie Patton came out, the advertising presented him as a rebel in his own time(to appeal to youth and the Zeitgeist at the time), but as John Simon pointed out, if Patton was a rebel, it was because he was even more militarist and war-mongering than the Establishment.

    Granted, we can't entirely fault Stone for the confusions around Alexander. Through the ages, he was romanticized as not only a great soldier and conqueror but lover, poet, and dreamer. He was Apollo and Dionysus rolled into one. But that is a tall order for a writer to create and actor to bring to life, and Farrell seemed more perplexed than open to the challenge. But I can't imagine any of the current actors carrying it off. Maybe the young Brando could have. Richard Burton tried but didn't do much better(though better). Farrell always seems ill-at-ease, an Alexander who's uncomfortable in his Alexander-suit. In contrast, the guy who plays Arthur in Excalibur, though initially hesitant to take on the burden, learns quickly and gets into the groove of being a king. Alexander, in contrast, carries his own identity like a cross to crucifixion. Btw, if Stone was a sure-fire hit, he should have it made in the mode of Conan the Barbarian or 300.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C_Vqn711M4

  168. @J.Ross
    @Anonymous

    One of the best Napoleon stories is right at the start of his career. Inter-revolutionary governments in Paris were doing a terrible job of running things and suffered arbitrary restrictions, at the same time that riots and little revolutions were breaking out. Napoleon got mentioned by a comrade to the powers that were and was asked for a sample plan. He demanded leeway to do what he wanted, then explained how he would defuse the situation without excess damage, then proceeded to do exactly what he had described with total success. It was actually more complex than scaring off rioters with grapeshot as the quote goes.

    Replies: @R.G. Camara

    Best story about Napoleon I heard was after a battle, he would walk through the various encampments of his troops, ask for the soldier who had done the bravest deed or was the most wounded, sit with the man and listen to his story, and then, his face filled with emotion, he would rip a medal off his own chest and put it on the man, and loudly declaim how wonderful the man was to his comrades.

    The troops would be moved by this and cheer.

    Then at the next camp a dozen yards away he would do the same for another solider, until every group thought Napoleon had personally blessed them with his own medals.

    In truth, Napoleon had a whole chest full of fake medals he would clamp to his chest before beginning this charade to give away in fake emotion, all to rouse the troops’ morale and make himself their hero.

    He reportedly said something like, “A man will crawl through a hundred yards of shit and get shot a dozen times for a small hunk of crap medal and a cheap ribbon.”

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @R.G. Camara

    But Bonaparte had the energy to sit with dozens of soldiers and hear their stories after each battle. Not every general has that.

  169. @Ghost of Bull Moose
    @Captain Tripps

    "Consider, though, that Tom Wolfe maybe enjoyed playing the part of the southern gentleman amongst the brusque New Yorkers, like Ben Franklin playing the American frontiersman before the snobbish Parisian court."

    There's something to that. I don't consider Oliver Stone much of a New Yorker in his sensibility, even though he was born here and went to NYU. He seems more 'California' to me, or maybe I mean Hollywood. I don't consider him much of a Jew, either, though his father was. Maybe he's perceived that way more by non-NYers?

    A Jewish friend who spent time in Israel said he felt more Jewish when in America and more American when in Israel. Maybe when Wolfe went home to Virginia he felt more of a New Yorker? He did cultivate his persona (just a little) with the white suits and cars. He was an ultra NY insider though; the last encounter with him by anyone I know was at a Manhattan Institute dinner.

    The Franklin example is a good one. Steely Dan moved from New York to LA and immediately started writing anti-nostalgic NY-centric songs with a West Coast sound. Donald Fagan said he and Becker felt very much like NYers in LA. I'm sure we could keep coming up with examples.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    Stone went to a prep boarding school, The Hill School, in Pennsylvania. And he spent a fair amount of time with his French grandmother in Paris. So his upbringing was kind of Whit Stillman Urban Haute-Bourgeois. But he wanted the kind of experiences that he-man 1930s novelists had so he did stuff like go to sea (37 day crossing of the Pacific working in a freighter boilerroom, which was enough of the sea for one lifetime for him) and volunteer for combat duty in Vietnam.

    • Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose
    @Steve Sailer

    Tobias Wolff went to the Hill School, too. Another half Jew who really isn't very much of one at all. Definitely one of the jockier prep schools; I went to a huge swimming school and they were our big rivals who beat us in every other sport.

    The summers with his French grandmother make sense. That kind of upbringing can be useful for an artist. Defamiliarization and all that.

    , @JMcG
    @Steve Sailer

    That’s pretty impressive. I don’t think too many he-man novelists of the thirties did anything like that. Hemingway sponged off his first wife while running around on her. Fitzgerald was no he-man. Did you have the era of Jack London and Joseph Conrad in mind?
    Perhaps B Traven. I just read Treasure of the Sierra Madre for the first time and was impressed by it.
    Far more so than any of Hemingway’s novels, whose short stories I think are much better than his longer works.
    I’ll have to take another look at Stone.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

  170. @Corvinus
    "Even America’s most notorious conspiracy theorist doesn’t take the media’s Russiagate conspiracy theory seriously."

    Just because he does not mention it in his book? We know what he said in 2017...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTmWCYj-mlE

    and in 2019.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLlajjZK_as

    Of course, Mr. Sailer, context is key here. something that you tend not to explore if it does not suit your narrative. Stone is discussing matters from the lens of his longstanding (and legitimate) distrust of our intelligence community, specifically the actions taken by Bush, Jr. in the Middle. Naturally, as a result of neo-con foreign policies, he is especially harsh toward the CIA. But that does not mean that we, as the American people, ought to or must totally discount what they do to protect America. To me, an honest public separates good deeds from bad deeds, past and present, and takes into acute consideration there are members of the intelligence community dedicated to ensuring the safety of American citizens. In other words, assess each situation based on the merits, rather than go in full "Deep State" mode.

    Stone, like a number of Americans, said where was the evidence of "this hack to influence the election". Well, he focused something the Mueller Report NEVER investigated, but was reported by conservative media (and you) as being contrary. There are two books (and a third on the way) by an author I am certain you have read about. That is why I believe you do not broach this topic in the manner by which it deserves. I get it, there are bills to pay.


    "[Mueller's work] was narrow in scope—and the narrowness of the key inquiry in a criminal probe (proof beyond a reasonable doubt) versus a counterintelligence one that is ongoing (evidence of compromise or other national security risk). His report focused only on Russia, and focused only on the narrow crime of conspiracy—and at that, only a before-the-fact conspiracy, rather than aiding and abetting a conspiracy after the fact. Trump critics never alleged a before-the-fact Trump-Russia conspiracy involving hacking or propaganda to influence the election—the claim was *always* that Trump had been bribed by Russia, solicited illegal aid from Russia, and aided and abetted Russian crimes after the fact. As a matter of both criminal law and counterintelligence, that is *not* the same thing as President Trump having been *formally recruited* as a Russian intelligence agent under direct orders from Putin—something that was never argued and *the evidence we have does not support*.
     
    "Chasing the Light is striking for a 2020 book for its lack of Trump Derangement Syndrome."

    Cagey, Mr. Sailer. Perhaps Stone's intention was NOT to focus on Trump in his book. Curious as to why you neglected to investigate Stone's views on Trump. Here, let me help you fill in the gaps. First, the video from 2019 calls him a "disaster".

    Second...

    Source -- https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/oliver-stone-donald-trump-biopic-health-richard-nixon-george-w-bush-a9614986.html


    Oliver Stone has discussed the possibility of making a Donald Trump movie, while suggesting the US president's popularity stems from him being a “fool”..."There’s nothing that could quite capture this fellow. He’s quite a whirlwind, a fascinating dramatic character. Shakespearean too, in the sense that he’s so emotional – at times he creates a storm, almost purposely every day, to keep the energy going. He creates a storm inside himself. He’s King Lear in a strange way too - which daughter loves me more?”

     

    Finally...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GLF5Qgiu3w


    "There is something vastly wrong with his ego," Stone said. He added of the president: "He doesn’t have the same consistency of any of the presidents."
     
    "There isn’t much detail on Stone’s political change of heart in Chasing the Light. My guess is that Stone’s politics, like those of old-time science-fiction author Robert Heinlein, may be influenced by whoever is his current wife."

    I absolutely relish you traversing into cavalier territory. It makes it that much more enjoyable when you get exposed, since his politics have been influenced by his own experiences and observations of the world, as the sources I provided demonstrate.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    That seems like a promising notion Stone has for a Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined.

    But Stone says he’s too old to make more feature films.

    • Replies: @utu
    @Steve Sailer

    "Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined." - Played by Klaus Kinski from the "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" when abandoned by everybody fighting off monkeys.

    Replies: @Anon

    , @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Steve Sailer

    Keep in mind that the Fool is mislabeled: he's both smarter and wiser than Lear.

    Replies: @Corvinus

    , @Corvinus
    @Steve Sailer

    "That seems like a promising notion Stone has for a Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined."

    Indeed, another film about an bombastic Amerikan flim-flam artist and his real life exploits for shekels.

  171. “…the use of Barber’s Adagio for Strings for death scenes has become clichéd.” An acquaintance of mine wittily refers to that music as “Sam the Barber and his Dodgy Strings.” As Gilles Dorfles remarked in his book “Kitsch: The World of Bad Taste,” sometimes a great thing can become kitsch because it is overused by those who seek a utilitarian purpose for it.

  172. @Steve Sailer
    @Corvinus

    That seems like a promising notion Stone has for a Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined.

    But Stone says he's too old to make more feature films.

    Replies: @utu, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Corvinus

    “Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined.” – Played by Klaus Kinski from the “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” when abandoned by everybody fighting off monkeys.

    • Replies: @Anon
    @utu

    OT:
    About Beirut, two months old. Macron went there to push for policy change:
    https://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/82051

    Revenge, straight from the horse’s mouth
    http://callmejorgebergoglio.blogspot.com/2020/05/jewish-pirates-of-caribbean.html?m=1

  173. @Steve Sailer
    @Corvinus

    That seems like a promising notion Stone has for a Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined.

    But Stone says he's too old to make more feature films.

    Replies: @utu, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Corvinus

    Keep in mind that the Fool is mislabeled: he’s both smarter and wiser than Lear.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    "Keep in mind that the Fool is mislabeled..."

    Trump is mentally deranged.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900000/

  174. @Anonymous
    @Old Prude


    F5s are as apt as A4s. Carry on, soldier
     
    Yeah...no. Neither US Navy nor Marine A4s would have been flying CAS for units of the 25th Infantry Division. And the RVNAF did not begin receiving F-5s until June, 1967, one of their six fighter squadrons, the 522nd, being equipped with them, while three other squadrons equipped with A-37s and the two remaining kept their A-1s.
    The RVNAF flew its missions in support of the ARVN while the USAF supported the US Army, using, during the time-frame of the movie, predominantly F-100s south of the 17th parallel. The A4 was used by the US Marines flying out of Chu Lai to support Marine units and was not normally seen south of I Corps.

    Replies: @Old Prude

    Hey: I wasn’t there. I just saw the movie.

  175. @eD
    In view of some of the negative comments on Stone above, to the effect that he didn't really use his gifts and his career was disappointing, I went to the Wikipedia article on Stone and looked at the filmography. For comparison, I also went to the articles on John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock. This is a tough crowd, but I think that most people reading this would recognize either or both Ford and Hitchcock as great movie makers.

    Stone is credited with 38 movies, 8 documentaries, and 6 TV shows ("Wild Palms" is really good). I think he made one great movie, "Nixon", but there are about half a dozen other titles most people would recognize or have as favorites.

    Hitchcock is credited for 59 movies, 11 of them silent movies. Probably the best one is "Vertigo", but I counted ten obviously great movies or classics.

    Ford is credited for 137 movies as a director. Some of these were documentaries. He also directed 2 TV productions and a stage production for charity. There were some years where he directed three movies. However, in my opinion most of these titles people will not have heard of most of these titles. Probably five or six of these movies were great or memorable.

    This tends to support my impression that as a movie maker, Stone was very good but obviously not in the Hitchcock/ Ford league. Hitchcock was one of the best half dozen directors of all time. Stone had one, maybe two, great movies to about ten for Hitchcock and maybe five for Ford. But this is an excellent career.

    I have a theory that in the storytelling arts (novels, epic poems, plays, movies) the greatest artists are good for maybe half a dozen great works, usually less, in rare instances more but never more than a dozen.

    Replies: @SunBakedSuburb, @68W58, @Dave Pinsen, @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    Basically, in his 30s Stone wrote one surprise hit movie, Midnight Express, and one fairly legendary movie, Scarface. In his 40s, he wrote and directed ten movies, a huge output, only one of which was a damp squib (talk radio)

    1995 Nixon
    1994 Natural Born Killers
    1993 Heaven & Earth
    1991 JFK
    1991 The Doors
    1989 Born on the Fourth of July
    1988 Talk Radio
    1987 Wall Street
    1986 Platoon
    1986 Salvador

    Three — Platoon, Wall Street, and JFK — were among the 20 or so most famous movies of their era, and that’s not counting Born on the Fourth of July, for which he won his second Best Director Oscar.

    But after age 50 he was just another writer-director. Not a bad one, and keep in mind that he had the problem that his personality was so much a part of the 1986-1995 era that it was difficult for him to come up with new takes that were in sync with his personality.

    John Ford made two of his most famous movies in his 60s — The Searchers and Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. That’s impressive.

    Hitchcock peaked late, around age 60 with Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho, then didn’t do much that was memorable after The Birds in mid-60s. That’s impressive too.

    But, also, neither Ford nor Hitchcock were screenwriters.

    Stone is kind of like a baseball player like Sandy Koufax who had five straight great seasons, then was burned out.

    On the other hand, Koufax remains a particularly glamorous name because he walked away after going 27-9 in 1966. If we’d watched him run up a 5-7 win-loss record in 1973, he’d seem less legendary. Stone stuck around another 20 years and came back to earth.

  176. @Dave Pinsen
    @Steve Sailer

    I think the last Stone movie I saw (other than the interview with Putin) was Savages in 2012, and that was well made. I don’t know if it was Stone’s idea or it was in the script, but having Benicio Del Toro‘s Mexican gangster character show up at the site of the ambush sipping a Starbucks iced coffee was a hilarious touch.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    I enjoyed “Savages” a fair amount. It’s rather a weird movie in that the two main characters — the Jewish wheel-dealer and the gentile soldier who are partners in a marijuana business — seem to be meant to be more aspects of Stone’s personality than real individuals: e.g., they share a girlfriend without jealousy.

  177. @Almost Missouri
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Agree.

    From the review:


    the only mistake I noticed was that he confuses the 1960s F-4 fighter jet with the 1970s F-16
     
    Does this refers to the scene in Platoon where an airstrike ends the finale battle, and Stone substituted an F-16 for an F-4? The jet only appeared in silhouette, yet the obvious anachronism bothered me at the time and is still the first thing I think of when recalling what was otherwise a bracing movie. I presumed it was just cheaper to get a inventory F-16 than an obsolete F-4, whether real or model.

    Replies: @36 ulster, @Joe Stalin, @Lurker, @Bardon Kaldian, @Steve Sailer

    I haven’t seen Platoon since 1986 so I don’t recall which jet is in the movie. I’m just objecting to the couple of times in recollecting his memories of combat in his book where he refers to an F-16. Did the Philippines air force have F-16s in 1986?

    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
    @Steve Sailer

    No PAF F-16s in the Philippines in 1986. They have "baby F-16s" currently in service.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2XDg9bHj5k

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri8J8N2IzIw

  178. @theMann
    Is "man" the right term for any male whose politics are influenced by his wife?

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Bardon Kaldian

    Pussy makes the world go round. Why not some poor schmuck?

  179. @Steve Sailer
    @R.G. Camara

    Farrell is like Jude Law or maybe Paul Bettany. A fine actor, but not quite a leading man.

    There was a big rush to make an Alexander the Great movie after the success of Gladiator: Stone, Scorsese, Gibson, and Luhrmann all-wanted to make Alexander movies, I think Scorsese and Luhrmann both wanted DiCaprio.

    Stone won the race to get his movie started first, but paid the price for rushing. It's a pretty bad movie. I can recall having a sinking feeling during its opening credits because the typeface was cheesy. Uh-oh, if they can't get that right ...

    Replies: @R.G. Camara, @Bardon Kaldian

    This film has two basic flaws.

    1. the entire concept was wrong. It had to be legendary, majestic, mythic- while it is mostly, although not entirely, faux realism.

    2. then, Stone should get someone magnetic for the central role. And no one was available, at least no one among people he had in mind. Someone with something, Welles had been talking about:

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    DiCaprio could have pulled it off. But he was playing Howard Hughes, quite well, for Scorsese. Brad Pitt was playing Achilles in "Troy."

    Also, Stone's cinematographer Robert Richardson was making the Howard Hughes movie for Scorsese, for which he won another Oscar. Stone wound up with the 2nd best Mexican cameraman (not Lubetski, the other guy), but they had a lot of bad luck like the Indian airport security irradiating their exposed film.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

  180. @Hodag
    Whither Michael Cimino.

    I was too young to see his early work in the theater. Over the years I saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (meh) and Deer Hunter (hated it first time, better the second time a decade later when I knew I could spend the first 45 minutes doing something else).

    Heaven's Gate was such a flop it killed United Artists - who had a great theater in Oak Brook with a giant screen. And so killed his career.

    Every director makes a bad film, even a disaster. So why was Cimino essentially black-balled? Cocaine? Did he rape his agent's wife?

    I have no idea.

    Replies: @Kent Nationalist, @anon, @Anonymous, @Servant of Gla'aki, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Sam Malone, @Steve Sailer

    Cimino had a huge success with The Deer Hunter, Best Picture Oscar and lots of money. Then he blew a colossal amount of money making Heaven’s Gate and it destroyed the studio that financed it when it flopped (and caused Hollywood to decide cocaine was a bad thing).

    Stone wrote the script for Cimino’s 1985 movie “Year of the Dragon” with Mickey Rourke as a tough cop investigating Chinese drug smugglers. I liked it a lot but most people didn’t and it flopped at the box office. Stone admired Cimino more than the other directors who made movies from his scripts — Alan Parker (“cold”), John Milius (employed his surf buddies on “Conan”), and Brian DePalma (unenergetic on “Scarface’s” long shoot) — but he has a lot of anecdotes about Cimino’s self-defeating artistic lavishness and grandiosity as a filmmaker.

    Italian artists have a tendency toward megalomania. Coppola’s exwife made this amazing documentary called Hearts of Darkness about the filming of Apocalypse Now in which everybody working on the movie is sleeping in tents during the monsoon and catching malaria, while Francis F.C. has had himself built and extremely comfortable bungalow in the jungle and is shipped a case of the finest champagne. While he’s opening the case Coppola tells the camera, like a Renaissance prince: I just want every moment of my life to be MAGNIFICENT. (But when I try to look up this quote, all I find are links to 2Blowhard comments where I’m repeating this same anecdote. So maybe I imagined it all?

    Also, Cimino apparently started dressing as a woman at some point (Stone refers to it as Cimino’s “crossdressing, transition, whatever,” which didn’t help his career).

    But still, Cimino made The Deer Hunter.

    • Replies: @Ray P
    @Steve Sailer

    Coppola sounds like he had a bit of an Orson Welles thing going on (Kurtz = Coppola?)

    Cimino sounds like he had an Ed Wood jnr. thing going on. Would it be an advantage these days?

  181. @Anonymous
    The test of a man's talent is what he can do with limited resources. Napoleon's genius wasn't much in evidence when he was commanding vast armies at the peak of his career. He would just crush his opponents with overwhelming force. Anyone can do that. It was at the beginning and very end of his career, when he had only small forces at his disposal, that you really see the brilliance of the man.

    Replies: @J.Ross, @Bardon Kaldian

    Absolutely wrong. Napoleon was s super-human genius.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20821092-napoleon

  182. @MEH 0910
    NYFF Q&A: Oliver Stone & James Woods, "Salvador"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWA6nFJGKJo

    Following the 25th Anniversary Screening of "Salvador" at the 49th New York Film Festival, director Oliver Stone and actor James Woods answered questions about the film that helped establish Stone as a world-class filmmaker.
     
    Confession scene from Salvador 1986 Oliver Stone
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwJOcmKo184

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Stone says that he told Woods to look into his black heart and then improvise his lines in the confessional.

  183. @Bardon Kaldian
    @Dieter Kief

    I strongly disagree. Won't address other topics, but Faust is simply not "Faustian". He should have been something like a new Prometheus, thirsting for power, knowledge & eternity (eternity is here something like Nietzsche's: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zarathustra%27s_roundelay).

    And what does he do?

    He turns out to be a 4th rate Casanova, first with Gretchen, then with Helen of Troy. And Goethe ends his work with famous hymn to the Eternally Feminine.

    This is an anti-climax, like Goethe's embarrassing geriatric infatuation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marienbad_Elegy

    This is not Faustian; this is not archetypal; this is not larger than life. This is simply....embarrassing & humiliating.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    Goehte’s geriatric infatuation – the Marienbad Elegy

    The Marienbad Elegy is one of the most perfect examples of an existential mishap/mistake put into form. It’s wrong throughout, Goethe does make a fool of himself here big style, I agree! But: works of art need not necessarily convey what’s right or tasteful, artists can be brilliant while being self-deceptive quite easily. Art at its core is not about truth, but about form, it’s not necessarily a depiction of what is reasonable or real, but it is necessarily a depiction of what is witty, well made, and playful.

    The existential mishap turned poem of the Marienbad Elegy helps me a bit personally too at times – not least yesterday, a swirlingly beautiful summer day,  when I rode the bike into town right at mid-day (Pan’s hour of godly lust and madness) and that meant – I cycled right into a flood bath of flashes of – – – – (young) women’s flesh. One of the pleasures and the threats to my sanity – and that of quite a few other regular guys too these days.

    If my Marienbader Elegie-interpretation would be true, this would be fun though, because then what I think are crucial lines of Goethe (who was a great scientist – all his experiments in his Color Theory book were run again by a group of physics in the last years – and all of them replicated: His dozens of experiments did show what Goethe had said they would (cf. the book by Olaf L. Müller – Mehr Licht, Frankfurt/M. 2015 (Müller has studied physics (amongst other things (mathematics – he is now a science historian)). Ahh –  the fun part: Goethe the man would profit from Goethe the science-theorist since not only in science but also in real life it is essential to allow yourself to be wrong (while trying to act reasonably) – the Marienbader Elegie can thus be read as a proof that Goethe was not only right about the nature of modern science (as a predecessor of Wittgenstein, Gödel, Carl Popper, Friedrich Kambartel, Michael Dummett, Habermas et. al.)  but also about life. Ok with my last remark I’m rumbling through the door you’ve opened in your comment No. 7 above. 

    Friedrich Nietzsche liked Goethe very much indeed, maybe more than any other writer (with the possible exception of – himself…) – something which does not go along perfectly well with your Nietzsche-Goethe argumentation above.

    Science and all that dwarfed the protean character – this insight lies at the core of modernity.

    If that’s right, your main point against Goethe’s Faust would be rather nostalgic.
    And I’d hold that that is right, – in other words –  not the physically strong hero reigns successfully any longer, but the rather clear-minded type. Goethe (and Shakespeare)  bridged the gap between the medieval Kingdoms with their reliance on the physical strength of the emperor and our (in the physical sense) rather unheroic times. I now think of the (by both Goethe and Nietzsche) highly estimated Miguel Cervantes and his Don Quichotte. And Cervantes not only marked the end of the period of the physically strong hero – he also showed that those medieval heroes had something about them which was quite wrong so that they were not only heroic but also quite comical. – Something that people did not allow themselves to notice too much and too well as long as the physically strong leader was indeed a leading figure in pre-modern societies because then it would have been simply too dangerous to really ridicule these leaders – people then needed them badly to protect them. All of a sudden it was possible though  – and some great writers realized the comical potential of this new constellation: To name just three:

    1) Cervantes

     2) Shakespeare: “The fool thinks he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – Or his brilliant and funny fool in The Twelfth’s Night and

    3) Johann Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen and his quite cruel and fun 30-Year War novel Simplicius Simplicissimus

    (Honorable mention here for Fischart’s grotesque meta-novel Geschicht-Klitterung and the source of his 16th-century intellectual tour de force to the bottom (and the dirty (!) roots) of reason and taste fuelled by humor – Francois Rabelais’ grotesquerie Gargantua and Pantagruel. (The last two – Fischart and Rabelais – are interesting, but maybe only for the crazy ones amongst the happy few… – I know of nobody in Germany who follows this path… it’s lonely at the top of some thought-mountains and I#d rather have company than adopt the Nietzschean poisonous pleasure of being the Superman…).

    So – Goethe made the right choice in putting the scientist at the center of his Faust. Because it was all kinds of scientists, who made the modern state less dependent on the physical strength of the mighty ones and more dependent on rationality.

    One last thought: Goethe was very clear in Faust (but not only there)  about the fact, that rationality (and brightness) alone won’t do.  

    Ahh – a quote from the above-mentioned Geschicht-Klitterung about women: Where the lusts of women kick in – nothing can be too dear – as a comment of Fischart about the blood-lust of the maddened Ajax. Ajax – who had been described by Homer as “the strongest and the bulwark of all Archaens” – strong and powerful, a perfect fighter – brought to kill himself by the goddess Anthea (who helped him to avoid what would have been an even greater mistake in his eyes…namely, to kill not his enemies, but to kill his friends…). Modern man thus is not too far away from the ancient hero. And modern women neither. –

    Nothing can be done – My heart (=your heart…) is a smoking gun

    Joni Mitchell

  184. @MEH 0910

    Stone began his career as a screenwriter. He’s proud that he wrote six days per week while hacking a cab in Taxi Driver-era Manhattan. After a half decade of rejection, he suddenly won the Best Adaptation Oscar for 1978’s Midnight Express.
     
    https://twitter.com/thr/status/1289225844137685000

    https://twitter.com/NYTObits/status/1289988593830699010

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Steve Sailer

    Stone seems like a pretty clear Tier 2 director behind Tier 1 directors like Hitchcock, Ford, Kubrick, and Spielberg, and above Tier 3 directors like the late Alan Parker. But Parker was a really good director with a lot of good movies in different styles.

    An interesting comparison would be Stone to Frank Capra:

    1947 Nominee Oscar Best Director It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
    1940 Nominee Oscar Best Director Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
    1939 Winner Oscar Best Director You Can’t Take It with You (1938)
    1937 Winner Oscar Best Director Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
    1935 Winner Oscar Best Director It Happened One Night (1934)
    1934 Nominee Oscar Best Director Lady for a Day (1933)

    You could argue that Capra deserved a 4th Oscar for his 1946 masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life, but audiences didn’t really get that movie until it accidentally fell out of copyright and everybody saw it countless times on TV at Christmas. And that like Joe DiMaggio, Capra’s missing 3 years in his prime for the War means his career stats are underrated.

    On the other hand, You Can’t Take It With You is pretty bad compared to some other 1938 movies like Michael Curtiz’s Robin Hood and Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby. (For fairly random reasons, 1938 happened to be worse than Hollywood’s peak in 1938, but, still, it’s hard to argue that You Can’t Take It With You is the best directed movie of 1938.)

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @Steve Sailer


    Stone seems like a pretty clear Tier 2 director behind Tier 1 directors like Hitchcock, Ford, Kubrick, and Spielberg
     
    He is Tier 2, but Spielberg is also Tier 2 (although Tier 1 as an entertainer).
  185. @Bardon Kaldian
    @Steve Sailer

    This film has two basic flaws.

    1. the entire concept was wrong. It had to be legendary, majestic, mythic- while it is mostly, although not entirely, faux realism.

    2. then, Stone should get someone magnetic for the central role. And no one was available, at least no one among people he had in mind. Someone with something, Welles had been talking about:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfghSj5Y93I

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    DiCaprio could have pulled it off. But he was playing Howard Hughes, quite well, for Scorsese. Brad Pitt was playing Achilles in “Troy.”

    Also, Stone’s cinematographer Robert Richardson was making the Howard Hughes movie for Scorsese, for which he won another Oscar. Stone wound up with the 2nd best Mexican cameraman (not Lubetski, the other guy), but they had a lot of bad luck like the Indian airport security irradiating their exposed film.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @Steve Sailer

    Pitt, and especially Di Caprio, know how to act, that's for sure. But Di Caprio is easily overshadowed by other actors when not allowed to display all his talents of making gestures, speech mannerisms etc.

    Pitt would be a better choice, but he's too old (OK, that's fixable) & seems, at least to me, to have been caught in the image of easy going sexually charismatic modern Western man. As Achilles, he didn't quite pull off.

    What I mean that for that role, one should have a person with natural magnetism, and more: non-sexual magnetism, something that radiates excesses of power & leader's charisma - and camera can capture that.

    Whether this is doable at all is another question.

  186. @Anonymous
    @Jim Christian

    Linklater? ... So Linklater, his biggest work being Slackers and a remake of Bad News Bears is anything but a major falloff from Stone (Platoon, Midnight Express and a dozen others between screenplays and as movies-as-director, you know them all)? Now, Linklater went into oil platforms (I’m assuming roughneck), those guys get cred for doing shit at least as risky (or insane) as my flight decks... Ron Howard, Opie and all, dwarfs Linklater.

    Linklater is 'thoughtful and last of his breed' in being more of a free-thinker, free spirit, and a man of varied interests. Also, he appreciates manhood(as well as other-hoods). He's also deeply empathetic of all sides, even those he disagrees with. We saw that in Dazed and Confused, his best work. Slacker got him noticed, and he made some crowd pleasers like Bad News Bears, but even that movie wasn't just for money but a tribute to the 70s when things were looser and more libertine, less hung up with PC and speech codes and so many rules about everything. Back then, the idea of making the entire nation wear masks would have been laughable. Because Linklater was both jock, brain, and arty type, he has a broad perspective. In contrast, many film-makers of his generation seem to be forever fighting the high school war against the jocks, mean girls, or whatever. Linklater, though not without judgement, accepts them all as part of humanity. It's far less formulaic.

    In contrast, Todd Solondnz sees humanity as a puss. Alexander Payne focuses on hypocrisy. Smarmy David O Russell likes to mock everyone(though American Hustle was a great improvement). P.T. Anderson is a hopeless sap for his epic grandstanding. Linklater, at least at his best, just sees people as they are. Even someone you hate can be cool with someone you admire. The tapestry of life in Dazed and Confused is truly rich. Clint the nasty bully to one kid could be a pretty cool guy with other kids.

    And he's tried different things. He experimented with live-action animation in Waking Life and Scanner Darkly. He did film-plays with Tape. Me and Orson Welles is a first-rate movie about the theater world. I didn't care for Boyhood but it was thoughtful and done with lots of love.

    In Everyone Wants Some, he's not afraid put male culture, warts and all, on full display.
    He's not in this mode of the ever-resentful beta-male forever thrashing away at the Frat Boys or Big Men on the Campus. Too many film-makers are geeks who are either afraid of manhood(and mock and subvert it) or can celebrate only as cartoonish superhero fantasies. So, there's so much anti-male stuff(often from other males, just like females often rag on other females) and so much fantasy-male stuff but not much real male stuff. (Superhero fantasy male stuff is really a geek fantasy, e.g. nerd Peter Park gets bitten by spider and can beat up everyone; Clark Kent the dork turn into Superman, etc). Linklater seems one of the few directors who are comfortable with normal virile manhood. He gets on with nerds and jocks. And that's cool.

    Michael Mann, older director, is also pretty cool with real manhood.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    Jonathan Demme?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Dieter Kief

    Jonathan Demme?

    Maybe Demme before Philadelphia. His movies Citizens Band, Melvin and Howard, and especially Something Wild are special. The Last Embrace, though problematic, is interesting. The trashy and ugly Silence of the Lambs was his biggest hit but soon triggered his psychological meltdown. He went into do-goody Liberal mode and felt he had to apologize to the homo community forever for having such a 'transphobic' movie. Everything he made after that was in expiation mode. He went from ironist-humanist to propagandist of straight-guilt and white-guilt.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

  187. @R.G. Camara
    @J.Ross

    Best story about Napoleon I heard was after a battle, he would walk through the various encampments of his troops, ask for the soldier who had done the bravest deed or was the most wounded, sit with the man and listen to his story, and then, his face filled with emotion, he would rip a medal off his own chest and put it on the man, and loudly declaim how wonderful the man was to his comrades.

    The troops would be moved by this and cheer.

    Then at the next camp a dozen yards away he would do the same for another solider, until every group thought Napoleon had personally blessed them with his own medals.

    In truth, Napoleon had a whole chest full of fake medals he would clamp to his chest before beginning this charade to give away in fake emotion, all to rouse the troops' morale and make himself their hero.

    He reportedly said something like, "A man will crawl through a hundred yards of shit and get shot a dozen times for a small hunk of crap medal and a cheap ribbon."

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    But Bonaparte had the energy to sit with dozens of soldiers and hear their stories after each battle. Not every general has that.

  188. @Steve Sailer
    @Hodag

    Cimino had a huge success with The Deer Hunter, Best Picture Oscar and lots of money. Then he blew a colossal amount of money making Heaven's Gate and it destroyed the studio that financed it when it flopped (and caused Hollywood to decide cocaine was a bad thing).

    Stone wrote the script for Cimino's 1985 movie "Year of the Dragon" with Mickey Rourke as a tough cop investigating Chinese drug smugglers. I liked it a lot but most people didn't and it flopped at the box office. Stone admired Cimino more than the other directors who made movies from his scripts -- Alan Parker ("cold"), John Milius (employed his surf buddies on "Conan"), and Brian DePalma (unenergetic on "Scarface's" long shoot) -- but he has a lot of anecdotes about Cimino's self-defeating artistic lavishness and grandiosity as a filmmaker.

    Italian artists have a tendency toward megalomania. Coppola's exwife made this amazing documentary called Hearts of Darkness about the filming of Apocalypse Now in which everybody working on the movie is sleeping in tents during the monsoon and catching malaria, while Francis F.C. has had himself built and extremely comfortable bungalow in the jungle and is shipped a case of the finest champagne. While he's opening the case Coppola tells the camera, like a Renaissance prince: I just want every moment of my life to be MAGNIFICENT. (But when I try to look up this quote, all I find are links to 2Blowhard comments where I'm repeating this same anecdote. So maybe I imagined it all?

    Also, Cimino apparently started dressing as a woman at some point (Stone refers to it as Cimino's "crossdressing, transition, whatever," which didn't help his career).

    But still, Cimino made The Deer Hunter.

    Replies: @Ray P

    Coppola sounds like he had a bit of an Orson Welles thing going on (Kurtz = Coppola?)

    Cimino sounds like he had an Ed Wood jnr. thing going on. Would it be an advantage these days?

  189. @Steve Sailer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    DiCaprio could have pulled it off. But he was playing Howard Hughes, quite well, for Scorsese. Brad Pitt was playing Achilles in "Troy."

    Also, Stone's cinematographer Robert Richardson was making the Howard Hughes movie for Scorsese, for which he won another Oscar. Stone wound up with the 2nd best Mexican cameraman (not Lubetski, the other guy), but they had a lot of bad luck like the Indian airport security irradiating their exposed film.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    Pitt, and especially Di Caprio, know how to act, that’s for sure. But Di Caprio is easily overshadowed by other actors when not allowed to display all his talents of making gestures, speech mannerisms etc.

    Pitt would be a better choice, but he’s too old (OK, that’s fixable) & seems, at least to me, to have been caught in the image of easy going sexually charismatic modern Western man. As Achilles, he didn’t quite pull off.

    What I mean that for that role, one should have a person with natural magnetism, and more: non-sexual magnetism, something that radiates excesses of power & leader’s charisma – and camera can capture that.

    Whether this is doable at all is another question.

  190. @R.G. Camara
    @Dave Pinsen

    Fair enough, but Farrell's chance to be the "It" guy was gone by Miami Vice. And Miami Vice disappointed, because the studio wanted a franchise and Mann delivered something that disappointed at the box office and was not franchisable; it was an attempt at artistry of his old TV product.

    Farrell was like Jude Law: they had great agents and studio backers who pushed them and pushed them and pushed them as above-the-title stars in many big-budget movies designed to be hits, and yet neither one grasped the ring with audiences or had a huge breakout hit.

    Hollywood likes superstar actor types because they are bankable. Tom Cruise being in a movie guarantees a certain box office take up front. Ditto for Will Smith, although his star has faded. Ditto for Arnold in the 80's and 90s. Ditto for all the classic Golden Age stars. Superstars guarantee revenue.

    Chris Rock hosted the Oscars around the time of Law's push and delivered an unintentionally devastating blow to Law's chances to be a superstar leading man when, at the show, he made a joke about how if you wanted Tom Cruise but could only get Jude Law, you should hold off on producing the movie.

    The Academy audience laughed & booed a bit too loud at that one.

    Jeremy Irons, who was up hosting the next segment, said something about Law being a fine actor to try to remove Rock's sting, but Rock's joke remains a wince-inducing moment that cemented for many the idea that Law was not going to be an It guy.

    Oh well. Law's had a very good career as a supporting actor in big name movies and then being the lead in lesser-budget films. I don't feel too bad for him or Farrell in terms of their career arcs.

    Replies: @Jim Don Bob, @Anonymous

    Farrell was very funny in The Gentlemen as the owner of a boxing studio.

  191. @Steve Sailer
    @Corvinus

    That seems like a promising notion Stone has for a Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined.

    But Stone says he's too old to make more feature films.

    Replies: @utu, @The Germ Theory of Disease, @Corvinus

    “That seems like a promising notion Stone has for a Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined.”

    Indeed, another film about an bombastic Amerikan flim-flam artist and his real life exploits for shekels.

  192. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Steve Sailer

    Keep in mind that the Fool is mislabeled: he's both smarter and wiser than Lear.

    Replies: @Corvinus

    “Keep in mind that the Fool is mislabeled…”

    Trump is mentally deranged.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900000/

  193. @Art Deco
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Unlike most, I think his JFK was a very good film & that there was some kind of conspiracy, basically a right wing coup. At least, Stone masterfully ridiculed the “magic bullet theory”,

    He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people.

    And there was no 'magic bullet theory'. Josiah Thompson promoted the notion that the Specter model was unworkable. Thompson got the idea in his head that his own schematic drawing of the vehicle and its occupants was accurate. It was not. Gov. Connolly was seated on a meridian about six inches to Kennedy's left and his body was about three inches closer to the ground (he being in a jumpseat).

    Your 'right-wing coup' replaced one mainstream Democrat with a different mainstream Democrat, a man with more populist sympathies and with a different skill set (better at manipulating politicians, worse at public relations). Heckuva job.

    Replies: @James O'Meara, @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous, @JohnnyWalker123, @David In TN

    “He propagated Jim Garrison’s silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people.”

    Garrison knowingly prosecuted an innocent man for murder of the President of the United States. Garrison had been totally discredited in the minds of serious people by the mid-70s, even with many conspiracy believers.

    Stone used Garrison as his protagonist in order to have a “hero” the movie revolved around.

    To me, the most entertaining part of JFK was Donald Sutherland’s performance as the Deep State renegade who tells Kevin Costner how it went down. Had someone like this testified at Shaw’s trial, he would have been laughed off the stand during cross examination.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @David In TN

    To me, the most entertaining part of JFK was Donald Sutherland’s performance as the Deep State renegade who tells Kevin Costner how it went down.

    I think Oswald did it, but there is a Never Cry Wolf vibe around the assassination. The ruling class told so many lies(and botched up the investigation of the assassination and kept so many secrets sealed) over the years that the idea among radicals and the young was the Power must be lying about Everything. Never trust anyone over the upper-middle class.

    , @Anonymous
    @David In TN

    Donald Sutherland is also the guy who got "Executive Action" (1973) made.

  194. @Anonymous
    @Thea

    Not directly, but the U.S. did provide significant aid to Georgia in that era, and its reasonable to assume that a nontrivial amount of this found its way to the Chechens with the quiet approval of Washington.

    (The political alignments of the countries of that region are complicated and tend to have more to do with national interest than religion. The Islamic Republic of Iran supported Armenia in its war with Muslim Azerbaijan for similar reasons.)

    Replies: @Thea

    It seems that either the US DOD doesn’t really know or keep track of whom it is funding or arming

    OR

    The USDOD deliberately supports the worst of the worst for nefarious reasons.

    Not sure which is more ridiculous and terrifying.

  195. Anonymous[291] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous
    @68W58

    I once read that Stephen King doesn’t like the movie “The Shining”, which is all well and good, but that Stanley Kubrick does and he made the movie based on his vision, not King’s.

    That dummy is just sour because Kubrick turned trash into treasure.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    King ripped off “Burnt Offerings” for that story anyway. I bet the original author was pretty bummed at all the money King/Kubrick made off of it.

  196. @Steve Sailer
    @Ghost of Bull Moose

    Stone went to a prep boarding school, The Hill School, in Pennsylvania. And he spent a fair amount of time with his French grandmother in Paris. So his upbringing was kind of Whit Stillman Urban Haute-Bourgeois. But he wanted the kind of experiences that he-man 1930s novelists had so he did stuff like go to sea (37 day crossing of the Pacific working in a freighter boilerroom, which was enough of the sea for one lifetime for him) and volunteer for combat duty in Vietnam.

    Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose, @JMcG

    Tobias Wolff went to the Hill School, too. Another half Jew who really isn’t very much of one at all. Definitely one of the jockier prep schools; I went to a huge swimming school and they were our big rivals who beat us in every other sport.

    The summers with his French grandmother make sense. That kind of upbringing can be useful for an artist. Defamiliarization and all that.

  197. Both Stone and David Lynch were born in 1946, the first year of the baby boom (Trump, Bush 43, and Bill Clinton all also being born in 1946). Both Stone and Lynch arguably had their career high points in 1986, Stone with Platoon and Lynch with Blue Velvet.

  198. @Steve Sailer
    @Ghost of Bull Moose

    Stone went to a prep boarding school, The Hill School, in Pennsylvania. And he spent a fair amount of time with his French grandmother in Paris. So his upbringing was kind of Whit Stillman Urban Haute-Bourgeois. But he wanted the kind of experiences that he-man 1930s novelists had so he did stuff like go to sea (37 day crossing of the Pacific working in a freighter boilerroom, which was enough of the sea for one lifetime for him) and volunteer for combat duty in Vietnam.

    Replies: @Ghost of Bull Moose, @JMcG

    That’s pretty impressive. I don’t think too many he-man novelists of the thirties did anything like that. Hemingway sponged off his first wife while running around on her. Fitzgerald was no he-man. Did you have the era of Jack London and Joseph Conrad in mind?
    Perhaps B Traven. I just read Treasure of the Sierra Madre for the first time and was impressed by it.
    Far more so than any of Hemingway’s novels, whose short stories I think are much better than his longer works.
    I’ll have to take another look at Stone.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @JMcG

    Faulkner faked a flying ace period.

    Replies: @JMcG, @Hibernian

  199. Anonymous[636] • Disclaimer says:
    @David In TN
    @Art Deco

    "He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people."

    Garrison knowingly prosecuted an innocent man for murder of the President of the United States. Garrison had been totally discredited in the minds of serious people by the mid-70s, even with many conspiracy believers.

    Stone used Garrison as his protagonist in order to have a "hero" the movie revolved around.

    To me, the most entertaining part of JFK was Donald Sutherland's performance as the Deep State renegade who tells Kevin Costner how it went down. Had someone like this testified at Shaw's trial, he would have been laughed off the stand during cross examination.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Anonymous

    To me, the most entertaining part of JFK was Donald Sutherland’s performance as the Deep State renegade who tells Kevin Costner how it went down.

    I think Oswald did it, but there is a Never Cry Wolf vibe around the assassination. The ruling class told so many lies(and botched up the investigation of the assassination and kept so many secrets sealed) over the years that the idea among radicals and the young was the Power must be lying about Everything. Never trust anyone over the upper-middle class.

  200. @Steve Sailer
    @Almost Missouri

    I haven't seen Platoon since 1986 so I don't recall which jet is in the movie. I'm just objecting to the couple of times in recollecting his memories of combat in his book where he refers to an F-16. Did the Philippines air force have F-16s in 1986?

    Replies: @Joe Stalin

    No PAF F-16s in the Philippines in 1986. They have “baby F-16s” currently in service.

  201. Anonymous[636] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dieter Kief
    @Anonymous

    Jonathan Demme?

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Jonathan Demme?

    Maybe Demme before Philadelphia. His movies Citizens Band, Melvin and Howard, and especially Something Wild are special. The Last Embrace, though problematic, is interesting. The trashy and ugly Silence of the Lambs was his biggest hit but soon triggered his psychological meltdown. He went into do-goody Liberal mode and felt he had to apologize to the homo community forever for having such a ‘transphobic’ movie. Everything he made after that was in expiation mode. He went from ironist-humanist to propagandist of straight-guilt and white-guilt.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @Anonymous

    I answered in comment 212 - forgot to press the answer button.

  202. Anonymous[283] • Disclaimer says:
    @R.G. Camara
    @Steve Sailer

    Great minds think alike; I made a comment about Farrell being like Jude Law here before you posted this.

    Gladiator caused a revival of sword-and-sandal movies, but I'm pretty sure Alexander killed off a lot of that momentum. Still, The Rock made a serviceable B-movie version of Hercules, the Spartacus TV series was fun (even though the leading man died of HGH-induced cancer after the first season, which he took to maintain a body-builder's physique for the show), Troy was pretty good, and various other incarnations have been entertaining since.

    Sword-and-sandal movies are really only good when they are epic, and epic requires a large budget AND a director who can handle such a colossal scale. Even many great directors can't do epic scale films, it takes a certain knack. Anyway, when one of those two factors don't happen you get a lot of cinematic trash, but trash can be entertaining and fun when done right.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Gladiator caused a revival of sword-and-sandal movies, but I’m pretty sure Alexander killed off a lot of that momentum.

    The main problem with Alexander is Stone’s conception and direction. Even another actor couldn’t have saved it. The only player who came alive was Angelina Jolie who played it so crazy that it outclassed Stone’s craziness. It was a kooky performance for the ages, and I loved it(and I don’t even like her). “I can out-craze you.” Everyone else, even Alexander by Farrell, was buried under Stone’s avalanche of excess.

    [MORE]

    By failure, box-office or artistic? A film can work as art and still fail with audiences. There have been too many films like that: Barry Lyndon to just name one. (Visconti’s The Leopard, now universally recognized as a great great film, was a huge disaster.) Or we can discuss why a movie failed artistically, regardless of whether it made money or not.

    Alexander failed with both critics and the audience and for good reason. Its sheer ambition made it rather enjoyable the first time. Stone’s passion carried it along. But upon closer inspection on the TV screen, it fails on so many levels. And it doesn’t matter how Stone rearranges it: theatrical cut, director’s cut, final cut, alternative cut, whatever. The problem isn’t the arrangement but the content itself.

    Now, Farrell is as or more talented than actors like DiCaprio, Cruise, Pitt, you name it. But his bushy eyebrows and five-o-clock-shadow look cause problems with color photography. He would have been ideal in b/w Old Hollywood movies. In b/w, his starkness would be an advantage. In color, he always looks grubby, like some Irish gypsy. As such, he’s problematic as lead. But even that wasn’t the main problem. By nature, Farrell is an excessive actor and Stone is an excessive director, and when you have excess encouraging excess to be excessive, it’s all too much. We feel like the Greek-Macedonian-and-other soldiers on the borders of India. “Must we carry on more with this craziness?”

    Still, I can understand how Stone wanted to do something different’. His Alexander is both a legendary near-mythic figure and a very human & fragile one. He has the will of the gods but can’t chase away his demons. He can conquer kingdoms but is a mama’s boy to the end(as well as a bi-sexual fruit). Stone presented Alexander as hero and human. The speech he gives to his men before invading India conveys this duality. The music swells as he gives a rousing speech in the Hollywood mode. But then, the speech turns into bitter tirade. At once, he pays his tribute to his men as loyal soldier and admonishes them as potential traitors. Stone wanted to present a mythic but also psychologically complex Alexander. And Farrell really got into the role and gave all his heart. But all this excessive passion and the demands of complexity didn’t blend well. Complexity requires control and balance, but too often the movie goes off the rails. (As for Farrell, he seems to love excess as he soon partnered with uber-excessive Malick for the unbearable New World.)

    Also, by turning the story into in something of an allegory of the 60s, things get confused even further. Ptolemy’s speech at the end is like Nixon looking at JFK and saying, “they love you for what you are, they see me for what I am” or something like that. Deep in his heart, Nixon feels that the Deep State had JFK killed because he was too much of a shining prince who wanted to pull back the empire from Vietnam. (In contrast, the deep state is after Nixon because he didn’t go to the right school and doesn’t have the right creds.) But if Stone admires JFK as anti-imperialist, what is he doing praising Alexander, the supreme imperialist? If it’s true that the Deep State had JFK killed for his anti-imperialism whereas the generals assassinated Alexander for his excess imperialist ambitions, didn’t the two leaders stand for utterly different value systems?
    And then, is Alexander to be admired as a rock star, an agent of chaos, or as a great soldier, an agent of order? The casting of Val Kilmer as the father is most likely a nod to The Doors. Jim Morrison lived and died as an agent of chaos. In contrast, Alexander, like Pacino in Any Given Sunday, must keep things together to win battles. His kind of power must be more like the one in Triumph of the Will than in Woodstock or Altamont. We are to admire Alexander as both rock n roll rebel and Patton. Now, when the movie Patton came out, the advertising presented him as a rebel in his own time(to appeal to youth and the Zeitgeist at the time), but as John Simon pointed out, if Patton was a rebel, it was because he was even more militarist and war-mongering than the Establishment.

    Granted, we can’t entirely fault Stone for the confusions around Alexander. Through the ages, he was romanticized as not only a great soldier and conqueror but lover, poet, and dreamer. He was Apollo and Dionysus rolled into one. But that is a tall order for a writer to create and actor to bring to life, and Farrell seemed more perplexed than open to the challenge. But I can’t imagine any of the current actors carrying it off. Maybe the young Brando could have. Richard Burton tried but didn’t do much better(though better). Farrell always seems ill-at-ease, an Alexander who’s uncomfortable in his Alexander-suit. In contrast, the guy who plays Arthur in Excalibur, though initially hesitant to take on the burden, learns quickly and gets into the groove of being a king. Alexander, in contrast, carries his own identity like a cross to crucifixion. Btw, if Stone was a sure-fire hit, he should have it made in the mode of Conan the Barbarian or 300.

  203. Anonymous[283] • Disclaimer says:
    @Mr. Anon
    @Bragadocious


    De riguer for old school American leftists. That was the issue in the 70s and 80s. This is why Tony Montana was such a reprobate — only a reprobate would despise Castro.
     
    And yet, Stone made Montana into a semi-admirable character. He was not without a moral code - he refused to blow up the journalists' family.

    I'm not sure it's just leftists, but even garden variety liberals. Stone never struck me as a hard-leftist, more just a Kennedy-liberal, with a leavening of 60s hippy-dippy sensibility. Spielberg isn't really a leftist either - in fact, he's not all that different than Stone, in some ways - but Spielberg had a big man-crush on El Commandante too. It's unseemly.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous, @Rapparee

    And yet, Stone made Montana into a semi-admirable character. He was not without a moral code – he refused to blow up the journalists’ family.

    I’m not sure he was really motivated by any kind of code. The night before, he had a falling out his wife whose womb was poisoned by drugs. Montana can’t have any kids with her because the very stuff that made him rich rendered his wife infertile. So, on the subconscious level, the idea of killing the entire family repulses him at the moment. But usually, he’s capable of Anything, even shooting his partner.

  204. Anonymous[130] • Disclaimer says:
    @R.G. Camara
    @Dave Pinsen

    Fair enough, but Farrell's chance to be the "It" guy was gone by Miami Vice. And Miami Vice disappointed, because the studio wanted a franchise and Mann delivered something that disappointed at the box office and was not franchisable; it was an attempt at artistry of his old TV product.

    Farrell was like Jude Law: they had great agents and studio backers who pushed them and pushed them and pushed them as above-the-title stars in many big-budget movies designed to be hits, and yet neither one grasped the ring with audiences or had a huge breakout hit.

    Hollywood likes superstar actor types because they are bankable. Tom Cruise being in a movie guarantees a certain box office take up front. Ditto for Will Smith, although his star has faded. Ditto for Arnold in the 80's and 90s. Ditto for all the classic Golden Age stars. Superstars guarantee revenue.

    Chris Rock hosted the Oscars around the time of Law's push and delivered an unintentionally devastating blow to Law's chances to be a superstar leading man when, at the show, he made a joke about how if you wanted Tom Cruise but could only get Jude Law, you should hold off on producing the movie.

    The Academy audience laughed & booed a bit too loud at that one.

    Jeremy Irons, who was up hosting the next segment, said something about Law being a fine actor to try to remove Rock's sting, but Rock's joke remains a wince-inducing moment that cemented for many the idea that Law was not going to be an It guy.

    Oh well. Law's had a very good career as a supporting actor in big name movies and then being the lead in lesser-budget films. I don't feel too bad for him or Farrell in terms of their career arcs.

    Replies: @Jim Don Bob, @Anonymous

    Farrell was like Jude Law: they had great agents and studio backers who pushed them and pushed them and pushed them as above-the-title stars in many big-budget movies designed to be hits, and yet neither one grasped the ring with audiences or had a huge breakout hit.

    But for different reasons. Jude Law looks too refined and aristo for most Hollywood movies, and Farrell looks too rough and grubby. Law looks like the kind of guy who carries around a gold-plated cigarette case whereas Farrell looks like someone in a cheap diner bumming off a cigarette. (Law was the dandiest gigolo in AI.)

    Also, both are more actors than stars. In contrast, Tom Cruise, though lesser as actor, has natural star quality, as does Brad Pitt. As for Matt Damon, he’s so bland that, like a blank slate, you can carve anything on him.

  205. Anonymous[130] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dave Pinsen
    @Anonymous

    Alexander wasn't shapeless. It had a pretty neat bookend narration set-up with Anthony Hopkins as the last surviving general from Alexander's army dictating his memoirs from Alexandria, Egypt 4o years later.

    This is good film making.

    https://youtu.be/T0prLQxx9II

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Alexander wasn’t shapeless.

    But it was apeless.

  206. Garrison knowingly prosecuted an innocent man for murder of the President of the United States. Garrison had been totally discredited in the minds of serious people by the mid-70s, even with many conspiracy believers.

    His staff also committed crimes to do so, like asking evidence to be planted. Had people outside New Orleans known everything that Garrison did to try and convict Shaw, they would’ve locked the New Orleans DA up. They wouldn’t have tolerated it, even if New Orleanians did.

  207. Anonymous[339] • Disclaimer says:
    @R.G. Camara
    @syonredux

    Yet Ford, for all his grandiose backdrops, was a master of efficient story telling and economy. His movies never went over budget, always made money, and were shot on time, for the most part. And general audiences could watch them and like them without needed to go film school to get the messages. His party scenes and Monument valley shots served purposes to tell the story to the 80-100 IQ crowd and didn't bore them.

    With the 1970s indulgences, Cimino and his buddies made sprawling epics that spoke only to the 110+ crowds that studied and argued about film. The people who enjoy those films are people who know who Pauline Kael is and think her opinion on film should always hold sway.

    You can sit down today, relax, and watch any John Ford movie and be entertained without knowing anything about him or it before you press play. If you want to watch a Cimino film, you need a dictionary of film reference and a two hour lecture on what to look for before you can "enjoy" his stuff (except perhaps Deer Hunter, which spoke to general audiences well).

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Yet Ford, for all his grandiose backdrops, was a master of efficient story telling and economy. His movies never went over budget, always made money, and were shot on time, for the most part.

    That was both the strength and limitation of people like Ford(and many others). They worked efficiently and staved off excess, but it also meant mostly keeping with conventions and cliches, sometimes ad nauseum. Stick with the tried-and-true and the familiar. Ford had the goods to make it work, but it also means an unwillingness to damn the torpedoes and go for greatness. It’s like a general who knows how to win battles but not how to conquer and create an empire. Ford stuck with what he did best, and good for him, and he made some excellent films, but he never made anything like Citizen Kane, Wages of Fear, Seven Samurai, Paths of Glory, and The Leopard. When it came to pushing the boundaries, Hawks and Hitchcock went somewhat further. Hawks was tremendously versatile, and his Red River, his first Western, truly changed the game. And Hitchcock, with Vertigo and Psycho, outdid himself.

    And general audiences could watch them and like them without needed to go film school to get the messages. His party scenes and Monument valley shots served purposes to tell the story to the 80-100 IQ crowd and didn’t bore them.

    In their time.

    General Audience tastes change, and by the late 70s, most general audiences were more willing to watch The Deer Hunter than something like old Ford movies, just like 70s audiences loved Deliverance(and made it a big hit) but would have found Howard Hawks adventure movies old-fashioned.

    With the 1970s indulgences, Cimino and his buddies made sprawling epics that spoke only to the 110+ crowds that studied and argued about film. The people who enjoy those films are people who know who Pauline Kael is and think her opinion on film should always hold sway.

    Kael often sided with the popular audience against the critics. She didn’t care for Badlands and preferred Sugarland Express. He loved Jaws and E.T. She didn’t care for Star Wars but loved Empire Strikes Back. Her favorite kind of movie was one that clicked with both critics and the audience, like The Godfather. Kael hated The Deer Hunter and cared for Heaven’s Gate less. But then, it was hated by most critics. (Well, it sure LOOKS great. Robin Wood thinks it’s the greatest Western.)

    https://scrapsfromtheloft.com/2016/07/05/god-bless-america-symphony/

    https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1993-12-26-ca-5498-story.html

    https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/2568-heaven-s-gate-western-promises

  208. Anonymous[339] • Disclaimer says:
    @R.G. Camara
    @Anonymous

    Scorcese is not as much of a boomer-mentality as Stone, because Scorcese makes stories that can be explained to non-boomers without having lived it. Plus Scorcese largely focuses on Italian-American street criminals, which he grew up with, and yet is doing so to explain them to people who didn't grow up Italian-American street criminals.

    Scorcese tries repeatedly to tell his stories to people who haven't heard them before, while Stone tells his stories to people who've lived them/heard them before and want a dramatization of what they know or already believe.

    It's interesting how Scorcese, who focuses on smaller historical events (e.g. the Lufthansa heist, the Frank Rosenthal/Anthony Spilotro partnership in Las Vegas), is much more successful in making timeless iconic characters than Stone has done doing large-scale historical events that he expects his audience to already know (Alexander, 9/11, JFK assasination, Vietnam).

    Replies: @Agathoklis, @Anonymous

    Scorcese is not as much of a boomer-mentality as Stone, because Scorsese makes stories that can be explained to non-boomers without having lived it. Plus Scorcese largely focuses on Italian-American street criminals… Scorsese tries repeatedly to tell his stories to people who haven’t heard them before, while Stone tells his stories to people who’ve lived them/heard them before and want a dramatization of what they know or already believe.

    There’s truth in what you say, but I would say Scorsese is as much a boomer as anything else.
    His most personal film, MEAN STREETS, is wall-to-wall rock music. The character have one foot in his generation that spawned youth culture & rock culture and the other foot in the world of Little Italy that has been more insular from the social changes. The same kind of tension exists in Taxi Driver. It is very much a movie of its time with a Vietnam vet as main character. He drives a cab in seedy NY with prostitution, gangs in the street, porno movies in theaters, etc. Bickle is very much a part of this NY but also someone apart, a misfit for the ages. The script was by Paul Schrader who threw himself into the new culture but with puritanical hangups of his youth that he couldn’t wholly expunge from his heart. So, it is both of-its-time and out-of-time. Same goes for The King of Comedy. Scorsese’s trendiest work was maybe After Hours made in the middle of yuppie 80s, and it makes for interesting comparison with Wall Street. Another film that reflected the moment was Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore made around the time of Bad News Bears and women’s lib.
    And then, there are his documentaries. The Last Waltz, Shine a Light, Bob Dylan No Direction Home, George Harrison, all 60s icons. Granted, a part of his fascination with The Band, Dylan, Stones, and Harrison probably had to do with not only their leading roles in the Counterculture but apartness from it. Stones were rockers but rooted in blues. Dylan was the spokesman of his generation but rooted in deep tradition of folk music and receded from the scene in late 60s, and the Band developed their folky rock art alongside Dylan. Harrison got into Eastern mysticism and felt alienated from hippies and drug culture.

    Also, Last Temptation, a mess like Alexander, cannot be understood apart from the Counterculture. It’s like Jesus Christ Superstar without the songs. Scorsese also contributed to New York Stories with one about a contemporary artist. Goodfellas, like Mean Streets, has a main character who has one foot in the mafia world and other foot in the drug-fueled 60s world. It is wall-to-wall rock music. And Bringing Out the Dead was, I think, meant as a kind of new Taxi Driver but with a man who drives an ambulance than taxi. It is very much a movie of its time, and any New Yorker or city dweller would have recognized the problems of crime, drugs, and general degradation.

    The main difference between Scorsese and Stone is talent, temperament, and public persona.
    Scorsese is prodigiously far more talented. Stone often masks his lack of mastery with superficial fireworks of editing and other trickery. (Why Scorsese directed Gangs of NY in the manner of the worthless The Gladiator is puzzling.) Though most Scorsese movies didn’t make that much money or even lost a lot, his prestige as film artist was so well-recognized that Hollywood was willing to keep him on, as long as he didn’t lost too much money or made a little. Stone, though talented, isn’t a genius film-maker. He either sticks too close to conventions(as in Wall Street, which any talented hack could have made) or loses himself in experimentation, as with JFK and Natural Born Killers. Stone’s basic understanding of cinema is conventional and anything beyond that is superficial. So, the experimentalism in The Doors and Natural Born Killers doesn’t much above what you see on MTV. The problem with The Doors is it’s a movies about 60s counterculture made in 80s MTV style, making it unintentionally pomo.
    To compensate for his relative lack of talent(alongside true greats), Stone had to pad his resume with publicity and controversy. And his restless temperament thrived on this. But publicity is a double-edged sword. It can be wind on your back when the Power approves of you and finds you useful but a wind against your face when you’re seen as problematic. (Scorsese, far more cautions and diplomatic, was careful not to politicize himself too much. Scorsese has both been critical of the Hollywood blacklist and admiring of Elia Kazan. He made some very disturbing and ‘triggering’ movies but always presents himself as man-of-reason in public. He’s rather like Charlie in Mean Streets who is both gangster and flunky to the hierarchy. In contrast, Johnny Boy is a wild horse. Perhaps, Scorsese as NYU professor was impressed by Stone because Stone had more balls and was more brazen, willing to stick his neck out. It’s the same reason why Charlie, on some level, admires Johnny Boy who, though crazy, has more guts to stick it to everyone.) Once Stone fell out of favor, he had increasing problem in Hollywood.
    Still, his two huge box office failures with Heaven and Earth and Nixon must be blamed on critics and audience. Those may be his best works, but they got mixed reviews, and people stayed away. If Platoon and Born on Fourth can be seen as ‘boomer’ movies, Heaven & Earth and Nixon cannot; neither is about what boomers experienced. H & E is from the perspective of a foreigner, a Vietnamese woman, and what she went through. Nixon is from the psychlogical perspective of Tricky Dick. It’s not about how most boomers saw him but how Nixon may have felt in his own skin. It’s as if, as in the Fantastic Voyage, Stone delved deep into Nixon’s psyche and saw the world from inside that troubled Greatest Generation. (Alexander seems both like Kennedy and Nixon. A natural charmer beloved by his men and a superstar, yet so uncomfortable in his own skin, like the awkward and sweaty Nixon hounded by demons; both men are haunted by their mothers.) So, when Stone did something different and with greater mastery than usual, the people turned away and a lot of critics were unkind.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Anonymous

    Scorsese is in the top tier with Hitchcock, Ford, etc.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

  209. Anonymous[291] • Disclaimer says:
    @David In TN
    @Art Deco

    "He propagated Jim Garrison's silliness. Garrison did real damage to innocent people."

    Garrison knowingly prosecuted an innocent man for murder of the President of the United States. Garrison had been totally discredited in the minds of serious people by the mid-70s, even with many conspiracy believers.

    Stone used Garrison as his protagonist in order to have a "hero" the movie revolved around.

    To me, the most entertaining part of JFK was Donald Sutherland's performance as the Deep State renegade who tells Kevin Costner how it went down. Had someone like this testified at Shaw's trial, he would have been laughed off the stand during cross examination.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Anonymous

    Donald Sutherland is also the guy who got “Executive Action” (1973) made.

  210. @Anonymous
    @R.G. Camara

    Scorcese is not as much of a boomer-mentality as Stone, because Scorsese makes stories that can be explained to non-boomers without having lived it. Plus Scorcese largely focuses on Italian-American street criminals... Scorsese tries repeatedly to tell his stories to people who haven’t heard them before, while Stone tells his stories to people who’ve lived them/heard them before and want a dramatization of what they know or already believe.

    There's truth in what you say, but I would say Scorsese is as much a boomer as anything else.
    His most personal film, MEAN STREETS, is wall-to-wall rock music. The character have one foot in his generation that spawned youth culture & rock culture and the other foot in the world of Little Italy that has been more insular from the social changes. The same kind of tension exists in Taxi Driver. It is very much a movie of its time with a Vietnam vet as main character. He drives a cab in seedy NY with prostitution, gangs in the street, porno movies in theaters, etc. Bickle is very much a part of this NY but also someone apart, a misfit for the ages. The script was by Paul Schrader who threw himself into the new culture but with puritanical hangups of his youth that he couldn't wholly expunge from his heart. So, it is both of-its-time and out-of-time. Same goes for The King of Comedy. Scorsese's trendiest work was maybe After Hours made in the middle of yuppie 80s, and it makes for interesting comparison with Wall Street. Another film that reflected the moment was Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore made around the time of Bad News Bears and women's lib.
    And then, there are his documentaries. The Last Waltz, Shine a Light, Bob Dylan No Direction Home, George Harrison, all 60s icons. Granted, a part of his fascination with The Band, Dylan, Stones, and Harrison probably had to do with not only their leading roles in the Counterculture but apartness from it. Stones were rockers but rooted in blues. Dylan was the spokesman of his generation but rooted in deep tradition of folk music and receded from the scene in late 60s, and the Band developed their folky rock art alongside Dylan. Harrison got into Eastern mysticism and felt alienated from hippies and drug culture.

    Also, Last Temptation, a mess like Alexander, cannot be understood apart from the Counterculture. It's like Jesus Christ Superstar without the songs. Scorsese also contributed to New York Stories with one about a contemporary artist. Goodfellas, like Mean Streets, has a main character who has one foot in the mafia world and other foot in the drug-fueled 60s world. It is wall-to-wall rock music. And Bringing Out the Dead was, I think, meant as a kind of new Taxi Driver but with a man who drives an ambulance than taxi. It is very much a movie of its time, and any New Yorker or city dweller would have recognized the problems of crime, drugs, and general degradation.

    The main difference between Scorsese and Stone is talent, temperament, and public persona.
    Scorsese is prodigiously far more talented. Stone often masks his lack of mastery with superficial fireworks of editing and other trickery. (Why Scorsese directed Gangs of NY in the manner of the worthless The Gladiator is puzzling.) Though most Scorsese movies didn't make that much money or even lost a lot, his prestige as film artist was so well-recognized that Hollywood was willing to keep him on, as long as he didn't lost too much money or made a little. Stone, though talented, isn't a genius film-maker. He either sticks too close to conventions(as in Wall Street, which any talented hack could have made) or loses himself in experimentation, as with JFK and Natural Born Killers. Stone's basic understanding of cinema is conventional and anything beyond that is superficial. So, the experimentalism in The Doors and Natural Born Killers doesn't much above what you see on MTV. The problem with The Doors is it's a movies about 60s counterculture made in 80s MTV style, making it unintentionally pomo.
    To compensate for his relative lack of talent(alongside true greats), Stone had to pad his resume with publicity and controversy. And his restless temperament thrived on this. But publicity is a double-edged sword. It can be wind on your back when the Power approves of you and finds you useful but a wind against your face when you're seen as problematic. (Scorsese, far more cautions and diplomatic, was careful not to politicize himself too much. Scorsese has both been critical of the Hollywood blacklist and admiring of Elia Kazan. He made some very disturbing and 'triggering' movies but always presents himself as man-of-reason in public. He's rather like Charlie in Mean Streets who is both gangster and flunky to the hierarchy. In contrast, Johnny Boy is a wild horse. Perhaps, Scorsese as NYU professor was impressed by Stone because Stone had more balls and was more brazen, willing to stick his neck out. It's the same reason why Charlie, on some level, admires Johnny Boy who, though crazy, has more guts to stick it to everyone.) Once Stone fell out of favor, he had increasing problem in Hollywood.
    Still, his two huge box office failures with Heaven and Earth and Nixon must be blamed on critics and audience. Those may be his best works, but they got mixed reviews, and people stayed away. If Platoon and Born on Fourth can be seen as 'boomer' movies, Heaven & Earth and Nixon cannot; neither is about what boomers experienced. H & E is from the perspective of a foreigner, a Vietnamese woman, and what she went through. Nixon is from the psychlogical perspective of Tricky Dick. It's not about how most boomers saw him but how Nixon may have felt in his own skin. It's as if, as in the Fantastic Voyage, Stone delved deep into Nixon's psyche and saw the world from inside that troubled Greatest Generation. (Alexander seems both like Kennedy and Nixon. A natural charmer beloved by his men and a superstar, yet so uncomfortable in his own skin, like the awkward and sweaty Nixon hounded by demons; both men are haunted by their mothers.) So, when Stone did something different and with greater mastery than usual, the people turned away and a lot of critics were unkind.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Scorsese is in the top tier with Hitchcock, Ford, etc.

    • Agree: Bardon Kaldian
    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @Steve Sailer

    ... Howard Hawks and John Huston.

    Replies: @Anonymous

  211. The Silence of the Lambs impressed me quite a bit – and I did like (and talk about/discuss) Something Wild A LOT (it has a perfect soundtrack too). I saw a great Shakespeare performance this week in a Swiss open-air theater and – Maria, gentlewomen of Olivia in Twelfth Night or – What you Will – reminded me a lot of Winona Ryder in Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites, which in my mind is neighboring Something Wild so much that I can hardly tell the two apart (Ryder mixes with Demme’s Melanie Griffith’s character too).

    Your thought that movies can grow bigger than their creators are / or once were is something that – uuuh, excuse me, I’ve learned from Goethe’s Faust this eternal lesson – beware of the spirits you’re calling – they might show up, and you might turn out to be not strong enough to cope with them (I wonder now if Carlos Castaneda knew Goethe – he might have known Faust, but maybe not Goethe’s version of it – now I’m curious – ah – a ghost I’m trying to catch…. (but this one I might be able to handle somehow – – – ).

    But it rings true that Jonathan Demme – faded away – the longer the more so into the rather regressive leftist’s Dr. Feelgood****territory. – Too many drugs, too much superficiality (glamour/ – – – blinded by the angel- and star-dust. – I try to sound neither cynical nor sentimental, which seems to be kinda hard in such territory. Hu – – – –

    *** for maybe one reader of this it mihght be helpful to point out, that the Dr Feelgood in my little musings above is not the real musician Dr. Feelgood, but rather the fictious character Dr. Feelgood ironically and at times even sarcastically refered to with his alias.

    • Thanks: JMcG
  212. Steve-since we’re on the subject of directors, one name I haven’t seen mentioned here is Billy Wilder. I adore Stalag 17 and he also hit it out of the park with “Sunset Boulevard” and “Some Like it Hot”. Where do you put him? Does he make your top tier?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @68W58

    Like Stone, Wilder was a writer-director, whereas most of the critically top-ranked directors didn't write.

    For a writer-director, Wilder wasn't as much of an auteur because he worked best with a writing collaborator.

    Also, he had a rather populist side to him for a European.

    But he sure made a lot of great movies, like Double Indemnity.

  213. @Steve Sailer
    @Anonymous

    Scorsese is in the top tier with Hitchcock, Ford, etc.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    … Howard Hawks and John Huston.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Dieter Kief

    Howard Hawks and John Huston

    Kael loved Huston for his personality as a maverick, Sarris put him in the category of Strained Seriousness(or was it Less than Meets the Eye?).

    https://www.enotes.com/topics/john-huston/critical-essays/andrew-sarris

    https://parallax-view.org/2009/05/13/john-huston-withholding-judgment/

    One thing for sure, Huston strove to be more than a Hollywood director. Something like cinema's Hemingway, not just a manly man but an artist. In contrast, Hawks was content with his role as Hollywood director and cared more for craft than 'art', though lots of people read a lot into his movies.

    The subject of ranking directors isn't an easy one, especially because of modernism and the cult of personal artist. If ranked purely on technical mastery, a good number of Old Hollywood directors would qualify, though we can never be sure to what it extent it was their expertise or the system imposed on them by the studio. Hitchcock and Huston, more than most, stood apart stylistically. With most other directors, even Ford and Hawks, it was more a matter of degrees than substance. They more or less subscribed to studio standards but did it better than most and with slight difference in emphasis. Stagecoach is at once a Ford movie and a standard text of how a movie should be made, which is why Welles studied it so closely as the basic grammar book on cinema. It as to cinema what Elements of Style by Strunk was for writers. Something to build on.

    As the bodies of work of Hawks and Ford are so impressive and as they were in the business from almost the beginning, they can be chalked up as some of the very greatest. Still, did they make anything as remarkable as M, Citizen Kane, Potemkin, Ivan the Terrible, or Sunrise? No. In terms of sheer style, High Noon is truly original in ways that most Ford and Hawks movies are not.

    Then, there are later technical masters with far greater stylistic leeway. If Ford and Hawks stuck with studio standards under pressure or were incapable(or unwilling) to broaden their stylistic scopes, directors since the late 1960s had a far greater opportunity. David Fincher has the technical mastery and visual style to be one of the greats, but most of his projects have been on the silly or stupid side. There is Wong Kar-wai with style to burn with movies that are utterly hollow. Style and technical mastery alone don't cut it.

    And then, there are European directors who never displayed technical fireworks but developed a unique style to convey what for them is a deeply meaningful view of the world. Robert Bresson and Bela Tarr surely have less technical mastery than Michael Bay or any Hollywood hack, but some would rank them as among the greatest. Antonioni is considered one of the very greatest though, if Welles and Bergman agreed on anything, Antonioni didn't know the basics of film grammar. But his defenders say his 'difficult' and 'boring' style were intrinsic to his fractured perspective on modernity.

    This is why, when ranking film-makers, it makes good sense to divide them between professionals and artist, though one could surely be both, like Kurosawa and Kubrick(and Lean and Lang at their best).

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

  214. @Steve Sailer
    @J.Ross

    Japanese WWII pilot training involved lots of beatings of trainee pilots. Not surprisingly, the U.S. trained a whole lot more adequate pilots during WWII than did the Japanese.

    Replies: @J.Ross, @J.Ross

    The brilliant Tameichi Hara (who, before his great career captaining destroyers, invented a highly useful new type of torpedo) would sit down his chiefs when he took over a new boat, and tell them he didn’t want to see any corporal punishment, and he says effectively they would look like he had just told them they couldn’t go to the big game.

  215. @Steve Sailer
    @J.Ross

    Japanese WWII pilot training involved lots of beatings of trainee pilots. Not surprisingly, the U.S. trained a whole lot more adequate pilots during WWII than did the Japanese.

    Replies: @J.Ross, @J.Ross

    In fact, there’s a closer illystration from war pulps: Saburo Sakai was probably the best fighter pilot of WWII, both from normal performance and from his amazing long-distance flight while severely injured after encountering a new American plane with extra guns pointed aft. In addition to straight suckerpunching for discipline, Sakai, who was enlisted (and, for completely insane reasons, never promoted or decorated despite his performance), had to put up with far inferior officers and ask for permission to use the john and that sort of thing.

  216. @Mr. Anon
    @Bragadocious


    De riguer for old school American leftists. That was the issue in the 70s and 80s. This is why Tony Montana was such a reprobate — only a reprobate would despise Castro.
     
    And yet, Stone made Montana into a semi-admirable character. He was not without a moral code - he refused to blow up the journalists' family.

    I'm not sure it's just leftists, but even garden variety liberals. Stone never struck me as a hard-leftist, more just a Kennedy-liberal, with a leavening of 60s hippy-dippy sensibility. Spielberg isn't really a leftist either - in fact, he's not all that different than Stone, in some ways - but Spielberg had a big man-crush on El Commandante too. It's unseemly.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Anonymous, @Rapparee

    Scarface is an upside-down Greek tragedy- instead of a great and noble man brought low by his one tragic flaw, it’s the tale of a vicious piece of human garbage whose rise in the dog-eat-dog criminal underworld is undermined by the one tiny scrap of decency he allows to remain in his soul. I remember being very surprised at how much I liked it, since like Mr. Sailer, I usually have trouble with gangster movies because I don’t like murderers.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Rapparee


    Scarface is an upside-down Greek tragedy... it’s the tale of a vicious piece of human garbage whose rise in the dog-eat-dog criminal underworld is undermined by the one tiny scrap of decency he allows to remain in his soul. I remember being very surprised at how much I liked it...
     
    It works because it's like an upside-down Greek tragicomedy. It is a very funny movie, and it's too bad Pauline Kael missed out on the humor. (The original by Howard Hawks is also as much a comedy as tragedy. A laugh-riot, like Public Enemy crossed with Marx Brothers.) I don't know how much of the movie dialogue owes to the original script by Stone, but the racy lines are utterly hilarious(and crudely insightful about power and manhood and the American Dream as Nightmare or clown world). ("This town like a great big pu**y just waiting to get f***ed" is really what has become of the American Dream. In the past, immigrants dreamed of America as Statue of Liberty. Now, they want a piece of the Whore of Babylon. Besides, what is American culture but rap and twerking? It is rather ironic that Trump became president as nationalist. A natural salesman, he's the type to be selling America to the world like a gangsta.)

    https://youtu.be/f3cYepBxJus?t=88

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9OmTSM0i9s

    The immigrant element was always there in gangster movies as the hoods often happened to be Italian or Irish(though rarely Jewish) in Hollywood movies. But they were NOT fresh off the boat. They'd already arrived or their parents were immigrants. But SCARFACE emphasizes the (illegal) immigrant-element far more. Montana and his crew are literally fresh off the boat and wanna order an extra serving of the American Dream right away. They came for money and pu**y, not human rights or liberty. They have the mentality of Prince Naseem, the 'British' boxer.

    If The Godfather is about immigrant minority groups gaining power with patience and a degree of respectability in Wasp-controlled America, Scarface heralds the obnoxious and demanding immigrant who acts like America is 'ours' the moment they get off the boat. It's like the precursor of the book by that Asian-Indian guy who speaks of immigrant manifesto to come to America whenever and whatever numbers they choose. The contrast between young Vito going through Ellis Island and brazen Montana bluffing his way through ICE agents is amazing. And in recent yrs, there have been massive caravans and with total support from Deep State. How much things have changed. Of course, it was around that time that all those 'Soviet Refugees' began to arrive and act pushy the moment they got off the plane. Moscow on the Hudson makes for interesting double bill with Scarface.

    Stone's fascination with Latin America seemed both rightist and leftist. Same with Hemingway and Peckinpah. On the one hand, they sympathized with Latin American resistance against Yanqui domination and even imperialism. This qualified as 'progressive'. But in another way, the Latin American world was more like the 19th century, a world of how-it-used-to-be, where men were men and women were women, without priggish New England wasps always admonishing others(like the Hepburn family in The Aviator).

    JFK and Nixon in Stone's mind seems to be the Jekyll and Hyde of American politics. The shining ideal and the dark reality. Of course, JFK was plenty dark himself and LBJ was far sleazier than Nixon. And Castro and Chavez were moral failures in the end.
    Still, there is the idea that they tried to change the world for the better based on ideas of justice whereas gangsters like Sosa in Scarface only care about money and driven by nothing but greed. It's the difference between film-makers who want to make a difference and the studio bosses who only care about the money. And yet, heroes and would-be-saviors often fail or turn out to be frauds, and there is something to be said for the realist.
    And it is here that Montana and Gekko(and even Nixon as outsider) somewhat stand apart. Neither inherited privilege and wealth. They had to work themselves up from the bottom and had to do things their way. So, on some level, as corrupt and fallen as they are, they too are rebels and mavericks. They didn't choose the revolution & justice but, at the very least, they lived by the code of Sinatra's "I did it my way." And the ballsier side of Stone finds something irresistible about that.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

  217. Anonymous[122] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dieter Kief
    @Steve Sailer

    ... Howard Hawks and John Huston.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Howard Hawks and John Huston

    Kael loved Huston for his personality as a maverick, Sarris put him in the category of Strained Seriousness(or was it Less than Meets the Eye?).

    https://www.enotes.com/topics/john-huston/critical-essays/andrew-sarris

    https://parallax-view.org/2009/05/13/john-huston-withholding-judgment/

    One thing for sure, Huston strove to be more than a Hollywood director. Something like cinema’s Hemingway, not just a manly man but an artist. In contrast, Hawks was content with his role as Hollywood director and cared more for craft than ‘art’, though lots of people read a lot into his movies.

    The subject of ranking directors isn’t an easy one, especially because of modernism and the cult of personal artist. If ranked purely on technical mastery, a good number of Old Hollywood directors would qualify, though we can never be sure to what it extent it was their expertise or the system imposed on them by the studio. Hitchcock and Huston, more than most, stood apart stylistically. With most other directors, even Ford and Hawks, it was more a matter of degrees than substance. They more or less subscribed to studio standards but did it better than most and with slight difference in emphasis. Stagecoach is at once a Ford movie and a standard text of how a movie should be made, which is why Welles studied it so closely as the basic grammar book on cinema. It as to cinema what Elements of Style by Strunk was for writers. Something to build on.

    As the bodies of work of Hawks and Ford are so impressive and as they were in the business from almost the beginning, they can be chalked up as some of the very greatest. Still, did they make anything as remarkable as M, Citizen Kane, Potemkin, Ivan the Terrible, or Sunrise? No. In terms of sheer style, High Noon is truly original in ways that most Ford and Hawks movies are not.

    Then, there are later technical masters with far greater stylistic leeway. If Ford and Hawks stuck with studio standards under pressure or were incapable(or unwilling) to broaden their stylistic scopes, directors since the late 1960s had a far greater opportunity. David Fincher has the technical mastery and visual style to be one of the greats, but most of his projects have been on the silly or stupid side. There is Wong Kar-wai with style to burn with movies that are utterly hollow. Style and technical mastery alone don’t cut it.

    And then, there are European directors who never displayed technical fireworks but developed a unique style to convey what for them is a deeply meaningful view of the world. Robert Bresson and Bela Tarr surely have less technical mastery than Michael Bay or any Hollywood hack, but some would rank them as among the greatest. Antonioni is considered one of the very greatest though, if Welles and Bergman agreed on anything, Antonioni didn’t know the basics of film grammar. But his defenders say his ‘difficult’ and ‘boring’ style were intrinsic to his fractured perspective on modernity.

    This is why, when ranking film-makers, it makes good sense to divide them between professionals and artist, though one could surely be both, like Kurosawa and Kubrick(and Lean and Lang at their best).

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Anonymous

    I saw an interesting comparison of Ernest Hemingway and John Huston. They had similar over the top he-man personalities, but Hemingway was unlucky: he was always getting injured on his adventures. Huston did lots of similar stuff, like elephant hunting, but he never got hurt. After frittering away what should have been his middle-aged prime on bloodsports, Huston made quite a comeback in his old age.

  218. Oliver Stone promoted and defended Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez. Inexcusable.

  219. @JMcG
    @Steve Sailer

    That’s pretty impressive. I don’t think too many he-man novelists of the thirties did anything like that. Hemingway sponged off his first wife while running around on her. Fitzgerald was no he-man. Did you have the era of Jack London and Joseph Conrad in mind?
    Perhaps B Traven. I just read Treasure of the Sierra Madre for the first time and was impressed by it.
    Far more so than any of Hemingway’s novels, whose short stories I think are much better than his longer works.
    I’ll have to take another look at Stone.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    Faulkner faked a flying ace period.

    • Replies: @JMcG
    @Bardon Kaldian

    I never knew that, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Thank you.

    , @Hibernian
    @Bardon Kaldian

    According to the book jackets of those of his works which I read in the early '70s, he was in the RCAF during WW1. Are you saying he faked being an ace, faked being in combat, faked being a pilot, or faked being in the RCAF at all?

  220. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    @Bardon Kaldian

    There's a hilarious recording that circulates in sound-editor circles: it's an out-take from a studio recording, where a drunk Orson Welles is trying to record a voice track for a radio commercial for fish-sticks. The guy running the thing keeps helpfully trying to give Orson direction, and you can hear the great man muttering under his breath things like "I can't fucking believe this, I made Citizen Kane, and now I've got this punk telling me how to pronounce the word fish sticks..."

    It's hysterical and sad at the same time.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Giancarlo M. Kumquat

    The phrase “We will sell no wine before it’s time” became a funny catch phrase in the 70s. Remember Welles filling in on the Tonight Show? He should have saved more money.

  221. @Steve Sailer
    @MEH 0910

    Stone seems like a pretty clear Tier 2 director behind Tier 1 directors like Hitchcock, Ford, Kubrick, and Spielberg, and above Tier 3 directors like the late Alan Parker. But Parker was a really good director with a lot of good movies in different styles.

    An interesting comparison would be Stone to Frank Capra:

    1947 Nominee Oscar Best Director It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    1940 Nominee Oscar Best Director Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
    1939 Winner Oscar Best Director You Can't Take It with You (1938)
    1937 Winner Oscar Best Director Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
    1935 Winner Oscar Best Director It Happened One Night (1934)
    1934 Nominee Oscar Best Director Lady for a Day (1933)

    You could argue that Capra deserved a 4th Oscar for his 1946 masterpiece It's a Wonderful Life, but audiences didn't really get that movie until it accidentally fell out of copyright and everybody saw it countless times on TV at Christmas. And that like Joe DiMaggio, Capra's missing 3 years in his prime for the War means his career stats are underrated.

    On the other hand, You Can't Take It With You is pretty bad compared to some other 1938 movies like Michael Curtiz's Robin Hood and Howard Hawks' Bringing Up Baby. (For fairly random reasons, 1938 happened to be worse than Hollywood's peak in 1938, but, still, it's hard to argue that You Can't Take It With You is the best directed movie of 1938.)

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    Stone seems like a pretty clear Tier 2 director behind Tier 1 directors like Hitchcock, Ford, Kubrick, and Spielberg

    He is Tier 2, but Spielberg is also Tier 2 (although Tier 1 as an entertainer).

  222. @Bardon Kaldian
    Another observation: JFK and gay angle. OK, it is weird. But:

    1. haven't gays always been implicated in conspiracies, excesses, spying, various nefarious stuff?

    2. perhaps homo orgiastic atmosphere is visually exaggerated. Why wouldn't it be possible that local mafia was involved, and some of those guys were, well, gays- just as a side show, not that their whole lives revolved around it.

    3. what is "realistic" and acceptable as "real"? F. Forsyth commented on the Litvinenko case that it was one of those cases where reality is stranger than fiction: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-poisoning-thrillers/spy-writers-litvinenko-case-stranger-than-fiction-idUSL1175199520061211

    So-why wouldn't something barely believable be untrue, simply because is seems bizarre & not rational? In that category I put possible gay involvement in that movie.

    Of course, there are things that are purely imaginative & are not real in any sense: Castaneda's supposedly ethnographic material, alien abductions etc.

    Replies: @Brutusale

  223. @Anonymous
    @Dieter Kief

    Howard Hawks and John Huston

    Kael loved Huston for his personality as a maverick, Sarris put him in the category of Strained Seriousness(or was it Less than Meets the Eye?).

    https://www.enotes.com/topics/john-huston/critical-essays/andrew-sarris

    https://parallax-view.org/2009/05/13/john-huston-withholding-judgment/

    One thing for sure, Huston strove to be more than a Hollywood director. Something like cinema's Hemingway, not just a manly man but an artist. In contrast, Hawks was content with his role as Hollywood director and cared more for craft than 'art', though lots of people read a lot into his movies.

    The subject of ranking directors isn't an easy one, especially because of modernism and the cult of personal artist. If ranked purely on technical mastery, a good number of Old Hollywood directors would qualify, though we can never be sure to what it extent it was their expertise or the system imposed on them by the studio. Hitchcock and Huston, more than most, stood apart stylistically. With most other directors, even Ford and Hawks, it was more a matter of degrees than substance. They more or less subscribed to studio standards but did it better than most and with slight difference in emphasis. Stagecoach is at once a Ford movie and a standard text of how a movie should be made, which is why Welles studied it so closely as the basic grammar book on cinema. It as to cinema what Elements of Style by Strunk was for writers. Something to build on.

    As the bodies of work of Hawks and Ford are so impressive and as they were in the business from almost the beginning, they can be chalked up as some of the very greatest. Still, did they make anything as remarkable as M, Citizen Kane, Potemkin, Ivan the Terrible, or Sunrise? No. In terms of sheer style, High Noon is truly original in ways that most Ford and Hawks movies are not.

    Then, there are later technical masters with far greater stylistic leeway. If Ford and Hawks stuck with studio standards under pressure or were incapable(or unwilling) to broaden their stylistic scopes, directors since the late 1960s had a far greater opportunity. David Fincher has the technical mastery and visual style to be one of the greats, but most of his projects have been on the silly or stupid side. There is Wong Kar-wai with style to burn with movies that are utterly hollow. Style and technical mastery alone don't cut it.

    And then, there are European directors who never displayed technical fireworks but developed a unique style to convey what for them is a deeply meaningful view of the world. Robert Bresson and Bela Tarr surely have less technical mastery than Michael Bay or any Hollywood hack, but some would rank them as among the greatest. Antonioni is considered one of the very greatest though, if Welles and Bergman agreed on anything, Antonioni didn't know the basics of film grammar. But his defenders say his 'difficult' and 'boring' style were intrinsic to his fractured perspective on modernity.

    This is why, when ranking film-makers, it makes good sense to divide them between professionals and artist, though one could surely be both, like Kurosawa and Kubrick(and Lean and Lang at their best).

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    I saw an interesting comparison of Ernest Hemingway and John Huston. They had similar over the top he-man personalities, but Hemingway was unlucky: he was always getting injured on his adventures. Huston did lots of similar stuff, like elephant hunting, but he never got hurt. After frittering away what should have been his middle-aged prime on bloodsports, Huston made quite a comeback in his old age.

  224. @68W58
    Steve-since we’re on the subject of directors, one name I haven’t seen mentioned here is Billy Wilder. I adore Stalag 17 and he also hit it out of the park with “Sunset Boulevard” and “Some Like it Hot”. Where do you put him? Does he make your top tier?

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Like Stone, Wilder was a writer-director, whereas most of the critically top-ranked directors didn’t write.

    For a writer-director, Wilder wasn’t as much of an auteur because he worked best with a writing collaborator.

    Also, he had a rather populist side to him for a European.

    But he sure made a lot of great movies, like Double Indemnity.

    • Thanks: 68W58
  225. @Steve Sailer
    @The Wild Geese Howard

    "Wall Street" came out in December 1987 only about 6 weeks after Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities," which had been exciting for how much there was about newly Masters of the Universe bond traders. So Wall Street was a rare period piece of the moment. To put it in perspective, Michael Lewis's "Liar's Poker" was the first bestselling nonfiction book by somebody who had worked on Wall Street in the 1980s, and it didn't come out until a year or two after the movie Wall Street. It's a lot easier to get a memoir published than to get a movie made.

    So "Wall Street" hit that sweet spot that IIRC journalist A.J. Liebling boasted of: nobody who is faster is better and nobody who is better is faster.

    Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard

    So “Wall Street” hit that sweet spot that IIRC journalist A.J. Liebling boasted of: nobody who is faster is better and nobody who is better is faster.

    It also came out less than two months after Black Monday:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Monday_(1987)

    I don’t think Wall Street’s release could have been timed more perfectly.

    Stewart Copeland, the drummer for the Police, also did an excellent job with his score for the film:

  226. @utu
    @Steve Sailer

    "Trump movie: Trump as Lear and Fool combined." - Played by Klaus Kinski from the "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" when abandoned by everybody fighting off monkeys.

    Replies: @Anon

    OT:
    About Beirut, two months old. Macron went there to push for policy change:
    https://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/82051

    Revenge, straight from the horse’s mouth
    http://callmejorgebergoglio.blogspot.com/2020/05/jewish-pirates-of-caribbean.html?m=1

  227. Anonymous[279] • Disclaimer says:
    @Rapparee
    @Mr. Anon

    Scarface is an upside-down Greek tragedy- instead of a great and noble man brought low by his one tragic flaw, it’s the tale of a vicious piece of human garbage whose rise in the dog-eat-dog criminal underworld is undermined by the one tiny scrap of decency he allows to remain in his soul. I remember being very surprised at how much I liked it, since like Mr. Sailer, I usually have trouble with gangster movies because I don’t like murderers.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Scarface is an upside-down Greek tragedy… it’s the tale of a vicious piece of human garbage whose rise in the dog-eat-dog criminal underworld is undermined by the one tiny scrap of decency he allows to remain in his soul. I remember being very surprised at how much I liked it…

    It works because it’s like an upside-down Greek tragicomedy. It is a very funny movie, and it’s too bad Pauline Kael missed out on the humor. (The original by Howard Hawks is also as much a comedy as tragedy. A laugh-riot, like Public Enemy crossed with Marx Brothers.) I don’t know how much of the movie dialogue owes to the original script by Stone, but the racy lines are utterly hilarious(and crudely insightful about power and manhood and the American Dream as Nightmare or clown world). (“This town like a great big pu**y just waiting to get f***ed” is really what has become of the American Dream. In the past, immigrants dreamed of America as Statue of Liberty. Now, they want a piece of the Whore of Babylon. Besides, what is American culture but rap and twerking? It is rather ironic that Trump became president as nationalist. A natural salesman, he’s the type to be selling America to the world like a gangsta.)

    The immigrant element was always there in gangster movies as the hoods often happened to be Italian or Irish(though rarely Jewish) in Hollywood movies. But they were NOT fresh off the boat. They’d already arrived or their parents were immigrants. But SCARFACE emphasizes the (illegal) immigrant-element far more. Montana and his crew are literally fresh off the boat and wanna order an extra serving of the American Dream right away. They came for money and pu**y, not human rights or liberty. They have the mentality of Prince Naseem, the ‘British’ boxer.

    If The Godfather is about immigrant minority groups gaining power with patience and a degree of respectability in Wasp-controlled America, Scarface heralds the obnoxious and demanding immigrant who acts like America is ‘ours’ the moment they get off the boat. It’s like the precursor of the book by that Asian-Indian guy who speaks of immigrant manifesto to come to America whenever and whatever numbers they choose. The contrast between young Vito going through Ellis Island and brazen Montana bluffing his way through ICE agents is amazing. And in recent yrs, there have been massive caravans and with total support from Deep State. How much things have changed. Of course, it was around that time that all those ‘Soviet Refugees’ began to arrive and act pushy the moment they got off the plane. Moscow on the Hudson makes for interesting double bill with Scarface.

    Stone’s fascination with Latin America seemed both rightist and leftist. Same with Hemingway and Peckinpah. On the one hand, they sympathized with Latin American resistance against Yanqui domination and even imperialism. This qualified as ‘progressive’. But in another way, the Latin American world was more like the 19th century, a world of how-it-used-to-be, where men were men and women were women, without priggish New England wasps always admonishing others(like the Hepburn family in The Aviator).

    JFK and Nixon in Stone’s mind seems to be the Jekyll and Hyde of American politics. The shining ideal and the dark reality. Of course, JFK was plenty dark himself and LBJ was far sleazier than Nixon. And Castro and Chavez were moral failures in the end.
    Still, there is the idea that they tried to change the world for the better based on ideas of justice whereas gangsters like Sosa in Scarface only care about money and driven by nothing but greed. It’s the difference between film-makers who want to make a difference and the studio bosses who only care about the money. And yet, heroes and would-be-saviors often fail or turn out to be frauds, and there is something to be said for the realist.
    And it is here that Montana and Gekko(and even Nixon as outsider) somewhat stand apart. Neither inherited privilege and wealth. They had to work themselves up from the bottom and had to do things their way. So, on some level, as corrupt and fallen as they are, they too are rebels and mavericks. They didn’t choose the revolution & justice but, at the very least, they lived by the code of Sinatra’s “I did it my way.” And the ballsier side of Stone finds something irresistible about that.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @Anonymous


    So, on some level, as corrupt and fallen as they are, they too are rebels and mavericks.

     

    You (partly) include Nixon in here. The beef Oliver Stone had with Nixon was based on his belief, that the US-engagement in the Vietnam war was bad. - I'm not even sure whether Stone would go this far. In his recent talk with Joe Rogan, he does not criticize the war as such so much, as the sloppy way it was fought and communicated and the veterans were ignored afterward, etc. This and something eternal: The honesty and - realness - he experienced while fighting at the front - vs. the dishonesty of the regular civil life - in which he could not succeed (or find a place for himself) before he left for Vietnam to let destiny have its way (from memory - so not word for word what Oliver Stone said to Joe Rogan, but reasonably close).

    War (and crime in Scarface) as something pure.

    = the war and crime movie as the flip-side of the sterile everyday life in the Iron Cage of Obedience (Max weber) - and a compensation for the discontent of the civilizational process (= Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud...).

    In the end, Oliver Stone is a Tragedist.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Anonymous

  228. @Kronos

    The prestige press, with its dependence upon Deep State sources, turned on Stone with a vengeance, denouncing him as a “conspiracy theorist.” Today, after nearly three decades of the Establishment demonizing conspiracy theorizing, it’s hard to remember that in the 1970s and 1980s dreaming up paranoid conspiracies had been considered rather cool.
     
    https://www.amazon.com/Nixons-Secrets-Untold-President-Watergate-ebook/dp/B00L4FSW1E

    That was one of the things that struck me in Roger Stone’s “Nixon’s Secrets” book. The role of “elite” reporters and their near absolute dependence on Deep State power players. That it’s closely akin to how high-end prostitutes are defined by their clientele, not so much actual substance and ability.

    Stone establishes a very convincing case that the Watergate break-in was in fact a CIA operation intended to take down President Nixon via scandal. That a few members within “The Plummers” team intended to get caught and sabotaged the operation by making rookie mistakes and leaving evidence that gaslighted authorities toward Nixon. (For Millennials the whole Watergate thing looks very minor and it’s bizarre that a very odd break-in brought down a sitting President. We were raised on doctrines of Executive Supremacy granted via The Patriot Act.)

    A crucial component in that plan involved Bob Woodward and the anonymous “Deep Throat.” Stone contends that Woodward (but not Bernstein) more or less understood his role in the CIA’s plan to topple Nixon.


    In fact, at the same time Haig was working closely with another young naval officer who served as a liaison between the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon. His name was Bob Woodward. Three years later, supplied with a steady diet of information from Haig and other malcontents in the military and intelligence community, the Washington Post reporter kept the Watergate story alive and pinned it directly on the president and his top staff. “How does a guy that is nine months at the Washington Post City section have a source at the highest level of our government, who trusts him with damaging information about the President of the United States?” asked Len Colodny.33
     

    Replies: @nebulafox

    Why would the CIA have wanted Nixon gone? The agency’s image is quite divorced from the reality: political culture leans establishment, always has. You could see VC flags in Langley offices by 1970 while they simultaneously collaborated with a right-wing military dictator in Brazil against Allende. Moreover, nobody could have anticipated Watergate would have developed into what it was. It took a long laundry list of unlikely factors from the internal dynamics of the White House to the right series of hearings in Congress to get the scandal to even blow up, let alone lead to resignation. The CIA could have hardly expected that J. Edgar Hoover would die in May 1972, for example, or that Nixon had a non-controllable taping system catching him with the intent to obstruct justice.

    My own take on Watergate is pretty prosaic, TBH: Magruder and Company wanted to prove they were Hard Men.

    >(For Millennials the whole Watergate thing looks very minor and it’s bizarre that a very odd break-in brought down a sitting President. We were raised on doctrines of Executive Supremacy granted via The Patriot Act.)

    I agree that Watergate looks pretty unremarkable for someone whose formative experiences were in the post-PATRIOT era, but you have to judge people in their historical context. Nixon was not the kind of guy you wanted in charge of a United States in the throes of massive cultural transitions. After Nixon’s downfall, the Church Committee showed just how down and dirty the United States government had gotten during the previous decades: it’s hard to understate how much of a rupture this was with America’s self-image. The lefties confused this with a massive cultural shift that didn’t exist, though: and they got that so wrong that it took until 2008 for a non-Southern technocrat Democrat to get into the White House.

    On a tangentially related subject, given his record as a Bush II and general “Deep State” apologist, Woodward’s most recent treatment of Nixon and Vietnam is hypocritical, to put it kindly. I read parts of it. I immediately could sense the agenda when he failed to mention that the “zilch” memo was in response to a less-than-week long initial strike in late 1971 after a bombing halt that had been in effect for over three years. The real bombing campaign would not commence until the spring of ’72, and that had anything but a “zilch” effect: Vietnamese and Soviet archives make that very clear. Partly, this was because the war itself had become much more conventional-in effect, LBJ and Nixon were fighting two different wars. Nixon also could gamble on the Soviets and Chinese not intervening in a way Johnson couldn’t. But Linebacker was also carried out far more competently than Rolling Thunder.

    • Replies: @Kronos
    @nebulafox


    Why would the CIA have wanted Nixon gone?
     
    According to the book the CIA didn’t approve of getting out of Vietnam and wanted to triple down. They wanted to engage in nastier stuff like terrorism in North Vietnam and other stuff Nixon denied them.

    Also, the CIA had a big money-making operation transporting drugs everywhere in Southeast Asia and an end to the war would greatly hamper it. They thought Nixon was a true war President and the peace stuff just talk. Apparently they tried assassinating Nixon twice but both assassins like straight up refused. One thought he was hired to kill a communist but upon getting briefed replied “I don’t get involved in politics.”

    Replies: @nebulafox

  229. @Anonymous
    @Rapparee


    Scarface is an upside-down Greek tragedy... it’s the tale of a vicious piece of human garbage whose rise in the dog-eat-dog criminal underworld is undermined by the one tiny scrap of decency he allows to remain in his soul. I remember being very surprised at how much I liked it...
     
    It works because it's like an upside-down Greek tragicomedy. It is a very funny movie, and it's too bad Pauline Kael missed out on the humor. (The original by Howard Hawks is also as much a comedy as tragedy. A laugh-riot, like Public Enemy crossed with Marx Brothers.) I don't know how much of the movie dialogue owes to the original script by Stone, but the racy lines are utterly hilarious(and crudely insightful about power and manhood and the American Dream as Nightmare or clown world). ("This town like a great big pu**y just waiting to get f***ed" is really what has become of the American Dream. In the past, immigrants dreamed of America as Statue of Liberty. Now, they want a piece of the Whore of Babylon. Besides, what is American culture but rap and twerking? It is rather ironic that Trump became president as nationalist. A natural salesman, he's the type to be selling America to the world like a gangsta.)

    https://youtu.be/f3cYepBxJus?t=88

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9OmTSM0i9s

    The immigrant element was always there in gangster movies as the hoods often happened to be Italian or Irish(though rarely Jewish) in Hollywood movies. But they were NOT fresh off the boat. They'd already arrived or their parents were immigrants. But SCARFACE emphasizes the (illegal) immigrant-element far more. Montana and his crew are literally fresh off the boat and wanna order an extra serving of the American Dream right away. They came for money and pu**y, not human rights or liberty. They have the mentality of Prince Naseem, the 'British' boxer.

    If The Godfather is about immigrant minority groups gaining power with patience and a degree of respectability in Wasp-controlled America, Scarface heralds the obnoxious and demanding immigrant who acts like America is 'ours' the moment they get off the boat. It's like the precursor of the book by that Asian-Indian guy who speaks of immigrant manifesto to come to America whenever and whatever numbers they choose. The contrast between young Vito going through Ellis Island and brazen Montana bluffing his way through ICE agents is amazing. And in recent yrs, there have been massive caravans and with total support from Deep State. How much things have changed. Of course, it was around that time that all those 'Soviet Refugees' began to arrive and act pushy the moment they got off the plane. Moscow on the Hudson makes for interesting double bill with Scarface.

    Stone's fascination with Latin America seemed both rightist and leftist. Same with Hemingway and Peckinpah. On the one hand, they sympathized with Latin American resistance against Yanqui domination and even imperialism. This qualified as 'progressive'. But in another way, the Latin American world was more like the 19th century, a world of how-it-used-to-be, where men were men and women were women, without priggish New England wasps always admonishing others(like the Hepburn family in The Aviator).

    JFK and Nixon in Stone's mind seems to be the Jekyll and Hyde of American politics. The shining ideal and the dark reality. Of course, JFK was plenty dark himself and LBJ was far sleazier than Nixon. And Castro and Chavez were moral failures in the end.
    Still, there is the idea that they tried to change the world for the better based on ideas of justice whereas gangsters like Sosa in Scarface only care about money and driven by nothing but greed. It's the difference between film-makers who want to make a difference and the studio bosses who only care about the money. And yet, heroes and would-be-saviors often fail or turn out to be frauds, and there is something to be said for the realist.
    And it is here that Montana and Gekko(and even Nixon as outsider) somewhat stand apart. Neither inherited privilege and wealth. They had to work themselves up from the bottom and had to do things their way. So, on some level, as corrupt and fallen as they are, they too are rebels and mavericks. They didn't choose the revolution & justice but, at the very least, they lived by the code of Sinatra's "I did it my way." And the ballsier side of Stone finds something irresistible about that.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    So, on some level, as corrupt and fallen as they are, they too are rebels and mavericks.

    You (partly) include Nixon in here. The beef Oliver Stone had with Nixon was based on his belief, that the US-engagement in the Vietnam war was bad. – I’m not even sure whether Stone would go this far. In his recent talk with Joe Rogan, he does not criticize the war as such so much, as the sloppy way it was fought and communicated and the veterans were ignored afterward, etc. This and something eternal: The honesty and – realness – he experienced while fighting at the front – vs. the dishonesty of the regular civil life – in which he could not succeed (or find a place for himself) before he left for Vietnam to let destiny have its way (from memory – so not word for word what Oliver Stone said to Joe Rogan, but reasonably close).

    War (and crime in Scarface) as something pure.

    = the war and crime movie as the flip-side of the sterile everyday life in the Iron Cage of Obedience (Max weber) – and a compensation for the discontent of the civilizational process (= Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud…).

    In the end, Oliver Stone is a Tragedist.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Dieter Kief

    In the end, Oliver Stone is a Tragedist.

    For the most part, I'd say he is(or was) a sensationalist. His tragedian side worked best with Nixon and Heaven & Earth. Salvador, Platoon, and Born on the 4th are more about sounding the bullhorn and rubbing our faces in the lies and failures of foreign policy. They are too excited and eye-bulging to be genuinely tragic, a deeper quality. Tragedy ultimately connects the violence and calamity of life and reality with a truth that is deeper and ultimately serene. Heaven & Earth had that quality. This woman had been through so much and seen so much, enough to drive anyone crazy, but she gains the strength and wisdom to find peace with herself and history. In contrast, Salvador's main focus is to alert America of what is happening down there. Platoon is ultimately triumphant. It's anti-war and brutal, but when we see the wounded Sheen flying away at the end, it's like he's really become a man. It reminds me of the scene in Goodfellas where Paulie says to the kid, "you broke your cherry". It does show the ugly side of war, but there's much narration about these fellas are 'the best', like their buddies on the sports team. Born on the 4th is clearly more tragic, but again, despite all the gloom and despair, it's really about Kovic finding a second life as a happy warrior for truth and against war.

    The sensationalist side of Stone ebbed over the years. As a younger director, he was hungrier and eager to make a difference. Later, he became a more assured director without the overt expressionism. And it was bound to happen as people age and develop a different and more reflective perspective on life. It's like the Lennon who wrote 'Woman' and 'Watching the Wheels' was the same guy who wrote 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand'. Still, given Stone's sensationalist nature, he was most exciting and relevant as a cruder and vulgar showman. In contrast, Eastwood was never a sensationalist and so the progression of his mastery seemed more organic over the years. But because we associate Stone so much with being an enfant terrible with a conscience, we almost don't want him to grow too wise or stable as an artist. The very essence that made him what he was may be lost. It's like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance wouldn't be so captivating without his madness.

    For something special, try Give Me Liberty, which is like a combo of Mean Streets and Bringing Out the Dead made with digicam in partnership with Beavis and Butthead. It is in equal measure exasperating and exhilarating. A very eccentric cast of characters, most Russian-Americans and blacks and disabled people. It's one of the few films that feature blacks as they are than as idealized figures or pop culture fantasies. It could be a one-off thing or sign of a promising new talent.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR8nVCExVo4

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    , @Anonymous
    @Dieter Kief

    In his recent talk with Joe Rogan, he does not criticize the war as such so much, as the sloppy way it was fought and communicated and the veterans were ignored afterward, etc.

    I just watched this interview, and there's a strange lack of self-awareness about American hedonism's association with US neo- or cultural-imperialism.

    Stone says he had many raging arguments with his father in the 70s about the war and drugs. He even slipped LSD into his father drink. So, according to Stone, law & order stands for war, jingoism, and imperialism. in contrast, drugs and good times stand for progress, love, and peace. It's rather like the Pink's attitude in Dazed and Confused to not sign the pledge. (The coach stands for authority.)

    So, it seems when he wrote Midnight Express, he conflated drugs with freedom and anti-drug authority with tyranny. A man is busted for smuggling hashish and locked up in prison. But not just any man but an American and not just any prison but the Turkish prison. And these Turks make the ones in Lawrence of Arabia look like boy scouts in comparison. The result is what fellow leftist Edward Said would have condemned as 'Orientalism'. (Granted, in his kneejerk defense of the Muslim World, Said ends up defending conservative Eastern values against Western aggression with its promise or conceit of enlightenment and progress. So, both Stone and Said become ideologically compromised in ways they may have been unawares.)

    https://www.iscap.pt/cei/e-rei/n6/artigos/Goksu-Akkan_Midnight-Express-Hollywood.pdf

    The storyline of Midnight Express replicates exactly what Said emphasizes in terms of constructing the Orient, and combines it with the idea of ‘the Western gaze’ in cinema. It is this gaze that “reduces the non-European to the not-yet being of underdevelopment; lacking presence and agency.” (Venn 2000 p. 148) As a result, the protagonist of the controversionally based on a ‘true story’ film is American Billy Hayes, who is trapped in a jail in Istanbul in the early 1970s for trying to smuggle drugs back into the United States. He is depicted not as a guilty immoral drug trafficker, but as an unfortunate young White male who is stuck in the ‘middle of nowhere’, because he is in the ‘mystical’ and ‘unreliable’ East. The White, American man of European origins, is thus the only vantage point of the film. The story is told from his point of view, with the cinematic lens that films the whole experience symbolically becoming Billy’s own eyes. On a broader level, Billy’s perception becomes the Western ‘gaze’ that Venn underlines. In this regard, encounters are never evaluated from the Oriental or Turkish side, which eschews the East’s presence and agency as a legitimate form of existence. This precisely debunks Sinha’s argument about Orientalist discourse affecting both the East and the West in a heterogeneous way, because the Oriental subjects are never given a chance in the first place to express themselves.

    When I watched Midnight Express upon release, the response was on the patriotic or jingoistic side. When the father curses the Turkish guard, the audience roared with approval. And there were cheers when, near the end, the hero slays the fat guard. (On some subconscious level, was the movie about Stone's feelings about POW left behind in Vietnam?)

    https://youtu.be/3V9b_qRE5bg?t=100

    The audience reaction was not unlike that in Rambo(or in The Deer Hunter when DeNiro blows away the Viet Cong.) So, even though Stone may have written Midnight Express as a story of freedom and liberation, he ended up eliciting from the audience a sense of us versus them: We freedom-loving Americans who like to have a good time versus those Muslim Turks who are so repressive and authoritarian. (He also seems to project everything he hated about right-wing Americanism onto the Turks who are like the southern 'bosses' in Cool Hand Luke.) And yet, such passion later cropped up after 9/11 in the words of George W. Bush. You see, THEY attacked US for our freedom and right to go shopping. So, we had to invade them and build shopping malls with escalators there(and maybe girls there will come to emulate Christina Aguilera).
    So, for all his anti-imperialist attitude and spirit of rebellion with drugs, Stone doesn't seem to have realized that American hedonism could come to serve as the basis of a new kind of imperialism. After all, what is the underpinning of the new cold war? Russia won't allow massive homo parades. It is too conservative and builds cathedrals than clearing Red Square for pink celebration. And according to the dumb movie Jarhead, US soldiers are pumped up with scenes from Apocalypse Now. And soldiers blasted heavy metal against Noriega in Panama and 'Rock the Casbah' to Shock and Awe campaign. And it seems the CIA found the drug trade very convenient in Central America and Afghanistan. Stone both condemns the CIA's role in the drug trade and mindless American mass culture but still seems to cling to the notion that drugs can save the world. But consider Jim Morrison as a microcosm of Counterculture America. He was a major druggy but an egotistical tyrant and scoundrel with those close to him.

    One of the more thoughtful reviews of Platoon was by Bert Cardullo in Hudson Review.

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3851465?seq=1

    He was one of the few critics to point out the flaw in the moral logic of the movie. Yes, Berenger's character is a scary guy while Dafoe plays a man of conscience. But there is consistency in Berenger's mission in the war. He's there to fight and flush out the Viet Cong and win. In contrast, Dafoe's character is fully in the war and killing VC(and is serving third or fourth tour), but seems committed to losing. He's a total soldier but also a total defeatist. If he truly believes the war is unjust, why didn't leave after serving his tour and maybe join the antiwar protest? Why is he an anti-imperialist totally committed to what he deems an imperialist war? He's done his duty. He could leave, and he would rather be with real men and kill VC.

    It's like Stone feels... "I always serve the empire, even when I oppose it."

  230. @Anonymous
    @Dieter Kief

    Jonathan Demme?

    Maybe Demme before Philadelphia. His movies Citizens Band, Melvin and Howard, and especially Something Wild are special. The Last Embrace, though problematic, is interesting. The trashy and ugly Silence of the Lambs was his biggest hit but soon triggered his psychological meltdown. He went into do-goody Liberal mode and felt he had to apologize to the homo community forever for having such a 'transphobic' movie. Everything he made after that was in expiation mode. He went from ironist-humanist to propagandist of straight-guilt and white-guilt.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    I answered in comment 212 – forgot to press the answer button.

  231. Anonymous[921] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dieter Kief
    @Anonymous


    So, on some level, as corrupt and fallen as they are, they too are rebels and mavericks.

     

    You (partly) include Nixon in here. The beef Oliver Stone had with Nixon was based on his belief, that the US-engagement in the Vietnam war was bad. - I'm not even sure whether Stone would go this far. In his recent talk with Joe Rogan, he does not criticize the war as such so much, as the sloppy way it was fought and communicated and the veterans were ignored afterward, etc. This and something eternal: The honesty and - realness - he experienced while fighting at the front - vs. the dishonesty of the regular civil life - in which he could not succeed (or find a place for himself) before he left for Vietnam to let destiny have its way (from memory - so not word for word what Oliver Stone said to Joe Rogan, but reasonably close).

    War (and crime in Scarface) as something pure.

    = the war and crime movie as the flip-side of the sterile everyday life in the Iron Cage of Obedience (Max weber) - and a compensation for the discontent of the civilizational process (= Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud...).

    In the end, Oliver Stone is a Tragedist.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Anonymous

    In the end, Oliver Stone is a Tragedist.

    For the most part, I’d say he is(or was) a sensationalist. His tragedian side worked best with Nixon and Heaven & Earth. Salvador, Platoon, and Born on the 4th are more about sounding the bullhorn and rubbing our faces in the lies and failures of foreign policy. They are too excited and eye-bulging to be genuinely tragic, a deeper quality. Tragedy ultimately connects the violence and calamity of life and reality with a truth that is deeper and ultimately serene. Heaven & Earth had that quality. This woman had been through so much and seen so much, enough to drive anyone crazy, but she gains the strength and wisdom to find peace with herself and history. In contrast, Salvador’s main focus is to alert America of what is happening down there. Platoon is ultimately triumphant. It’s anti-war and brutal, but when we see the wounded Sheen flying away at the end, it’s like he’s really become a man. It reminds me of the scene in Goodfellas where Paulie says to the kid, “you broke your cherry”. It does show the ugly side of war, but there’s much narration about these fellas are ‘the best’, like their buddies on the sports team. Born on the 4th is clearly more tragic, but again, despite all the gloom and despair, it’s really about Kovic finding a second life as a happy warrior for truth and against war.

    The sensationalist side of Stone ebbed over the years. As a younger director, he was hungrier and eager to make a difference. Later, he became a more assured director without the overt expressionism. And it was bound to happen as people age and develop a different and more reflective perspective on life. It’s like the Lennon who wrote ‘Woman’ and ‘Watching the Wheels’ was the same guy who wrote ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’. Still, given Stone’s sensationalist nature, he was most exciting and relevant as a cruder and vulgar showman. In contrast, Eastwood was never a sensationalist and so the progression of his mastery seemed more organic over the years. But because we associate Stone so much with being an enfant terrible with a conscience, we almost don’t want him to grow too wise or stable as an artist. The very essence that made him what he was may be lost. It’s like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance wouldn’t be so captivating without his madness.

    For something special, try Give Me Liberty, which is like a combo of Mean Streets and Bringing Out the Dead made with digicam in partnership with Beavis and Butthead. It is in equal measure exasperating and exhilarating. A very eccentric cast of characters, most Russian-Americans and blacks and disabled people. It’s one of the few films that feature blacks as they are than as idealized figures or pop culture fantasies. It could be a one-off thing or sign of a promising new talent.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @Anonymous

    Sensationalist could be read as another expression for - no intellectual.

    If you don't mind, I'll make my point very short: I think this is a major flaw (I hope this sounds not too harsh) and can lead to tragic outcomes of all sorts because such a - behavior - strikes me as willful blindness in modern societies.

    I've searched this blog-post for LSD and found nobody but humble me. In a key scene in Oliver Stone's talk with Joe Rogan, he mentions LSD - and that he gave it to his conservative father and later told him what he had done and that it all turned out quite nice & pleasing.

    Could well be. Sensationalists can be cosmologists at times too. And somehow soft-headed despite all their harsh manliness.

    Mysticism used to be accompanied by bodily practices and rituals and embedded in - - - discourses (now, I admit it, I think of the Dominicans - Heinrich Seuse (=Suso), Tauler and  - their teacher: Meister Eckhart. It might be a bit - insufficient to just drop the magic LSD-pill - even though it is powerful. As a sidenote: Quentin Tarantino did touch such territory in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Brad Pitt's character strikes me as the sinner (ex-soldier)  turned monk (with some Franciscan aspects too - not least in the way he treats his dog).

    T. C. Boyle is here much better than Oliver Stone too in his LSD novel Inside Lookin Out. That's interesting for me, because I'd - after having spoken to him - say, that: T. C. Boyle is no intellectual either. But nevertheless - he does make the big points about LSD and inner-worldly transcendence and self-aggrandizing and humans being overtaken so to speak by their - - - very present and very deep indeed absolutely private and ego-centered - - - - feelings (and longings) up to a degree, which makes them - absolutely sensationalist (=deranged, unhappy, cruel...) so to - - - end here. It's as if T. C. Boyle knew - deep down - about the (natural, so to speak) limitations of our emotional side (he's a master in this territory).

    PS

    Thanks for your Give Me Liberty tip - I'll have a look!

  232. @Anonymous
    @Dieter Kief

    In the end, Oliver Stone is a Tragedist.

    For the most part, I'd say he is(or was) a sensationalist. His tragedian side worked best with Nixon and Heaven & Earth. Salvador, Platoon, and Born on the 4th are more about sounding the bullhorn and rubbing our faces in the lies and failures of foreign policy. They are too excited and eye-bulging to be genuinely tragic, a deeper quality. Tragedy ultimately connects the violence and calamity of life and reality with a truth that is deeper and ultimately serene. Heaven & Earth had that quality. This woman had been through so much and seen so much, enough to drive anyone crazy, but she gains the strength and wisdom to find peace with herself and history. In contrast, Salvador's main focus is to alert America of what is happening down there. Platoon is ultimately triumphant. It's anti-war and brutal, but when we see the wounded Sheen flying away at the end, it's like he's really become a man. It reminds me of the scene in Goodfellas where Paulie says to the kid, "you broke your cherry". It does show the ugly side of war, but there's much narration about these fellas are 'the best', like their buddies on the sports team. Born on the 4th is clearly more tragic, but again, despite all the gloom and despair, it's really about Kovic finding a second life as a happy warrior for truth and against war.

    The sensationalist side of Stone ebbed over the years. As a younger director, he was hungrier and eager to make a difference. Later, he became a more assured director without the overt expressionism. And it was bound to happen as people age and develop a different and more reflective perspective on life. It's like the Lennon who wrote 'Woman' and 'Watching the Wheels' was the same guy who wrote 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand'. Still, given Stone's sensationalist nature, he was most exciting and relevant as a cruder and vulgar showman. In contrast, Eastwood was never a sensationalist and so the progression of his mastery seemed more organic over the years. But because we associate Stone so much with being an enfant terrible with a conscience, we almost don't want him to grow too wise or stable as an artist. The very essence that made him what he was may be lost. It's like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance wouldn't be so captivating without his madness.

    For something special, try Give Me Liberty, which is like a combo of Mean Streets and Bringing Out the Dead made with digicam in partnership with Beavis and Butthead. It is in equal measure exasperating and exhilarating. A very eccentric cast of characters, most Russian-Americans and blacks and disabled people. It's one of the few films that feature blacks as they are than as idealized figures or pop culture fantasies. It could be a one-off thing or sign of a promising new talent.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR8nVCExVo4

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    Sensationalist could be read as another expression for – no intellectual.

    If you don’t mind, I’ll make my point very short: I think this is a major flaw (I hope this sounds not too harsh) and can lead to tragic outcomes of all sorts because such a – behavior – strikes me as willful blindness in modern societies.

    I’ve searched this blog-post for LSD and found nobody but humble me. In a key scene in Oliver Stone’s talk with Joe Rogan, he mentions LSD – and that he gave it to his conservative father and later told him what he had done and that it all turned out quite nice & pleasing.

    Could well be. Sensationalists can be cosmologists at times too. And somehow soft-headed despite all their harsh manliness.

    Mysticism used to be accompanied by bodily practices and rituals and embedded in – – – discourses (now, I admit it, I think of the Dominicans – Heinrich Seuse (=Suso), Tauler and  – their teacher: Meister Eckhart. It might be a bit – insufficient to just drop the magic LSD-pill – even though it is powerful. As a sidenote: Quentin Tarantino did touch such territory in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Brad Pitt’s character strikes me as the sinner (ex-soldier)  turned monk (with some Franciscan aspects too – not least in the way he treats his dog).

    T. C. Boyle is here much better than Oliver Stone too in his LSD novel Inside Lookin Out. That’s interesting for me, because I’d – after having spoken to him – say, that: T. C. Boyle is no intellectual either. But nevertheless – he does make the big points about LSD and inner-worldly transcendence and self-aggrandizing and humans being overtaken so to speak by their – – – very present and very deep indeed absolutely private and ego-centered – – – – feelings (and longings) up to a degree, which makes them – absolutely sensationalist (=deranged, unhappy, cruel…) so to – – – end here. It’s as if T. C. Boyle knew – deep down – about the (natural, so to speak) limitations of our emotional side (he’s a master in this territory).

    PS

    Thanks for your Give Me Liberty tip – I’ll have a look!

  233. @nebulafox
    @Kronos

    Why would the CIA have wanted Nixon gone? The agency's image is quite divorced from the reality: political culture leans establishment, always has. You could see VC flags in Langley offices by 1970 while they simultaneously collaborated with a right-wing military dictator in Brazil against Allende. Moreover, nobody could have anticipated Watergate would have developed into what it was. It took a long laundry list of unlikely factors from the internal dynamics of the White House to the right series of hearings in Congress to get the scandal to even blow up, let alone lead to resignation. The CIA could have hardly expected that J. Edgar Hoover would die in May 1972, for example, or that Nixon had a non-controllable taping system catching him with the intent to obstruct justice.

    My own take on Watergate is pretty prosaic, TBH: Magruder and Company wanted to prove they were Hard Men.

    >(For Millennials the whole Watergate thing looks very minor and it’s bizarre that a very odd break-in brought down a sitting President. We were raised on doctrines of Executive Supremacy granted via The Patriot Act.)

    I agree that Watergate looks pretty unremarkable for someone whose formative experiences were in the post-PATRIOT era, but you have to judge people in their historical context. Nixon was not the kind of guy you wanted in charge of a United States in the throes of massive cultural transitions. After Nixon's downfall, the Church Committee showed just how down and dirty the United States government had gotten during the previous decades: it's hard to understate how much of a rupture this was with America's self-image. The lefties confused this with a massive cultural shift that didn't exist, though: and they got that so wrong that it took until 2008 for a non-Southern technocrat Democrat to get into the White House.

    On a tangentially related subject, given his record as a Bush II and general "Deep State" apologist, Woodward's most recent treatment of Nixon and Vietnam is hypocritical, to put it kindly. I read parts of it. I immediately could sense the agenda when he failed to mention that the "zilch" memo was in response to a less-than-week long initial strike in late 1971 after a bombing halt that had been in effect for over three years. The real bombing campaign would not commence until the spring of '72, and that had anything but a "zilch" effect: Vietnamese and Soviet archives make that very clear. Partly, this was because the war itself had become much more conventional-in effect, LBJ and Nixon were fighting two different wars. Nixon also could gamble on the Soviets and Chinese not intervening in a way Johnson couldn't. But Linebacker was also carried out far more competently than Rolling Thunder.

    Replies: @Kronos

    Why would the CIA have wanted Nixon gone?

    According to the book the CIA didn’t approve of getting out of Vietnam and wanted to triple down. They wanted to engage in nastier stuff like terrorism in North Vietnam and other stuff Nixon denied them.

    Also, the CIA had a big money-making operation transporting drugs everywhere in Southeast Asia and an end to the war would greatly hamper it. They thought Nixon was a true war President and the peace stuff just talk. Apparently they tried assassinating Nixon twice but both assassins like straight up refused. One thought he was hired to kill a communist but upon getting briefed replied “I don’t get involved in politics.”

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    @Kronos

    >According to the book the CIA didn’t approve of getting out of Vietnam and wanted to triple down. They wanted to engage in nastier stuff like terrorism in North Vietnam and other stuff Nixon denied them.

    I can see why that's believable, but it really isn't historically accurate given the CIA's political culture. Again, if anything, most desk agents in Langley around 1970, during the height of antiwar fervor during the Cambodian campaign, were more likely to believe Nixon was a monster for not getting out sooner, not for not getting out at all.

    (Kind of unfair considering how the operation lead to a massive reduction in American casualties: because the highlands were temporarily secure, ARVN could be moved in while the remaining American troops not being withdrawn could be relegated to the coasts. But the atmosphere at the time isn't too different from what you see among the lefties today. They aren't interested in reason. Nixon's Churchillian rhetoric really didn't help matters, but Tricky was telling the truth: it was no invasion. We were just going into to clean out the sanctuaries. It's very telling that the peace movement completely ignored Campaign X.)

    Now, Hoover's FBI: that would be a lot more believable, although even Hoover was beginning to pare down stuff like COININTEPRO by the early 1970s. He could sense how the political culture of the United States was changing. Nixon really, really didn't. That was what lead to the Plumbers. Other Presidents had that kind of thing done for them by the FBI, they didn't bring it into the White House.

    >They thought Nixon was a true war President and the peace stuff just talk.

    The peace stuff was indeed just talk, but not because of the United States.

    Nixon entered office hoping to end the Vietnam War much like how Eisenhower ended Korea. As the VP, he didn't just have a front seat row, but was an active participant in the process-one of his first FP tasks for Eisenhower was to head to Seoul to tacitly blackmail Rhee into agreeing to peace. But the North Vietnamese weren't going to risk anything like that happening: they were determined to avoid a Korea 2.0 scenario at all costs. Le Duan always viewed Ho Chi Minh's willingness to talk in 1954 as a gigantic mistake.

  234. Anonymous[395] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dave Pinsen
    @Anonymous

    Stone’s Alexander may not be perfect, but it’s probably the best Alexander film ever.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Anonymous

    Stone’s Alexander may not be perfect, but it’s probably the best Alexander film ever.

    Isn’t that kind of like saying Game of Thrones is the best story with dwarf as lord? How many Alexander movies have there been?

    [MORE]

    Part of Stone’s problem is personality. He succeeded as writer/director but has the personality of a diva-actor. No wonder he loves to make documentaries that follows him meeting world leaders and the like. Werner Herzog has done this too, but he comes across as bit more thoughtful. In his docus, he always plays second-fiddle to the subject matter, whereas Stone presents himself as a near-equal with whomever he is interviewing. He doesn’t take this as far as the loathsome Michael Moore, but he wants to be at the center.
    But what Herzog and Stone do have in common is a near-inability or unwillingness to go for genuine ensemble characterization and acting. In several films, Herzog’s idea of characterization was to just focus on Klaus Kinski as Mr. Gargoyle. Stone, with a big personality, identifies so much with the Big Man on screen — who serves as alter ego, conscience, doppleganger, his repressed Id, or etc — that he usually neglects the other characters and renders them as secondary or disposable. In a way, this was a problem from the beginning. The only memorable character in Salvador is James Woods’. Everyone else is a cartoonish baddie, shallow flunky, weakling, victim, saint, or clown. Only Woods has been realized as a three-dimensional character. And the only memorable character in Platoon is Willem Defoe who serves as combination of man-of-action, man-of-thought, man-of-duty, man-of-conscience. Even if too good to be true, he is more than black or white. In contrast, Berenger is all scars and grunts. Scary but hardly a character. And Sheen is really just a stand-in for the audience. He watches and hears for us. If he was meant to portray the young Stone at war, it doesn’t quite work because he lacks any kind of psychological depth. The young Stone was surely a complex individual. None of that is conveyed in the movie. Sheen could be just anybody who must choose between Good and Evil and finally opts for the Good. He’s generic. Same goes for Wall Street. Only Gekko is memorable. Sheen is likable but merely reprises his role in Platoon. Again, he must choose between the good(blue-collar father) and bad(white-collar crook). The difference is that in Wall Street, the bad crook is developed into a 3D character whereas the good father is cardboard. He’s all goodness and sunshine, just like Berenger is all darkness and doom.
    Going back even further, Scarface was a one-man show, as was Midnight Express. Stone has a tendency to identify so closely with the main character or the most ‘iconic’ character and invests most of his creative energies into him. It’s like what Montana says? “Who do I trust? ME!!”
    In contrast, consider how Scorsese made everyone shine in Mean Streets. Even minor characters like the fat guy who calls another a ‘mook’ is memorable. And even though Taxi Driver is 90% Bickle, who can forget Sport and Iris? Or the golden girl? And Raging Bull is as much Joe Pesci’s as DeNiro’s. And even the minor characters of the hood are memorable. But does anyone remember anything but Kilmer as Morrison from the Doors? Manzarek and others are mere backdrop.
    Perhaps, Nixon and Heaven & Earth are richer as ensemble movies because Stone couldn’t identify very closely with the main characters. James Wood, Powers Boothe, and Paul Sorvino really shine in that work. And as the main character of Heaven & Earth is a woman(and a Vietnamese one at that), it’s as if Stone learned to follow and watch than merely latch onto her as his big fat alter-ego.

    The problem with Alexander is it is too much a one-man show. Though Michael is at the center of The Godfather, every character is memorable, even down to the women, Kay and Connie. One cannot forget Sal and Clemenza. Or the brash Hollywood boss and the Turk and the corrupt police chief. Or the bodyguard who wants to go to America or the girl’s father. Despite their limited screen times, each is a fully-realized character. But apart from Jolie(who may actually be just another aspect of Stone’s ego), Alexander is all Alexander and nothing else. It might as well be a stand-up routine. Even though there are scenes of strategy and intrigue, no one registers as anything but backdrop. Jared Leto’s role as friend/lover is weak. Kilmer as Philip is as one-dimensional as Berenger in Platoon. As such, the movie lacks dramatic tension and chemistry. The only real roles are Alexander and HISTORY. It’s about Alexander and his will to power, so most of the movie is about him wrestling with himself and treating other characters as mere necessary nuisance. In contrast, The Wild Bunch works so well because each character is colorfully realized, even the crude Gorch brothers.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @Anonymous


    every character is memorable, even down to the women
     
    Funny how this came about!

    No - seriously now - you made me laugh here.

  235. Anonymous[395] • Disclaimer says:
    @Pincher Martin
    @Anonymous

    I think Cruise is a highly underrated actor. He's certainly well above average among Hollywood's leading men. I'd put him above Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford and many other handsome leading stars of the eighties and nineties. I don't think he started off that way. But Cruise's determined focus early on in developing his acting career paid off with him working with great directors & actors, and getting some choice roles, before he was thirty. That early experience seems to have eventually helped him to develop into a pretty good actor. Cruise was not a great actor in Risky Business or Top Gun or Cocktail or even The Color of Money (probably his best acting before Born on the Fourth of July).

    The first half-hour of Born on the Fourth of July was just Cruise melding together variations of the same Cruise he had always played before - the sometimes overeager, sometimes naive, sometimes playful American boy that America had grown to love, but with Stone giving him more of an ideological edge than Cruise had ever previously shown in any other role.

    But the final two-thirds of the movie required much more from Cruise than he had ever demonstrated. I can still remember two scenes from Born of the Fourth of July that showed Cruise's extending his acting range.

    The most memorable was the wheelchair fight between Cruise's Kovic and William DaFoe's Charlie which leads to Kovic's short cathartic speech at the end that was incredibly moving ("Do you remember when things made sense. Before we all got so lost.").

    The other was much briefer, but no less affecting and it showed what Cruise could convey with just a look. Cruise's Kovic was returning to a Mexican bordello after he had just had a reviving sexual encounter with a Mexican señorita, hoping to meet her again. He had fallen in love with the idea of her, and so he had brought a gift for their second encounter. But as he sees her come down the stairs with another client, looking much dirtier and less attractive than he remembered, his smile freezes and he pockets the gift. Such a tiny and seemingly insignificant scene, but one Cruise pulled off very well.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    I think Cruise is a highly underrated actor. He’s certainly well above average among Hollywood’s leading men.

    He did a fine job in BORN, but the effort shows. In contrast, look how Edward Norton does his magic. He disappears into the role almost effortlessly. And even though I don’t like Matt Damon, there is a real intelligence in what he does. Bland boy can zelig in and out of roles. No wonder he was so good in Talented Mr. Ripley. And his brilliant performance in The Informant. He’s almost as gifted as Seymour Philip Kaufman and with less showiness. And he works well with other actors, and this may be why Ford v Ferrari worked so well. Bale the ‘American Psycho’ is the kind of actor who must bend everything to his will. Damon can take lead but also tune into other personalities and egos. In that sense, Damon and Bale were perfectly cast. Damon plays someone who accepts reality and plays the diplomat whereas Bale plays a guy who must do everything his way. Both are strong in their own ways but in different ways.

    Cruise can be a real actor but is really star material. And Brad Pitt does best as co-actor. Despite his alpha-male stature, his personality lights up only in reaction to another, as in Fight Club and Once Upon Hollywood. He’s like a flint stone that needs another stone to create sparks. In contrast, the immensely likable Cruise can light up a scene all on his own.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    @Anonymous


    He did a fine job in BORN, but the effort shows. In contrast, look how Edward Norton does his magic. He disappears into the role almost effortlessly. And even though I don’t like Matt Damon, there is a real intelligence in what he does.
     
    I don't consider Edward Norton to be a Hollywood leading man in the mold of Costner, Pitt, Willis, Gibson, etc. He's an outstanding character actor whose name on the marquee wouldn't sell a ticket if his life depended on it. Closer to Chris Cooper than Tom Cruise.

    Matt Damon is an excellent comparison. He's a highly underrated actor who works incredibly hard at his craft and who is occasionally asked to carry a blockbuster film, which he can do. He doesn't have the star power that Cruise once had, but he's a slightly better actor than Cruise. He's also, unlike Edward Norton, a leading man whose name on the marquee is worth something to the people who sell tickets.

    Bale is another excellent example to compare with Cruise. Highly underrated. Wide range in his acting roles. And a leading man. He's very similar to Damon.

    All four actors are of a similar age. Cruise is the oldest at 58. Bale is the youngest at 46. Norton (50) and Damon (49) are in the middle. But despite their closeness in age, Cruise belongs to an entirely different acting generation than do the other three. He became famous nearly a generation earlier than the others did and in an era before CGI took over the blockbusters and made Hollywood's leading men less critical to a movie's financial success.

    Before Tom Cruise's 28th birthday, he had already starred in five films that grossed over $100 million at the box office, back when that figure still meant something. And that doesn't even include Risky Business, which grossed over $67 million on a $6 million budget. Even a crap film like Cocktail was a major hit in 1988.

    Cruise stayed almost exclusively in his role as top leading man in commercial films until the end of the 1990s, when he was in his late thirties. These leading man roles were limiting. He almost always plays a somewhat problematic young guy who audiences can still identify with who suffers some emotional or dramatic catharsis before he becomes a completely good and decent guy, cleansed of his problematic features, at the end of the film. The only two exceptions I can think of are The Color of Money in 1986 and Interview with a Vampire in 1994.

    But that's what the top leading men used to do before CGI made them a less indispensable part of a commercial film. They looked a certain role, and they played that role for most of their lives. Because that is how they made their money and how the studios made money with them.

    I think Christian Bale is an excellent Batman - the best one ever, in my opinion - but Bale doesn't sell the Batman films in which he stars. It's proven you can put that cape on any actor and those films will still sell.

    But this limitation for today's leading men has proven liberating for them as actors. Leading men like Bale and Damon can still make great money playing leading roles in CGI films and then effortlessly slide into those special roles where there is no pressure on them to sell tickets because everyone knows leading men are no longer a surefire way to sell tickets.

    Cruise, meanwhile, has been forced to adapt to the new age by reprising his Mission Impossible role over and over again, and by starring in more sci-fi films in the last two decades, a genre he did not do at all in the eighties and nineties unless you count the forgettable Legend. Those are CGI films, and CGI is what sells now.

    But when you see Cruise do his cameo of Lev Grossman in Tropic Thunder or his work in Magnolia, you see what a great actor he is. But early on, Cruise got into a pattern which was very different than the pattern that Bale, Norton, and Damon took to success.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    , @Pincher Martin
    @Anonymous

    I should've also responded to this part of your post:


    Cruise can be a real actor but is really star material. And Brad Pitt does best as co-actor. Despite his alpha-male stature, his personality lights up only in reaction to another, as in Fight Club and Once Upon Hollywood. He’s like a flint stone that needs another stone to create sparks. In contrast, the immensely likable Cruise can light up a scene all on his own.
     
    As you can see from my first response to your post, I agree with you on Cruise.

    I also agree with you about Pitt. He's the dramatic equivalent to what in comedy is a straight man. He was great with the better actor Edward Norton in Fight Club. He was good with the better actor Leo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He worked well with the better actor Tom Cruise in Interview with a Vampire. He was fun in an ensemble cast like the Ocean's Eleven films.

    Pitt was a handsome man, but even when he played a high-energy character, like Tyler Durden, he has such low energy on the screen that he needs a high-energy performer alongside him to light the screen up when he's in a scene.

    When he's by himself for most of the film, he underperforms as he did in Seven Years in Tibet, Mr and Mrs Smith, World War Z, etc.

    Pitt has occasionally hit gold with his performances, though. A River Runs Through It. Snatch. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Burn After Reading. Moneyball are all great turns by Pitt.

    But all those movie roles share one of two characteristics. They are either small roles - A River Runs Through It, Snatch, Burn After Reading - or they are roles of depressed/emotionally-stunted men - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford & Moneyball.
  236. Anonymous[113] • Disclaimer says:
    @68W58
    I thought “Platoon” was vastly overrated when I first saw it in theaters both in terms of filmmaking and storytelling and I’d like to think it wouldn’t receive such high praise if it were released today.

    Replies: @J.Ross, @Anonymous

    I thought “Platoon” was vastly overrated when I first saw it in theaters both in terms of filmmaking and storytelling and I’d like to think it wouldn’t receive such high praise if it were released today.

    It’s one of those movies made for maximum impact, to hit the audience with something heretofore unseen or unexpressed with full shock effect. Though there had been bloody Vietnam movies before, it was war as metaphor(Deer Hunter) or war as spectacle(Apocalypse Now) or war as cartoon(Rambo). Platoon showed war as experience, up close and in your face. It’s like what Michael Medved says about the movie. It shows all the sights and smells of the war experience.

    Though not exactly new in terms of style, Stone who’d seen the war up close and came of age in the era of graphic cinematic violence(Penn, Peckinpah, Coppola, Scorsese) had the knowledge and savvy to present a war movie like never before. I vividly recall the time I saw it. In the same year, I watched Come and See first, a harrowing WWII film from the Soviet Union. As horrific as it was, I still felt as a spectator. And the overt stylization of the violence as something ghoulish and nightmarish made it seem very like a movie. In contrast, Platoon pulled you right into its world. It was like your eyes, ears, and even your skin were in the jungle with the soldiers. It was perhaps the most impactful use of violence since Seven Samurai that dragged you into the dirt and mud. Even before the violence erupted, there were all these details overlooked by most movies. Like the heat, sweat, ants crawling down your neck. In the mango scene in Apocalypse Now, we are made to focus on the timeless grandeur of the jungle, which is finally punctuated by a tiger. Jungle and Tiger, it is on the level of spectacle. In contrast, Platoon is on the level of experience. You can almost smell the shit in the latrine. You feel soaked in the rain, and the suspense is palpable, as is the drowsiness and need for sleep. We share in the fatigue, which can be punctuated only by abject fear of the enemy slowly emerging from the bushes. The movie also has terrific use of tracking shots with Defoe and Berenger. It conveys both a sense of chaos and the mastery over chaos that those two seasoned soldiers have achieved. They cut through the jungle like knife through butter. I don’t believe I was ever as frightened by a war movie or any action-filled movie as by Platoon when it came out. The impact was like the slaughter in Gandhi, a real shocker.

    But then, Platoon confirmed what Truffaut said, that anti-war movie is futile as cinema makes everything exciting. Upon first viewing, I would have disagreed but subsequent viewings bore this out. Platoon’s overwhelming power depended on the element of suspense(audience not knowing when the violence will explode next and who will get wounded/killed), shock value, and novelty of its kind of violence. When I took it out on videotape, I was ready to be frightened all over again but instead found it rather exciting. Same with violence in Saving Private Ryan. Deeply impactful the first time but just very exciting and entertaining in subsequent viewings. Once the suspense goes and the viewer becomes desensitivized to that level of violence, it no longer works so well. Both Platoon and Saving are pretty simple-minded in their characterizations; so, once the impact wears off, they seem far less special, except as matters of technique. Same goes for Schindler’s List, which was totally horrifying on first view. But on second viewing when you know when the killings will happen, you focus less on the impact and more on the characterization, and it is rather weak(and even inappropriate), like Frank Capra meets Holocaust. By the time Hacksaw Ridge came out, is anyone impacted by movie violence? I could hardly tell it apart from the parody in Tropic Thunder.

    And so, Platoon’s star has faded over the years. But then, most people don’t much care to see Gandhi, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan either. I’m sure it will be the same with 12 Years a Slave, sold as ‘slavery like never seen before’. But once the visceral impact wears off, then what?

    In contrast, Das Boot still fascinates as a character study of men in naval combat. And Dunkirk, on focusing more on quiet heroism than horror, is more memorable. And the Unknown Soldier, the Finnish film, is truly remarkable. We see characters who ring true, a real sense of history than the heaviness of message. As impressive as Platoon is, it is a message movie in both theme and expression. Its main point was “Vietnam Wars was REALLY like this”, and it was probably necessary. Sam Fuller had seen combat and made Big Red One, but it was in the style of conventional Hollywood. Stone was the first to bring together New Hollywood, graphic violence, and a sense of veracity missing in Apocalypse Now, which for all its violence and some gore, was seen through the eyes of a master than a soldier.

    The first time you get punched in the fact is most impactful. Platoon was a new kind of punch to the face. But impact alone wears off, especially when violence keeps getting ramped up in cinema.

    • Thanks: 68W58
    • Replies: @JMcG
    @Anonymous

    Great, great comment. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

  237. @Bardon Kaldian
    @JMcG

    Faulkner faked a flying ace period.

    Replies: @JMcG, @Hibernian

    I never knew that, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Thank you.

  238. @Anonymous
    @Pincher Martin

    I think Cruise is a highly underrated actor. He’s certainly well above average among Hollywood’s leading men.

    He did a fine job in BORN, but the effort shows. In contrast, look how Edward Norton does his magic. He disappears into the role almost effortlessly. And even though I don't like Matt Damon, there is a real intelligence in what he does. Bland boy can zelig in and out of roles. No wonder he was so good in Talented Mr. Ripley. And his brilliant performance in The Informant. He's almost as gifted as Seymour Philip Kaufman and with less showiness. And he works well with other actors, and this may be why Ford v Ferrari worked so well. Bale the 'American Psycho' is the kind of actor who must bend everything to his will. Damon can take lead but also tune into other personalities and egos. In that sense, Damon and Bale were perfectly cast. Damon plays someone who accepts reality and plays the diplomat whereas Bale plays a guy who must do everything his way. Both are strong in their own ways but in different ways.

    Cruise can be a real actor but is really star material. And Brad Pitt does best as co-actor. Despite his alpha-male stature, his personality lights up only in reaction to another, as in Fight Club and Once Upon Hollywood. He's like a flint stone that needs another stone to create sparks. In contrast, the immensely likable Cruise can light up a scene all on his own.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin, @Pincher Martin

    He did a fine job in BORN, but the effort shows. In contrast, look how Edward Norton does his magic. He disappears into the role almost effortlessly. And even though I don’t like Matt Damon, there is a real intelligence in what he does.

    I don’t consider Edward Norton to be a Hollywood leading man in the mold of Costner, Pitt, Willis, Gibson, etc. He’s an outstanding character actor whose name on the marquee wouldn’t sell a ticket if his life depended on it. Closer to Chris Cooper than Tom Cruise.

    Matt Damon is an excellent comparison. He’s a highly underrated actor who works incredibly hard at his craft and who is occasionally asked to carry a blockbuster film, which he can do. He doesn’t have the star power that Cruise once had, but he’s a slightly better actor than Cruise. He’s also, unlike Edward Norton, a leading man whose name on the marquee is worth something to the people who sell tickets.

    Bale is another excellent example to compare with Cruise. Highly underrated. Wide range in his acting roles. And a leading man. He’s very similar to Damon.

    All four actors are of a similar age. Cruise is the oldest at 58. Bale is the youngest at 46. Norton (50) and Damon (49) are in the middle. But despite their closeness in age, Cruise belongs to an entirely different acting generation than do the other three. He became famous nearly a generation earlier than the others did and in an era before CGI took over the blockbusters and made Hollywood’s leading men less critical to a movie’s financial success.

    Before Tom Cruise’s 28th birthday, he had already starred in five films that grossed over $100 million at the box office, back when that figure still meant something. And that doesn’t even include Risky Business, which grossed over $67 million on a $6 million budget. Even a crap film like Cocktail was a major hit in 1988.

    Cruise stayed almost exclusively in his role as top leading man in commercial films until the end of the 1990s, when he was in his late thirties. These leading man roles were limiting. He almost always plays a somewhat problematic young guy who audiences can still identify with who suffers some emotional or dramatic catharsis before he becomes a completely good and decent guy, cleansed of his problematic features, at the end of the film. The only two exceptions I can think of are The Color of Money in 1986 and Interview with a Vampire in 1994.

    But that’s what the top leading men used to do before CGI made them a less indispensable part of a commercial film. They looked a certain role, and they played that role for most of their lives. Because that is how they made their money and how the studios made money with them.

    I think Christian Bale is an excellent Batman – the best one ever, in my opinion – but Bale doesn’t sell the Batman films in which he stars. It’s proven you can put that cape on any actor and those films will still sell.

    But this limitation for today’s leading men has proven liberating for them as actors. Leading men like Bale and Damon can still make great money playing leading roles in CGI films and then effortlessly slide into those special roles where there is no pressure on them to sell tickets because everyone knows leading men are no longer a surefire way to sell tickets.

    Cruise, meanwhile, has been forced to adapt to the new age by reprising his Mission Impossible role over and over again, and by starring in more sci-fi films in the last two decades, a genre he did not do at all in the eighties and nineties unless you count the forgettable Legend. Those are CGI films, and CGI is what sells now.

    But when you see Cruise do his cameo of Lev Grossman in Tropic Thunder or his work in Magnolia, you see what a great actor he is. But early on, Cruise got into a pattern which was very different than the pattern that Bale, Norton, and Damon took to success.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Pincher Martin

    Cruise really likes making movies that do 9 figures at the domestic box office. Around 2002, his Vanilla Sky movie looked after a month like it was going to top out at about $95 million at the box office, so Cruise went out on the road to modest cities in the middle of the country and did a couple of weeks of interviews with star-struck local TV people and pushed the movie over the $100 million mark. The man is a great professional.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin

  239. @Pincher Martin
    @Anonymous


    He did a fine job in BORN, but the effort shows. In contrast, look how Edward Norton does his magic. He disappears into the role almost effortlessly. And even though I don’t like Matt Damon, there is a real intelligence in what he does.
     
    I don't consider Edward Norton to be a Hollywood leading man in the mold of Costner, Pitt, Willis, Gibson, etc. He's an outstanding character actor whose name on the marquee wouldn't sell a ticket if his life depended on it. Closer to Chris Cooper than Tom Cruise.

    Matt Damon is an excellent comparison. He's a highly underrated actor who works incredibly hard at his craft and who is occasionally asked to carry a blockbuster film, which he can do. He doesn't have the star power that Cruise once had, but he's a slightly better actor than Cruise. He's also, unlike Edward Norton, a leading man whose name on the marquee is worth something to the people who sell tickets.

    Bale is another excellent example to compare with Cruise. Highly underrated. Wide range in his acting roles. And a leading man. He's very similar to Damon.

    All four actors are of a similar age. Cruise is the oldest at 58. Bale is the youngest at 46. Norton (50) and Damon (49) are in the middle. But despite their closeness in age, Cruise belongs to an entirely different acting generation than do the other three. He became famous nearly a generation earlier than the others did and in an era before CGI took over the blockbusters and made Hollywood's leading men less critical to a movie's financial success.

    Before Tom Cruise's 28th birthday, he had already starred in five films that grossed over $100 million at the box office, back when that figure still meant something. And that doesn't even include Risky Business, which grossed over $67 million on a $6 million budget. Even a crap film like Cocktail was a major hit in 1988.

    Cruise stayed almost exclusively in his role as top leading man in commercial films until the end of the 1990s, when he was in his late thirties. These leading man roles were limiting. He almost always plays a somewhat problematic young guy who audiences can still identify with who suffers some emotional or dramatic catharsis before he becomes a completely good and decent guy, cleansed of his problematic features, at the end of the film. The only two exceptions I can think of are The Color of Money in 1986 and Interview with a Vampire in 1994.

    But that's what the top leading men used to do before CGI made them a less indispensable part of a commercial film. They looked a certain role, and they played that role for most of their lives. Because that is how they made their money and how the studios made money with them.

    I think Christian Bale is an excellent Batman - the best one ever, in my opinion - but Bale doesn't sell the Batman films in which he stars. It's proven you can put that cape on any actor and those films will still sell.

    But this limitation for today's leading men has proven liberating for them as actors. Leading men like Bale and Damon can still make great money playing leading roles in CGI films and then effortlessly slide into those special roles where there is no pressure on them to sell tickets because everyone knows leading men are no longer a surefire way to sell tickets.

    Cruise, meanwhile, has been forced to adapt to the new age by reprising his Mission Impossible role over and over again, and by starring in more sci-fi films in the last two decades, a genre he did not do at all in the eighties and nineties unless you count the forgettable Legend. Those are CGI films, and CGI is what sells now.

    But when you see Cruise do his cameo of Lev Grossman in Tropic Thunder or his work in Magnolia, you see what a great actor he is. But early on, Cruise got into a pattern which was very different than the pattern that Bale, Norton, and Damon took to success.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Cruise really likes making movies that do 9 figures at the domestic box office. Around 2002, his Vanilla Sky movie looked after a month like it was going to top out at about $95 million at the box office, so Cruise went out on the road to modest cities in the middle of the country and did a couple of weeks of interviews with star-struck local TV people and pushed the movie over the $100 million mark. The man is a great professional.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    @Steve Sailer

    Agreed. The man works incredibly hard at his success, and he measures a great deal of that success in box office receipts. I hadn't hard of the Vanilla Sky anecdote, but it fits with what I do know about him.

    He's still a pretty good actor. Much better, I think, than he's given credit for.

  240. @Kronos
    @nebulafox


    Why would the CIA have wanted Nixon gone?
     
    According to the book the CIA didn’t approve of getting out of Vietnam and wanted to triple down. They wanted to engage in nastier stuff like terrorism in North Vietnam and other stuff Nixon denied them.

    Also, the CIA had a big money-making operation transporting drugs everywhere in Southeast Asia and an end to the war would greatly hamper it. They thought Nixon was a true war President and the peace stuff just talk. Apparently they tried assassinating Nixon twice but both assassins like straight up refused. One thought he was hired to kill a communist but upon getting briefed replied “I don’t get involved in politics.”

    Replies: @nebulafox

    >According to the book the CIA didn’t approve of getting out of Vietnam and wanted to triple down. They wanted to engage in nastier stuff like terrorism in North Vietnam and other stuff Nixon denied them.

    I can see why that’s believable, but it really isn’t historically accurate given the CIA’s political culture. Again, if anything, most desk agents in Langley around 1970, during the height of antiwar fervor during the Cambodian campaign, were more likely to believe Nixon was a monster for not getting out sooner, not for not getting out at all.

    (Kind of unfair considering how the operation lead to a massive reduction in American casualties: because the highlands were temporarily secure, ARVN could be moved in while the remaining American troops not being withdrawn could be relegated to the coasts. But the atmosphere at the time isn’t too different from what you see among the lefties today. They aren’t interested in reason. Nixon’s Churchillian rhetoric really didn’t help matters, but Tricky was telling the truth: it was no invasion. We were just going into to clean out the sanctuaries. It’s very telling that the peace movement completely ignored Campaign X.)

    Now, Hoover’s FBI: that would be a lot more believable, although even Hoover was beginning to pare down stuff like COININTEPRO by the early 1970s. He could sense how the political culture of the United States was changing. Nixon really, really didn’t. That was what lead to the Plumbers. Other Presidents had that kind of thing done for them by the FBI, they didn’t bring it into the White House.

    >They thought Nixon was a true war President and the peace stuff just talk.

    The peace stuff was indeed just talk, but not because of the United States.

    Nixon entered office hoping to end the Vietnam War much like how Eisenhower ended Korea. As the VP, he didn’t just have a front seat row, but was an active participant in the process-one of his first FP tasks for Eisenhower was to head to Seoul to tacitly blackmail Rhee into agreeing to peace. But the North Vietnamese weren’t going to risk anything like that happening: they were determined to avoid a Korea 2.0 scenario at all costs. Le Duan always viewed Ho Chi Minh’s willingness to talk in 1954 as a gigantic mistake.

  241. Anonymous[291] • Disclaimer says:

    Stone’e epitaph

    “I always tell the truth… even when I lie.”

  242. @Steve Sailer
    @Pincher Martin

    Cruise really likes making movies that do 9 figures at the domestic box office. Around 2002, his Vanilla Sky movie looked after a month like it was going to top out at about $95 million at the box office, so Cruise went out on the road to modest cities in the middle of the country and did a couple of weeks of interviews with star-struck local TV people and pushed the movie over the $100 million mark. The man is a great professional.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin

    Agreed. The man works incredibly hard at his success, and he measures a great deal of that success in box office receipts. I hadn’t hard of the Vanilla Sky anecdote, but it fits with what I do know about him.

    He’s still a pretty good actor. Much better, I think, than he’s given credit for.

  243. @Anonymous
    @Pincher Martin

    I think Cruise is a highly underrated actor. He’s certainly well above average among Hollywood’s leading men.

    He did a fine job in BORN, but the effort shows. In contrast, look how Edward Norton does his magic. He disappears into the role almost effortlessly. And even though I don't like Matt Damon, there is a real intelligence in what he does. Bland boy can zelig in and out of roles. No wonder he was so good in Talented Mr. Ripley. And his brilliant performance in The Informant. He's almost as gifted as Seymour Philip Kaufman and with less showiness. And he works well with other actors, and this may be why Ford v Ferrari worked so well. Bale the 'American Psycho' is the kind of actor who must bend everything to his will. Damon can take lead but also tune into other personalities and egos. In that sense, Damon and Bale were perfectly cast. Damon plays someone who accepts reality and plays the diplomat whereas Bale plays a guy who must do everything his way. Both are strong in their own ways but in different ways.

    Cruise can be a real actor but is really star material. And Brad Pitt does best as co-actor. Despite his alpha-male stature, his personality lights up only in reaction to another, as in Fight Club and Once Upon Hollywood. He's like a flint stone that needs another stone to create sparks. In contrast, the immensely likable Cruise can light up a scene all on his own.

    Replies: @Pincher Martin, @Pincher Martin

    I should’ve also responded to this part of your post:

    Cruise can be a real actor but is really star material. And Brad Pitt does best as co-actor. Despite his alpha-male stature, his personality lights up only in reaction to another, as in Fight Club and Once Upon Hollywood. He’s like a flint stone that needs another stone to create sparks. In contrast, the immensely likable Cruise can light up a scene all on his own.

    As you can see from my first response to your post, I agree with you on Cruise.

    I also agree with you about Pitt. He’s the dramatic equivalent to what in comedy is a straight man. He was great with the better actor Edward Norton in Fight Club. He was good with the better actor Leo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He worked well with the better actor Tom Cruise in Interview with a Vampire. He was fun in an ensemble cast like the Ocean’s Eleven films.

    Pitt was a handsome man, but even when he played a high-energy character, like Tyler Durden, he has such low energy on the screen that he needs a high-energy performer alongside him to light the screen up when he’s in a scene.

    When he’s by himself for most of the film, he underperforms as he did in Seven Years in Tibet, Mr and Mrs Smith, World War Z, etc.

    Pitt has occasionally hit gold with his performances, though. A River Runs Through It. Snatch. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Burn After Reading. Moneyball are all great turns by Pitt.

    But all those movie roles share one of two characteristics. They are either small roles – A River Runs Through It, Snatch, Burn After Reading – or they are roles of depressed/emotionally-stunted men – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford & Moneyball.

  244. @Anonymous
    @Dave Pinsen

    Stone’s Alexander may not be perfect, but it’s probably the best Alexander film ever.

    Isn't that kind of like saying Game of Thrones is the best story with dwarf as lord? How many Alexander movies have there been?

    Part of Stone's problem is personality. He succeeded as writer/director but has the personality of a diva-actor. No wonder he loves to make documentaries that follows him meeting world leaders and the like. Werner Herzog has done this too, but he comes across as bit more thoughtful. In his docus, he always plays second-fiddle to the subject matter, whereas Stone presents himself as a near-equal with whomever he is interviewing. He doesn't take this as far as the loathsome Michael Moore, but he wants to be at the center.
    But what Herzog and Stone do have in common is a near-inability or unwillingness to go for genuine ensemble characterization and acting. In several films, Herzog's idea of characterization was to just focus on Klaus Kinski as Mr. Gargoyle. Stone, with a big personality, identifies so much with the Big Man on screen -- who serves as alter ego, conscience, doppleganger, his repressed Id, or etc -- that he usually neglects the other characters and renders them as secondary or disposable. In a way, this was a problem from the beginning. The only memorable character in Salvador is James Woods'. Everyone else is a cartoonish baddie, shallow flunky, weakling, victim, saint, or clown. Only Woods has been realized as a three-dimensional character. And the only memorable character in Platoon is Willem Defoe who serves as combination of man-of-action, man-of-thought, man-of-duty, man-of-conscience. Even if too good to be true, he is more than black or white. In contrast, Berenger is all scars and grunts. Scary but hardly a character. And Sheen is really just a stand-in for the audience. He watches and hears for us. If he was meant to portray the young Stone at war, it doesn't quite work because he lacks any kind of psychological depth. The young Stone was surely a complex individual. None of that is conveyed in the movie. Sheen could be just anybody who must choose between Good and Evil and finally opts for the Good. He's generic. Same goes for Wall Street. Only Gekko is memorable. Sheen is likable but merely reprises his role in Platoon. Again, he must choose between the good(blue-collar father) and bad(white-collar crook). The difference is that in Wall Street, the bad crook is developed into a 3D character whereas the good father is cardboard. He's all goodness and sunshine, just like Berenger is all darkness and doom.
    Going back even further, Scarface was a one-man show, as was Midnight Express. Stone has a tendency to identify so closely with the main character or the most 'iconic' character and invests most of his creative energies into him. It's like what Montana says? "Who do I trust? ME!!"
    In contrast, consider how Scorsese made everyone shine in Mean Streets. Even minor characters like the fat guy who calls another a 'mook' is memorable. And even though Taxi Driver is 90% Bickle, who can forget Sport and Iris? Or the golden girl? And Raging Bull is as much Joe Pesci's as DeNiro's. And even the minor characters of the hood are memorable. But does anyone remember anything but Kilmer as Morrison from the Doors? Manzarek and others are mere backdrop.
    Perhaps, Nixon and Heaven & Earth are richer as ensemble movies because Stone couldn't identify very closely with the main characters. James Wood, Powers Boothe, and Paul Sorvino really shine in that work. And as the main character of Heaven & Earth is a woman(and a Vietnamese one at that), it's as if Stone learned to follow and watch than merely latch onto her as his big fat alter-ego.

    The problem with Alexander is it is too much a one-man show. Though Michael is at the center of The Godfather, every character is memorable, even down to the women, Kay and Connie. One cannot forget Sal and Clemenza. Or the brash Hollywood boss and the Turk and the corrupt police chief. Or the bodyguard who wants to go to America or the girl's father. Despite their limited screen times, each is a fully-realized character. But apart from Jolie(who may actually be just another aspect of Stone's ego), Alexander is all Alexander and nothing else. It might as well be a stand-up routine. Even though there are scenes of strategy and intrigue, no one registers as anything but backdrop. Jared Leto's role as friend/lover is weak. Kilmer as Philip is as one-dimensional as Berenger in Platoon. As such, the movie lacks dramatic tension and chemistry. The only real roles are Alexander and HISTORY. It's about Alexander and his will to power, so most of the movie is about him wrestling with himself and treating other characters as mere necessary nuisance. In contrast, The Wild Bunch works so well because each character is colorfully realized, even the crude Gorch brothers.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief

    every character is memorable, even down to the women

    Funny how this came about!

    No – seriously now – you made me laugh here.

  245. @Anonymous
    @68W58

    I thought “Platoon” was vastly overrated when I first saw it in theaters both in terms of filmmaking and storytelling and I’d like to think it wouldn’t receive such high praise if it were released today.

    It's one of those movies made for maximum impact, to hit the audience with something heretofore unseen or unexpressed with full shock effect. Though there had been bloody Vietnam movies before, it was war as metaphor(Deer Hunter) or war as spectacle(Apocalypse Now) or war as cartoon(Rambo). Platoon showed war as experience, up close and in your face. It's like what Michael Medved says about the movie. It shows all the sights and smells of the war experience.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn7Ioo8zwjk

    Though not exactly new in terms of style, Stone who'd seen the war up close and came of age in the era of graphic cinematic violence(Penn, Peckinpah, Coppola, Scorsese) had the knowledge and savvy to present a war movie like never before. I vividly recall the time I saw it. In the same year, I watched Come and See first, a harrowing WWII film from the Soviet Union. As horrific as it was, I still felt as a spectator. And the overt stylization of the violence as something ghoulish and nightmarish made it seem very like a movie. In contrast, Platoon pulled you right into its world. It was like your eyes, ears, and even your skin were in the jungle with the soldiers. It was perhaps the most impactful use of violence since Seven Samurai that dragged you into the dirt and mud. Even before the violence erupted, there were all these details overlooked by most movies. Like the heat, sweat, ants crawling down your neck. In the mango scene in Apocalypse Now, we are made to focus on the timeless grandeur of the jungle, which is finally punctuated by a tiger. Jungle and Tiger, it is on the level of spectacle. In contrast, Platoon is on the level of experience. You can almost smell the shit in the latrine. You feel soaked in the rain, and the suspense is palpable, as is the drowsiness and need for sleep. We share in the fatigue, which can be punctuated only by abject fear of the enemy slowly emerging from the bushes. The movie also has terrific use of tracking shots with Defoe and Berenger. It conveys both a sense of chaos and the mastery over chaos that those two seasoned soldiers have achieved. They cut through the jungle like knife through butter. I don't believe I was ever as frightened by a war movie or any action-filled movie as by Platoon when it came out. The impact was like the slaughter in Gandhi, a real shocker.

    But then, Platoon confirmed what Truffaut said, that anti-war movie is futile as cinema makes everything exciting. Upon first viewing, I would have disagreed but subsequent viewings bore this out. Platoon's overwhelming power depended on the element of suspense(audience not knowing when the violence will explode next and who will get wounded/killed), shock value, and novelty of its kind of violence. When I took it out on videotape, I was ready to be frightened all over again but instead found it rather exciting. Same with violence in Saving Private Ryan. Deeply impactful the first time but just very exciting and entertaining in subsequent viewings. Once the suspense goes and the viewer becomes desensitivized to that level of violence, it no longer works so well. Both Platoon and Saving are pretty simple-minded in their characterizations; so, once the impact wears off, they seem far less special, except as matters of technique. Same goes for Schindler's List, which was totally horrifying on first view. But on second viewing when you know when the killings will happen, you focus less on the impact and more on the characterization, and it is rather weak(and even inappropriate), like Frank Capra meets Holocaust. By the time Hacksaw Ridge came out, is anyone impacted by movie violence? I could hardly tell it apart from the parody in Tropic Thunder.

    And so, Platoon's star has faded over the years. But then, most people don't much care to see Gandhi, Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan either. I'm sure it will be the same with 12 Years a Slave, sold as 'slavery like never seen before'. But once the visceral impact wears off, then what?

    In contrast, Das Boot still fascinates as a character study of men in naval combat. And Dunkirk, on focusing more on quiet heroism than horror, is more memorable. And the Unknown Soldier, the Finnish film, is truly remarkable. We see characters who ring true, a real sense of history than the heaviness of message. As impressive as Platoon is, it is a message movie in both theme and expression. Its main point was "Vietnam Wars was REALLY like this", and it was probably necessary. Sam Fuller had seen combat and made Big Red One, but it was in the style of conventional Hollywood. Stone was the first to bring together New Hollywood, graphic violence, and a sense of veracity missing in Apocalypse Now, which for all its violence and some gore, was seen through the eyes of a master than a soldier.

    The first time you get punched in the fact is most impactful. Platoon was a new kind of punch to the face. But impact alone wears off, especially when violence keeps getting ramped up in cinema.

    Replies: @JMcG

    Great, great comment. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

  246. Anonymous[320] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dieter Kief
    @Anonymous


    So, on some level, as corrupt and fallen as they are, they too are rebels and mavericks.

     

    You (partly) include Nixon in here. The beef Oliver Stone had with Nixon was based on his belief, that the US-engagement in the Vietnam war was bad. - I'm not even sure whether Stone would go this far. In his recent talk with Joe Rogan, he does not criticize the war as such so much, as the sloppy way it was fought and communicated and the veterans were ignored afterward, etc. This and something eternal: The honesty and - realness - he experienced while fighting at the front - vs. the dishonesty of the regular civil life - in which he could not succeed (or find a place for himself) before he left for Vietnam to let destiny have its way (from memory - so not word for word what Oliver Stone said to Joe Rogan, but reasonably close).

    War (and crime in Scarface) as something pure.

    = the war and crime movie as the flip-side of the sterile everyday life in the Iron Cage of Obedience (Max weber) - and a compensation for the discontent of the civilizational process (= Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud...).

    In the end, Oliver Stone is a Tragedist.

    Replies: @Anonymous, @Anonymous

    In his recent talk with Joe Rogan, he does not criticize the war as such so much, as the sloppy way it was fought and communicated and the veterans were ignored afterward, etc.

    I just watched this interview, and there’s a strange lack of self-awareness about American hedonism’s association with US neo- or cultural-imperialism.

    Stone says he had many raging arguments with his father in the 70s about the war and drugs. He even slipped LSD into his father drink. So, according to Stone, law & order stands for war, jingoism, and imperialism. in contrast, drugs and good times stand for progress, love, and peace. It’s rather like the Pink’s attitude in Dazed and Confused to not sign the pledge. (The coach stands for authority.)

    So, it seems when he wrote Midnight Express, he conflated drugs with freedom and anti-drug authority with tyranny. A man is busted for smuggling hashish and locked up in prison. But not just any man but an American and not just any prison but the Turkish prison. And these Turks make the ones in Lawrence of Arabia look like boy scouts in comparison. The result is what fellow leftist Edward Said would have condemned as ‘Orientalism’. (Granted, in his kneejerk defense of the Muslim World, Said ends up defending conservative Eastern values against Western aggression with its promise or conceit of enlightenment and progress. So, both Stone and Said become ideologically compromised in ways they may have been unawares.)

    https://www.iscap.pt/cei/e-rei/n6/artigos/Goksu-Akkan_Midnight-Express-Hollywood.pdf

    The storyline of Midnight Express replicates exactly what Said emphasizes in terms of constructing the Orient, and combines it with the idea of ‘the Western gaze’ in cinema. It is this gaze that “reduces the non-European to the not-yet being of underdevelopment; lacking presence and agency.” (Venn 2000 p. 148) As a result, the protagonist of the controversionally based on a ‘true story’ film is American Billy Hayes, who is trapped in a jail in Istanbul in the early 1970s for trying to smuggle drugs back into the United States. He is depicted not as a guilty immoral drug trafficker, but as an unfortunate young White male who is stuck in the ‘middle of nowhere’, because he is in the ‘mystical’ and ‘unreliable’ East. The White, American man of European origins, is thus the only vantage point of the film. The story is told from his point of view, with the cinematic lens that films the whole experience symbolically becoming Billy’s own eyes. On a broader level, Billy’s perception becomes the Western ‘gaze’ that Venn underlines. In this regard, encounters are never evaluated from the Oriental or Turkish side, which eschews the East’s presence and agency as a legitimate form of existence. This precisely debunks Sinha’s argument about Orientalist discourse affecting both the East and the West in a heterogeneous way, because the Oriental subjects are never given a chance in the first place to express themselves.

    When I watched Midnight Express upon release, the response was on the patriotic or jingoistic side. When the father curses the Turkish guard, the audience roared with approval. And there were cheers when, near the end, the hero slays the fat guard. (On some subconscious level, was the movie about Stone’s feelings about POW left behind in Vietnam?)

    The audience reaction was not unlike that in Rambo(or in The Deer Hunter when DeNiro blows away the Viet Cong.) So, even though Stone may have written Midnight Express as a story of freedom and liberation, he ended up eliciting from the audience a sense of us versus them: We freedom-loving Americans who like to have a good time versus those Muslim Turks who are so repressive and authoritarian. (He also seems to project everything he hated about right-wing Americanism onto the Turks who are like the southern ‘bosses’ in Cool Hand Luke.) And yet, such passion later cropped up after 9/11 in the words of George W. Bush. You see, THEY attacked US for our freedom and right to go shopping. So, we had to invade them and build shopping malls with escalators there(and maybe girls there will come to emulate Christina Aguilera).
    So, for all his anti-imperialist attitude and spirit of rebellion with drugs, Stone doesn’t seem to have realized that American hedonism could come to serve as the basis of a new kind of imperialism. After all, what is the underpinning of the new cold war? Russia won’t allow massive homo parades. It is too conservative and builds cathedrals than clearing Red Square for pink celebration. And according to the dumb movie Jarhead, US soldiers are pumped up with scenes from Apocalypse Now. And soldiers blasted heavy metal against Noriega in Panama and ‘Rock the Casbah’ to Shock and Awe campaign. And it seems the CIA found the drug trade very convenient in Central America and Afghanistan. Stone both condemns the CIA’s role in the drug trade and mindless American mass culture but still seems to cling to the notion that drugs can save the world. But consider Jim Morrison as a microcosm of Counterculture America. He was a major druggy but an egotistical tyrant and scoundrel with those close to him.

    One of the more thoughtful reviews of Platoon was by Bert Cardullo in Hudson Review.

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3851465?seq=1

    He was one of the few critics to point out the flaw in the moral logic of the movie. Yes, Berenger’s character is a scary guy while Dafoe plays a man of conscience. But there is consistency in Berenger’s mission in the war. He’s there to fight and flush out the Viet Cong and win. In contrast, Dafoe’s character is fully in the war and killing VC(and is serving third or fourth tour), but seems committed to losing. He’s a total soldier but also a total defeatist. If he truly believes the war is unjust, why didn’t leave after serving his tour and maybe join the antiwar protest? Why is he an anti-imperialist totally committed to what he deems an imperialist war? He’s done his duty. He could leave, and he would rather be with real men and kill VC.

    It’s like Stone feels… “I always serve the empire, even when I oppose it.”

  247. @Bardon Kaldian
    @JMcG

    Faulkner faked a flying ace period.

    Replies: @JMcG, @Hibernian

    According to the book jackets of those of his works which I read in the early ’70s, he was in the RCAF during WW1. Are you saying he faked being an ace, faked being in combat, faked being a pilot, or faked being in the RCAF at all?

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