July 1, 2006

"But Oliver — it's to the point where he drives me crazy, trying to get things right."

Will Jimeno, one of the officers depicted in the upcoming movie "World Trade Center," talks about working with the director Oliver Stone. Note well: his complaint is that Stone is being ultra-fastidious about accuracy. Does that sound like Stone?
"This is not a political film," he insists. "The mantra is 'This is not a political film.' Why can't I stay on message for once in a while? Why do I have to take detours all the time?"

He said he just wants to depict the plain facts of what happened on Sept. 11. "It seems to me that the event was mythologized by both political sides, into something that they used for political gain," he says. "And I think one of the benefits of this movie is that it reminds us of what actually happened that day, in a very realistic sense."

"We show people being killed, and we show people who are not killed, and the fine line that divides them," he continues. "How many men saved those two lives? Hundreds. These guys went into that twisted mass, and it very clearly could've fallen down on them, and struggled all night for hours to get them out."

By contrast Paul Haggis is directing the adaptation of Richard Clarke's book on the causes of 9/11, "Against All Enemies," for the producer John Calley and Columbia Pictures.

Asked if that weren't the kind of film he might once have tried to tackle, Mr. Stone first scoffs: "I couldn't do it. I'd be burned alive." Then he adds: "This is not a political film. That's the mantra they handed me."
This is a high-budget movie, and the people backing this film have got to have looked closely at why "United 93" was so well received. Their choices about how to present the Oliver Stone movie seem obviously informed by what allowed people to accept that earlier 9/11 movie, which was to look straightforwardly factual and to focus on common people portrayed as heroes. Stone's own words --"The mantra is..." "the mantra they handed me" -- reveal that he's under compulsion not to express his actual feelings. I assume it is all very political for him, but he must keep saying -- even while winking -- that it's not a political film.

The real, idiotically blind and self-regarding Stone comes out in the way he talks about what would have happened to him if he'd tried to do a film like "Against All Enemies": "I couldn't do it. I'd be burned alive." That's such a bad metaphor when you're in the middle of talking about a movie about the World Trade Center.


Buddy Larsen said...

Right-o on the bad metaphor. Can't help but think of Bill Keller's recent open letter, wherein, also in regards to events flowing from 911 (and its burning people leaping off falling skyscrapers), he claims to be "agonized".

It wouldn't be such a clunker if he wasn't always "agonizing" against the war being fought against an enemy that really actually no-joke agonizes all the victims it can lay its hands on.

What is it with these folks, is they or ain't they doing their jobs (being your sensitive nuanced cultural antennae) properly?

David said...

Nice to know what we always suspected that Stone has prinicples that can be bought.

Hey Oliver, you love 'stones' so much, show some and try departing from the Hollywood line for once. You might enjoy it!

Pogo said...

Stone: "Message: I care."


VW: nehvz: Never, not not even on video.

PatCA said...

It's all about the foreign and DVD markets. IMO they chose Stone to direct to attract the anti-American trade. Valley of the Wolves seems to be doing quite well with that marketing ploy.

The Count said...

"IT'S THE 13TH MONTH! THE 13TH MONTH!" -- That was Stone's reported reaction on September 11, 2001. His conspiracy theories took off from there.

I can't recall the publication. But now would be a good time for someone to dig for it.

Pat Patterson said...

If Oliver Stone gets money to produce and direct a film it is with the full knowledge that it will be political and not popular. The studios can read balance sheets and fully understand that Stone has not had a hit film, or even one in the top 25 grossing films of any year for the last 16 years. Politics be damned, Stone has had only one interesting film, Platoon, which though advertised as anti-war has become quite popular among servicemen.

Cover of Time, a long article in the NYT and then showing at Regency Cinema for a $2.00, a $1.00 hot dog and admtted before 2.00pm.

AJD said...

On matters of excess in "self-regardedness," I defer to you, professor.

There's no question that you are an expert!

Buddy Larsen said...

Why so catty, AJD? If she offends you, just don't read her.

Henry said...

Really, Stone should have said "I couldn't do it. I'd be mocked."

But it's always easier to be a martyr than a fool, even hypothetically.

XWL said...

"This is not a political film. That's the mantra they handed me."

Stone doesn't actually say with that sentence that he isn't making a political film, rather, he's saying that if he wants to get this film made with him as director, "they" insist that he repeat the "mantra" that the film he is making is not political.

I smell a subtext there.

Here it goes, what Stone really means to say is, 'I am winking and nudging here, of course in every interview I give and any of the actors give, we will say that this film isn't political at all, but just wait till you see it, so long as you aren't some deluded rube out in the sticks, you'll be able to follow all the political material that I've imbedded into this film, I just can't make it as explicit as I normally do. That's the price of doing business in Boooosh's AmeriKKKa, those idiots in the red states may be dumb, but they spend money, so I'm forced to abandon my usual rhetorical brilliance and instead have to insert a subversive subtext into my mainstream entertainment. I've become Douglas Sirk, whether I like it or not.'

Of course, I could be wrong here.

P. Froward said...

I myself once had a bizarre, fleeting urge to analyze something Oliver Stone said. It didn't last.

Eli Blake said...

It's funny, to hear all those people on the right laugh at Hollywood producers-- but the Hollywood producers (Stone, Michael Moore, Steven Speilberg) always get the last laugh, if you look at their W-2's.

I bet this film makes Stone a ton of cash, and you can laugh at him as he deposits in his (already expansive) bank account.

Other than a single hit that Mel Gibson produced I'm having trouble thinking of any 'rightist' film makers who have had much success in Hollywood (or elsewhere for that matter; as My Big Fat Greek Wedding proved, anyone can make a movie and if it's good enough people will go to see it.) Heck, even Al Gore's movie has attracted over a million people despite playing in a limited number of theaters.

It's like a couple of years ago when Hillary Clinton wrote a book and sold a million copies within a few weeks. Sean Hannity tried to publish his book at the same time and it ended up in a lot of '50% off' bins (although I suspect that if Hillary wrote another book today, it would end up there as well-- because liberals are fed up with her conservative line in the Senate).

There is little wonder that conservatives listen to more talk radio and visit more blogs while conservative movie makers don't exist and books by conservatives can't sell. Conservatives don't want to pay for anything.

Casey said...

At least he didn't say buried alive; that's what I thought I read at first.

Buddy Larsen said...

Thanks, Eli--good to hear Mr. Gore's film is doing well despite playing to a number of limited people, or whatever that was you said.

Ann Althouse said...

Eli: So money is what really matters. Isn't that how you lefties think conservatives think? Read my post again. Is it about money?

Buddy Larsen said...

Besides which, film entrepreneurs--even if they create "leftist" films, embody the job-creating, value-adding, wealth-building conservative message.

Your true leftist film-maker is working deep within the bowels of the Dept of Health and Human Services Dept Department, making "This is the Way We Brush Our Teeth" films for the gov't school system.

Jim H said...

You tout the profitability of leftist agitprop films as though it's something to be proud of. It isn't.

From Wikipedia, "Art for art's sake":
[Théophile] Gautier...was the first to adopt the phrase ["l'art pour l'art"] as a slogan. "Art for art's sake" was a bohemian creed in the nineteenth century, a slogan raised in defiance of those who — from John Ruskin to the much later Communist advocates of socialist realism — thought that the value of art was to serve some moral or didactic purpose. Art for art's sake affirmed that art was valuable as art, that artistic pursuits were their own justification, and that art did not need moral justification — and indeed, was allowed to be morally subversive.

It was painful enough to hear Al Gore patronize me during the debates. Why would I subject myself to that at the theater?

You are correct that Oliver Stone and Michael Moore make a good living. Mencken said that "[n]o one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public." In fairness to Americans, Moore particularly cashes in on a proportionally small, gullible segment of the public. You add Spielberg too, but I left him out--he made some decent and entertaining movies.

bearbee said...


The New Yorker

Issue of 2001-10-22
Posted 2001-10-15

He says "Look for the thirteenth month!" without further amplification.

re: his comment "....and these six companies have control of the world,"

In another article a more complete statement named all the six companies he had mentioned and includes Viacom parent of Paramount Pictures that is presenting "The World Trade Center"

Dr. Melissa said...

Some movies cease to become a story because all you can think of is the headline actor. Oliver Stone's movies cease to become stories because he is the center. I have never seen a director so insert himself. It is like he is the omnipresent wacked out narrator.

The only reason he is given money is because people know his political views and count on that narrative being included not as a subtext, but as the text.

Silviu said...

Without accuracy they cand't do a good work.Yony banii

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