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Feel-good movie of the summer

Oliver Stone: from the Hollywood crackpot of JFK to the Republican sellout of World Trade Center
By PETER KEOUGH  |  August 10, 2006

060811_stone_main1
MISSING THE POINT: In his quest to make an apolitical movie, Stone played right into the hands of the people he once despised.

Oliver Stone can’t catch a break. He makes a few movies colored by political agendas and freewheeling speculation and everyone calls him a conspiracy nut for politicizing his subjects. So he makes a movie on a politically loaded subject and tries really, really hard not to make it political, and he’s still called a conspiracy nut, this time for not politicizing his subject.

To wit: a bunch of 9/11 “theorists,” who argue that 9/11 was an “inside job” pulled off by “Skull and Bones … the Mormon Church … Catholic Pedophile Priests … FEMA … Rosicrucians … and Animal Human Hybrids,” among others, have attacked the director for whitewashing what they see as crucial cover-ups in his latest film, World Trade Center. They are calling for a boycott. “Was Stone used by the Illuminati as an unknowing pawn?” asks a group headed by the Christian Branch of the 9/11 Truth Movement in a press release, as quoted on the Web site rawstory.com. The group is best known for calling for a Christian boycott of Jessica Simpson, whom they describe as a “singing stripper.” Her connection to the Illuminati and 9/11 is left tantalizingly unclear.

Personally, I was expecting more widespread and legitimate expressions of disappointment with the film. Surely legions of Stone’s fans, and even his detractors, were expecting him to say, if not something outrageous, at least something of substance about the most important and controversial story in America since, well, the Kennedy assassination. After all, he’s put in his two cents worth about everything else that matters in world events and national issues over the past 20 years.

But things have changed in the world, and certainly in the world of conspiracy theory, since Stone’s JFK came out in 1991. When a left-leaning Web site like Raw Story in effect attributes all doubts about the official explanation of 9/11 to a bunch of religious nutjobs, it seems likely that large audiences are not going to embrace a big-budget movie pushing a similarly conspiratorial point of view. Even from a filmmaker whose consistent draw has been his ability to arouse anger and debate. Stone’s last film, the epic Alexander, tanked disastrously. So why be surprised that he decided to follow it up with one designed to ingratiate himself with all and offend no one? No one, that is, except those who bought into his opening epigraph in JFK: “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”

And, when you come down to it, much of Stone’s reputation for being an outrageous maverick doesn’t stand up on closer examination. He burst on the scene with Platoon (1986), which at the time — in the depths of the cloud of unknowing that was the Reagan administration — seemed an astoundingly brave revelation of the brutal truth about the war in Vietnam. It was indeed the first film about the war made by someone who fought there, and the authenticity of the combat scenes and some of the dialogue endures.

But otherwise, time does not treat Platoon well, despite its Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. Like its artier predecessors The Deer Hunter (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979), it batters the facts not into a conspiracy theory but into a pseudo-tragic allegory, one that should have seemed embarrassingly sophomoric even then.

Nonetheless, Platoon’s triumph marked Stone as a filmmaker who was willing to show the truth, however unsettling. To quote a line from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, a film that came out the same year and was perhaps more deserving of honors, this seemed like moviemaking capable of “seeing something that was always hidden.”

Such a characterization might apply more fittingly to another film Stone made in 1986, Salvador. In it James Woods starred as down-and-out, real-life journalist Richard Boyle (he co-wrote the screenplay), who, desperate to turn his life around, drives to the Central American country of the title with his druggie sidekick, played by Jim Belushi. It’s Fear and LoathingMeets theDeath Squads, and despite being derivative of such previous films as Missing, its lurid authenticity, rollicking pace, and political prescience — it came out the same year as the Iran-Contra scandal — remain vital today. It scored with critics but not with audiences, and earned a couple of Oscar nominations (Best Actor, Best Screenplay) probably on the coattails of Platoon. But audiences didn’t buy it. It was too immediate, too real, too close to what they were seeing on depressing news broadcasts.

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  Topics: Features , Oliver Stone , Oliver Stone , Nicolas Cage ,  More more >
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Comments
Feel-good movie of the summer
Same people paid by thier big companys to write an article that they have never researched.. Wont sign the article, we are all fed up with it..When the doors start to slam, this idiot will be the first to say..Yes..We knew it all along.. So sad..Some people think that fire crackers could bring the Trade Centers down, simply because they have no background in =bringing a building down..IE= pulling it..Please do some research before writing drivel like this.
By slimpickings on 08/09/2006 at 10:04:28
Feel-good movie of the summer
Well considered and researched, and as always, a most well written article by Mr Keough. His characterization of Stone's excellent "Salvador," as "Fear and Loathing Meet The Death Squads," is amusingly accurate. I enjoyed his ridiculing of some of the insane theories postulated by some of the 9/11 Truth movement, and his respectful mention of the eye-opening 9/11 Internet doc, "Loose Change," and the link. I am most grateful for his alerting me that the promoter of "WTC" is the same group that was backed by the Bush administration to pedal the swift boat smear of presidential candidate John Kerry, and now is going after Iraq critic Congressman John Murtha. It all makes perfect sense and dollars and cents. Keough asks, "who can blame Oliver Stone for taking the easy way out on this one?" Me. I am disappointed that Keough left out "Born on the 4th of July," one of Stone's best movies. The movie's indictment of the government for its treatment of veterans still rings true. The lack of proper equipment and humanity training for troops in the field, failure of the President Bush to attend any of the funerals of his fallen "heroes", and the bureaucratic nightmares wounded soldiers face in trying to get proper treatment, the cutting of veteran's benefits... it's all appalling, or would be, for me if not for "Born on the 4th of July." The conspiracy to spin "Support The Troops" is such lame lip service propaganda sold by the media and bought into the masses adds up to countless dead on both sides of every war pig equation. Since Keough brought up "Talk Radio," what about the conspiracies crawling underneath "Wall Street." The tentacles of greed were wrapped tight around and made a big payoff squeeze off of 9/11, in financial transactions made in the days before the attack by those in the know. Never mind the conspiracy of straight people faced by Jim Morrison, as evidenced in "The Doors." Seriously, man. In particular the indecent exposure trial and surrounding bad publicity which caused promoters to drop The Doors. A man can't feign exposing himself on stage to an audience of adults but 58,000 of his brothers can take a bullet in a lie of a war for Uncle Sam. Finally, as the reader might guess, I am a neocon-spiracy 9/11 pop scientist, as opposed to the neocon-spiracy coincidence theory dupe like this blogger slimpickings. He is entitled to his poorly written, keeping the doors of perception slammed shut-opinion above, but why is it here? Instead of fired at Keough, shouldn't his comments be posted rawstory.com and directed at the Christian Branch of the 9/11 Truth, a total embarrassment to the truth movement, just like the sell-out Stone playing it straight for the man is now to his fans. Oxymorons and Mondays always get me down. Hell, in order to either buy into or escape the taint of the BS that is the official 9/11 story, doesn't the Truth demand that you get first discard the nothing but mere belief in the conspiracy theory of the existence of the God that wasn't there? There's certainly more scientific evidence of a 9/11 conspiracy than there is that a God exists. He who does not believe in evolution cannot ever possibly evolve. Anyway, slimpickings apparently has experience in pulling buildings down. He certainly has pulling the wool over his own eyes down cold.
By thewaymouth on 08/10/2006 at 12:23:09
Feel-good movie of the summer
Mr. Keough starts off his article tainting the "9/11 Truth" crowd by throwing out the absurd statement that the conspiracy theorists all point to "Skull and Bones … the Mormon Church … Catholic Pedophile Priests, Rosicrucians … and Animal Human Hybrids" Secondly, there is no official "Christian Branch" of the 9/11 truth movement as the author proclaims. This is his lame attempt to paint 9/11 conspiracy theorists as a bunch of "religious wackos." People who don't believe the official story of 9/11 are from all walks of life. A recent mainstream poll confirmed this.||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| In regards to thewaymouth's post,You can accept Truth or Reject truth...Rejecting GOD is irresponsible...The belief we are "highly evolved clever monkeys" lie you point out is another attempt to escape GOD which is unfortunately impossible. Fear of GOD leads away from GOD or rejection...So then if you are running from GOD where are you going? GOD=TRUTH and TRUTH=GOD
By greenmountainboy on 08/10/2006 at 6:42:50

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