How to explain Oliver Stone? First of all, he may have been the most talented director in the game, even though he no longer is the hottest of properties. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese are linked along with their association with Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, John Milius, Taylor Hackford and other film school pioneers of the mid-1960s. But Stone ranks right with them, or any other auteur. He has a knack for telling stories through symbols, metaphors, light and color, expressions, black-and-white imagery, sound effects and cuts that is truly revolutionary. Stone has been described as a personally repugnant human being; a liar, a cheat, a drug addict, an evil and brutal personality, somebody who may have invoked the devil to give him his fame and fortune. Meg Ryan came home every night she filmed The Doors and told her mother Stone was “the devil.” If so, he made a good deal in terms of creating product, because like him or hate him, Stone's work is first rate.
His interviews reveal an erudite, cosmopolitan man who can turn on the charm, which belies the stories of repelling sex harassment that is really molestation. There is no question that he is intelligent, and there is also no question that unlike most of his colleagues, he can walk the walk as an Army infantry grunt, having served in Vietnam. His background mirrors the Charlie Sheen character Chris Taylor in Platoon. This is supposed to be what authenticates him, and it certainly is a bona fide, but his fellow vets have, at the very best, mixed feelings about the message he conveys.
Stone came from affluence in New York City, went to Vietnam presumably out of patriotism, and was devastated by the experience. He became a total radical, driven stark mad by drug use, and fell hook, line and sinker into the counter-culture while at NYU's film school, circa 1970-71. Stone regularly talked about attaching a long scope to a rifle and "taking out Nixon," but apparently the Secret Service never heard of his Travis Bickle-like fantasy.
He broke in writing the screenplay for Midnight Express (1978) about a drug smuggler named Billy Hayes (Brad Davis), probably material Stone knew about all too well. It is a great film. An American college student is imprisoned in Turkey for trying to smuggle heroin. It is a dark tale about human depravity that played to its 1970s audience of dropouts and drug abusers. It can be argued that it justified drug smuggling, but that would not be entirely accurate. It was just a strong piece about the will to survive, with a triumphant Hollywood ending.
In 1986, Stone made Salvador, which was an amazing feat. It was political commentary on America's "evil" backing of Right-wing oppressors stomping poor Communist agrarians, naturally during the early years of the Reagan Administration, but it was also a comedy, allowing for tour de force performances by James Woods and Jim Belushi. Woods is down-and-out photo/journalist Richard Boyle, who captures the story. Belushi is his drinking companion, urged to go to El Salvador not because a story is begging to be told, but because "you can drink and drive there."
Then came Platoon.
Stone shopped Platoon around for years in various forms, advertising it as the experience of someone who had been over there. It was not an easy sell, since the story was too raw for a country trying to overcome the Vietnam syndrome, then fueled by the Reagan patriotism. It finally was made in 1986, and was hailed for its realism. It made stars out of Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Willem Dafoe. The realism is apparent in the language, the scenery, the heat and bugs, the sweat and toil, the "Cox's army" adherence to what was left of Army uniforms and equipment, the danger of night patrols and firefights, and the courage and the cowardice of regular guys doing one-year draft tours of "the 'Nam."
The essential story is only true if it describes William Calley and My Lai, or what that could have been if the villagers had not been saved by a messianic Sergeant Elias (Dafoe) instead of being gunned down by a Satanic Barnes (Berenger as a Calley knock-off). If Stone had simply made it the "My Lai Massacre," it would have been historically accurate, but what he did was pernicious. He wanted to convey to millions of moviegoers that My Lai was the norm. This was the same thing John Kerry had done during the Winter Soldier hearings. He cast this ordinary platoon of grunts as driven to a My Lai-type war crime by the very nature of his view of our illegitimate role in Vietnam.
Stone was in Vietnam, but the history of that war is not a history of ordinary units run amok in racist killing sprees. Stone infuses the story with humanity and heroes. Sheen plays Chris, an idealist, based on Stone's vision of himself. This seems very self-serving. Oliver Stone is not in the same league with the idealized Chris character.
Chris is a hero and a survivor. Dafoe, as Elias, is a Christ-like figure who protects his "brothers" and shows no fear, even when chasing "Charlie" into that most dangerous of places, the underground tunnel system. His death, portrayed on the posters, is a wide-armed crucifix. It is avenged by Chris, his disciple who takes to the challenge with the passion of the converted. A final battle also shows something that rarely, if ever, happened. North Vietnamese regulars overrun the Americans. In actuality, the U.S. won all the battles against the NVA. Then, the commander, Captain Harris (Dale Dye) has to make a call and have the whole "pod," friend and foe alike, napalmed in another stretch on history.
Barnes and his "super lifer" pals (John McGinley as O’Neill, Kevin Dillon as Bunny) are shown to be corrupt, have a taste for death, and little accountability in a situation that lets them kill "gooks" with racist impunity. This is not out of the question. Soldiers are trained killers, and combat de-humanizes them. The Audie Murphy characterizations are not true, either. But Stone has created a vision of the Vietnam experience that is not portrayed as a special circumstance, but rather the average, the every day. His political message is very clear, and it is to discredit the objectives of the war. He also discredits a lot of his buddies who fought with him. He does demonstrate the inhuman behavior of the Communists, which as a combat infantryman he saw for himself, but strongly urges the viewer to buy into the sickness of America.
In 1987 he again starred Charlie Sheen, this time as Bud Fox, along with Martin Sheen (Bud’s father Carl) and Michael Douglas (Gordon Gekko), in Wall Street. Stone, like Coppola's Patton, tapped into a part of America he really wanted to discredit, but instead glorified. Based on the go-go stock markets of the Reagan '80s, it is loosely based on inside arbitrageurs and junk bond kings like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken. Fox is an idealistic, ambitious young stockbroker, his father is his conscience, and Gekko is pure tantalizing temptation. Fox must violate SEC laws and get inside information in order to do business with the "big elephant" Gekko. Gekko's star fades when a big deal-gone-bad has personal ramifications. Fox turns a dime on him. The film is supposed to show that America is a greedy place that "produces nothing" in a "zero sum game" in which the rich only make money on the backs of the poor. Gekko's statements (Stone desperately wanting to convey this message) about economics are pure, unadulterated economic lies.
While Stone may be partially correct in deducing that stockbrokers do not produce the goods, services and companies they buy and sell, it would be stupid to believe such things just materialize. It would be like saying a man who raises funds to help elect Barack Obama does not produce anything, theoretically impugning him unless he himself gets in the arena and is elected himself, in which case he still has not produced anything other than a title. What does Stone expect, that all the employees of Blue Star Airlines will work for free to create a company and only in the end all split the profits equally? Who pays them and for their equipment in the beginning before they make their profits? In fact he even invents a scenario whereby the union does make some major concessions that half-resemble this Socialistic principle. Any company or product must have capitalistic money behind it.
But the term “zero sum game” is comedy. This implies that for ever dollar made by somebody, it is taken from another. This is the heart of the Communist rant, found in a million revolutionary speeches railing against “the man,” imperialists, whites exploiting natives, and so on. Even Gandhi’s “salt march” lacks reality. He marched native Indians to the sea to collect salt, which the British were using to cultivate and sell for profit. Gandhi said it was natural to his nation’s land, and he was right, but it was useless to them unless they knew how to collect, refine, package, sell, ship and collect profits from it. The British could do that. To the Indians it was just stuff on the ground. It is not out of the realm that the Indians could learn; they were not stupid, but if the British never taught them how, would they have figured it out? Eventually . . . maybe.
John Milius tackled this subject in Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) when American Indians confront whites mining the land. The whites tell them they made something of the land out of nothing. It was rock and dirt to the Indians. The Indians kill them. If the Americans never mined the land, the Indians probably never would have learned how to do it. Then the environmentalists would complain that the whites never teach the Indians anything.
But the Gekko/Stone premise is even dumber. If it is true, then a rich man must go to a poor man, lead him to a bank, get him to pull out a credit card, probably help him lie on a credit application to get or increase the limit on the card, then force him to cash advance the card, and have him then hand over the money. Or think of it this way: one man with $100,000 over five years turns it into $1 million, while another man with $10,000 now has $15,000. Has the first man somehow robbed the second man, of $985,000? Obviously a “rising tide has lifted all boats,” even if the second man only gains $5,000 and the first man $900,000 (or increased the wealth gap). Even if the poor man loses his $10,000, it makes no sense to believe it was “stolen” by the $1 million man. But, that’s the logic of the Left, and as most conservatives will say, that is why they are not on the Left!
Where Stone may have had second thoughts was the reaction the film got. As the years went by, he and others were approached countless times by Young Republicans and Wall Street execs who told him the depiction of the exciting world of finance led them into that very career, which they thanked him for! Stone had hoped to create an egalitarian class. Instead, he created a decade full of Gordon Gekkos. They in turn fueled the dot-com boom. It was not unlike the Democrats who hoped to expose Oliver North and the Republicans in the Iran-Contra "scandal," only to discover that millions thought Ollie and his White House pals were doing God's work in fighting Communism.
Res ipsa loquiter.
Stone’s 2010 re-make Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, tried to convey his true message. The result was boredom and a confusing script.
In 1989 Stone came out with Born on the Fourth of July, the true story of Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise), a gung-ho Marine who is paralyzed in combat in Vietnam. The film is realistic and compelling. Stone is a master and Cruise gives one of his best-ever performances, proving him to be a bona fide acting talent. The film depicts the heartbreaking American experience in Vietnam, and the character arc of Kovic is as complete as any ever captured. He returns home, desperate to believe that his sacrifice was in a noble cause, but this is chipped away by the well-known elements of '60s radicalism. The "generation gap" between longhaired youths and crew cut, religious parents is profound. Kovic sinks into the depravity of drugs and alcohol, but battles back to become a "hero" of the anti-war Left. He wheels into the 1972 Republican National Convention, where he tries to tell the clean-cut, well-heeled patriots that they are wrong and he is right. The idea is that they are all warmongers who have not fought, while he is a pacifist because he has. While there is truth to the premise, in choosing to tell this story, Stone establishes Hollywood as the home of solidly liberal ideas. In 1972, Nixon won 49 states over the anti-war McGovern. The idea that all those Americans, subject daily to reports from Peter Arnett and Dan Rather, the bias of Walter Cronkite, and the hate of the New York Times and the Washington Post, chose Nixon because they were bloodthirsty imperialists is just malarkey. Furthermore, Nixon had made 18-year olds eligible to vote. The concept that all of American youth protested in the streets is a myth. The anti-war movement was propped by TV that made pockets of outrage look like a widespread movement. The Silent Majority spoke out in '72. Big time.
Stone's depiction is fair in and of itself, but he takes advantage of the power of his medium in creating a mindset that such horrors as Kovic experienced are just part of the "Vietnam experience." Kovic's life mirrors soldiers going back to the Roman Legion and beyond. The Left has taken Vietnam as one of those core issues and stuck to it, just as they found themselves wedded to Alger Hiss, Bill Clinton and during the Bush years, the losing argument of the War on Terror. McCarthy was going after genuine Communists, and genuine Communists were trying to enslave South Vietnam. It took some fighting to stop them. Nixon and Kissinger had the best plan available to them at the time, and the public recognized it. Watergate killed them and the Democrats used it to abandon our allies. Millions died because of them. Democrats will have you believe that we "created" the "killing fields." They have to say things like that, to cling to this nebulous theory, somehow unable to blame the rabid haters and murderers of Communist history, apparently because they are wedded to McCarthyism. Their movies are their best tool in perpetuating their lies.
In 1991 Stone made his great bid, created a masterpiece, but in so doing laid himself out. A career that could have been the best ever was short-circuited, although one can give him begrudging credit for "trying." The movie was JFK. It was an artistic achievement of light, shadow and hidden meaning, told through the symbiosis of different film styles. A great filmmaker could only have accomplished the mood it creates. It is a spiritual work.
But JFK's conspiracy premise is so over-the-top that it created a cartoonish cloud used to box Stone in. Stone did a lot of research and packs a mighty wallop in his attempts to "solve" or "answer" the Kennedy assassination mystery. He took some huge risks, came fairly close to pulling it off, but in the end did something to himself he must regret. He made himself uncredible. What he thought would happen is anybody's guess. Stone probably was so flush with success, Hollywood panache and faith in the power of film (V.I. Lenin called it the most important art) that he thought he could replace the legitimate historians. JFK's lesson is that a movie is still a movie - two or three hours of persuasive imagery, yes - powerful and compelling, but not fact. For years, Hollywood has promoted their causes in this manner, and yet the populace has shifted back to the Right. This frustrates them because they have no answer to this "problem." The proof of this is that the movies are and always will be the province of entertainment. When the Oliver Stone's try to rise above that they face a precipitous fall.
What really has set the Left back is not just the failure of the film medium to accomplish their goals, but also the lack of faith accorded college professors, school textbooks, and mainstream news. So who is left to tell the real story? The Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Hillsdale College, the Hoover Institute . . .
As for JFK, it is a complicated piece of fiction that would require some real research to effectively discredit all of its lies. What it did in the theatre was have one asking, "Jeez, did that really happen?" or "My God, is this true?" or "Holy cow, I can't believe this could be." It is major sensory overload. Innocent civilians who knew things are killed. Deception and murder are used to cover up the sordid deeds. The film requires several viewings, and frankly time, probably years, to unravel it. What happens is that various reviews, reports from historical figures and historians are read and pieced together. After a while the discovery is made that a particular "witness" never existed, a certain "police officer" is a figment of Stone's imagination, smoke in the trees, conversations, special ops guys with the inside scoop (particular "Major X" played by Canadian Donald Sutherland) are invented out of whole cloth. A proposition is one thing, but JFK is Alice in Wonderland, a "riddle wrapped inside an enigma, tied by a puzzle" or whatever it is Joe Pesci says. It is exhausting.
So who killed JFK? Oh, maaaaan! Stone's answer, as best one can tell, was Lyndon Johnson, in league with the joint chiefs, because Kennedy wanted out of Vietnam and they wanted in (because American industry needed the war?), working with Right-wing Birchers, who were part of rogue elements of the CIA (?), who were a "track," whatever that is, that could not be stopped because it was an inexorable connection starting in Guatemala ("good"), Iran ("good"), and Bay of Pigs ("not so good"), that had become dominated by Cuban exile "Republicans," working in league with the Soviets (KGB?), who recruited Lee Harvey Oswald, who learned to shoot in the Marines, who lived and married in Russia then came back, who promoted Marxism but was funded by Birchers (?), who was a patsy for the Dallas Mafia, who had Oswald-lookalikes say incriminating things, who worked with JFK, who worked with La Casa Nostra (who turned on him?), who were tied to Naval Intelligence (?), who operated out of a corner in New Orleans in which the Feds, the NIS and somebody else all had offices, who were tied to right wing homosexual businessmen, defrocked priests, gay prostitutes and guys with tempers like Ed Asner, whose activities were known by corrupt New Orleans lawyers and politicians, who were in league with the New Orleans International Trade Mart or something like that, protected by Dallas strip club owners, who hatched a plan that involved Cubans training in the Florida swamps or Latin America by gay militia commandos, who bought a bad Italian rifle with a bolt action release via mail instead of purchasing a better weapon through the black market or a store, who gave it to Oswald, who may or may not have fired at JFK but could not possibly have hit his mark from the Texas Book Depository, who with Secret Service agents working to kill the President had assassins disguised as police officers and bums in the bushes, a car wreck lot and a grassy knoll, and created a triangulated cross-fire that killed the President then got away.
Now, friends and neighbors, after all of that, at no time does Mr. Stone suggest that the assassination was the work of a fellow he later visited and said was a great man, named Fidel Castro, who is the most likely suspect.
Res ipsa loquiter.
Castro and the mob? Maybe. The confusion of Stone's plot twists is highly, precisely and to quintessential effect that with which the real killers want. Stone's film vastly hurts the attempt to learn the truth. He raises plenty of legitimate questions, mainly regarding the so-called "magic bullet," and he operates on at least one fairly solid foundation, which is that the Zapruder film seems to show more than one shooter. Saying Oswald was not a lone gunman is a premise one can give credence to, but beyond that God knows.
One thing is puzzling, and that is that in all the years since nobody has "stepped forward." Every so often somebody shows up on Larry King Live and says his father, usually a "Dallas cop," was the shooter, but these stories always have the crackpot feel to them. A deathbed confession from a Cuban, one of Sam Giancana's guys, something solid, has never occurred. When all the smoke clears, you still have a Communist sympathizer, Oswald, killing a President who just humiliated Khrushchev over Cuba, is a threat to Castro and is building up troops to fight Commies in Vietnam. It is plausible he had help and they were on the grassy knoll, they got away and Jack Ruby killed Oswald to shut him up. Maybe a little too convenient. The Warren Commission report came out only one year later, not enough time to sort out everything. The Church hearings were too open to get the real stuff beyond salacious sex. Secret CIA/FBI investigations might have been the only real answer, and who knows, maybe they were conducted, and maybe the gullible public cannot handle the truth. Who knows? Not Oliver Stone.
In 2007, Vincent Bugliosi wrote Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Bugliosi was one of the best criminal investigators in the world. He was the man who helped prosecute the Manson killings. No Right-wing Republican apologist, he did numerous interviews in which he demonstrated himself to be one of the worst critics of the Iraq War. His book took years and was 1,648 pages long. It is not possible to do a more thorough job of investigation, of every single thread of evidence. He concludes Oswald acted alone. A Communist killed Jack Kennedy.
The Doors (1991) may be Stone’s best work. Val Kilmer’s performance as Jim Morrison was as good a depiction of a real person as any ever, and should have earned him an Oscar. Heaven and Earth starring Tommy Lee Jones as Steve Butler was more of the tired America-is-racist-and-hates-the-yellow-Communists stuff. Natural Born Killers (1994) was an ambitious vision that Stone was unable to pull off. It was based on the notion of man-woman serial killers going across the country on a murder spree; the nature of tabloid journalism in glorifying it; and the obsession of law enforcement in not only capturing them, but achieving fame in so doing. It was in the end unwatchable.
Nixon (1995), starring Anthony Hopkins, was a pleasant surprise. When word came that Stone was making a biopic of Nixon, everybody assumed the worst. The former President died in April, 1994 and Stone's film was in theatres by Christmas, 1995. The first puzzlement was the casting of the Englishman Anthony Hopkins in the role of a man from suburban (in his day, rural) Los Angeles. Hopkins pulled it off brilliantly, as did Stone.
Stone actually said that in researching Nixon, he came to "admire" him, a fairly common refrain among his biographers, including the late, respected historian Stephen Ambrose, and Tom Whicker, who wrote One of Us. Nixon accomplishes what few biographies accomplish. It entertains while telling a complete story without being boring. This is a great challenge to filmmakers. MacArthur, starring Gregory Peck, was dull, yet Patton was vivid. Numerous TV movies have failed to do much with the Kennedys. The only films about them were about short-lived events (two Cuban Missile Crisis films, and Stone's assassination thriller). A TV movie about Dwight Eisenhower starring Robert Duvall was a clunker. Randy Quaid tried to be Lyndon Johnson. Not. Nobody has ever gotten much mileage out of Abe Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt, or Hitler or Stalin (except for the German-made Downfall). Gandhi worked very well, but various Winston Churchill efforts sank of their own weight. Why? There is no “answer” to that question.
Nixon worked creatively. Financially it did okay but was not a blockbuster. It was one of those movies that folks returned to, though, especially to study President Nixon. What made it work was the Stone specialty of "theme." The average viewer easily misses it, but Stone infuses Nixon's life with the premise that dark forces aided him. It can be inferred by this that he means Nixon was evil, or the tool of evil, but he juxtaposes this with enough of Nixon's basic humanity to make him more of a pawn, pushed by something that "helps" him . . . or does it? The ironic twists of the Nixon-Kennedy rivalry are fascinating, and Stone truly does exploit it. His theme is not a patriotic one, because he infers that there is a Beast that cannot be controlled. He infers that the Beast is embodied in the Central Intelligence Agency, which in turn controls the U.S. A sequence showing Nixon visiting CIA Director Richard Helms (Sam Waterston) was mostly cut out of the original film, but the DVD shows it in its entirety in the special features. Helms and his agency are virtually said to be the devil. Flowers in Helms's office are shown to bloom and wilt in supernatural ways, presumably depending on Helms's evil whim. Waterston's eyes are shown to be coal black. He is Satan!
Nixon asks himself the rhetorical question, "Who’s helping us?" while staring into a fireplace flame under a portrait of Kennedy. The theme is first brought forth in Nixon's college years, when his older brother dies, and apparently this frees up money through an unexplained source (an insurance policy?) that allows Nixon to go to law school. In light of two Kennedy assassinations, the answer to Nixon's question seems to be the same one that Mick Jagger gives in "Sympathy for the Devil."
"After all, it was you and me," Jagger sings, and Stone would have you believe it was the devil in silent concert with Nixon and his brand of . . . something. Jingoism, patriotism, xenophobia, bloodthirstiness? Nixon is seen on a couple of occasions shadowed by a devil-like winged creature (the Beast), and his conversation with a female college student at the Lincoln Memorial ends with her identification of the Beast as the controlling force in American politics. Presumably the girl is able to see this clearly because her heart is pure. There is in all this a sense of hypocrisy. There is zero evidence Stone believes in God, and therefore the devil, yet he uses this malevolent spirit to make a political point. This is playing with fire.
Stone invents secret cabals that never happened between Nixon and John Birch Texas businessmen, racist to the core, who along with a smirking Cuban are there to tell us that because Nixon was in Texas on November 22, 1963 he was somehow plotting JFK's murder.
The conspiracy link between JFK and Nixon exists in this reference, and the CIA "tracks" like the one Agent X talks about in JFK, apparently tie Guatemala, Iran and the Bay of Pigs to subsequent events. The Bay of Pigs tie-in, led by E. Howard Hunt (Ed Harris) and his Cubans, Bernard Barker (Lenny Vullo), Eugenio Martinez (Kamar de los Reyes), et al, is real enough, but the assassination is one Stone insists is part of the same "track." Something on the list of "horribles," which Nixon discusses with H.R. Haldeman (James Woods), who then talks about "bodies," references to something that has never been figured out after watching the film 15 or 20 times. The Kennedy's bodies? Vietnam dead bodies? Abe Lincoln’s body? Civil War bodies?
Stone gives Watergate its due, but lets the actual events speak for themselves without embellishing it with more hate towards Nixon than that era produced of its own accord. He actually does a solid job of demonstrating the semi-legitimate reasons for creating the “plumbers” in the first place, which was to plug leaks in light of Daniel Ellsberg's treacherous Pentagon Papers revelation, in concert with the bunker mentality caused by anti-war protesters threatening, in their mind at the time, a civil war like the one that forced Lincoln to declare martial law.
Stone also makes it clear that Nixon and his people were convinced that Kennedy stole the 1960 election, and he does not try to deny it (without advocating it, either). Murray Chotiner (Fyvush Finkel) represents the realpolitik Republicans who, Stone wants us to know, pulled the same fraudulent tricks, when he says, "They stole it fair and square."
Nixon is depicted as foul-mouthed and quite the drinker. His salty language apparently was learned well into adulthood, and he did occasionally imbibe after years as a teetotaler, but his associates insist it was by no means a regular thing. Woods's Haldeman is no friend of the Hebrews, and Paul Sorvino, doing a big league Henry Kissinger, finds himself constantly at war with the inside Nixon team, put down for his Jewishness. Powers Boothe is a cold-blooded Alexander Haig, representing the reality of Watergate's final conclusion.
It never would have happened under J. Edgar Hoover (Bob Hoskins), Nixon says, and Haig agrees that Hoover, who died just before Watergate, was a "realist" who would have kept it locked up. Nixon discusses suicide with Haig, who eases him out of that but never really tells him not to. When Nixon asks for any final suggestion, Haig says something the real man probably never said:
"You have the Army. Lincoln used it."
Nixon breaks down, incredulous that for all his accomplishments, he can be brought down by such a nothing event. Stone allows Hopkins to infuse this scene with Shakespearean irony, likely why he chose the English thespian for the role. Stone gives Nixon his due in many ways. He demonstrates that he was utterly faithful to his wife Pat (Joan Allen), turning down a Right-wing lovely served up by the Birchers, while telling the girl that he entered politics to help people. His hardscrabble youth is nicely portrayed, with Mary Steenburgen playing his long-suffering Quaker mother. Young Nixon is utterly faithful to her and the honest, religious ethic of the family. But in a later scene, Steenburgen looks questioningly at his Presidential aspirations, saying he is destined to lead, but only if God is on his side. It is a telling statement playing to his theme that dark forces are the wind at Nixon's sails. He enters politics as an idealist, and becomes something else because he discovers he has the talent for it. He is industrious, in contrast to the Kennedys, and will earn everything he has simply by out-working everybody.
An entirely loving portrait of Dick Nixon would have no credibility. Stone does a great job with the movie, which is as balanced as it could be with a side of liberal righteousness.
Stone produced Indictment: The McMartin Trial (1995). In 1996, he produced The People vs. Larry Flynt. These two choices are a telling sign of liberal taste. The McMartins were accused of child molestation in the 1980s, ultimately absolved, but Stone may have wanted to go beyond just telling the story of how innocents were unfairly accused. He may have been trying to shed some sympathy on the act of adult-child sex. There is a group called NAMBLA, protected by the liberal ACLU, which promotes the legalization of such a thing. They certainly want it de-stigmatized. Stone is so liberal, so wildly immoral that it is not a stretch to believe deep down he thinks “man-boy love” is legitimate.
Flynt is a pornographer who has made millions doing just that. Most people accept that pornography exists, that he makes millions off it, and that the First Amendment protects it. But pornography is what it is. Like homosexuality, it is a sin that does not deserve to be justified or called something that it is not, namely art. Those who engage in pornography have every right to do so, and it would be hypocritical to state otherwise. The point is that they are not engaging in moral activity. God will forgive pornographers, like homosexuals, if they ask Him (one can pray) to forgive them for what they do. One cannot say what happens to them if they do not ask for forgiveness.
The choice of a pornographer as the source of a glorifying Hollywood film, starring Woody Harrelson as Flynt, is not something that needs much commentary. It just states what it states. The liberals justify their endorsement of Flynt by pointing out that a former KKK leader named David Duke ran for office as a Republican in an election that lasted a few minutes, which he lost, over a decade ago. The media made a big deal of it. The Republicans disowned him and then nailed him for income tax evasion.
Flynt tries to make a point that somehow porn is art when he creates a slide show of obscene scenes of war dead and racism, next to stylish photos of hot girls. The fact that war and racism is obscene does not mean porn is not obscene. The fact that talented photographers and videographers portray beautiful women in alluring manner does not mean they are not making the devil smile. Stone’s choice of a pornographer-as-“hero” is typical of the Left-wing mindset.
The Last Days of Kennedy and King (1998) was of course Stone’s documentary pro-occupation with assassination theories. Most assassins of history are Left-wing anarchists, which like the fact virtually all spies are liberals and Socialists discomfits the liberals and Socialists, so they, like Stone, try to invent the notion that many of these acts are carried out by Right-wing cabals.
Among Stone's other work includes Any Given Sunday (1999), as good and realistic a sports movie as has ever been made. It features an over-the-top performance by Al Pacino as veteran pro football coach Tony D’Amato, who can still motivate his over-paid, over-sexed, over-drugged, slightly thuggish, mostly black (except for a few White Aryan Brotherhood linemen) mercenaries with a speech that sends Knute Rockne to the bench.
The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001), co-produced by Stone, allowed Richard Dreyfuss to make fun of former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who when President Reagan was shot in 1981 declared pending the return of Vice President George H.W. Bush, “I am in control here . . .”
Alexander (2004) insisted that the Macedonian King was gay, one of the great goals of liberal revisionists who also want to say Michelangelo swung from the other side of the plate, as well. Charlton Heston, who played him in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) said his exhaustive research did not uncover such a thing. World Trade Center (2006) was a pedestrian film about a police officer played by Nicholas Cage on 9/11.
W. was trotted out just in time for the 2008 election in order to make the Republicans, and by implication John McCain, look bad. The film looks good in the beginning; a lively re-telling of young George W. Bush (Josh Brolin) connecting with his fellow Skull and Bonesmen at Yale; unable to find himself in his youthful, hard-drinkin’ years; and scolded by his father, George H.W. Bush, at the time a rising Republican political figure with clout, played by James Cromwell. Young George is actually a pretty charismatic figure. The choice of Brolin, who is incredibly handsome, certainly did not make Bush look bad. He was a scoundrel who loved to party, loved baseball, and loved beautiful woman who loved him back. If Stone was trying to paint a negative portrait he did not really succeed. He was not Presidential timbre, but rather a likable, modern Rhett Butler figure. He gets drunk and angers his parents, but we learn he has been admitted to the Harvard MBA program. His father says he has arranged it, which may well have been made up by Stone. Old man Bush finally corners him about his failure to stand on his own with a great line, “You’re not a Kennedy, you’re a Bush.”
Again, whether Bush ever said this is not known, but one wonders how Stone felt about using this line, considering his hero worship for the Kennedys. Old man Bush is saying that the Kennedys are immoral and illegitimate, while Bush’s – and by implication, Republicans – are moral and on the side of righteousness. They are held to a higher standard by their own doing, one of the party’s key selling points.
There is also reference to Bush’s supposed “failure” to uphold his duty in the Texas Air Guard. The film never goes into his acceptance into flight school and subsequent earning of his wings. This criticism, led most loudly by Michael Moore and, in the end, a source of embarrassment when CBS anchor Dan Rather ran a false story trying to castigate W., remains one of the most blatant pieces of liberal hypocrisy.
First, old man Bush may well have pulled strings to get George into Yale and maybe even Harvard, but definitely did not have any influence over his acceptance into the U.S. Air Force jet program. The Air Force does not just let any old affirmative action spoiled child fool with multi-million-dollar equipment. Even if he was admitted with a little push, he most unquestionably did not make it through and earn his wings on anybody elses steam. Only about 20 percent of those even admitted actually graduate. The military definitely does not let somebody fly a Tomcat or a Hornet unless they are totally qualified, a fact accentuated in films like Top Gun and An Officer and a Gentleman, movies that the Left must do all they can to hide describing the very thing George W. Bush, in actual life, did. So W. was a fighter pilot. The next terrible question for his detractors is to list all the fighter pilots – Marine, Navy, Air Force, Israeli – they have known whom they were not impressed with. A minute or so into this exercise comes further realization that some how, some way, the only unimpressive fighter pilot in the history of Mankind is George W. Bush. Next, we are led to believe that his missing a couple of drills in 1973 to work on an out-of-state Senate campaign is similar to that of the soldier who defected to the Communists during the Korean War, returning to the States in 1996 and, when asked why, replied “To vote for Bill Clinton.”
Stone cast Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush. Again, he chooses a very attractive, appealing actress to play a Bush. W.’s marriage to Laura straightens him out. Stone deserves credit also for not going down the Bill Maher road of making complete fun of W.’s sudden Christian epiphany and consequent turning away from alcohol, which changed his life at age 40.
Bush comes under the tutelage of Karl Rove, played by Toby Jones. While nobody is confusing Rove with Tom Cruise, the choice of Jones, a pipsqueak, is meant to make the political consultant as unappealing as possible. Bush beats Ann Richards for Governor of Texas, one of the great Republican slaying-of-dragons in history. In 1988 Richards spoke to the Democrat National Convention with one of the biggest personal put-downs of all time, a fawning speech in which she states in the most horrendous tone imaginable of Presidential candidate Bush, “Poooooooooooor George . . . HEEE can’t . . . he’p it . . . he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”
Indeed Bush was born rich. Then he went off to become the youngest fighter pilot in the Navy, and was twice shot down. Then he turned down the family offer of a cushy Wall Street future to make it on his own as a Texas oil “wildcatter.” Governor Richards’s words had no validity, so when the son beat her in 1994 it was the sweetest possible redemption for the family and their supporters.
From there, a fairly interesting movie just goes off the rails. The story is a well worn one: a mistaken invasion of Iraq, led by a group of clowns and bumblers. It includes, as usual, a string of Democrat fantasies, the familiar conversations Republicans never have in real life about our “real aims” in the Middle East, and the like. Brolin’s W. is just an idiot at this point, totally unsophisticated and stupid. The movie ends with a scene that the Bush family will never acknowledge, but they have long memories and will try to turn into a lie some day. This is, again a fantasy, the conversation George H.W. Bush never had with George W. Bush in which he blames everything on his stupid son, ultimately destroying the Bush name so thoroughly that younger, smarter brother Jeb, the former Governor of Florida, will never be able elected President.
As it stands, Jeb’s name is constantly bandied about and he may well run for President, and he may well win. For Bush haters, there is also George P. Bush, Jeb’s 37-year old son. A former Army officer and University of Texas-educated lawyer, he looks like a movie star and is, oh no, Hispanic on his mother’s side! The Bush’s knocked back a lot of liberal icons: Ann Richards, Al Gore, Bill Clinton’s legacy, John Kerry, the media . . . they would love to add Oliver Stone to that list.
Between 1986 and 1999, Stone may have done the best directing in Hollywood history. Since then, his work has taken a downward turn, but he remains a force in the industry. Reportedly his documentary of Fidel Castro was so complimentary even HBO had to pull it, which is hard to fathom. He reportedly was working on the story of the 1934 Republican industrialists who recruited Marine hero Smedley Butler to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt, which was the genesis of Seven Days in May. We are still waiting for Tinsel Town to take on the movie about Kennedy stealing the 1960 election.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism