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Sunday, May 29, 2005



Why is it that "all my friends" who purchased Playboy *for the articles* don't remember this one?

Marc Cooper

They were otherwise engaged?

green dem

Talk Radio was his best film. I'm still waiting for someone to do with cable news what he did with am talk.

Wall Street should've ended with Sheen the younger looting Gecko's henhouse and running off with the girl to Cancun. (Incidentally, greendem went to college with the son of the man who Gecko is based on. It was greendem's first object lesson in why Americans so hate the press. The boy looked like he hadn't slept in years, and you sensed from talking to him that it was less his father's misdeeds than the cruel and abusive way the press had treated his family [not just dad] that had really sowed ruin in him. Most of the kids he hung out with were real bastards - rich white trash from the Boston/New York corridor - who no doubt treated his father like a hero. I always wanted to tell the guy he didn't need to hang out with them, that others wouldn't be so judgmental. I never did. Regrets...)

jim hitchcock

That was quite the interview. Thanks for dredging it up.

But as far as your drinking, doubt you'll ever be compared to Hemingway :)

Josh Legere

He has done some fine films. Salvador, Wall Street, Platoon, and a few others.

But Nixon, that football movie, etc... his last number of films have been bad. It does not suprise me that he has a drug problem because all of his recent movies are goddam acid trips. Too much drugs. God isn't he to old for that shit.


Good Oliver Stone story, Marc.

Ironically, I understand from friends who work with him off and on, Stone has been much straighter than usual from Alexander forward. So now he gets busted...?

Oh, well, we wish him the best.

A few years back, I was being courted by Ray Stark’s folks for a particular east LA-related movie project, (when Ray was too old and ill to care), and the Stark people had some co producers in on the deal…..who---aside from being the slimiest and most cliché of characters---when I checked, turned out to be…..Oliver’s drug dealers. (Yes, I did bail on the deal.)

But, hey, OS has taken chances on certain kinds of material that nobody else has been willing to touch. Starting…..as you know better than most anybody…..with “Salvador…..”

And, okay, Josh, I agree, "Nixon" had it's problems, but flawed though it may be, I still find moments in the thing to be utterly unforgettable….. indelible. For example:

(after the Kent State shootings)


NIXON is on the bow, alone, watching the city slip by.
MITCHELL slides up beside him, offering him a freshened

You all right?

My brother Harold was about the same
age as those kids, John. Tuberculosis
got him.

It wasn't your fault. The soldiers
were just kids, too. They panicked.

They were throwing rocks, John, just
rocks. They don't think I feel ...
but I feel too much sometimes. I just
can't let a whole policy get dominated
by our sentimentality.......

Mitchell puts his hand on Dick's shoulder.

....You should offer condolences to the
families of those kids.

Sure, I'd like to offer condolences.

He shrugs off Mitchell's hand and walks down the deck into the shadows.

But Nixon can't.


(Nixon with big oil doner, Jack Jones)

Jack, I've learned that politics is
the art of compromise. I learned it
the hard way. I don't know if you
have. But I tell you what, Jack ...
If you don't like it, there's an
election in November. You can take
your money out into the open, give it
to Wallace ... How about it, Jack?
Are you willing to do that? Give this
country over to some poet-pansy
socialist like George McGovern?

Nixon is right in Jones's face now.

Because if you're uncomfortable with
the EPA up your ass, try the IRS ...

Well, goddamn. Are you threatening
me, Dick?

Presidents don't threaten. They don't
have to.


On the other hand, I’ve personally never forgiven him for “Natural Born Killers.”


you're right rosebud...Nixon was an impossible movie to make truly work, but it had some great moments. Unfortunately, it never overcame the dilemma faced by most bio-pics of people who are utterly familiar characters ("Ray" being the only exception I can come up with at the moment) - even Anthony Hopkins couldn't avoid the trap of coming across like Dan Akroyd on SNL. But I give Stone enormous credit as a writer for creating a version of Nixon that was remarkably complex and even sympathetic. (Damn, I long for the days when our political villians were Shakespearean characters and not monochromatic dullards, clumsily "catapaulting propaganda" to borrow the latest phrase from W. Not necessarily better days, but certainly more interesting.)

I don't much like the Stone persona, but I have enormous respect for the guy who does the work. JFK was compelling assassination mythology and easily one of the best edited films ever. Even the comparatively mediocre stuff like Any Given Sunday is impeccably crafted. (Although I did pass on The Doors and Alexander.) You may never forgive Natural Born Killers, and I'll never forget it. It left a terrible taste, but you've got to credit Stone for being essentially an old fuck and still managing to concoct the first serious aesthetically "post-MTV" feature film. What an inventive sonofabitch...that "I Love Lucy" parody was brilliant and the look and construction of the whole abominable mess was stunning.

Stone has been nothing if not creatively fearless and it's mostly served him well. But the over-the-top sensibility that drove Natural Born Killers into a ditch was already fully on display in that manic, insane Scarface script. Stone's career may well end up as an inversion of Orson Welle's - the brilliant megalomaniac who suffered from making far too many films, rather than far too few. But anybody who could make that incredible five-year run from Salvador through JFK, damn near singlehandedly rescuing Hollywood filmmaking from total embarrasment in the '80s, deserves due respect as one of the greats. And the interview brought out some of the best in him. For Stone's detractors, there's probably plenty more erratic stuff in store. His current project is a James Ellroy adaptation starring Keanu Reeves. Not promising, but who knows. He may pull off something interesting.

Michael Turner

"... I give Stone enormous credit as a writer for creating a version of Nixon that was remarkably complex and even sympathetic...."

Not easy to do, especially the "sympathetic" part. And it's a big risk. Robert Altman directed "Secret Honor", which made the ten-best ;ist of a couple critics. It opened in only a handful of theaters across the country, and closed in a few weeks. Philip Baker Hall should have gotten a best actor nomination as Nixon. Instead, nobody even heard of this flick.

But 20 years later, people who see it on DVD still like it. Some of them like it a lot.

Amazon link:


Wow...thanks...vaguely remember the Altman film, but didn't catch it during it's fifteen-minute theatrical release. It's on the short list.


This past Thursday night, I saw Stone introduce a very fine documentary, "The Devil's Miner," at the Amnesty International Film Festival. His remarks, which he wrote while seated at the end of the aisle, were even more depressing (in a slit-your-wrists kind of way) than the film; a hard feat given that the film profiled a 14-year-old silver miner in Bolivia. On that night, the 14-year-old seemed to be handling the stress a little better. Sad indeed.

green dem

PS That's a really, really interesting interview Marc.

PPS Nixon was a flawed film (Stone should've avoided the psycho-biography stuff and stuck to a more conventional five act political tragedy), but still important. I disagree with the suggestion that he is inherently unsympathetic though. Tragic figures by nature become sympathetic. Of course I wasn't entirely alive then so my perspective is less colored...

green dem

PPPS It is nice to hear Stone (however belatedly) lash out against the committee system. It had already (with the help of the cult of marketing research) decimated the new hollywood by the time of that interview, and now these twin evils threaten to literally bring down the business (in much the same way that the studio system built up and then ruined Hollywood by the 60s...the biggies aren't in quite the same bad place they were by the mid to late 60s but give it a few more years of bad box office returns and dismal blockbusters).

Fortunately, the next great revolution in filmmaking (on par with the advent of sound, and with all the technical and artistic advances of the later 60s and 70s) is just around the corner. Digital technology (at the production, post-production, and distribution level) really has the potential to do for film what the printing press did for writing. We're not yet to the point where a $2500 camera = 35mm (or even frankly 16mm) film, but that day is coming soon, as is universal digital projection. The latter is probably the bigger advance, because it introduces the possibility that distributors will no longer have a lock on what films get shown. Right now (as it has always been) it is risky for any theater to take on just about any film that isn't a bonified hit (largely because of the cost of prints), but as theaters go digital that cost drops dramatically (digital projectors use DVDs), and it will become much more possible for entrepeneurial filmmakers to get showings of their films and build an audience from the grassroots up (not unlike independent bands and record labels have done over the past twenty years). We could begin to see highly localized film scenes (a Mormon film scene in Utah, a lesbian punk rock film scene in Olympia, Washington, etc), and once you factor in the possibilities of the internet Hollywood could become increasingly less relevant. None of this guarantees talent anymore widespread than today, but it does hold out of the possibility that talent will be far more empowered than ever before.


Memorial days aren't good for Stone. Maybe he read your entry and was reliving that time.

Oliver Stone arrested in L.A. for drugs, alcohol
Sun May 29,11:28 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone was arrested on drunken driving and drug charges at a police checkpoint in Beverly Hills, California, authorities said on Saturday. http://tinyurl.com/cj3e8

richard lo cicero

Gee Marc get with it! DEEP THROAT is W. Mark Felt and no comment? And Bush calls Amnesty International absurd? What's the good word?


Did Felt break any laws when he shared inside FBI information with the Washington Post? I think that Nixon deserves a second chance.

jim hitchcock

RLC, pretty sure Coop's been cooking up something Felt the better part of the day...all to cover up his hurt and anguish at being scooped by Vanity Fair :)

Michael Turmon

Slate has an interview on Stone, Cuba, and Fidel, in which Stone comes across as asinine and willfully obtuse:


Wagner James Au

Thanks for posting both the interview and the personal anecdote, Marc. Taken together, they make for a pretty fascinating, telling contrast. On the one hand, we got a guy condemning the US for promoting a vast, unmitigated welter of lies and repression. On the other hand, we got a guy trying to get a reporter to fabricate an alibi so he can cheat on his wife in a coke-addled sex orgy-- then when he can't get what he wants, drinks himself into a stupor. I've come to see this as a common pattern, actually: rigid, self-righteous, moralistic political life; decadent, self-indulgent, amoral personal life. It's a bipartisan pattern, too: hectoring members of the religious right seem just as inclined to be adulterous perverts in the motel bedroom, as we know-- perhaps even moreso than their liberal counterparts. (Maybe it's just that liberals tend to be a lot more open about their private indulgences.)

I am tempted to say there's a causal, inverse relation between the two modes of social congress, a desire to mitigates one's degraded personal ethics with a crusading social politics. I will definitely say I'm not particularly inclined to get lectured at about how bad my country is supposed to be, by someone who finds it so difficult to treat the people he's supposed to care about most with a modicum of decency.

Shortly after 9/11, Stone announced the terrorist attacks were an uprising by a resistance movement, or words to that effect. Same dumb self-righteous politics; same grotesque personal excess, evidently. (Though the latter's a lot more pathetic when it's coming from a dude pushing 60.) On the other hand, he did make a few good flicks.

Michael Turner

"I am tempted to say there's a causal, inverse relation between the two modes of social congress, a desire to mitigates one's degraded personal ethics with a crusading social politics."

I'm tempted to say that the drunk man looking for his dropped keys only where the street-lamp light is strongest is never going to represent the gold standard of critical thinking.

If some public figure has strong opinions, that gets noticed. If some public figure has a train-wreck personal life, that also gets noticed. Combine the two, and you've got twice-as-noticed -- at least.

If you base your conclusions about people only on what you notice, rather than what you carefully look into, you'll see all kinds of patterns that don't have much basis in reality.

"Shortly after 9/11, Stone announced the terrorist attacks were an uprising by a resistance movement, or words to that effect."

Perhaps, but I'm tempted to say that the phenomenon of people reasoning pseudo-statistically from small samples of anecdotal evidence is strongly correlated with those same people putting words in the mouths of others. And that's it's also strongly correlated with providing enough weasel-wording (e.g., "I'm tempted to say") as to always be able plea-bargain any charge of "you said something stupid" down to the lesser charge of "you didn't say anything at all (but you sure used a lotta words to say nothin'."

That is to say, I'm *tempted* to say that, but ... I won't do it. ;-)

There was something compelling about the interview. And i think it was the fact that your questions appeared after the word "PLAYBOY". I think you should assume PLAYBOY as your pen name and World Tournament of Poker player name.

"Looks like the Playboy is laying out a pair of ducks to tan by the poolside."

"The Playboy likes his opponents like he likes his martinis -- shaken and stirred."

"The Playboy wants the Unabomber to strip and then fold, will he do it?"

"And here comes the Playboy's playmate of the
year, a royal flush!"

Its pure gold.


woops. forget to put my name. the ever so witty 5 am post above was from me, natasha.

Michael Turmon

Wagner Au, Michael Turner: FWIW, grain of salt, whatever:


I'm tempted to say that Stone sees himself as a rebel, to the point that he assumes other people, like Islamic fundamentalists, also make decisions on that basis.

Marc Cooper

Natasha, ur a genius! The Playboy.


There are 5 houses in five different colors
In each house lives a different nationality.
These 5 owners drink a certain beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar and keep a certain pet.
No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same beverage.


The Brit lives in the Red house.
The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
The Dane Drinks tea.
The Green House is on the left of the White House.
The Green House's owner drinks coffee.
The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
The man in the center house drinks milk.
The Norwegian lives in the first house.
The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats
The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
The German smokes Prince.
The Norwegian lives next to the Blue House.
The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

Who owns the fish?

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