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Oliver Stone, doing a hurry up rush Job on “W” to get it out before the election. What does this movie on Bush have to do with the election? If you are in the tank for Obama it sure does.
*If all this sounds like the premise of a Hollywood blockbuster, then it is – sort of. The movie is W., a Bush biopic that – and here’s the twist – is directed by Stone. It will be released in America a mere 19 days before the 2008 presidential election and is the Times Gala film at this year’s Times BFI London Film Festival. *
Golly gee, nice timing right before an election. It couldn’t have been released after the election eh?
*But that is where the similarities end. For while Bush exits the White House a pariah, Stone hopes that W. – a $30 million project funded partly with Chinese money because no big Hollywood studio would touch it – will salvage a career that has been taking on water for more than a decade. Indeed, Stone’s previous movie about an American president, Nixon, cost $44 million to make and recouped barely a third of that at the American box office. This time, Stone is betting that the saleability of Bush’s failures will serve to guarantee his own success. *
I hope it flops.
*When I meet Stone at his office in Santa Monica, the 62-year-old film-maker is rubbing his eyes after another epic editing session. W. is being made under extreme pressure: only 46 days of shooting, a mere 300,000ft of film (as opposed to the usual million), and barely two months of post-production. A tall order for a movie that jumps back and forth in time and promises to tell three stories – the Bush bum years, the Texas governorship and the presidency – simultaneously. *
Gee, hurry up so we can get this stinkbomb propaganda movie out to influence the election!!!
“I’m not sure that we’ll succeed,” Stone concedes when I ask why the very same electorate that has made Bush the most unpopular President in American history would want to hand over money to see a two-hour biopic about him. “But this movie is not for the 12 per cent who still approve of him – it’s for the other 88 per cent. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything in the movie that the other 88 per cent would have any reason to detest. It is a human portrait of a man, not meant to insult people who believe in what Bush believes in.”
*This, claims Stone, is why he made W. – to understand, to walk in the man’s shoes. “It’s my job . . . if I’m dramatising his life . . . to step above my hate,” he says. *
At least he admits his hate and bias unlike many other lefties in the media. But it’s “his job” to produce this election time hit piece.
So I ask him what he makes of John McCain. After all, the Republican presidential candidate was both a supporter of ousting Saddam and a long-time resident of Vietnam’s “Hanoi Hilton” POW camp.
*“I think McCain’s a very special story because he was never a soldier,” Stone says coldly. “He’s said he never saw the results of his own bombing. I saw the damage we did, I saw the corpses, the decay, I smelt the flesh, I saw people who’d been napalmed, people who’d been killed by shrapnel, mutilated. I saw horrible things. McCain was a prisoner and he has a siege mentality. He doesn’t see a balanced portrait of cause and effect – there’s something missing in the man, mentally.” *
He already has the attack angle on McCain. I wonder if he has time to produce a rush hit job on McCain before the election.
*And McCain’s running-mate, the moose-wrangling, gun-toting Alaskan beauty queen Sarah Palin? “She’s very ignorant. Ignorance is an American characteristic. To me, Palin and McCain look like a poster for a San Diego news channel.” *
*Oooh, Stone must be a member of the international elite. She is an American, pooh pooh. *
*Which brings us to Barack Obama. If Stone believes that the Government conspired to kill John F. Kennedy – as his 1991 movie JFK suggests – then surely he must also believe that those same forces would go to work on a liberal black president. Stone nods, but says it’s less likely. “In those days, with Kennedy, you could kill somebody and that was more palatable because we’d done that abroad with many people: it was in vogue, it was part of the James Bond thing. Now you don’t need to kill – the media can kill for you. *
Media can kill for you….you know it well, don’t you Oliver.
*“And I don’t think Obama could [frighten] the Pentagon in the same way. Kennedy was shaking things up: with Cuba he was ready to sign a deal, with Vietnam he was pulling out, with Khrushchev he was signing a deal.” *
Quite an imagination and utopian projection on Obama who has no track record.
All of which raises the question of what Stone will do after W. He’s still working on a sympathetic documentary about the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. His interview with the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is off the table (although Ahmadinejad quietly retracted a statement calling Stone part of the “Great Satan”).
Sympathetic documentary on Chavez?, is there a need to comment? At least Ahmadinejad can see Stone for what he is.
As for the fate of Pinkville, Stone’s movie about the My Lai massacre in Vietnam – billed to star Bruce Willis – that was jettisoned amid the troubles at Tom Cruise’s new incarnation of the United Artists studio.
*“It was a bad experience,” Stone says. “I don’t like working for a company that’s fearful – it infects everything. I’ve managed to make 17 movies the way I wanted to make them in an atmosphere free of fear. I don’t want to be sweating it every day, having calls from some executive saying, ‘We can’t show a bullet in a baby’s head’, or ‘How much massacre is there going to be?’” *
Oh, some executive pooh pooed another hit piece? You don’t like fearful companies? You don’t want to have calls from like execs who give you the money? Oh, you like to be dictator with no dissent. A typical hollyweird open minded tolerant liberal.
Oliver Stone, patriot? probably, just not a U.S. patriot.