Comeback Kids; Upturn for Stone?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 4, 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Comeback Kids; Upturn for Stone?


Byline: Christian Toto, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Conservatives recoiled when Paramount Pictures announced Oliver Stone would direct "World Trade Center," a thriller based on the terrorist attacks of September 11. What conspiracy, they wondered, would the lefty auteur spring on us now?

Film fans also winced, but not out of ideological reflex.

When was the last time Mr. Stone made a good, let alone a great, movie?

Early notices hint the director's drought may be over.

Even some conservatives are singing Mr. Stone's praises after seeing the new film, which opens Wednesday. The film follows two Port Authority officers who rush into the collapsing buildings to save as many lives as possible. "WTC" stars Nicolas Cage, Maria Bello, Michael Pena ("Crash") and Maggie Gyllenhaal, among others.

"World Trade Center" doesn't blame America, President George W. Bush or any talk radio titan for the attacks.

Making a fact-based epic from this country's greatest catastrophe seems an odd path toward career resurrection, but "World Trade Center" might just make Mr. Stone relevant again.

Mr. Stone emerged as a filmmaking force buoyed by both his scriptwriting (1978's "Midnight Express") and his directing (1986's Oscar-winning "Platoon").

He drew upon his own Vietnam experiences for his early directorial triumphs, then began collecting detractors with a series of politically charged films that claimed wide creative license for themselves in treating historical subjects.

His 1991 film "JFK," a pastiche of conspiracy theories which preyed on our collective unease about President Kennedy's assassination, rankled filmgoers and historians alike.

By that time, the right already viewed Mr. Stone with suspicion. His script for 1986's "Salvador" questioned U.S. foreign policy, and 1987's "Wall Street" targeted the Reagan-era economic boom, mocking its supposed shallowness with the catchphrase "Greed is good."

"Natural Born Killers" alienated even more of the movie-going public, but its arresting images made it hard to look away. Mr. Stone's 1994 vision of two killers who become a media sensation seemed, to some, to glorify death and destruction. The film engulfed Mr. Stone in a real lawsuit involving a 1995 murder case in which the killers said the film inspired their actions. The suit was later dismissed on First Amendment grounds.

Mr. Stone's films aren't all blockbusters - "Platoon's" $138 million haul still represents his career zenith - but they at least could count on the occasional Oscar buzz. His 1995 biography "Nixon" alone snared four nominations. He hasn't been nominated since, unless you count being selected as a finalist for Worst Director in the 1997 Razzie Awards (for "U-Turn").

Mr. Stone's football expose "Any Given Sunday" (1999) featured more sizzle than story, but at least made a small profit with its box office take of $75 million.

The director followed "Sunday" with a curious documentary palimpsest involving Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Mr. Stone's "Comandante" (2003) featured a rare, one-on-one interview with the communist leader, but word quickly leaked of the cozy rapport between interviewer and subject. When Castro's regime inconveniently executed three Cuban hijackers and jailed 75 dissidents, Mr. Stone returned to Cuba to conduct somewhat tougher interviews. The result, "Looking for Fidel," aired on HBO in 2004.

The director's biggest bomb came with "Alexander," 2004's misbegotten take on the great Macedonian leader.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Comeback Kids; Upturn for Stone?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?