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Thursday, October 16, 2008

W



I wrote an epic blog post trashing the films of Oliver Stone, categorizing the harm he's done to the art of the biopic, and lamenting what I feel is his tendencies toward romanticizing historical events. I've decided not to post it - I'm trying to tone down the negativity a bit - but I'll just say this:

Like most of Stone's films, everybody will be talking about W for the next few weeks, but nobody will be talking about it in ten years.

7 comments:

ted said...

can't say i agree with you on this one, matty! i mean, why should there only be one kind of biopic? doesn't oliver stone have a pretty wild and subversive narrative vision that's super original? i feel i should defend him, cuz even with all his bluntness and all his flaws from a historical-accuracy point-of-view, his perspective can be valuable.

hoadie!

Mafoo said...

What's funny about Stone is that I have memories of being in awe of his films (The Doors, NBK, JFK especially) when they first came out. But I've seen all of these films recently and now they all seem so dated and corny. In my opinion they do not age well. I also loved Forrest Gump and have you watched that recently? Oy...

The problem is that I see all of these heartwarming, glossy new biopics - Ray, Walk Hard, The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind, etc. - and they all seem to have this formula that I believe comes straight from Stone:

Icon/Celebrity (Usually Male)
+
Alluring Background (usually very rich or very poor, never middle class)
+
Dramatic Ascension to Fame/Power
+
Substance Abuse/Mental Illness
+
Abnormally Understanding and Supportive Wife (with no real personality of her own)
+
A Lot of Soft-filter Lenses
=
Successful Biopic (and often an Oscar)

I value Stone for the audacity and confrontational tone of his films, but they always seemed geared toward the college freshman demographic, often for which such audacity and confrontation is enough. His movies are always admirable events, I'm just not sure they are good films. I may love the fact that Bush is getting roasted and ridiculed, but it doesn't make it good art.

(ps thanks for the writeup on your blog! you should enable comments!)

Mafoo said...

For the record, my favorite biopic of all time is Lenny, which is utterly real and unique, with no pretensions toward balance or romance.

Mafoo said...

ha, I meant Walk the Line, not Walk Hard!

Ted said...

the truth is i don't know how to enable comments on tumblr! that's pretty lame, i know. i should look into it.

but yeah i saw W last night, and yeah of course you're right about that oliver stone biopic formula - and yeah you don't know go to an OS movie to see well-developed female characters, that's for sure, although i have to say pat nixon was pretty awesome - but still i thought it was a pretty good film.i admire his ability to create these larger-than-life shakespearean epics, and this one was totally restrained as well, actually.

all those other films you named all are way more dependent upon reality for a narrative arc... stone isn't afraid to depart from it to try and get to a larger truth. also, i'm not sure that just because a film from the past seems dated necessarily means that it's not good. some art is unapologetically of its time and maybe doesn't age well in that regard. i just think it's gutsy filmmaking. i like spike lee too.

Mafoo said...

some art is unapologetically of its time and maybe doesn't age well in that regard

That's true. I mean, I'm a near-unhealthy Kate Bush fan, and her music sounds 80s as hell! It's always a chore convincing people to listen past the corny synths to the amazing songwriting.

Ted said...

tru dat!