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Feel-good movie of the summer

Oliver Stone: from the Hollywood crackpot of JFK to the Republican sellout of World Trade Center
By PETER KEOUGH  |  August 10, 2006

060811_stone_main1
MISSING THE POINT: In his quest to make an apolitical movie, Stone played right into the hands of the people he once despised.

Oliver Stone can’t catch a break. He makes a few movies colored by political agendas and freewheeling speculation and everyone calls him a conspiracy nut for politicizing his subjects. So he makes a movie on a politically loaded subject and tries really, really hard not to make it political, and he’s still called a conspiracy nut, this time for not politicizing his subject.

To wit: a bunch of 9/11 “theorists,” who argue that 9/11 was an “inside job” pulled off by “Skull and Bones … the Mormon Church … Catholic Pedophile Priests … FEMA … Rosicrucians … and Animal Human Hybrids,” among others, have attacked the director for whitewashing what they see as crucial cover-ups in his latest film, World Trade Center. They are calling for a boycott. “Was Stone used by the Illuminati as an unknowing pawn?” asks a group headed by the Christian Branch of the 9/11 Truth Movement in a press release, as quoted on the Web site rawstory.com. The group is best known for calling for a Christian boycott of Jessica Simpson, whom they describe as a “singing stripper.” Her connection to the Illuminati and 9/11 is left tantalizingly unclear.

Personally, I was expecting more widespread and legitimate expressions of disappointment with the film. Surely legions of Stone’s fans, and even his detractors, were expecting him to say, if not something outrageous, at least something of substance about the most important and controversial story in America since, well, the Kennedy assassination. After all, he’s put in his two cents worth about everything else that matters in world events and national issues over the past 20 years.

But things have changed in the world, and certainly in the world of conspiracy theory, since Stone’s JFK came out in 1991. When a left-leaning Web site like Raw Story in effect attributes all doubts about the official explanation of 9/11 to a bunch of religious nutjobs, it seems likely that large audiences are not going to embrace a big-budget movie pushing a similarly conspiratorial point of view. Even from a filmmaker whose consistent draw has been his ability to arouse anger and debate. Stone’s last film, the epic Alexander, tanked disastrously. So why be surprised that he decided to follow it up with one designed to ingratiate himself with all and offend no one? No one, that is, except those who bought into his opening epigraph in JFK: “To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”

And, when you come down to it, much of Stone’s reputation for being an outrageous maverick doesn’t stand up on closer examination. He burst on the scene with Platoon (1986), which at the time — in the depths of the cloud of unknowing that was the Reagan administration — seemed an astoundingly brave revelation of the brutal truth about the war in Vietnam. It was indeed the first film about the war made by someone who fought there, and the authenticity of the combat scenes and some of the dialogue endures.

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Related: W. gets a B, Interview: Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Putting up W’s, More more >
  Topics: Features , Politics, World Trade Center, September 11 Attacks,  More more >
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