Thursday, March 27, 2008


I am very, very anxious to see Oliver Stone's upcoming George Bush biopic currently being called W. Stone has signed an amazing cast of actors for the project. Josh Brolin (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) is set for the title role and Elizabeth Banks (DEFINITELY, MAYBE) has just been cast as the first lady. George Cromwell (BABE) will be playing the elder Bush, with Ellen Burstyn protraying the prez's mom. Stone co-wrote the script with Stanley Weiser, who also co-wrote Stone's WALL STREET. Moritz Borman (ALEXANDER, WORLD TRADE CENTER) is producing the film. No distributor has been set yet. The film will supposedly be ready for release this November, with shooting set to commence at the end of April in Louisianna.

Stone has been one of my absolute favorite filmmakers ever since I started taking film seriously. His last film was WORLD TRADE CENTER, which I thought was excellent, though a major departure from what audiences have come to think an "Oliver Stone film" is or should be. I wonder if Stone will be bashing Bush or playing it safe? I don't know what events are depicted in the script and how expansive the film's timeline will be. In any case, this is one of my most anticipated up-coming films. The other presidential films of Stone's career, including JFK and NIXON, have been masterworks as far as I'm concerned. My only question at this time over the film is who will be serving as Stone's cinematographer. He used to exclusively work with Robert Richardson (one of my favorites) but since ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, Stone has bounced from dp to dp (Salvatore Totino shot SUNDAY, Rodrigo Prieto shot ALEXANDER, and Seamus McGarvey shot WORLD TRADE CENTER). I am hoping for the return of Richardson.


Wayne said...

I'm gonna have to disagree with you on something here. I HATED World Trade Center. Ollie's got a great cast here, I hope he doesn't biff it.

Actionman said...

Why did you hate it?

I thought it was about as un-Oliver Stone as one of his films could be but thought that it was an honest, sobering, and incredibly intense drama. Nic Cage and Michael Pena were terrific in two very difficult performances.

WTC wasn't the masterwork that UNited 93 was, but I thought it was a damn fine piece of filmmaking.

Wayne said...

I hated it mostly b/c we were watching people trapped under rubble, and the women who are upset about it. I'm sorry that happened to those guys, but it just wasn't interesting or moving to me. Far more interesting was Michael Shannon's storyline with the Marine who felt the Hand of God and tore ass down the highway to pitch in, and yet it was just treated like an afterthought to make room for Nic Cage in sweet, furrowed-brow mode and Maggie Gyllenhaal cashing a paycheck. Very frustrating.

And, forgive how this is going to sound, but I'm not sure these guys qualify as Heroes in this situation, which seemed to be the film's stance. Normally, as firefighters, perhaps they were heroes, and they were ON THEIR WAY to being heroes on 9/11, but in the end and in the view of what we see on screen, they were simply guys who got trapped under a lot of concrete. The guys who dug them out...heroes. Getting trapped and getting pulled out doesn't make you hero, even though they were on their way to BE heroic. Were they brave, yep. It is great that they made it out, of course, Heroes?...not so much.

Actionman said...

Interesting comments. I'd personally consider any of the firemen/cops/rescue teams to be heroes. They put their life on the line every day for a salary, protecting people they don't know. There's something very heroic about that. At leas to me. Rescue workers spend most of their time waiting for their moment to help; there is something very honorable about that. A group of people ready to help, no matter what the situation, no matter what the cost. The guys who dug them out are beyond heroic.

Yes, it would have been nice to see more of the rescue efforts on the part of the guys who dug them out from under the rubble. But the film wasn't necessarily about that process; it was more about Cage and Pena willing each other to stay alive. And seeing more of Shannon's story would've been nice; the imgaery of him tearing down the Connecticut highway in his Porsche is a distinctly visceral image that I'm shocked Stone didn't include in his film.

Nic Cage has phoned in a lot of his recent performances, but every few films he reminds me of how much I love him as an actor and how effective he can be with the right material.

The thing of it is this: it's a true story. The wives did what they did, the men trapped did what they did, the rescue teams did what they did. I can understand how you might not have been "entertained" by the story, but for me, the film reminded me how people can be so selfless at times, so willing to help others, that I found it touching.

And coming from a filmmaker like Stone, who isn't known for overtly compassionate characters in his films, I thought it was a refreshing change of pace for him as an artist.

I hope Stone makes the rougher 9/11-Afghanistan film he'd been talking about last year.

The general public may be shunning films that are dealing with the current issues relating to Iraq and the middle east, but I am hungry for me.

Actionman said...

Hungry for "more," not "me," I meant to say.

Wayne said...

Good points, all. And, as I suspected I might, I came off as a bit of a dick. Not my intent. Obviously, anyone doing this kind of thing for a living is heroic. Of course. I'm not articulating myself on what I mean by some of these comments very well, so I'll just quit while I'm merely a dick, and not worse. hahaha

I just feel that if Stone wanted to do a movie about heroism, he SHOULD HAVE made Michael Shannon the focus. I realize that it's unfair to judge a film for what it should be vs. what it IS, but if he's going to present us with Shannon's interesting story line, and make us sit through Cage and Pena willing each other to live to get to it....well, it lost me, I guess. It's not an "entertainment" type movie, but it WAS reaching as hard as it could to be a big Oscar-grabby Big Important Picture, and I didn't find it especially moving or engaging. You said it yourself, they were willing each other to live. Not a very active choice is it? Which is fine if you're doing something tricky with that concept, but they didn't. It was literally two immobile people trying to not die.

Aww who am I kidding, I'm just mad because Oliver Stone made a Ron Howard movie.

Actionman said...

"Aww who am I kidding, I'm just mad because Oliver Stone made a Ron Howard movie."

Now that's a sentiment that I could see someone being upset about. Not that I hate Howard or anything (I've liked most of his stuff), but Stone clearly softened his style and edge with WTC. I am hoping the harder Stone is back with the new Bush film.

Wayne said...


Patrick said...

I don't understand your premise about playing nice. Is that supposed to imply that the truth would be not playing nice. Or that not playing nice would be making up lies? When Time magazine named W Man of the Year in 2004 were they playing nice?

Actionman said...

What I mean by "play nice" is will Stone add a lot of personal opinoin to the film or is he sticking with the facts. Is this a United 93 style verite type film or something like JFK. Is this an anti-Bush film, a pro-Bush film, or a neutral film? Will Stone go back to his rapid-fire quick-cutting style or is he still in John Ford/Ron Howard mode (WTC)?

Time magazine naming Bush the man of the year in ANY year is more reason to disqualify that rag from anything resembling taste or class. Bush if a fucking idiot, who has changed the world for the worse irrevocably. I am disgusted with him and disgusted with the legacy he has now given the next generation of humans (my children more or less).

So, by me asking if he's going to play nice, I want to know if Stone is going to rightly criticize the piss-poor job that Bush has done as commander in chief or will be gloss over the nasty particulars in favor of a more traditional biopic.