Oliver Stone is back in theaters in the Quad Cities this weekend with “Savages” a thriller that some critics have called a return to form for the legendary director. Oliver Stone has seemingly been wandering in the wilderness since around the turn of the century when his brand of conspiracy laden social activism fell out of favor and his films such as “W,” “World Trade Center” and the “Wall Street” sequel “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” failed to live up to Stone’s controversial hype.
Stone’s failings in this young century are notable but they haven’t wiped away a legacy of unique and daring work that courted controversy and acclaim. Here’s a look back at the best of Oliver Stone.
While Francis Ford Coppola did an exceptional job of capture surrealism of the Vietnam Era in “Apocalypse Now” it was Stone who capture the harsher reality in his vivid and violent “Platoon.” Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe and Charlie Sheen each found stardom via “Platoon” but it was Oliver Stone who emerged into the spotlight earning honors for Best Picture and Best Director at the 1987 Academy Awards.
What was so disappointing about “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” was director Stone’s failed promise to expose and critique the fat cats of modern Wall Street in the same way he’d laid them bare nearly 20 years prior. “Wall Street” was a scathing indictment of win at all costs greed and while it became subsumed over the years by real life Wall Street greedniks who turned Gordon Gekko into an ironic role model the film, in it’s time, was damning and powerful.
“Born on the Fourth of July”
Casting matinee idol Tom Cruise as a grizzled, embittered and crippled Vietnam veteran was just the kind of risky maneuver that only a visionary like Stone and the nerve to pull. That it worked is a testament to both men’s talent. “Born on the Fourth of July” is the dramatic true story of real life Vietnam survivor to anti-war activist Ron Kovic and Stone brought Kovic’s story to dramatic life with fearless and invigorating energy. Though the film didn’t earn the acclaim of “Platoon” or “Wall Street” Stone still managed to turn a very challenging project into a box office hit, earning more than $100 million domestic when that number still meant something.
The film that came to define Stone’s mad genius was the 1991 conspiracy drama “JFK.” Based on the work of real life New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison, played by Kevin Costner in the film, “JFK” offered what Mr. Stone believes really happened in the death of President John F. Kennedy. Jim Garrison was the only prosecutor to ever try someone in court in the supposed conspiracy to assassinate JFK and there was no one better than the already conspiracy mad Stone to bring the story to life. Stone earned his 5th Best Director nomination and third Best Picture nomination for “JFK.” The film however lost out to Jonathan Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs” in both categories.
“Savages” opened at Midnight, July 5th, at Rave Cinemas in Davenport.