July 28, 2010

"South of the Border"

Oliver Stone's documentary "South of the Border" follows him around South America as he interviews various left-of-center politicians about how they stood up to American imperialism in the form of George W. Bush. 

Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is the star. He's quick-witted, engaging, a natural big man. As Chavez is showing Stone a corn-processing plant built by Iranian technicians, he deadpans: "This is where we're building the Iranian atomic bomb ... the Corn Bomb." I don't think this is Stone's intention, but Chavez comes across as an ironic post-modern version of that Romantic Era archetype: the Bonapartist adventurer.

Evo Morales, the first Amerindian president of Bolivia, is impressively calm and focused -- in contrast to Stone who needs to suck on an oxygen bottle when he arrives in La Paz. But, after chewing on some coca leaves with Morales, the former head of the coca growers peasant union, the suddenly energized movie director insists that the (for once) slightly flustered Morales go out in the Presidential yard with him to play some soccer.

Not surprisingly, Stone, who doesn't speak Spanish, is a weak interviewer, a pushover. The art of interviewing celebrities is setting up their well-worn punchlines, but the over-prepped and over-eager Stone sometimes can't resist including their punchlines in his questions.

"South of the Border" will amuse long-time observers of Stone's various psychological tics. When he was on top of the world in the late 1980s, he annoyed me, but when everybody decided to hate him after JFK in 1991, I started to rather like the guy. 

The whole trip seems organized around Stone's perpetual Daddy Issues as he goes looking for a surrogate father among the lefty strongmen of Latin America, which is kind of weird in somebody old enough that he was George W. Bush's classmate at Yale before he dropped out and went to Vietnam. (Of course, George W. had daddy issues, too. Here's my review of Stone's W.) Inevitably, Stone's next movie will be about Hitler and Stalin (although, no doubt, it will really be about why Lewis Stone didn't love little Ollie enough). Maybe Stone will finally find his father figure in Stalin.

The best part is when Stone interviews the one female Presidente, the wife of Kirchner of Argentina, who ran his wife in his place when he got term-limited out of office. I can't recall Stone ever creating an interesting female character, and he seems peeved that Mrs. Kirchner has gotten into the Leftist Leader Boys Club of his dreams on a technicality. So, he asks this rich and spoiled looking political wife, "How many pairs of shoes do you own?" She immediately recognizes this reference to Imelda Marcos and chews an abashed Stone out for several minutes for his sexist impertinence.

20 comments:

TH said...

"Daddy issues" do not exist. It's a silly Freudian idea that somehow still has currency in America. People who are said to have "daddy issues" simply have a certain set of (mostly innate) personality characteristics. It has nothing to do with their relationship to their fathers.

Jack Quinn said...

Steve, Oliver Stone is about one SD less interesting than Woody Allen whose last existing aficionados hang out at HuffPost or the DailyKos. Let's move on.

Anonymous said...

Steve, do you get to see movies early in one of those small private screening rooms for the press?

I know they exist because many years ago I won a radio contest for two tickets to Pavarotti's new movie Yes, Giorgio. I went to a nondescript office building in the San Francisco financial district. I entered the normal lobby and went through an unmarked door. It was like something out of a spy flic.

Inside there was a small movie theater - maybe twenty seats. I recognized a couple local TV personalities. The rest were probably newspaper critics (or maybe other contest winners).

I had read movie reviews for years and had always thought that the reviewers just sneaked into the back of regular theaters. Not so. They went to their secret theater.

So do you rate entrance privileges to the exclusive screens of the media pundits?

Albertosaurus

josh said...

I didnt see JFK til way way after it came out. It was a darn good movie! I wish I had been paying more attention to all the hubbub over the project! It may be B.S. but it was surely a good film! Kevin Costner was great. It seems like he couldve been a bigger star than he turned out to be. He is one of those stars that appeals to both sexes,IMHO. Isnt Stone half-a Jew,half-a Whitey? Halfies are a strange lot. look at that vicious little punk Bill Maher! I'd love to stopm him into the ground;but he'd prob enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

"Daddy issues" do not exist. It's a silly Freudian idea that somehow still has currency in America. People who are said to have "daddy issues" simply have a certain set of (mostly innate) personality characteristics. It has nothing to do with their relationship to their fathers.
7/28/2010


I disagree. Fathers are influential - to a degree. When they go missing their influence is noticeable. Last I checked, such analysis doesn't have to be Freudian.

asdfasdfsadf said...

"I can't recall Stone ever creating an interesting female character."

You gotta be kidding me!!

The heartbreaking HEAVEN AND EARTH?
The mother in BORN ON THE 4TH OF JULY.
Pat Nixon in NIXON?
Cameron Diaz in ANY GIVEN SUNDAY?
And the women were more interesting in WTC than the men who were stuck in the ground(like pregnant women). It was kinda like a role reversal.
And Angelina Jolie and a wild Afghan woman character stole the show in ALEXANDER.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Steve.

Oliver Stone does a great job putting a stick in the eye of the conventional wisdom, whether it is the conventional wisdom about world war two or other historical events.


Stones's mother Jacqueline's family followed a pretty common path, with the higher IQ women choosing to marry Jewish and the lower IQ women choosing to marry non Jews.

Indeed, half jews like Stone seem to live notably more interesting lives than full Jews. For example, how many full Jews would have volunteered to serve in combat in Vietnam? There is something special that comes from the mixture of Ashkenazi traits with white non Jewish traits.

Of course the main reason that H-Y-P accept so many ashkenazi is because, even adjusting for IQ and other measurable traits, ashkenazi wind up with much greater professional success than white non jews and ashkenazi alumni of H-Y-P wind up donating much more money to their schools than their non jewish classmates.

But you can't discount the fact that many of the non Jewish trustees of H-Y-P like the idea of their sons and daughters and nieces and nephews who attend H-Y-P interacting with ashkenazi, networking with them, and even picking up ashkenazi values.

Anonymous said...

O/T

Illegal alien Roma in France to be deported by Sarkozy. It's just like Nazi Germany, according to the Associated Press

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100728/ap_on_re_eu/eu_france_angry_roma

2 points:
1. the AP sucks
2. The West appears doomed.

anony-mouse said...

Given that Chavez is personally responsible for the migration of probably 10's if not hundreds of thousands of Hispanics from his country to the US, I'm a little amazed at the (relative) soft spot you seem to have for him.

Mellowing?

Paavo Ojala said...

Did you notice the news bomb:

Finnish tabloid has a big headline: White man wins 100m European Championship.

Who would have thought. Fastest man in Europe. White? Unheard of.

TGGP said...

Evo Morales says that genetically modified chicken is responsible for baldness & homosexuality in the first world.

Steve has been open about his sympathy for the Latin American left. He thinks they are correct on the "black legend" about those awful imperialist Spaniards, and also thinks that they were cheated out of the Mexican presidential election before last. I don't think it extends to Castro & communism, but basic lefty populism against the latifundia is fine by him.

TGGP said...

A latin egghead explains the link between Hugo Chavez and 19th century authoritarian romanticism here.

Christopher Paul said...

Anony-mouse, paleos have a natural soft spot for anti-American leftist despots, who tend to preach autarky and pal around with Israel's enemies.

adfasdfasdf said...

SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!

asdfasdfasf said...

Oliver Stone, like Norman Mailer and Paul Newman, belongs to club of TOUGH JEWS. They wanna find the harmony of the pen(or camera) with the sword, fist, stick, or gun.

Anonymous said...

Holy fuck!

Reddit (generally pro-Jewish, anti-Zionist, left-of-center) seems pissed with the Oliver Stone controversy!

The most up-voted comments would at any other time be considered antisemitic, but well, not now.

Sweet! The Israel-firsters are finally being exposed for what they really are.

http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/cunma/jewish_organizations_protest_oliver_stones/

Anonymous said...

""How many pairs of shoes do you own?" She immediately recognizes this reference to Imelda Marcos and chews an abashed Stone out for several minutes for his sexist impertinence."

Funny stuff. In Salvador he had a female reporter ask about womens rights in some scene where it was obviously preposterous. The man has an old school way with the ladies, something he probably likes about South/Central America. (Note the stache too. He probably thinks it makes him look like Che, the ideal figure of radical chic filmakers in LA.)

Anonymous said...

"Evo Morales says that genetically modified chicken is responsible for baldness & homosexuality in the first world."

Would that it were so--keep your kids from eating chicken.

It's a shame it's not that easily solved.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Steve has been open about his sympathy for the Latin American left.

The cynical HBD take on this would be that the corrupt Iberian overclass gets kicked out, and South Of The Border becomes more desirable for indigenous and mestizos to stay put instead of flooding northward.

Who knows? With lots of ethno-cultural homogeneity and plenty of natural resources, maybe they can become the Denmarks of South America.

I doubt it, but it sure would be nice.

Anonymous said...

"I can't recall Stone ever creating an interesting female character."

What about Juliette Lewis' deliciously evil character in "Natural Born Killers"?