view from the hill

A look at the elements and events that come into view from where I'm standing...
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... the stuff that matters in this life. Some flicker and are gone in a matter of hours
only to live in memory, others become life long travelling companions, never far from reach.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Alexander: an Oliver Stone travesty

The hair is the least of the problems with this film. What a piece of crap.

My name sake, and the film director who we all wanted to grow up to be, have been soiled, sullied, undermined, and cheapened. Alexander is a slog through ancient history that reduces the greatest military general of all time, to a yawn. Worse, he’s a weak gay with too much eye liner and a cheap family complex. Who cares?

alexanderI expected it to be bad, but it was awful in wholely new and unexpected ways. Words cannot describe the depths of my disappointment with my former hero. It’s a farce, but not in the bloated, sepia-toned way you’d expect from the Oliver Stone of the Doors and Born on the 4th. It's just poorly conceived and poorly executed. The acting is bad, there's no sense of rhythm to the storytelling, it’s poorly shot and edited, and poorly laid out. For all the talk of the gods, "by Zeus" this, and "by Hera" that, there's no sense of the mythology that these guys were living and playing out. Alexander was a guy obsessed with the myths of the Trojans and Greeks. But we don’t get that here. Jim Morrison in the Doors had more mythology to him than this romp.

It’s interesting that Oliver Stone chose to make the film of the third act of Alexander’s life. He glosses over his childhood, rise to fame, uniting the tribes of Macedonia and Greece, and setting out to conquer the Near East, something his father never did. There’s also the whole bit about him sacking one city after another, the relentless march of his army through Turkey and into Egypt, and his founding of Alexandria and being named a Pharaoh. This is a huge rise to fame and fortune. It’s the whole reason his army and generals thought he was invincible, and it was no wonder they all believed he was a descendent of the gods.

But Mr. Stone ignores all this and picks up the story with act three, the long slog east into India. It's here where things start to go pear-shaped for our boy king. He’s in over his head. The troops want to go home. There’s a near mutiny.

Oliver Stone was poised for a grand comeback after languishing in near-obscurity for the past few years. But this ain’t it. The story this film is telling seems to be the story of Stone’s life at this point. He’s in his own third act, he's past his prime. Instead of reinventing himself, shedding overblown expectations and layers of piled-on importance, he’s forging on ahead with bombastic plans, headlong into lands where he has no right to be. He's an aging rock star who, banging away in front of his bemused fans, doesn't know when to unplug and breath new life into classic songs.

I think I'll go watch Talk Radio or Salvador, films that are truly great.