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By David Poland


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50 Responses to “W”

  1. Joe Straat says:

    Video’s no longer available. I know there reasons are why studios constantly remove things like this that are used to PROMOTE THEIR DAMN PRODUCT, but it still seems mighty stupid.

  2. Joe Straat says:

    UGH! It’s “are reasons,” not “reasons are.”

  3. Even for the fraction of a second you see Glenn Close as Barbara Bush and Richard Dreyfuss as Mr. Cheney, possibilities bloom.

  4. I should have said “Ellen Burstyn” as Mrs. Bush and I also neglected the quick glimpse of Toby Jones as Karl Rove.

  5. scooterzz says:
    that one is working for now….
    this so looks like a tv biopic….i can’t believe i’m actually looking forward to it….

  6. David Poland says:

    New one up…

  7. Nicol D says:

    I remember a few years ago I had a night to kill and wanted to watch something older that affected me as a teen. I settled on Good Morning Vietnam, which for me had been very groundbreaking in terms of ironic music, blending comedy and drama etc.
    By the time I got to the montage of “What a Wonderful World” juxtaposed with the scenes of the horror and carnage of war, that sequence which had so affected me as a teen, seemed impotent. Not only had that strategy been overplayed, but the exact same song had been used to the same effect in everything from Bowling for Columbine to Twelve Monkeys and many more.
    That Stone (a filmmaker I actually have met and admire and have defended here many times) uses this as the showcase for his W trailer points to the lack of originality and artistic breadth within. It’s like if a young hot director had a new pulp crime flick and wanted to use Dick Dale’s Misirlou not realizing QT used it iconically for the theme to Pulp Fiction years earlier.
    I am sure with Brolin being as hot as he is now, critics will line up to give this film a pass and a free handjob on the way out the door. For them it will represent a return to form after the alleged “right wing” turn of WTC.
    Truth is, if this is the best Stone has to offer, he really is past his due date. I take no relish in that. Artistically, this is the work of a director who is passed his prime desperately trying to stay relevant.

  8. Noah says:

    While I’ll reserve final judgment until I actually see the movie, I agree with most of what you said Nicol. I think the mere fact that he is willing to spend over a year of his life (and considerable talent) on a project that can, at its best, resemble a good made for TV movie speaks to where Oliver Stone is at as a filmmaker these days.
    World Trade Center, then the Bush presidency, it’s clear that he wants to stay relevant by using the biggest current topics, but while I liked World Trade Center, it was not an Oliver Stone film. It shied away from anything controversial, which is fine, but several other filmmakers could have made that film. And with W, if Stone isn’t intending on it being a comedy, then this looks like a serious waste of a lot of talent and a lot of time.

  9. The Pope says:

    Nicole D.,
    Like you I defend Stone and so, I am in fear of agreeing with you. However, I got the feeling that the movie is going to be a comedy.. I just can’t take some of those buffoons seriously. I have not read the script, nor know anyone who has, but IF it plays the way I am sensing it from the trailer… well, I think it could be a little bit like Animal House i.e., a Frat Boy meets Capra (only W’s redemption is the near damnation of everyone else).
    Also, I’m not too worried about the use of “What a Wonderful World.” It is after all, only the trailer and marketing always throw things in there for a short cut to emotional cues.
    But I repeat all that is only IF…

  10. mysteryperfecta says:

    Nicol, I think your conclusions are overreaching and harsh. One song choice in a trailer, and now Stone is artistically bankrupt?
    I think the trailer is pretty good, although I’ll be shocked if the film is even-handed, as Stone insists it will be.

  11. Geoff says:

    It’s not a bad trailer, though I really don’t see why Stone can’t wait a few years for this – for even the people who can’t stand W, bashing him is getting a little stale at this point.
    Let’s not get too crazy about the songs, people – I mean, if we’re going to be so hard on Stone about using that song (and it IS a different version, at least), then why don’t we take Scorcese for task for his complete overuse of Gimme Shelter?!

  12. Eric says:

    I’m reminded of the Charlie Wilson’s War trailer, which used the boomer-beloved song “American Pie” for a movie set in the 1980s.
    Facile use of an iconic song in a trailer or movie is a pretty good sign that somebody is phoning it in.
    One of the reasons I loved the Tropic Thunder trailer is that they totally exploited this convention by using Dusty Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” which has been in every single war movie ever made, anywhere, period.

  13. scooterzz says:

    i agree with the pope that the song could have easily been the fault of the marketing department…
    i also think that (no matter the script or what stone trys to do) much of the audience is going to see this as, if not a comedy, at least laughable….
    Other than a high-end cast, i saw nothing in the trailer that looked different from the delightfully bad biopics that show up on the lifetime channel.

  14. Dunderchief says:

    Dusty Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” is almost as good a song as Neil Young’s “Son of a Preacher Man.”

  15. yancy says:

    Jumpin’ Jesus! It’s BUFFALO Springfield, the band (w/ Stephen Stills and Neil Young), not Dusty Springfield, the English pop singer.

  16. christian says:

    Hot damn, that looks good.
    And trailer music is rarely used in the film.

  17. Eric says:

    Yep, Yancy’s right. Oops.

  18. waterbucket says:

    Doesn’t seem all that special. Will wait for the reviews.

  19. LuckyWilbury says:

    I’d LOVE to hear Dusty Springfield doing
    “For What It’s Worth” and Neil Young
    singing “Son Of A Preacher Man.”
    Anybody have boots of these?

  20. The Pope says:

    I think a piece of music that was a favorite for trailer cutters was the theme from Millers Crossing. I recognized it in so many that I couldn’t even name them now. Another one was Horner’s brilliant score for Aliens.

  21. Nicol D says:

    “Facile use of an iconic song in a trailer or movie is a pretty good sign that somebody is phoning it in.”
    Exactly. I am a firm believer that the choice of music for a film is very much indicative of where a director’s head is at. That is why I love Stone’s NBK. Why I love Lynch’s Wild at Heart and Lost Highway.
    I do not care if “What a Wonderful World” is used in the actual film or not. The trailer is here to give us the first glimpse of what is to come. Stone would have chosen/approved the music. It is lame, obvious and repetitive and many other greater and lesser known directors have already used it for the same reason. To show the irony of the music vesus the violence on screen (or in the case of W, the ignorant bliss of W to the effects of violence/Iraq).
    Even if you agree with this thesis, it shows Stone is giving you nothing stylistically you haven’t seen before. The reference to Tropic Thunder is exactly the point. They perfectly parody the type of music we are so used to hearing in this type of film.
    Feel free to love the trailer or the film. I even love Oliver Stone and own most of his movies. But this trailers first impression on me was made. Stone is going for the cliche cinematic version of this story and I am sure the soundtrack will be a greatest hits album of the Vietnam era. May play great on my turntable, but it does not point to a great film on my TV.

  22. mutinyco says:

    Well… considering that most of the time filmmakers aren’t involved in the cutting of the trailers… is there any evidence that Stone chose the music?…

  23. christian says:

    Niocol D., methinks you don’t like this trailer as much as you may like Mr. Bush hisself?

  24. LexG says:

    Long as we’re on this tangent, “To the Stars” from the DRAGONHEART soundtrack was maybe the most egregiously overused bit of trailer music of the late ’90s. “Aliens” is indeed offered up a lot when this subject comes up, but to YouTube Newman’s Dragonheart piece is to be brought back to every “rousing/sad/epic” trailer moment of that era.
    Can’t find a proper link for this one, but you’d be amazed how many times the “Come See the Paradise” score has been used (usually for courtroom flicks.)
    Anyway, on topic, looks a whole lot goofier and TV-ish than one would expect, though Stone has repeatedly said it’s light and funny, and it was obviously done very quickly and on the fly.
    Obviously Bush fans won’t want to see this, but will anyone? Regardless of quality, I’m thinking no.

  25. Dunderchief says:

    LexG, I think this is the link you’re looking for:
    It’s a great resource.

  26. Hopscotch says:

    Trailer Music: One of the cues from Stargate was used a lot for many years.
    And Shawshank’s gets used often too.
    I’ve watched this trailer five times, and I can’t decide if I love it or loathe it. Sure it’s a teaser, but something about that final shot of Bush jogging…that perplexed look on his face… I’ve GOT TO SEE THIS!
    And Cromwell is one of the all-time underrated actors. Some of the work he does is amazing, while many says he’s one-note. I can’t wait to see him in this.

  27. mysteryperfecta says:

    I still think you’re putting too much emphasis on the first impression. It is reminiscent of the rox/sux mentality that is so pervasive on the internet. And no matter how good a full trailer might be, you’ve already deducted points. In fact, you and Noah have seemly deducted points from the actual movie.
    Point is, you don’t have to. I didn’t. Others didn’t. No essay necessary.

  28. mysteryperfecta says:

    “And Cromwell is one of the all-time underrated actors. Some of the work he does is amazing, while many says he’s one-note.”
    One-note? Who are these people? Have they never seen Babe? A pox on them.

  29. The Big Perm says:

    I would as anyone who says that it looks simply like a tv movie…what would you say about Wall Street, Nixon, Talk Radio or Born on the Fourth of July? He wasn’t reinventing the cinematic wheel on those movies, he was just telling interesting stories.
    In this day and age, any drama is like a “tv movie” because we expect the camera to always be swooping up people’s noses and out of their ears, or have dudes in leather throwing each other into explosions.

  30. movieman says:

    Damn, I can’t believe all the negativity being spewed about the “W” trailer.
    I thought it looked terrific, and who cares that “What a Wonderful World” has been overexposed since “Good Morning Vietnam” (where it was used brilliantly, I might add)? The song will probably never make it into the movie anyway.
    The thing I’m most impressed by is the apparent speed with which Stone made the damn thing. Didn’t principal photography start around Memorial Day? If nothing else, that should be an object lesson to all of the prima donna directors out there who spend a year (or better) on a film with nothing to show for it.
    My only criticism (and it’s a minor one) is that all of the actors are so much better-looking than their historical personages. But who’d want to look at actors as ugly as Bar and Laura Bush for two hours? And hey, it’s Hollywood after all.
    I agree with Lex, though. I’m still not convinced that anyone is going to pay to see it. Bush bashers loathe him so much they won’t go anywhere near the movie; and Bush apologists will feel the same way for completely opposite reasons. It’s sort of a lose/lose proposition.
    And Mystery, you are so right about Cromwell/”Babe”! That film is still one of my top favorites of the past 20 years. And anyone who’s seen “L.A. Confidential” knows that he can play sleazeballs with tremendous panache. In fact, that “LA Con” role should serve him well in essaying Poppy (“The Anti-Christ”) Bush.

  31. LexG says:

    I think I said TV-ish more because of the montage-like name-checking second half, which has everything to do with the cutting of the trailer and probably nothing to do with Stone’s filmmaking. The first half indeed looks rowdy and loose and “U-Turn”/”NBK”-ish in terms of mise en scene; Once the song kicks in and we get the roll-call of celebs in makeup, it can’t help but seem a little like an HBO flick. Nothing really wrong with that, it’s just the vibe that it gives off.
    I’d agree that “Wall Street” and “Talk Radio” are fairly straightforward, but “Born on the Fourth” and especially “Nixon” were extremely cinematic, flamboyant even.

  32. Noah says:

    Movieman, I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on the speed with which Stone is making the movie until you see it. Maybe he’ll prove that it doesn’t take much time to make a great movie or maybe he’ll show us that making a movie quickly results in something thrown together and creaky. I guess that’s the ultimate point, though: it’s just a trailer. But for those of us (myself included) who thought it was a bad idea from the start, we can only see the flaws we thought would be there.

  33. movieman says:

    I’m just surprised that he’s even gotten enough usable (and good-looking) footage for the marketing department to throw together such a solid trailer in under 3 months Noah.
    Even if the film turns out to be a bust, I’m still a little in awe that–in this day and age particularly–an Oscar-winning director can work so….fast. I guess Steven Soderbergh has some competition in that department after all.
    Am I the only one who’s been noticing the quiet, sustained success of “Tell No One”? Last weekend it scored a sweet $5,478-per-screen average at 77 theaters. It’s current domestic cume stands at $1.65-million: not bad for a foreign-language film. I’m still waiting for someone to announce that U.S. remake rights have been sold to a major; and that Ed Norton has been signed to play the lead.
    And it looks like I was half-right about Picturehouse’s summer slate:
    “Kit Kittredge” tanked as I predicted (despite the fantasy projections of many who optimistically tagged it as the little girl equivalent to “S&TC”), but “Mongol” never did cross over to the ‘plexes as I’d hoped it might. Maybe in a different season “Mongol” could’ve stood a chance. I still think it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.

  34. bmcintire says:

    I’m digging that they chose to use such a white-bread version of the song (rather than the traditional Louis Armstrong cut). It would only have been better had they gone whole-hog and used the Glen Campbell cover.

  35. IOIOIOI says:

    I loathe the man, but the movie based on his life looks interesting. So… wooo.

  36. L.B. says:

    It’s a moderately clever trailer considering it’s made for people who don’t necessarily know it’s for W when they first see it. If it popped up as another preview in the theater it would look like another young-guy-running-wild movie and then oops it’s about the president. Not bad. Could stir some interest in people who would have a different image of it if they were just told it’s a movie about Bush made by Stone.
    I love the casting. Looking forward to it.

  37. LexG says:

    Can BARRY be that AWESOME? Not from the looks of it; Dude already has to speech it up the first sign anyone’s criticizing him; Not W. W. just keeps on OWNING and doesn’t address the complainers. THAT’S presidential. THAT’S awesome.
    THIRD TIME. At least Bush is INTERESTING and COOL and not BORING.

  38. Martin S says:

    OK. It’s a movie about an aimless young man who uses drugs, has a less-than-stellar professional life, but somehow becomes president.
    Isn’t Brolin a little to white to play Obama?

  39. Spacesheik says:

    This looks good. Richard Dreyfuss as Cheney – fucking brilliant and it looks like Scott Glen will nail Rumsfeld although I would have gone with Nick Nolte.
    If Oliver Stone shoots, edits and scores this like JFK and NIXON, quick cuts, various film stocks, time photography symbolism, a rousing John Williams score then I am sold. I thought NIXON was one of the best movies of the 1990s, a true classic, especially the Directors version with Sam Waterston.
    Alas I think Stone might be going for more lighter approach with this film…

  40. Spacesheik says:

    LexG – righto, flawed heroes always make more interesting characters – lets us not forget that Bush up to age 40 or so had one professional misfire after another, changing jobs, unable to live up to his ‘name,’ father or brother’s success’ – it is even more tragic that this flawed late bloomer had a very polarazing presidency, now mired in inflation, unending war and conflict, a massive deficit etc. History will not be kind.

  41. IOIOIOI says:

    Martin: oh snap! Someone dislikes Obama and he’s a freakin Hollywood Agent! Watch out people! HE’S CRAZY!

  42. movieman says:

    In 1991, Stone released “The Doors” in early March and “J.F.K.” at Christmas. The accelerated production sked certainly didn’t hurt the latter. It’s still my favorite Stone joint.

  43. Roman says:

    I should be angry.
    With this and, to a lesser extent, “World Trade Center”, Stone could be doing the biggest about face the industry has seen in the recent years.
    And it’s not pretty.
    What this trailer did quite successfuly in just over a minute is to give us a pretty idea in the direction the movie is heading. And I for one find W, the misunderstood, fish-out-of-the-water Prexy who really honestly was trying his best and everything that went wrong wasn’t really his fault because the people deserved what they got and who was surrounded by much smarter but actually a lot dumber cabinet members and all said it’s amazing that the situation isn’t alot worse than it currently is but forget it because you actually shouldn’t be liking this abortion of a president but whoops it’s already too late kind of thing.
    I’ve had the screenplay for a while but didn’t read it. Could someone who knows Stone’s views better than I do tell me if this is going to be a fiasco on the scale of ‘Life of David Gale’ (where left wingers unwittingly bite their own ass with an ending of profound stupidity) or if Stone actually belives this shit (and did all along)?

  44. SmilingPolitely says:

    Here are some few quotes from Stone over the past couple of years on Bush, judge for yourself:
    “I see George Bush as a synthetic person. He

  45. SmilingPolitely says:

    Here are a few quotes from Stone over the past couple of years on Bush, judge for yourself:
    “I see George Bush as a synthetic person. He

  46. christian says:

    Stone is being rather generous in his comments.

  47. SmilingPolitely says:

    Stone on Iraq:

  48. SmilingPolitely says:

    Stone on Iraq:

  49. SmilingPolitely says:

    Dammit, I thought it didn’t post…

  50. christian says:

    I agree with every single thing Oliver said there.
    This president is such a terrible joke on our nation and world that you have to laugh. Bush is proof that despite our country’s tech miracles, we are collectively still ape people. Led by apes.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon