Written by Michael Carlson
Published by Pocket Essentials
Publication Date: 2002
Format: Black /White – 96 pages
Another releases from the cute little pocket essential reads. This one gives tribute to the director Oliver Stone and his great collection of film work. While on the most part I do enjoy these books, this one came more with a love and hate relationship taste in my mouth. The author Michael Carlson, while a fine writer has a bit of a problem with Stone’s history and work. On the positive end I was happy to see a book dedicated to Stone’s genius. There are so few on the market that any book is better than none. I felt the author though wasn’t a huge Stone fan. There is enough accolades to please the public but not enough to convince me otherwise. Alot of mention is directed towards Stone as a rebel, a drug addict , a problem child, a mixed director talent of political views and a bit of jealously even from an authors point of view.
With some many great works and accomplishments, I expected more attention to the analogies rather than always repeating the same stuff as the previous review. The book provides plenty of pages of synopsis information that is told very blandly and “as a matter of fact”. In fact it reads more like the author was in a rush than a smooth journey of words. Then the film ends on analysis of the material which is weak on the most part. Films like Natural Born Killers, Platoon and Talk Radio hold much more deep analysis information than is presented. We get more of a quick here’s what I think…move on to the next film. In that regard the book is way too short for a Stone book. At least a double sized edition is required for a proper Stone coverage of material. And like other book from this series, Stone has alot more films to cover than others. He should be given that length of coverage to work out the details. We do get a few informative fact along the way that are helpful and great for trivia hounds. Moments as these paint a clearer picture of the system of things and what decisions were made along the way. It is also clear that the system enjoys Stone as much as he rebels and embraces it at the same time.
Carlson paints us a picture of Oliver Stone. I don’t think its very nice picture. We get reminded constantly of his drug use, Hollywood courting’s and vietnam experience that it doesn’t move past those facts too often. As much as you’d expect more of a celebration, it belabors on faults way too much.
For instance the film Natural Born Killers was a media sensation and hated by critics. Alot of the visuals are informative, sensationalist and comparative to much of our culture issue that it could be analyzed to greater extent. The editing work is nothing short of phenomenal and should be noted as such. Instead we get more about the fact that Tarantino was pissed off than a overview of the work itself. The Doors, another great achievement. Again approached rather bland and haphazardly instead of its great contribution as a music based film.
My thoughts are, readers should appreciate this for the simple fact that its a Stone book on a great director. If you are a fan of his work, the read provides references to his films, screenplays and other books on the market which can be a prize in itself. The narrative is bit biased and mixed as I’d prefer so take that with a grain of salt. Truth be told every film (that I’ve seen) listed on the cover has been a celebration of great filmmaking. Film lovers should take note on the titles and seek them out if you haven’t already. Oliver Stone is one of those few and far between talents that make cinema that much more engaging and exciting. So do yourself a favor and give it whirl!
Available at www.pocketessentials.com
Also available at: Amazon