Tag Archives: Oliver Stone

OLIVER STONE’S ALEXANDER — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Bursting with over-sized ambition, ferocious amounts of energy, and fever-pitch emotion that’s never afraid to go over the top, Oliver Stone’s gargantuan period epic Alexander is one of the best modern evocations of ancient history that’s ever been crafted, and easily the most underrated film of Stone’s legendary career. I’ll never understand the unnecessary hate that was piled upon this remarkable achievement upon first release; I think it’s because Stone dared to challenge familiar genre ingredients that people were hesitant to the film’s many strengths, from the non-linear narrative to the positively overwhelming battle sequences that put every other depiction of cinematic “Sword and Sandal” combat to shame. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that the “war-elephant” fight in the jungle, to say nothing of the massive Battle of Gaugamela set-piece, is the single greatest battle scene of its type ever captured on film – relentless, beyond bloody, and truly terrifying — it’s positively hellish to observe, with Stone totally flipping out, even going so far as to show what would happen if an elephant stepped on your face. Rodrigo Prieto’s muscular, hugely expansive, and utterly breathtaking widescreen cinematography is always a sensuous treat, the fired-up screenplay is filled with boisterous speechifying and juicy political intrigue, the immense and soaring musical score by Vangelis reaches for the stars, and the performances range from small to large from a ridiculously stacked cast.

Colin Farrell gave it everything and more and left nothing to spare in a performance that clearly grabbed him from the inside; just look at his eyes in some of the scenes in this film and tell me he’s not insanely aligned with his character. And then you have Angelina Jolie at the absolute pinnacle of her silver-screen hotness – a true serpent/vixen of a role for the ultimate cinematic cobra. Jared Leto, Christopher Plummer, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins, Val Kilmer and a plethora of “faces” all robustly spiced up the ensemble, while the extravagant and eye-filling production design by Jan Roelfs contributed to the verisimilitude of the entire film. Yes, it’s campy in spots, but likely intentionally so, as the various subtexts and themes are explored in an upfront fashion. But for the most part, this is a deadly serious tapestry of people, places, events, and moments, all patched together in that fabulously unhinged Stone fashion, where the storytelling and filmmaking demonstrates a live-wire spark. The dense script was highly interested in the various characters and their unique motivations, and there’s a sense of gusto to just about every facet of this film that never ceases to impress. This is bravura filmmaking, made by a master director who clearly possessed a true passion for the material, which makes the entire production feel all the more compelling. I saw this film twice theatrically, I own every permutation of the picture that’s been released on DVD/Blu-ray thus far, and I feel that Stone’s recent and most definitive cut is the absolute best that’s been offered. This is a project that Stone seemingly cannot let go of, a film that has driven one of our most challenging and distinctive filmmakers potentially insane.

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PTS PROUDLY PRESENTS CINEMATOGRAPHERS CORNER WITH SALVATORE TOTINO

CINEMATOGRAPHERS CORNER

Podcasting Them Softly is extremely proud to present a Special Edition CINEMATOGRAPHER’S CORNER POWERCAST with director of photography Salvatore Totino. For the last 16 years, Salvatore has been shooting films for an extremely impressive roster of filmmakers. Oliver Stone drafted him for his big-screen debut on ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, which catapulted him into the top ranks of working cinematographers after he displayed an aggressively visceral camera style unnamedon Stone’s gridiron epic. He was then scooped up by Ron Howard and over the years he’s shot seven films for him, including all three Robert Langdon adventures – THE DAVINCI CODE, ANGELS AND DEMONS, and next year’s INFERNO, as well as the historical drama FROST/NIXON, the revisionist western THE MISSING starring Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett, and the relationship comedy THE DILEMMA. Other credits include moody and stylish work on Roger Michell’s underrated drama CHANGING LANES, and later this fall, he has two big films coming out in theaters – the star-studded mountain climbing adventure EVEREST and the NFL brain-trauma expose CONCUSSION, which stars Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, David Morse, and Albert Brooks. Welcome to the show Salvatore, it’s an honor to get a chance to speak with you!

PTS Proudly Presents CINEMATOGRAPHERS CORNER with Seamus McGarvey

SEAMUS REEL

IMG_1947Podcasting Them Softly is extremely proud to present our first Special Edition CINEMATOGRAPHER’S CORNER POWERCAST with two time Oscar nominated director of photography Seamus McGarvey. For the last 25 years, Seamus has been putting together an amazing and eclectic body of work that stretches all genres and styles, with just some of his credits including THE WAR ZONE for Tim Roth, HIGH FIDELITY for Stephen Frears, THE HOURS for Stephen Daldry, Oliver Stone’s THE WORLD TRADE CENTER, the unforgettable and chilling family drama WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN from director Lynn Ramsay, Joss Whedon’s THE AVENGERS, last summer’s blockbuster GODZILLA, this past winter’s worldwide phenomenon 50 SHADES OF GREY, and four huge collaborations with director Joe Wright including ATONEMENT, ANNA KARENINA, THE SOLOIST, and this Fall’s extremely exciting looking PAN, which is a new spin on the classic tale of Peter Pan.  He two upcoming projects are Gavin O’Connor’s THE ACCOUNTANT staring Ben Affleck and Tom Ford’s next film NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.  He’s one of the most in demand cinematographers of his generation, and it was an honor to speak with him. Enjoy!