A puff piece disguised as a no-holds-barred profile, Oliver Stone: Inside Out confirms what you probably figured out from the film directors innumerable interviews to promote his recent JFK — that he’s a beguiling egomaniac who’s never going to let you get a fix on him.
Producer-directors Joel Sucher and Steven Fischler, who did an excellent Cinemax profile of Jessica Lange last August, trot briskly, chronologically, through the standard info on Stone: Vietnam vet who comes home to study film with Martin Scorsese; wins 1978 Oscar for Midnight Express script; bombs badly with his writer-director effort The Hand (great clip of Michael Caine getting his hand lopped off, though); cops to a period spent taking lots of drugs — cocaine ”and heroin, a little bit”; has a winning streak — Salvador, Platoon (great audition for Charlie Sheen miming smoking dope — muy convincing), Wall Street. Flops with Talk Radio and The Doors; explains America to itself with JFK. Somewhere in there, we’re shown home-video footage of a brooding Stone visiting Washington’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial; placed in this context, it’s unforgivably self-aggrandizing.
Best admiring quote comes from Spike Lee:”I would say that Oliver’s (film) style is to go upside you head with a Louisville Slugger repeatedly.” Most emotional scene: Stone reads some of his negative reviews aloud, sneers at them, and says, ”I’ve always thought of movies as a democratic medium…People will come if you touch their heart and soul, not if you touch a critic’s mind.” Oh, Ollie, you’re so brutally honest. Is it any wonder that New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael has said that one reason she retired was so she’d never have to see another Oliver Stone movie? Hope she doesn’t subscribe to Showtime…C+