With Oliver Stone’s Savages coming to cinemas across the UK imminently, we’re taking the opportunity to have a look at the very best of his filmography. Spanning over 40 years in its entirety, Stone’s career has been equal parts writer, director, and producer – he even has a penchant for turning up in cameo roles from time-to-time. Savages returns to the familiar ‘power corrupts’ themes consistent in so many of Stone’s works, but it also heralds something of a departure from his more familiar political grounds. This time it’s all about marijuana, drug cartels, and ludicrously attractive young actors. May the good times roll when Savages comes to cinemas from Friday September 21 featuring stars Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek.
“Say Hello, To My Little Friend!” – the quote that spawned a million posters. And it was a quote straight from the quill of Oliver Stone, who made his name as the scriptwriter of this iconic 80s flick before his move into mainstream directing. Stone’s natural talent for the medium was plainly evident at this early stage too, not only bringing memorable one-liners to the production with apparent ease, but also nailing a unique tone for the timeless character of Tony Montana. Like Quentin Tarantino with True Romance then, Scarface allows us to see Stone’s vision laid bare without the razzle-dazzle of his directorial style layered over the top.
The movie that put Charlie Sheen on the map (and Johnny Depp in a bit part), Platoon also showcased Stone’s still blossoming directorial talent at the highest level for the first time. It was a spectacle that would become a launch pad for the careers of its supporting cast as well – Willem Dafoe, John C. McGinley, and Forest Whittaker to name but a few. Inspired by Stone’s own experiences of the Vietnam War when he enlisted (by request) in the 25th Infantry Division and won a Purple Heart for his services, Platoon is arguably his magnum opus and sits among the greatest Vietnam War movies of all time.
Cameo appearance: Alpha Company Major in bunker.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that Oliver Stone made Charlie Sheen’s career. First Platoon and then Wall Street – beyond Hot Shots, it’s hard to think of any truly great movies that Sheen’s starred in since. Wall Street was released at the pinnacle of 80s boom, decadence and greed, with a character in Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gecko who’s since become the pop culture shorthand for a ruthless business shark. Dedicated to Stone’s father, who worked on Wall Street throughout most of his life, Wall Street remains one of his most socially critical works to date.
Cameo appearance: Wall Street trader.
As it re-examined the investigations surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, Oliver Stone’s JFK also stoked the smouldering embers of ‘Who Shot JFK?’ conspiracy theories nearly 30 years after that tragic day. While many of the supposed investigations of New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner in his heyday) had been heavily dramatised based on strands of historical fact, JFK nonetheless shone the light back on an assassination that still lacks a full explanation to this day. It remains a chilling piece of political criticism, and one of Oliver Stone’s classic visions of corruption at the highest levels of society.
Natural Born Killers
Following on a couple of years after JFK, Natural Born Killers took Stone’s directing style in bold new directions. With a more psychedelically shot production that marked a departure from Stone’s trademark realism, Natural Born Killers told a killing spree story for the ages alongside the likes of Falling Down and more recent productions such as God Bless America or Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers. Arguably the granddaddy of them all, Natural Born Killers takes us deep within the psyches of mass murdering husband and wife duo, Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis), refusing to let go until viewers are suitably traumatised.
Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Johnson), a peaceful and charitable Buddhist, and his closest friend Chon (Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry—raising some of the best marijuana ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia (Lively). Life is idyllic in their Southern California town…until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them.
When the merciless head of the BC, Elena (Hayek), and her brutal enforcer, Lado (Del Toro), underestimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon—with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (Travolta)—wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills. www.savagesthemovie.co.uk
Savages is released nationwide in UK, from tomorrow Friday 21st September.