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Oliver Stone's America

Exclusive to both the 6-Pack and 10-Pack version of Warner's Oliver Stone Collection, this DVD contains an hour-long documentary about the director, as well as one of his NYU film school projects. However, the "documentary" is really a 60-minute interview with Stone, and just as the disc is single-sided and single-layered, so is the interview — it is one of the most hagiographic Q&A sessions between a imperial director and a supplicant interlocutor that you will ever hear. Each question from the unidentified interviewer — who may be the doc's director, Charles Kiselyak, or possibly someone else (Norman Kagan's book on Stone and another book called Oliver Stone's U.S.A. both rest on the table in front of the interviewer) — begins with something like, "What really pisses me off about the critics is...." Stone himself uses the forum of this videotaped interview to rail against the critics who don't understand him, and frankly, this is unseemly behavior from a multiple Oscar winner, many of whose movies have triumphed in that court of public opinion, the box-office. Images from Stone's movies, including Salvador and Platoon, two movies not included in the boxed set, are interspersed throughout the interview, but this document hardly qualifies as a documentary. Clearly Stone wanted something akin to this film included in the set, but in addition to it one wishes that the manufacturers would have also included the real documentary simply called Oliver Stone. Made in 1992, it has been shown on PBS, and it is a much more interesting profile of the director. It's also a film in which the viewer can see Stone's mother — crucial, as Stone aficionados know about the horrific mothers who populate his films. However, as the supplemental disc exists now, it is for unquestioning Stone fans only. His early film, the 12-minute "Last Year in Viet Nam," is a quintessential example of the student film genre, if such there be — an oblique tale of a man waking up, walking around, and apparently thinking about something, while a woman narrator, in the style of the French New Wave, reads comments in French. Also included is an eight-screen talent profile of Stone. The static musical menu has no chapter stops. Snap-case.
—D.K. Holm

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