Some people need to be seen live, in person in order to get a better sense of who they really are.
In person, Al Gore comes across as well versed and well spoken, a far cry from the stiff bore persona on display in so many news stories... and the satirical stylings of Darryl Hammond on Saturday Night Live. The late director Anthony Minghella, an Oscar winner for The English Patient, was nothing less than sweet and gracious. More recently, Danny Boyle, the director of 127 Hours, turned out to be extremely charming and mighty funny.
But what about Oliver Stone? At times a polarizing figure, would the man brought on stage be a devil or an angel?
In Stone’s case, the reality is somewhere in between. As he teased with Ron Bostwick, BIFF’s Executive Producer of Special Events, he was born William Oliver Stone and there is a duality to his nature. There’s a William and there’s an Oliver. And the internal conflict provides fertile ground for his creativity.
Luckily, both sides made an appearance Sunday evening, when Stone visited BIFF as the recipient of the festival’s Master of Cinema award.
As was to be expected, the director of the football flick Any Given Sunday bashed Bill O’Reilly’s ‘rude’ interview of President Obama during the Super Bowl. Stone also poked fun at James Woods’ switchover to a ‘right-winger’ while sharing some bizarre experiences he had while filming on location with the volatile actor.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much the extent of the political Stone, aside from some chatter regarding JFK and his subsequent cameo in Dave, in which Stone hatches a grandiose new presidential conspiracy theory. It was a move to soften his image in the wake of his controversial take on John Kennedy’s assassination.
The topic of Hugo Chavez didn’t come up during the conversation. Chavez was relegated to a cameo role via a clip from South of the Border during the retrospective film reel. Neither was Fidel Castro’s name mentioned. Stone interviewed the Cuban dictator in the documentary Comandante.
Given the director’s obvious leftward leanings, the evening presented what might be something of a spin on Stone’s antics. There was a sense that Stone relishes working as a devil’s advocate.
During the audience Q&A session, a military man interested in filmmaking expressed his appreciation for Stone’s work and asked what advice Stone could give him. Stone, a Vietnam vet, replied by jokingly asking if he was looking for advice on getting out of the army or advice on getting into filmmaking. Stone suggested he should get the Pentagon to pony up the money for him to make a movie. Then, flashing the grin of the Cheshire cat, Stone said he should then turn around and make a movie bashing the Pentagon.