Movies that are slightly off.
Based on a true story.
A second rated journalist from the US tries his luck in El Salvador during the military dictatorship in the 1980s.
Who knew Oliver Stone was once capable of doing a movie that didn't relentlessly attack your senses with hectic editing, flashy but hollow sequences and incredibly obvious messages?
Granted, Salvador has a rather blunt message front and center, but here it works, because the message actually has value and isn't some half-baked bullshit. Also the way this message of how the USA tends to build up regimes in foreign states to protect their interests is presented - via the angry rants by war photographer and his experiences in war-torn El Salvador - makes for an all-around powerful movie, whether you agree with its content or not.
Anchored by a borderline manic yet brilliant performance by James Woods as the aforementioned…
Fear and Loathing in Central America.
Between 1980 and 1992, El Salvador was ravaged by civil war, a war that pitted left wing guerrilla groups against a right wing military administration that was supported by Reagan's United States government. Reaganite policy was shaped by a fear of left wing prominence in territories like Salvador would mean a spread of communism into the US and so, with this paranoid thinking in mind, Regan sanctioned the repression of the people of El Salvador, and the use of state death squads who would assassinate, massacre and 'disappear' persons or people who proved to be a thorn in the side of their 'progress'. By the end of the war in 1992, more than 30,000…
This is FEAR AND LOATHING if Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo were war correspondents.
James Woods is a good here as he has ever been, and in my opinion, that's pretty damn good. He plays Richard Boyle, a down and out slime bag of a man, and even sleazier as a journalist. He leaves America with his buddy Dr. Rock, played by a barely tolerable James Belushi, and heads down to El Salvador to hopefully get some work as a war photographer.
The movie was Oliver Stone's first feature as a director, and it is very solid for a opening work. There is a knowledgeable hand behind both the camera and the story. The movie could be called exploitative, and…
Salvador is probably Oliver Stone's most underrated film - but it's also his darkest film. While shooting this film, he wasn't the Oliver Stone, the acclaimed director he is today.
James Woods stars as burned-out photojournalist Richard Boyle, a way too fast talking sleazeball whose career and family life have both imploded, leaving him broke and homeless. He's the type of guy who's always playing an angle somewhere, Boyle cons his only friend, a dipshit former radio DJ called Doctor Rock (Jim Belushi) into handing over his own last remaining dollars and joining Boyle on a road trip to Central America, where Boyle hopes to pick up stringer work covering the bloody civil war then raging in El Salvador. He…
Preceding Platoon in Stone's annus mirabilis, Salvador is a film of equal power. James Woods is possibly career-best as a cynical journalist who finds out he might not be quite as much of a bastard as he thought. It is a fairly obvious character arc on paper but it's executed without mawkishness and in a perfectly believable fashion.
John Savage also steals scenes left, right and centre as a messianic photo journalist, but the real stars are Stone's direction and scripting, which make El Salvador a terrifying powder keg, full of intimidating militarised thugs who seem to kill on a whim, giving the film a genuine atmosphere of danger.
A jarringly uneven tone and a preachy sentiment bordering on cringeworthy, Salvador is Oliver Stone at his most "Oliver Stone'y". Using a a real-life episode of incredible pain and destruction to showcase his political leanings seems quite distasteful to me. The dialogue at times made me shudder. Between the "I love America but I'm actually a lefty" exclamations of James Woods and the "I'm too comical to fit credibly into this movie" James Belushi, this movie feels like a mess.
A well shot, remarkably well scored, decently edited mess.
Oh... and that woman from Predator's in it.
The editing was kind of haphazard, but James woods is kind of amazing in this.
Bits of this were truly horrific - if you've seen it, you'll know which bit I mean in particular - but it's a powerful film that doesn't treat such scenes as major set pieces, they're sinply part of the reality of the film.
James Woods is the reason to watch this, his manic, crazy character tearing through Salvador is fun to watch. And even though he's probably insane, he's a character you're rooting for all the way through - he's not a good guy, but you can't hate him.
But, if anything, it might be Jim Belushi, acting as comic relief / audience member that pulls the film back, just a little bit.
The ending as well, was far from the gut punch it was most likely intended to be...
Still, this is a great Oliver Stone movie, with performances and scenes that you won't soon shake from memory.
Oliver Stone has an addiction to pushing a pacifist agenda on the audience, typically at the expense of narrative coherence. It sometimes seems he'd be more comfortable as a career director of histrionic, florid social-conscience documentaries -- eventually a genre he'd shift to in the 2000s.
Such a career trajectory would however deprive us of the highs of SALVADOR, Stone's second major film. Despite his inexperience as a director, the picture bursts with several vividly choreographed and staged crowd sequences that belie its modest budget. Stone immerses us in the panic and confusion of the Salvadorean conflict of the early 1980s. James Woods, who Pauline Kael called "the most hostile of all American actors," is our guide: a True-Story burnout…
A great drama with a really good performance from James Woods. Oliver Stone's direction is good. It's kind of hard to believe the guy who crapped out atrocities Alexander and mediocrities like Savages directed this movie.
While the performances are well done and the pace is fairly good, Oliver Stone just can't get away from the innate preachiness of what he's doing. I don't even necessarily agree or disagree with him but that also seems beside the point. I think there are times his preaching has been at least less obnoxious but I don't think this is a movie that will stick with me.
The main reason to watch is obviously James Woods' performance. The mixture of weasel-eyed self-preservation, reckless abandon, and nervous intelligence makes him an unlikely, but believable protagonist, even if the character arc detailing his redemption feels a bit forced. Stone's politics are here in full force, with the ends often hoping to justify the occasionally questionable means. I might bristle a bit at the way that he treats a female reporter who's content to sell the company line on the network news, but it's tough to debate the fact that the public isn't often well-informed about the United States' diplomatic roles in third world countries.
At first, Salvador seems to be an analogue to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: louche journalist and slovenly associate take a red convertible on a depraved journey to an untamed place that they think will provide some answers for them. But being the '80s version of that story, Salvador offers less hope, personal enlightenment, or even product of suffering.
Then I looked at it as a formative early film for Stone. Here's a theory: In Oliver Stone films that work, the hero is a victim of circumstance (JFK, Any Given Sunday, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July). In Oliver Stone films that do not work, the hero created all of the trouble for himself due to his own…
How much more appreciated would this film be if it didn't come out the same year as Platoon? James Woods is firing on all cylinders in this one and so is Stone. This is right up there with the rest of Stone's acclaimed works. I think Wood's performance, the anti CIA foreign intervention that rings true today, and the flairy camera work simulating the journalists picture taking puts this a little over Platoon as my personal favorite of his.
Also huge bonus points for being one of two movies that actually makes me like Jim Belushi.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!