Plot: What’s it about?
The films of Oliver Stone always cause some sort of rifts within the film realm, but they also tend to find a wealth of supporters and fans as well. Stone is often criticized for his taste in subject matter, quick edits, extended running times, and his free manipulation of history at times, but Stone still stands as one of the cornerstones of modern filmmaking. He has taken a lot of chances in his career, but in the end, he usually comes out of each film better than before. I haven’t liked some of recent films as much as his older work, but they still contain that personal stamp of his and they’re usually more than entertaining overall. I also like how Stone chooses topics that speak to him and works very closely with all aspects of the production, he doesn’t simply stand behind the camera, he has his fingerprints all over his movies. Always in the middle of some controversy, Stone manages to remain very human and is not above spoofing his own persona, like he did in the film Dave. Stone has always been among my favorite directors and if asked to name the very best, I would say Oliver Stone without hesitation. His films have a lot of power, emotion, and visual grace and unlike many movies these days, they usually offer some real food for thought.
As you can tell, I really like the work of Oliver Stone, so this documentary was made for someone like me. I’ve seen a wealth of interviews with Stone and other pieces on him, but Oliver Stone’s America offers a much deeper look at Stone and the films he has created. In this fifty-two minute documentary, we listen to Stone talk about his personal life, his creative drive, and of course, the motion pictures he has worked on. As Stone discusses the films, we’re shown various clips from them and that adds to the impact of Stone’s comments, which helps a lot. In addition to providing his thoughts on his movies, Stone also talks about his own private life and as a visual supplement, we’re shown footage from his home life also. So by the end of this piece, we can see a larger picture about Stone and his pictures, which I am sure will please his fans to no end. While this one runs a little short if you ask me, it is great to hear Stone’s comments and I think fans of his work will like this release a lot. But since this disc is offered only as part of Warner’s Oliver Stone Collection packs, I suppose this disc will only be in the hands of Stone’s fans, right?
Video: How does it look?
Oliver Stone’s America is shown in the intended full frame aspect ratio, while the film clips are shown in their original widescreen forms. The movie clips look decent enough, but it seems as though only the Any Given Sunday snippets were anamorphic, so the rest don’t seem as sharp by comparison. The interview is a simple piece, with Stone on one side and director Charles Kiselyak on other side, with Kiselyak tossing out ideas for Stone to respond to. In other words, there isn’t much visual flair here, but the basics seem to be covered. The colors look solid, flesh tones seem natural, and the black levels are well balanced, no real complaints in the end.
Audio: How does it sound?
Again, this is a basic presentation, so the included stereo track is more than enough to handle this material. The movie clips sound good too, though perhaps not as full as their normal releases would be, but there’s no reason to fuss over small details. The interview audio comes off well enough, the dialogue is very crisp and always at a proper volume. Not much else to discuss, as this track won’t use much range, but it handles the task in fine form. This disc also includes subtitles in English and French, in case you need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a talent file on Stone, as well as a short student film (Last Year In Viet Nam) of his.