Oliver Stone is one of the worst film makers I know. Platooni is possibly his best production, but that best truly works in the sense of "best" as used in "best nag at the glue factory".
It's profoundly yet ineptly falsifying, for one thing. By Stone's dim lights, tactical enounters in Vietnam were won on the strength of superior heroism of the commanding officers, even if the grit and mettle of the individual soldier was deeply insufficient. This is not all, however : that scene where the colonel in charge calls an airstrike upon his own position deliberately and calculatedly ("for the record, it is my call") whereby the "sector" is won in the morning (yes, he actually proposes this immensity) is very different from the situation where the platoon head did the exact same ("you wasted a lot of lives with your bullshit coords") because... see, you gotta believe in "America", like Oliver Stone understands it, for this to make sense. The colonel "saved the sector" by engaging in the exact behaviour through which the inept lieutenant wasted the platoon. But the colonel is depicted as "the right sort of old man", you know the kind, aging WASP, 50something with closely cut gray hair and glasses, whereas the lieutenant is depicted as "the wrong sort of young ma", bumbling whitebread college boy. So of course, by the visual logic, of course, of course.
Of course what ? No tactical encounter was ever fucking won in Vietnam on the strength of the staff. It was always the grunts, and that "always" denotes occurences indeed few and far between. Moreover, the war was lost, not won! You'd be hard pressed to find any basis for guessing this in Stone's pile of nonsense, the overpowering atmosphere of the last quarter hour is this anciently lulzy "we are the government that beat the Jerrys, who the hell are you" bureaucrat wank. It's almost palpable, this pre-Matrix "we are the Matrix" boast, and it rings exactly as shockingly hollow as it sounds written down.
Which is the problem with Oliver Stone, I suppose : he's a nine year old aiming to be Goebbels. He's got the "lie thickly, thin lies don't stick"ii part down pat, but he's still a little boy. He lies, thickly, it's true, but like little boys do.iii It's ridiculous enough to watch, I suppose, but I wouldn't recommend anyone waste their time with this thing.———
- 1986, by OIiver Stone, with Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe. [↩]
- The quote comes from Ion Luca Caragiale (click that link for a description of the "problems of post-modernism" produced more than a century ago), and it is... more than a century old. What can I tell you. [↩]
- Here, by way of ilustration, let me recount my private history.
So, as an eight year old boy or thereabouts, I hung out with my friends, who, in typical manner, were much older boys than me. The topic of discussion that day was the fabled /lwnt͡ʃe̯aku/, a mystical item of armament of great use and power and -- well obviously, echoes of the Vietnam cultural meet in white society, yes ?
That same evening I proceeded to ask my father, what might this /lwnt͡ʃe̯aku/ be ? The acute reader might've intuited we're talking of ye olde nunchaku, the sad "weapon" of "if all you have are sticks and rope" subsistence peasantry. It's basically a flail, as used in obsolete Romanian society for centuries, to chaff the wheat. Nevertheless, my father, who, along with his intellectual as well as age peers, was nevertheless a little boy (his fate is not exceptional -- all Romanian "men" of the 80s were in fact little boys) got butthurt that I was, supposedly, eavesdropping on his grown-up conversation with whatever similar retards he hung out with.
I never told him where I heard it. I never admitted to "eavesdropping", ridiculous nonsense, either. Instead, I concocted an impossible story as to how I had seen advertised, this, somewhere, as a sort of show, "batai cu luncheagu" it'd have read, supposedly, "Beatings with Nunchucks". At the local "cultural center", why not ? What, they'd never advertise such a thing ?!?!
See, this is how little boys lie thickly. It's thick alright, but any woman, even nuliparous, can readily tell what the fuck's going on. I suppose in retrospect it's fairly obvious I was ashamed of how dull, how ineptly idiotic my father was, as a preteen, though it'd be years until I'd realise any such thing. At the time, and for years to come, I simply "couldn't tell you why I did such a thing". [↩]