Wim and Ollie Do America
The End of Violence
OLIVER STONE BUMPS into Wim Wenders at the Starbucks in Beverly Hills. Wenders nurses a half-decaf Mocha Latte and Stone orders the daily special, black with triple sugar:
Oliver: Wim! We meet again. Wasn't Telluride invigorating this year?
Wim: Yes, Oliver, I must say the weather was fine, but I spent most of my time at the movies. In fact, I saw your film U-Turn at Telluride and I was pretty disappointed.
Oliver: I'm not so big on your End of Violence either. But you start, I'm all ears.
Wim: Surely you must see. I am trying to propose an end to all this violence. And here is your movie, full of genre tricks and bloody hatchets. Where is the moral progress in that?
Oliver: Hang on. Don't you know American cinema expresses action, and European cinema explores thought? I show people confronting their animal natures.
Wim: But Oliver, you are so loud and noisy about it. Don't you think violence and its depiction is a global problem?
Oliver: Yes, but to confront it we must exaggerate it and make a call to action.
Wim: I thought you did that in Natural Born Killers--especially the director's cut. And I have always loved what you do with b/w vs. color and that jittery editing. I have been known to mix film stocks myself.
Oliver: Yeah, isn't that cool? But you know, in my historical pieces, I'm saying we live in a world that is the media. I wanted total confusion as to TV and reality by the end of NBK.
Wim: I am almost buying that. But what is this U-Turn nonsense in Superior, Arizona? Why should we watch Sean Penn follow his lust and stupidity in a film noir rehash? It's a joke, Oliver. You waste your talents.
Oliver: Well, it's all play, isn't it? Sometimes a movie is just a movie. I had said so much with Nixon and JFK--in fact, with every film I'd ever made. I wanted to do the cartoon thing.
Wim: I think you are glamorizing violence.
Oliver: Well, why do you put Sam Fuller in your movies? He had a thing for guns and broads, too.
Wim: He is an inspiration in a different way--and you Americans still don't understand his work. I would rather see Pickup on South Street than Pulp Fiction any day. It is more pure.
Oliver: Does "pure" mean all that damn ambiguity in your new movie? People muttering pensees instead of having arguments? And how are surveillance cameras going to stop violence?
Wim: You don't know what Hitler wanted to do with TV. There is something of fascism in the camera. Besides, isn't voyeurism the essential problem of cinema?
Oliver: Yeah, but sex isn't that big a deal to me. And I've noticed that you don't dwell on it much, either.
Wim: You're right, but here is a big difference. You keep poor Jennifer Lopez tied to that hot-Latin-mama stereotype. I prefer the flair and the mystery of desire. Did you see how I used the singer from Madredeus in my other new movie, Lisbon Story?
Oliver: Yeah, and that's what I don't get. You make movies about cities and clothing designers and people in the future with videotapes of dreams--all these ideas bumping into each other. No wonder fewer and fewer Americans see your movies. You used to be into the Hollywood thing. You made Hammett, you know what a great tradition we have.
Wim: Yes, but it is a tradition to expand and explore, not to dress up in different costumes and call it new.
Oliver: Well, never the twain shall meet, I guess. Can we just agree that film has many flavors and call it a day?
Wim: Speaking of flavors, have a biscotti. You know, biscotti are a fascinating pastry. First they must be half-baked in order to be sliced, and then they're baked completely. I think they are a metaphor for something, but I am still figuring it out.
Oliver: I'll meet you halfway on that.
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