Monday 30 August 2010

Did you do any fornicating?

I really like Oliver Stone's work. I think he's consistently dealt with the most excruciating themes of the American 20th century in a candid way that most Americans aren't ready to deal with. I also like that he did two tours of duty in Vietnam despite being part of that privileged elite who could have avoided the draft, as did the Neocon chicken-hawks; Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol et al.

I just rewatched Stone's Nixon earlier because yesterday I finally got round to seeing Frost/Nixon, a clip of which I've used above. It's extraordinarily good and made me want to revisit Nixon the man because in the thick of all the Bush bashing (when it's evident he never really had the intellectual gravitas to manipulate the world but was instead a subject of manipulation) I took great delight in telling people Nixon was one of my favourite presidents. I can't say it now because I've dug a bit deeper after watching this, though I will say that despite the carnage that Nixon authorised, particularly the unconscionable bombing of Laos and Cambodia he still presided over the most geopolitically volatile period apart from all out world war. It's easier with hindsight but the question remains did he exploit that geopolitical volatility? Was it really necessary?

The answer's probably no because proxy ideological wars in far away places are at a primary assessment level abysmal failures though arguably have much more complex secondary geopolitcal angles like the suggestion I read today that Afghanistan and Iraq is about having an experienced army  at hand if middle Asia becomes the arena for conflict over resources (not just oil). Believe me the only peaceful ideological solution we have for that is a sharing one. Marx came close and I suggest we need to try again, because the profit motive is hitting a dead end and hey, even the Wright brothers didn't quit when their first plane nose dived. However my ideological chin sticking out affirms a simple principle. Don't bomb and maim small Buddhist countries to achieve larger geopolitical ends. Take some pain on the chin, and I most definitely am looking at the United Kingdom as well as the United States too.

It's time to open up an Easter Egg on this blog because when I wrote that last Nixon piece it had another story behind it. It was allegorical too, because my apartment was being broken into at the time. The protagonist(s) were also reading my blog (note the personal Wifi router the case is sitting on) so I thought I'd land a punch when it suited me and today it does. So I guess I got to write about it, share what I think about Richard Nixon and pluralistic thinking, as well as nail a date and a time to that period when things like my Porsche briefcase had it's combination lock popped while I wasn't at home.  I did walk away with my full deposit from that affair. That's unheard of in Asia when two warring sides choose to go their separate ways with a tenancy contract between them.

I don't mind confessing there were days when I thought I'd lose a lot more than the deposit as I'm stubborn. It's irrespective of what influence or power I'm up against though a shiny motorcycle police escort one early morning while nipping down to 7 Eleven prompted me to settle for the cash. A foreigner never actually win's in Asia so I did OK given who I was up against, and that post I wrote time stamps accusations without ambiguity. Not that I didn't appreciate it being nominated for post of the month too because the dual narratives were completely coherent and utterly sincere. You'll forgive me if I killed two birds with one stone. It's the mark of a really lazy person not an industrious one ironically.

Anyway that was  all wild and I learned that snakes really do writhe when you have them by the tail but the reason for this post is very simply to outline that Oliver Stone is for me, more of a patriot than any of the abysmal Tea Party crowd and (I contest) a brave creative American icon. Which is kind of my way of saying sorry, because I met him in a nightclub once, here in Bangkok. He'd been filming Alexander the Great and unfortunately I'm less amusing after a cocktail than I think I am so I confirmed if his name was Oliver and leaned into his ear sharing something along the lines of 'I hope you didn't omit from your film, that while Alexander was pinning down Asia, he was also pinning down his Generals'.

Oliver immediately backed away as if purgatory was imminent and his entourage protectively engulfed me from saying another word, sweeping me away back into a less interesting world. The moral of the story I guess is just be nice, say hi and 'how are you' when you meet someone you respect instead of being a smart ass, and also just make sure they haven't directed a turkey of a movie.

Both Nixon and Frost Nixon are brilliant films. The first historically and the second, well the second did something that a small screen has never done for me before. I've been moved by actors on the big screen theatre but the Nixon character in this second movie. I was spellbound by the end. I never believed that a small netbook screen could ever command  or impose such pathos and yet it was all there. You should watch it because even if you don't care about politics you should care about how the mightiest can fall and once again how little in life is black and white all set to a Greek tragedy of biblical proportion. I just discovered that Frank Langella was nominated for an Oscar in this movie and that's the most deserving nomination I can think of for some time. I also think it's great to see actors doing very fine jobs of David Frost and John Birt. Both of whom now I think have knighthoods. Watch Langella in this. Sometimes it's like a bear leaning over you baring perfectly ominous but preternaturally perfect teeth. Or is that Frost as well?