The final movie in Oliver Stone's Vietnam trilogy follows the true story of a Vietnamese village girl who survives a life of suffering and hardship during and after the Vietnam war. As a ... See full summary »
Hiep Thi Le,
Tommy Lee Jones,
Haing S. Ngor
A young man leaves Ireland with his landlord's daughter after some trouble with her father, and they dream of owning land at the big give-away in Oklahoma ca. 1893. When they get to the new... See full summary »
The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for. Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As a lifelong fan of Oliver Stone films, I felt betrayed after seeing this on video for the first time. More than just about any other filmmaker/screenwriter, Stone has inspired me to attempt to write my own screenplays. His movies always display a plethora of technical wizardry, rendering the artistry of cinema in its boldest colors. Indeed, so impressive is Oliver Stone as a showman that it is all too easy to overlook that many of the stories he tells range from the mediocre to (in this case) the horrid.
Tom Cruise plays the famous Vietnam War-era Marine Ron Kovic; the man himself appears in a small role in the film. But I am surprised that Kovic would have wanted anything to do with the filmic adaptation of his book, considering how unflatteringly Cruise portrays him. As Kovic, Cruise proves to be deeply unlikable and often unintentionally funny. He (very poorly) takes a stab at Kovic's Long Island accent. He brays "Love it or leave it!" as if that were some magical mantra. By the time we see him and Willem Dafoe spitting on each other, I was laughing uncontrollably. I felt bad about laughing at what was ultimately a tragic story, but I didn't really consider it my fault. I put the blame on the director and (especially) on the actors, who look like sit-com stars being directed in an embarrassingly inept TV movie.
All of this might have been forgivable if Stone had at least put some effort into the story, but his efforts are hit-or-miss at best. The script is riddled with historical errors, from Kovic's assertion that the North Vietnamese were fighting for independence (blatantly false) to the appearance of a rock singer belting out "Rock Around the Clock" in a Fourth of July parade taking place in 1956. (Was rock 'n' roll really socially acceptable enough then to be a theme in a small-town community parade? I think not.) Then, just to prove that he managed to stay awake in history class, Stone hammers home every 1960s trope he can remember: from burning the flag to the Black Power movement to the supposed sexual repressiveness of suburban Americans, he misses no opportunity to play up the clichés. The fact that this movie won some Academy Awards tells me only that Hollywood will lavish honors on any half-baked historical epic as long as it's done with enough chutzpah.
Is there anything at all good about BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY? Well, Stone does prove once again that he knows how to paint action-packed panoramas on the screen; his scenes of riots and firefights and parades are extravagant masterpieces, at least when taken on their own terms. But they have been put at the service of a story that plays out like a twisted satiric comedy. Mark my words: you will feel ashamed to be an American after watching this, for it depicts us as profoundly delusional and dysfunctional and ultimately pathetic. It is a mystery to me why Stone, who professes to harbor so much fondness for American history, would go out of his way to squirt huge yellow gobs of macaroni at the Yankee Doodle Boy.
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