Monday, 24 May 2010

A Moment Of Realisation Is Worth A Thousand Prayers.

As the tired old cliche goes, you should never meet your heroes. They'll only disappoint you. Clearly, those who came up with said phrase had never met Oliver Stone.
My old uni, in Aberdeen, had an annual literary festival, which, when I was there, featured a guest seminar from my literary hero, Irvine Welsh. Being the trampy, underfunded excuse for a uni that it was, there were no freebies, for ANYONE. And I was so broke, I couldn't afford the £5 ticket price for An Audience With Mr Trainspotting. So I literally could not contain my joy when I learned that 'Oli' was to be making his way towards RSAMD to collect an honorary doctorate.

I'd first learned of the World's Worst-Kept Secret when we were told during our 3-day induction, waaaaaay back in September, that he'd apparently arranged to come the year before, but had cancelled at the 11th hour. I'd like to kid on and say I was being 'cool' and not holding my breath for a return, but let's face it, I was practically blue. I cannot emphasise enought the effect that Natural Born Killers has had on my life. Everything about it, from the story, acting, camera work, the cast, just perfect. It inspired the kind of films I want to make. The combination of Quentin Tarantino's (admittedly heavily bastardised) story, coupled with the trippy direction of Oliver Stone, plus the brilliantly nuanced performances from all cast members, solidified this film as one of my absolute favourites after seeing it only once. The prfound emotional effect this film had on me is second maybe only to Fight Club; which I watched on VHS and immediately rewound and watched again the first time I saw it.

I'd been most disappointed by recent phoned-in publicity appearances by another favourite of mine, Tim Burton, promoting Alice In Wonderland. Call me controversial, but I really don't think Burton has directed a decent film since Sleepy Hollow. I'd also heard that Oliver Stone was the temperamental type, and that you never knew which 'Oli' to expect. I couldn't have been more wrong. For the first time, I felt that my class were truly a part of the Academy. Not just in the background, not filming a promo for another course, but a real, integrated, sitting up the front, big deal. As we were in row B, with no one in row A, we were practically within breathing space of thr man himself. I felt an odd sense of pride, seeing Adam address Oliver before he received his doctorate, and the same when Andy came on for the Q&A! I found Oliver Stone to be a fascinating subject, grounded in his political beliefs, unwilling to compromise in making the films he believed in, and able to take critical 'failures' in his stride. I did feel like somewhat of a total fangeek at times, particularly when there was cause for applause and I found myself on the verge of a standing ovation, slapping my hands together like a retarded seal. But really, when you're watching your hero watch a montage of his movies, accomapnied by a live Adagio For Strings?.....nah, I really don't think it gets better than that.

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