Sunday, February 4, 2018

Only now does it occur to me... ALEXANDER

Only now does it occur to me: let us briefly talk about how, in Oliver Stone's sprawling sword-and-sandal biopic ALEXANDER, at a pivotal moment during the Battle of Gaugamela, Stone has one of his commanders scream, "Back and to the left!  Back and to the left!,"

arguably the most famous and oft-repeated line from Stone's JFK. Somehow, it simultaneously trivializes both JFK and ALEXANDER, though the latter does not require much assistance in this department.

ALEXANDER is faintly better than its reputation, though its essential elements are incest, snakes, CGI birds, and chubby Val Kilmer.
Remember when this was considered chubby Val Kilmer?

I suppose we don't need to question why the Macedonians all have Irish brogues, nor why Molossian barbarian queen Angelina Jolie has a modern Eastern European accent. We definitely shouldn't question why Angelina Jolie––who is less than one year older than Colin Farrell––is playing his mother.
I suppose we can take some solace in the fact that she is a serpent-worshipping cultist who is draped in more snakes than Alice Cooper.
She also has ample opportunity to flex her acting muscles, á la James Earl Jones in REVENGE OF THE SITH:
Finally, I must mention––simply to walk it back into the darkness––that the less said about Jared Leto here, the better. 

That's all!


Cannon said...

Oh, I enjoy Alexander. There's a kitsch factor to it.

The movie is at once deathly serious and seriously highfalutin, hard-rock candy glam. Shit knows who the real Alexander the Great ever was, but the Colin Ferrell version on screen sorta plays like a homoerotic He-Man (double negative) fated to the dramatic structure of your average drug-spiraling musician biopic; paging Stone's very own The Doors. I mean, the movie's never boring. Not when every other third line of dialogue is being shouted or when Vangelis' score is hammering up the proceedings to such a degree that makes grandiose moments feel like a Renault commercial sponsoring the Summer Olympics.

And I'd bet real money that when Brian Blessed makes his brief appearance, he's not in costume but simply showed up that day wearing his own "shirt".

Sean Gill said...


As always, my friend, your observations are excellent, and you're spot-on re: the Vangelis soundtrack––ha! I've wondered about the difference in tone between the different cuts; I watched "The Ultimate Cut," which I believe is its third iteration, and supposed to be objectively the "best," though I imagine that we come into a film like ALEXANDER with a different set of expectations than most.

J.D. Lafrance said...

Yeah, the film is an unholy hot mess but works well within its own mondo bizarro cinematic logic (?!). At least it goes for it and takes way more risks than what passes for Hollywood epics these days. Sadly, I think this one really took its toll on Stone and he hasn't done anything nearly as inspired since. I mean, I liked SNOWDEN well enough but it felt like Stone-lite to me.

Sean Gill said...


Agreed––and yeah, SNOWDEN was fine, just feels very "lite," as you say. While there are gonzo-kitsch things to like in his more recent work, I do think "W." might be the only film of his post-NIXON that I'd give an enthusiastic thumbs-up to.