Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 16

Thread: SOUTH OF THE BORDER (Oliver Stone 2009)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,363

    SOUTH OF THE BORDER (Oliver Stone 2009)

    Oliver Stone: SOUTH OF THE BORDER (2009)


    At the Walter Reade Theater September 23, 2009.
    [UPI Laura Cavanaugh]


    SOUTH OF THE BORDER opens Friday, June 25, 2010 at Angelika Film Center in New York and in LA July 2. I do not know of its further release schedule in the US.* When I get the chance to see it, I'll provide a review here. This is just a preview.

    In this new documentary Oliver Stone travels around Latin America and interviews seven left-leaning and allied leaders: Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia; Cristina Kirchner of Argentina; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; Raúl Castro of Cuba; Fernando Lugo of Paraguay; and Lula da Silva of Brazil. It premiered at Venice last year and also was shown in NYC by the FSLC with Lula and Chavez present.

    Fabiola Moura wrote that "While the movie is explicitly rosy in its picture of South America's politics, it's a tonic dose of a perspective rarely seen in U.S. media coverage of the region." NPR says the film tells only one side of the story and gives "kid glove treatment" to Chavez and his allies. --Wikipedia

    Stone's "Border" Shows Fall of South America's Berlin Wall
    In April 2002, a U.S.-backed coup against the democratically-elected government of Venezuela collapsed. The failure of the Bush Administration's effort to overthrow President Chavez was world-historical for South America because it sent a powerful new signal about the limits of the ability of the U.S. to thwart popular democracy in the region. Following the reversal of the coup, presidents were elected across South America promising to reverse the disastrous economic policies promoted by Washington. The story of this dramatic transformation has been largely untold in the U.S.. But on Friday, Oliver Stone's new documentary, "South of the Border," opens in New York.
    -- Truthout

    See also: IMDb.

    *Yes I do. It's here: http://southoftheborderdoc.com/in-theatres/. It comes to my area of northern California July 16, 2010.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-11-2010 at 10:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,363
    Mother Jones DC bureau chief David Corn reviews some pros and cons of Stone's SOUTH OF THE BORDER in a short articl. (July 7, 2010). Corn points out the NY Times writer Larry Rohter who has attacked the film supported the 2002 coup against Chavez. In a letter to the Times the filmmakers set out to show Rohter's "pervasive evidence of animus and conflict of interest in his attempt to discredit the film."

    Stone and his partner in the enterprise Tariq Ali are accused by US writers of grievous errors, but perhaps their chief crime in American eyes is their sympathetic depiction of regional alliances taking shape independent of and without allegiance to the United States, and apart from Stone's too-ready drinking of the Hugo Chávez Kool-Aid there is the unforgivable gaffe, an "exaltation of Latin American socialism" (Holden, NY Times). There's an analogy to the apocalyptic terms in which Iran is viewed as a "superpower" that might commit the unthinkable crime of setting up an alliance in the Middle East that "might take shape independent of the US," as Noam Chomsky puts it in his June 28, 2010 ZNet article, "The Iranian Threat."

    The release schedule shows SOUTH OF THE BORDER comes to theaters in San Francisco and Berkeley on Friday, July 16, 2010. I want to see if it's true, as there is reason to fear, given the source, that "The documentary offers little genuine information and no investigative research, adopting a style even more polemical than Stone’s earlier docus on Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat" (Weisberg, Variety). Is anybody neutral in looking at this film? Does it ruin its own case by "cheerleading" and sloppy information?
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-11-2010 at 10:53 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,670
    Chris, did you watch Stone's Comandante?
    I found it to be a complete waste of my time.
    I have no interest in South of the Border, although I am sure that Americans with minimal knowledge of Latin American culture/politics might learn something from it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,363
    While I'm trying to drum up interest, you, apparently, are trying to drum up disinterest and dismissal out of hand. You seem to have closed your mind already. I'll keep mine open, thank you. No, I have not seen COMANDANTE, but Todd McCarthy's review of it in Variety is overall favorable. Again, it sounds like a document worth observing.
    It isn't often that a famous world leader, much less a dictator, makes himself available for three days of continuous scrutiny by a political gadfly filmmaker, so "Comandante," Oliver Stone's portrait of Fidel Castro, is an occasion in and of itself. Lively and compulsively watchable, Stone's first documentary benefits from a mutually respectful, borderline chummy relationship between subject and interlocutor, in that Castro seems to have let down his defenses, as much as is possible, and taken a come-what-may attitude toward his American guest's far-ranging and sometimes irrepressibly blunt questions. Conservatives, Cuban exiles and far-leftists alike may object on principle, but the open-minded and simply curious will find much of interest in this look at the planet's longest-tenured head-of-state in what one has to assume are his twilight years.
    This is not to say Stone's work generally isn't highly flawed.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-12-2010 at 03:45 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,670
    Perhaps you want to drum up interest but I am not doing the opposite. I am just stating that I personally have no interest in the film based on Stone's previous film of similar form and content. I am even suggesting that Americans with minimal knowledge of Latin American politics (a huge majority) might learn something from it.

    You describe these presidents as "seven left-leaning and allied leaders". "Left-leaning" is probably a vague-enough term to encompass the often divergent policies of all seven but the term "allied" is highly problematic.

    I have watched several docs about Latin American politics sponsored by Latin American departments and organizations at the University. Most are not available on DVD. One that I found interesting and entertaining, which is available on DVD, is Cocalero. It received some theatrical distribution. It is about Evo Morales' presidential campaign.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 07-12-2010 at 05:29 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,363
    I can watch COCALERO on Netflix.

    When you say "highly problematic" I guess you mean simply highly questionable.

    Your remark isn't wholly candid. Obviously the statement by somebody who knows the area well (you) that you will not even watch SOUTH OF THE BORDER is damning and could put a damper on readers' interest in being viewers. The suggestion that those of us who are almost totally uninformed will be interested in Stone's new movie is condescending toward us and him. And not logical. Why would I want to watch something that's by your lights manifestly clueless, just because I haven't your range of knowledge of the subjects?

    My reason for wanting to watch this film is that it may cause controversy, and therefore influence Anglos' picture of the new Latin American leftist leaders.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-13-2010 at 12:13 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,670
    [QUOTE=Chris Knipp;24673]
    When you say "highly problematic" I guess you mean simply highly questionable.
    Yes. Only four of the seven leaders can be said to be "allied". They are the political leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. They have formed something called Alianza Bolivariana (Bolivarian Alliance). At the moment, it also includes some smaller nations like Nicaragua, Antigua,and Dominica. Brasil, Paraguay and Argentina are not part of ALBA. The new, left-leaning President of El Salvador (where I was born and where I lived until 1978) has re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba (for the first time since 1962) but also refused to join the alliance.

    Your remark isn't wholly candid. Obviously the statement by somebody who knows the area well (you) that you will not even watch SOUTH OF THE BORDER is damning and could put a damper on readers' interest in being viewers.
    You're right.

    The suggestion that those of us who are almost totally uninformed will be interested in Stone's new movie is condescending toward us and him.
    Perhaps. By the way, I would not include you among those I categorized as having minimal knowledge of Latin American politics. Your writings bespeak of someone well informed about world politics.

    Why would I want to watch something that's by your lights manifestly clueless, just because I haven't your range of knowledge of the subjects?
    This is pure speculation on my part based on my opinion of Comandante, which is not quite clueless but shows Stone as someone who lacks rigor and the courage to ask the tough questions. A viewer with insufficient knowledge would not know which are the tough questions that need to be asked. And consequently he would not have the authority and the wherewithal to be critical.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 07-13-2010 at 11:29 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,363
    Thanks for the vote of approval of my knowledge of world politics. I have a lot to learn about Latin America and these new leaders, some of whom as you note are allied, and some not. I watched Landes' COCALERO by the way. It certainly has charm, but I'd have liked more explanation. Did Morales really become president of Bolivia simply by championing the coca growers? Anyway, we may have discussed this before but what was your reaction to Bartley and O'Brian's CHAVEZ: INSIDE THE COUP (the title used for the Berkeley showings)? Have you seen Clifton Ross' VENEZUELA: REVOLUTION FROM THE INSIDE OUT? I like that one for including a lot of political discussion, not about Chavez but about agrarian reform. Ross likes to travel around and talk to people.

    It seems at the end here you're reversing your position and saying uninformed people should not watch Stone's films about Latin America because they "would not know which are the tough questions that need to be asked. And consequently he would not have the authority and the wherewithal to be critical."

    This is why I think you should watch SOUTH OF THE BORDER, to offer an informed critique not just an impressionistic one.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-13-2010 at 02:46 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,670
    My experience leads me to conclude that Chavez engenders extreme opinions. Those who feel most passionate about him, those who care the most, either idolize him or condemn him. Whenever I find myself in a discussion about Chavez or considering the merits of the numerous documentaries about him, I always play a "devil's advocate" role. All the docs I have seen tend to overlook his dangerous personality traits (megalomania, machismo,...) and anti-democratic policies and maneuvers. From what I have seen, mainstream American media fail to recognize his achievements and progressive policies.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 07-19-2010 at 11:55 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    5,499
    Excellent read guys.

    I want to see anything Oliver Stone does. Anything.
    He has made some mistakes in his career but his intent is so grand and noble that I usually forgive those *small* mistakes.
    The big picture becomes a little clearer with each Oliver Stone film, even if he makes errors.

    I love that man and what he's done for cinema. I will miss him terribly when he's gone. Seriously.
    Oliver Stone for all his faults, for all his "hammering in his nails" (Tarantino), he is one of the most brilliant and exciting filmmakers we've ever seen.

    Looking forward to SOUTH OF THE BORDER..
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,363
    You are right about Chavez, Oscar. I saw SOUTH OF THE BORDER yesterday and will probably review it shortly. I would say for a start that what is interesting about it is the content about the other leaders besides Chavez. Nothing much new about him, that I could see.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,670
    Looking forward to your review or comments, Chris.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,363
    By the way, I had a thread about Chavez on Filmwurld in 2004 here.

    What gave rise to that was the passionate opposition to Chavez I encountered after posting a favorable review of the Irish film CHAVEZ: INSIDE THE COUP. I started off the thread with this:
    One thing is clear. In Venezuela, there are two camps. The opposition to Chavez is passionate. And yet Chavez's popular support remains strong, and he is determined not to give in. Is he a great populist leader? Is he just another South American dictator with a pro-Castro slant? You decide. But frankly, I'm not sure we really can decide from here.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-19-2010 at 01:10 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,363
    Oliver Stone: SOUTH OF THE BORDER (2009)


    HUGO CHAVEZ AND OLIVER STONE

    Friends and enemies

    Review by Chris Knipp

    Latin American politics has taken a sharp turn to the left in recent years, bringing new leaders into control of the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and also Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile. The shift might have extended northward to Mexico, had Andrés Manuel López Obrador not been defeated in a much-contested election in 2006. A Wikipedia "History of South America" gives the following list of left wing South American presidents by date of election: Hugo Chávez of Venezuela (1998), Ricardo Lagos and later Michelle Bachelet of Chile (1999; 2006), Luís Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil (2002) and Lucio Gutiérrez and Rafael Correa of Ecuador (2002; 2006), Néstor Kirchner of Argentina, succeeded by his wife Cristina (2003 and 2007), Tabaré Vázquez and José Mujica of Uruguay (2004 and 2008), Evo Morales of Bolivia (2005), and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay (2008). (The remaining strong right-wing government in the region is Colombia, coincidentally the closest US ally there.)

    This is not a monolithic group. For one thing some are populist and international in focus, like the most visible figure, Hugo Chávez; others, like Lula of Brazil and the Kirchners, are more strictly focused on local problems. As the Wikipedia article points out, in 2008 the Union of South American Nations was formed, aiming to function like the European Union; it is a decisive signal of the end of US hegemony in the region. The days may be over when the CIA can conduct a boldfaced coup like the ouster and killing of Salvador Allende in Chile September 11, 1973, replacing him with a right-wing leader, Augusto Pinochet, friendly to the US and to business interests. As Wikipedia points out, "In the 1960s and 1970s, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay were overthrown or displaced by U.S.-aligned military dictatorships." And then of course there is the scandal of Iran-Contra during the Reagan era of the Eighties, symbolic of the US' self-interested anti-progressive role in various conflicts, such as those of Nicaragua and El Salvador.

    One reason for the shift to the left and the rise of more democratically elected governments is the economic problems brought about by neoliberal, i.e., market-based policies that benefited the rich nations and further impoverished the South. The presence of former bishop Fernando Lugo may attest to the political influence of "Liberation Theology" in Latin America since the Fifties and Sixties, an activist philosophy linking Catholic faith with the struggle for the rights of the poor and dispossessed.

    North Americans don't know a lot about these developments, and it's hard to be informed about them from a US perspective, especially if one does not know Spanish. US government policy has long favored any malleable, pro-American regime, and views favorable to other regimes are hard to find on the English-language Web or mainstream media. The new left-leaning group of Latin American governments is despised in Washington circles precisely because its members are, if not strongly at odds with the US, like Cuba or Venezuela, no longer willing to bow to the major US-dominated economic forces represented by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is easy to find criticisms of the new leaders, especially of Hugo Chávez, on the English-language Internet.

    Into this scene comes Oliver Stone's new documentary, South of the Border, which focuses on Chávez, Morales, and several others; he does not interview all of the dozen leaders listed above. To cover them all, with their individual national issues, would be a daunting task for an 85-minute film. It is a mixed blessing to have Stone's film available to US audiences. Predictably, it has been ruthlessly attacked by the American press and reviewers. Unfortunately, Stone is an easy mark. Much of his information is valid. But in the voiceover narration, he repeatedly mispronounced Chávez as "Chavéz": accents do matter in Spanish names, and even George Bush got this one right. Stone has only one talking head, his political adviser on the film Tariq Ali, a London born leftist with a recent book on this subject who has a tendency to sound strident and dogmatic. Stone makes elementary errors, like saying they are flying over the Andes when for the most part they are not. He is entirely too chummy with the leaders, congratulating them, shaking their hands, and hugging them on camera in a manner that is not only a revelation of bias but vaguely condescending.

    There is also the problem of proportion. In the brief film Stone devotes at least twenty minutes to the story of Chávez's rise and the debates over coverage of the 2002 coup, during which he was briefly removed and by his on camera testimony, might have been executed. This takes away time that might better have been spent presenting new material about the other leaders, about whom we know less.

    The Chávez coup has already been covered elsewhere in Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003), also known as Chávez: Inside the Coup, a film I reviewed at the time; later I discussed the resulting controversy. The virulent response I received from the anti-Chávez camp in Caracas from my review on IMDb showed how extreme the polarization is. This camp is particularly eager to propagandize against Bartley and O'Brian because their film is quite convincing. Stone has not done better.

    South America is rife with class conflict, and wealth remains in the hands of the few, while many are impoverished. The advantage of Chávez, Morales, and the others is that the poor are the vast majority. When the candidate is a populist and of indigenous origin, dark like the poor majority, they will vote for him (or her). The opposition may resemble the enemies of the Egyptian leader and man of the people, Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom in my view Chávez resembles. Both carried out many reforms benefiting the people, sought to be world leaders dominating neighboring nations, and viewed favorably the idea of ruling for life.

    One would like to know more about how the other new left leaders differ from Chávez, and more about all their specific accomplishments and specific criticisms of them. Stone's coverage of the various countries (he misses several) does not involve anonymous investigation, only formal sessions with the leaders before an audience.

    Oliver Stone should be applauded for making this film, and for Americans interested in Latin American politics it's a must-see, but one wishes Stone had put more time and care into it, assembled a fuller and more balanced staff, done more investigation, and made more of an effort to provide the kind of questioning that might have allowed this film to be something other than preaching to the choir. This film, which is staged as a warm and friendly road trip, with a final stop in Cuba to talk to Raul Castro, is far from as bad as its (generally highly anti-left-biased) critics make it sound, but a lot less good than it ought to have been. Let's hope it will make way for a wave of documentaries about politics in Latin America accessible to the American mainstream. Alex Gibney: what's on your agenda?
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-30-2012 at 12:52 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    5,499
    Nice throwing that challenge to Alex Gibney there.
    I agree.

    What's on your plate, Alex? :)
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •