Monday, June 16, 2014

Sorry, Oliver Stone.

Dear Vancouver Biennale,
First off, let me congratulate you on your success in bringing Oliver Stone to Vancouver, it must have seemed impossible. Mr. Stone is a great man and for him to come to our fair city and share his thoughts on American history, is a benefit for all who attended the "Untold History of the United States" documentary series screening this evening at the Vogue.
I was honestly looking forward to the event, as Oliver Stone actually changed my young life, when I was 14 and saw "Platoon". That film changed how I viewed war as a youth, making me see the filth and the violence of it, rather than the glory and honour that the establishment wanted me to see.
I grew up loving his films, with their gritty truth and sometimes controversial portrayals of historical events, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, W., Commandante among others. The man is a Vietnam veteran for Christ sake. 
Let me try to get closer to the point...

The show was the most amateur, country fair presentation that I have ever seen. It was so bad, the audience, who was extremely gracious, in my opinion, especially for this city, began to laugh aloud and eventually people were beginning to get angry.
It was ridiculous, you don't treat a man of such stature with that sort of small-towny arrogance that many people in the arts community in this city, seem to display. 

The announcer dude, 'Red Pants', came out and shielded his eyes from the lights, with his program. Super pro. He then went on and on and on about the Biennale and the blah blah blah... For like 15 minutes! As if the (full house) audience was here to listen to this clown. 

I appreciate that the VB brought Stone to the city but what was up with presenting Mr. Stone with a 'Lifetime Achievement Award'? This man's films have been nominated for THIRTY ONE ACADEMY AWARDS. I'm sure the Vancouver Biennale will be shoving the Oscars out of the way in the award case. 

And Red Pants kept coming on to the stage, including taking video of Oliver Stone. Seriously? Could he be more tactless? And I won't mention him yelling, "technicians!", when the  Biennale logo didn't flash across the screen. 

And speaking of the screen, the lighting was such that the participants on the stage were blinded and their shadows fell upon the screen behind them. Pretty dismal. When the film was introduced and it was time to play it, the screen became a computer menu and it stayed on that for awhile. Many jeers and laughter. Oliver Stone in the audience.Finally, the show starts and IT IS THE WRONG EPISODE.

It continues to play for 5 or 10 minutes and then it shuts off and returns to the computer menu again. Red Pants gets up on the stage yet again and apologises for the technical difficulties. It was also at this moment that they realise the Biennale flags have been casting huge shadows on the screen. People emerge from backstage and remove the flags. Red Pants helps. One of them is a bit of a struggle. They finally get it off stage. At this point, the whole scene is like a Laurel And Hardy or Buster Keaton thing.

The one saving grace was Tony Pantages, who moderated, or at least tried to moderate the introduction and the Q and A afterwards. Although, it was difficult for him because after the show, he had everything from  rambling idiots who asked 7 questions, to 9/11 conspiracy theorists. I must ask why you had no moderators in the crowd, with the microphones. This is Oliver Stone, for Christ sake.
Tony Pantages was left to deal with these whack jobs by himself. And luckily, Oliver Stone is a genius and danced circles around these local yokels. 

Vancouver audiences are notorious twats. We go out to many shows, including many at the Vogue and we constantly withstand flashes and screens and talking and all other kinds of asshole behaviour that Vancouverites like to engage in when they are not busy rioting over hockey games. We are all trying to shed that fur trading post mentality but it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Almost every time I go to a show, I end up yelling at someone or have my general experience hampered because there are a handful of halfwits ruining it for everyone else and nobody stopping them. In many establishments I have been to in other cities, they throw your ass out for acting like that but not here, for some reason. Again, I refer to fur and possibly the Gold Rush.

Basically, the entire experience this evening felt as though it was not rehearsed for one second. Think about it, the building was probably chock-a-block with film people, theatre people, cinephiles and Red Pants is on the stage yelling, "technicians!" at people who are the brothers and sisters of me and many in the audience. I mentioned lighting, well I am in the lighting department. I have been for years. I would have volunteered for free to be a part of anything Oliver Stone would have been part of and it sure wouldn't have looked like that. I would wash Oliver Stone's car. I think I have made my point. 

The feeling I got from the whole experience was that it was embarrassing. For me and for my city. 



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