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star struck

Alexander and friends
Oliver Stone and Colin Farrell can’t lavish enough praise on the great conqueror
By Chris Betros
Chris Betros

It seems that Oliver Stone can’t even make a movie
about ancient history without generating some controversy. Alexander, which stars Colin Farrell as the great conqueror, Angelina Jolie and Val Kilmer, was panned by critics in the US for its portrayal of Alexander as bisexual. Stone also suggested audiences might have been put off by comparisons between Alexander’s conquests in the Middle East and the US involvement in Iraq.

However, during a visit to Japan with Farrell, Stone preferred to lavish praise on the Greek hero who captured his imagination when he was a boy. “The more I read about him, the more I admired him. He’s unique in all of history. He wasn’t a typical conqueror who plundered resources. He had a vision of the world and accomplished it in just 32 years. This film we made is not Troy, it’s not Gladiator. It is real history.” Farrell, 28, on his first visit to Japan, echoed Stone’s praise of Alexander. “I’ve already made two movies since Alexander, and yet the experience is locked inside me,” he said. “For me, the most difficult thing was to give him a heart and soul, to find the emotional beat.”

Farrell, most recently seen in Phone Booth, found the battle scenes filmed in Morocco and Thailand grueling. “We spent three weeks at boot camp in the Moroccan desert,” he said. “There were a lot of cuts and bruises. I broke a heel and wrist—but not while filming. It was after a night out drinking with Val Kilmer.”

Stone professes admiration for the way wars were fought 2,300 years ago. “They fought nobly on the battlefield. They didn’t drop bombs and burn cities. Alexander created a huge empire in just 11 years. He enforced alliances and made the world civilized with at least seven capital cities. He adopted other religions and cultures, promoting a fusion of East and West. Laugh at it all you like, but what a wonderful King Arthurian dream.”

Nowadays, Stone expects criticism whenever he makes a movie. “Every single film I have done since Midnight Express has generated controversy,” he said. “Scarface was a disaster. Born on the 4th of July was controversial, Salvador and Wall Street were trashed, but were successful. JFK and Natural Born Killers attracted attention that obscured the work we put into them. Heaven and Earth and Nixon were basically ignored. Any Given Sunday was treated as a sports film. I think all my films should be put into a time capsule for release later. I am proud of Alexander and the mountain of work that I and 2,000 others put into it and I am confident that it will be seen more fairly by my countrymen with the passage of time.” M

 

 

the scene
Counter Punch
Anti-Bush-Inauguration gig raises ¥300,000 for charity

Clockwise from top left: among the 400-strong crowd, three dudes from Peace Boat Japan; dub DJ Tsuyoshi Shimamura, one of 12 DJs performing; Mike McKenna, LOUD magazine’s “Best DJ in Japan 2004”; organizers Tim and Nick from independent label and production unit Escapism; the five live acts included avant-garde electro-rockers Stock Films
Photos by Kyoko Sakai

 

 

q&a
Gerri Sorrells
Author, actor, voice artist and presenter

Gerri Sorrells calls herself one of the original “bilin-gals.” Born in Tokyo to a Japanese-American mom and American serviceman, she has been a radio personality, TV reporter, MC, children’s book author, Tokyo International Players actor, as well as giving voices to flora and fauna in animation, commercials, movies, game software, corporate video presentations, airports, train stations, department stores and a bank

You’ve done a lot, haven’t you?
I’ve been everything from a mouse, to a tadpole, to a strawberry.

Where did you grow up?
In a house my mom built in Setagaya. Most of our front yard was taken away for expanding the road for the Olympics.

What are you currently involved in?
A children’s English TV program on TBS. I’m also busy with Rumplestiltskin, which we are taking on the road to most of the international schools.

How has Japan changed for the better compared to 20 years ago?
Better transportation and, most important, heated toilet seats.

How has Japan changed for the worse?
It doesn’t feel as safe anymore, and there is a lack of obeying rules. Also, the kids squat everywhere. And little homes: In three generations, a beautiful home with a garden is gone in order to pay inheritance taxes. 

Did you do anything crazy when you were in college?
When McDonald’s opened their second store in Yoyogi, a group of kids (including five American-sized guys) crammed into my VW bug, and the nine of us made our way from Yotsuya to Yoyogi for a Big Mac.

Do you think you’ll stay in Japan forever?
That’s a tough one. I love living in Japan, so I guess we’ll stay. My mom’s in a cemetery in Itsukaichi. I would like to move her somewhere closer, but I hear there’s a waiting list for Aoyama. Now, that’s one thing I can’t figure out. How does one get wait-listed for a cemetery? CB M

 

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