Oedipus Tex

Paul Dale welcomes Josh Brolin’s first lead role and Oliver Stone’s Presidential biopic W. with glee

Affirmation of Oliver Stone’s cinematic dementia may well have to be put on hold with the release of his snap freeze George W Bush biopic. The last decade has not been kind to Stone, with the twin debacles of Alexander and World Trade Center, but a peek at the trailer for W. suggests that it could be a return to form for this broad stroke polemicist. Taking in Bush Jr’s days of what his father (played by the pig farmer from Babe James Cromwell) calls ‘partying, chasing tail and drink driving’ as he tried out a variety of shoe-in managerial posts, in addition to his more well known antics, it is certainly difficult to resist a film that features Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice and erstwhile Truman Capote impersonator Toby Jones as Karl Rove. Yet it is in the casting of the 43rd Whitehouse incumbent that Stone really may have hit pay dirt.

Josh Brolin, the son of long serving Hollywood based TV and film character actor James (these days better known as Mr Streisand, he married Barbra in 1998, 12 years and one wife after he divorced Josh’s mother) finally moves into star status as good ol’ Dubya. It has been a less than meteoric rise for this ex-Goonie with blink and you’ll miss him roles in a forgettable slew of 80s and 90s television series and a few memorable turns in some risible indie film schlock (Bed of Roses, Best Laid Plans). It was of course his Nolte-esque performance as psychotic doctor in Grindhouse segment Planet Terror and his likeably vague and fatalistic fortune hunter Llewelyn Moss in the Coen’s No Country For Old Men that finally put this 40-year-old in the frame.

From Charlie Sheen in Wall Street and Platoon, Val Kilmer in The Doors, Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July and Kevin Costner in JFK, Stone’s films have always carried the hidden agenda of moving their star’s careers either up one notch or into an egotistical cul de sac from which there is no return. But Brolin is second generation Californian studio stock, he’s taken so long to get here it is unlikely his head will be turned by impersonating the most powerful idiot in the world. Hearing Bush the Elder admonish his unemployable charge on the trailer with the phrase: ‘Who do you think you are? A Kennedy? You’re a Bush so act like one.’ fills one with the opprobrium of unstoppable nepotism.

W. is released on Fri 7 Nov.

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