Archive for February 1986


February 28, 1986

Arguably Oliver Stone at his best — or at least his most economic, white-hot, and committed — and inarguably James Woods at his best. As real-life photojournalist Richard Boyle, a scroungy fuck-up who bullshits his way around El Salvador during the 1980-81 turmoil, Woods sets a new standard for jittery dislikability: No matter how low your self-esteem is, you’ll feel better after watching this guy. What’s amazing is that Woods makes you sympathize with Boyle from the first shot. James Belushi, in his career performance, is Dr. Rock, a slob druggie who accompanies Boyle to Salvador and spends the whole movie wanting to get the hell out. The movie is scrappy, undisciplined gonzo journalism (until Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, this film was the closest thing to Hunter Thompson to hit the big screen); Stone tosses in a few facts (the rape-murder of the nuns, the assassination of Archbishop Romero) and stirs them up in a hot stew of sensationalism. Salvador tells you what to think, and it’s pretty shameless (so is the awful Georges Delerue score), but it’s compulsively, convulsively watchable and unforgettable, with a classic confession-booth scene that’s required viewing for all Woods fans.