The presence of Oliver Stone at a festival opening all but guarantees a quoteworthy time. So the Zurich Film Festival clearly knew what they were getting when they invited the Academy Award-winning director to attend for a third time to kick off their eighth edition with the European premiere of his latest, "Savages."
Stone's follow-up to his mildly received "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" is a horny and violent blast that harkens back to the lurid thrills of "U-Turn" and "Natural Born Killers." The colorful thriller pairs Taylor Kitsch with Aaron Johnson as two young pot-growing titans who share one girlfriend, the gorgeous Ophelia (Blake Lively). When a Mexican cartel (led by a fierce and terrifying Salma Hayek) moves in on their territory and demands to partner with them, the two friends refuse. The cartel responds by kidnapping Ophelia.
Despite "Savages" being one of his most commerical and least overtly political pictures in ages, the director didn't hold back from sharing his opinions on the War on Terror, the virtues of President Obama and what America needs to learn. He also had some choice words for Corine Mauch, the first female and openly gay person to be elected mayor of Zurich.
Below are the eight juiciest quotes from Stone's various appearances, including the opening press conference and a post-premiere Q&A:
Why He Loves Zurich
"All the babes are hot here — including the mayor. You also have a very elegant governor."
Why International Audiences Are Better Than American Ones
"I have always thrived on international audiences, because certainly the best reception of my movies is global perception — people try to understand it. Sometimes operating inside the American landscape can be isolating."
On Whom He’ll Be Voting For and Why
"I supported Ron Paul as a Republican candidate in the primary in Iowa because I wanted to have an antidote to the Romney approach. I made it very clear that it was only for the primary. In this election, I’m certainly going to vote for Obama because I fear the alternative. I think with Obama we have an intelligent leader who’s very responsible."
The Drug War is "Farce"
"The drug war has been going on since I got back from Vietnam. This thing has been a 42-year-old farce, a disaster of enormous proportions. America has declared war on terror, war on drugs – neither of them have worked. It’s a capitalist need/desire. That’s what the drug war is. It’s not a war on drugs, it’s a war for money. In the same vein that the War on Terror is a continuing George Orwell type of verbal war. It’s a forever war."
On Back to Making Pulpy Entertainment
"I have lived through the worst – my nightmare. I don’t want to make a movie about that right now. I’ve done that a lot."
What America Needs to Learn
"I think war tears societies apart. Sometimes we forget that because we haven’t had one at home in so long. When 2001 happened, the people were panicked and scared. The politicians used it in the wrong way as an opportunity to carry out their neo-conservative agenda. It seems that we’ve forgotten why Vietnam happened. I think the lack of history has really hurt us. We overreacted, and we created a war. How do I feel about it? Terrible, it’s a nightmare. Does it mean that the country has to go through a war? Probably, in order to learn something and to grow again. Right now, we’re not in a very good place."
America Endorsed Torture
"Torture is in our movie. Torture exists. Torture came into being a long time ago, but it’s enhanced itself. And certainly George Bush has a large role to play in endorsing torture, as does Dick Cheney."
"What directors think about…"
"This is what a director thinks about. I’m looking all the way up, a mile away, and I see a projection booth. And I think, Oh my God, my film is going to be very, very faded by the time it gets to the screen. There’s no way it’s going to have the same vibrant colors. It’s a big theater, but please bear with it. Keep in mind that it’s a long throw from up there. That’s what directors think about."
The Zurich Film Festival runs through September 30.