Larry Mantle |

Oliver Stone and foreign affairs

Oliver Stone, director of South of the Border

I drove out to Beverly Hills Tuesday with "AirTalk" producer Roger Rudick for an interview with Oliver Stone. His latest movie is "South of the Border," a documentary featuring Stone's interviews with several leftist presidents of South American countries. The real star is Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

What's most notable about the doc isn't its high praise for Chavez, it's how visually pared down it is. This is the man who's directed "Natural Born Killers," "JFK," and "The Doors" -- all films loaded with Stone's dynamic style. "South of the Border" is so bare-bones that, were Stone not in it and narrating it, you'd never peg it as his.

We'll air the interview Friday morning during "Film Week on AirTalk." I wish you could see Stone's facial expressions of exasperation as I challenged several of the film's assertions about Chavez. In frustration with me he finally asked whether I'd seen the movie, as though that should have been sufficient to make any viewer accept Stone's depictions.

At the close, a clearly frustrated Stone muttered that we're NPR and get government funding. Therefore we must be blindly supporting the U. S. government's line on Chavez. As he walked out I tried to explain that our support comes almost completely from listeners, not the feds. I don't think he was too interested -- either in that information or in having someone ask challenging questions.

(Photo credit: Francois Duhamel)