“In several interviews, sounding variously weary, wounded and either self-deprecating or defensive”, Oliver Stone recently told N.Y. Times reporter David Halbfinger that “his days of deliberate provocation were behind him.” As Stone simply puts it, “I stopped…I stopped.”

World Trade Center (Paramount, 8.9), which Stone has directed, is “not a political film. That’s the mantra they handed me. Why can’t I stay on message for once in a while? Why do I have to take detours all the time?” Halbfinger brings up Paul Haggis‘s adapation of Richard Clarke‘s Against All Enemies, which is mainly about the governmental myopia that led to Al Qeada operatives pulling off the 9/11 attacks — obviously the sort of film that used to be Stone’s stock-in-trade. Stone scoffs at the notion: “I couldn’t do it. I’d be burned alive.” Truly, sadly, this is one U.S Marshall who’s turned in his badge, holster and six-shooter . He’s Gary Cooper in the first few minutes of High Noon, but without Grace Kelly or a wedding ring or a ceremony. What Stone needs is for Frank Miller and his gang to come looking for him…a situation like this will get his heart pumping again.