Friday, October 12, 2007

the KINGDOM

What a surprise! THE KINGDOM tanked at the boxoffice. THE VALLEY OF ELAH did even worse.

Who greenlighted these projects? It seems to me when we’re in a war that most Americans disapprove of, why would we want to see movies about it?

The marketing department for THE KINGDOM must’ve got an inkling of that. Every other day they changed their campaign trying to reposition the movie.

First it was a political thriller. As current as today’s headlines. Twists and turns. A game of cat and mouse. Betrayals and subtitles. Lots of sand in the trailer.

Then it was a love story. Operation Desert Date Night.

And then finally, it’s a Jamie Foxx action flick. He runs. He jumps. He fires weapons. There are explosions. It just happens to be in Saudi Arabia but it could just as easily be Compton.

I imagine a fourth campaign, featuring supporting player Jeremy Piven was also in the works -- Ari Gold is called upon to settle the Middle East crisis.

The time for these movies is when we have some distance. And there are probably five more of these pictures in various stages of development and production (hopefully the Farrelly Brothers aren’t remaking LAWRENCE OF ARABIA with Dane Cook).

So it’s one thing for the country to be torn by this war and our standing in the world severely tarnished, but now it’s effecting Hollywood. Now it’s impacting weekend sales.

Enough is enough. It’s now time to end this war. Ideally before the kids are out of school for Christmas break.

23 comments:

RAC said...

My favorite part of the movie is when the American team gets locked up in the school gym to sleep every night, and the Saudi Police Chief apologizes to Jennifer Garner for not having a "pink" separator curtain between her bunk and the men's. I think they missed a chance here to really show us the real Saudi Arabia and avoid the stereotypical stuff.

Anonymous said...

Beating that political drum ain't funny...

Liked the movie said...

I went to see The Kingdom this Thursday and really enjoyed it. It's very black and white, good guy vs. bad guy movie. Sometimes that's all you want, not subtle nuanced portrayals. I say go see it.

The Crutnacker said...

Dane Cook. I made the mistake of asking why a coworker would actually pay money to see an unfunny guy whose material is stolen from other comedians.

"He's so easy on the eyes."

Another coworker echoed the same sentiment.

What do I know? To me he looks like half the guys that work at my local Circuit City.


Note to George Clooney. Quit movies and start a stand up tour. Do some old Bob Newhart routines.

martin said...

A couple of times in The Kingdom people driving in cars get shot. The bullets pass through the cars. They die.

Then in the climax our heroes hide behind cars while being shot at. The bullets don't pass through the cars. Hoorah! Then the heroes jump out from behind the bulletproof cars and shoot all the baddies. Who can't shoot straight.

And as for the hero being in a primary school when he heard about the terrorist atorcity. Hmm.

The Minstrel Boy said...

let's not send an actor playing a role, how about a real team of evil deal makers?

tell them to settle their stuff out, or we're sending david geffen and michael eisner to sort things out. . .

zadig said...

It's all part of the liberal Hollywood conspiracy. By making bad movies about the war, Hollywood lefties are undermining support for the war, and by extension the troops. If they were more patriotic, the movies would be better, with more not-American things blowing up.

Max Clarke said...

Two excellent movies about Vietnam didn't come out until about 5 years had passed, Coming Home and The Deer Hunter. They won Oscars plenty. However, there was a draft, the war was coming home to every city in America, there had to be some time for things to cool off.

Anonymous said...

What compounds the problem is that when filmmakers do make films about Iraq, 9/11 or the Middle East, they end up dancing around it gingerly, not wanting to offend anyone's sensibilities. If you are going to tackle this subject, then grab it by the throat and show us the whole awful bloody mess like Platoon did for Vietnam, or even Apocalypse Now did in its surreal way. Otherwise don't even bother going there.

JgJ said...

Ken, your post is rather confused. I've no interest in seeing The Kingdom, but from what little I've read about it, I wouldn't lump it together with In the Valley of Elah, which I have seen. Elah is indeed a bleak film, and while it's a bit heavy-handed, it nevertheless endeavors to offer viewers a moving consideration of the effects this war is having on those soldiers and their families actually engaged in the fighting. The film is thoughtful; none of the characters are reduced to caricature. While most moviegoers prefer lighter fare, I'm glad someone in Hollywood is willing to offer American audiences a compelling portrayal of some of the ways this country will be haunted by the war in Iraq long after those who instigated it have left office.

Ken Levine said...

I never knocked ELAH. Or KINGDOM. My point was their timing, the studios misjudging the audience's appetite for Middle East war stories, and in the case of KINGDOM, the shifting marketing campaign.

Anonymous said...

I liked "Valley of Elah" a lot; especially Tommy Lee Jones's performance.

It's more of a character piece than a war -- or even action -- movie, and it didn't fall together for me by the end. I'm still not sure about a couple of things.

Of course, such is the case with life itself.

Ian said...

Interesting. No part of the trailers for "The Kingdom" made me want to see the movie... even if admission were free and they were giving away Junior Mints at the door. Saudi Arabian locale... eeww. Terrorist bombs... eeww. Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Piven... double eeww.

When Pixar makes an animated comedy about the Middle East (with a score by Randy Newman!), I'll go see it.

I can picture it now... a young camel is born with an inverted hump. Naturally, all the other camels make fun of him, but this kid's got grit. Ultimately, he becomes a hero by transporting bomb making materials through a raging sandstorm, using - you guessed it - his inverted hump to conceal his cargo. You see, it's all about determination and being true to yourself and junk.

Michael Zand said...

If the networks ran the war they would have canceled it after four weeks.

If the movie studios ran the war they would have pulled it out of the theaters in two weeks and sent it straight to video.

Hmm, maybe Hollywood should run the world. They couldn't do any worse.

Anonymous said...

THE KINGDOM is exploitation just like BLOOD DIAMOND is explotation. They're trying to be important and pulp at the same time. I smell hypocrisy.

Whatever happened to the art of allegory and metphor. Shit.

And shaky cam makes my guts turn. Let's use our imaginations and stop with the shaky cam. Fuck.

A. Buck Short said...

Ken Levine said...I never knocked ELAH. Or KINGDOM. My point was their timing...

Ken, speaking of genius scheduling, were you the one who observed that the network put “Friday Night Lights” on Friday nights – when all of our Texas high school football fans are out watching high school football – and then wondered why it wasn’t drawing ratings? Hey, we're a big state. Probably good for at least a point or two?

I guess the strategy might be to give it a shot by avoiding strong competition, but even then, the only people home would be those not that obsessed with the subject of the program, so it wouldn’t even draw share.

It’s bothering me that I can’t remember where I saw this. But you’ve become my default setting for that kind of perceptivity.

Michael Zand said...

Yo anonymous,

You don't know what you're talking about. Blood Diamond was a terrific film. It dramatized a tragic issue with great characters and a powerful story. How is that hypocritical? Are you saying that they shouldn't have even bothered with the subject matter. Come to think of it, you probably have no clue what you're saying.

estiv said...

It’s bothering me that I can’t remember where I saw this. But you’ve become my default setting for that kind of perceptivity.

Actually, a. buck short, I think that was me in a comment posted here. With (cough cough) great humility, I will accept the compliment. I guess Ken just attracts the best. As a native Texan myself, it was an easy point to notice.

a. said...

estiv said... Actually, a. buck short, I think that was me in a comment posted here.

Damn! I gave it to Ken. Now I'm gonna have to add the asterisk*

babablowfish said...

Perhaps the reason so many folks are staying home is that they are tired of having liberal propaganda shoved down their throats. Perhaps a nation at war would like to see some Patriotic films for a change. Where have you gone John Milius? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

johnheaton said...

But books about the Iraq War are selling rather well. Five of the top twenty-five military history books on amazon.com are about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and judging from the titles they're not being bought by people who remain enthused about the war.qbnqa

Dwacon said...

Weird, I actually enjoyed the movie. Eh rats...

Anonymous said...

Michael Zand,

BLOOD DIAMOND was an unintentional documentary of how white (western) society invades a troubled place thinking they're doing it a favor and actually end up doing it more harm than good.

The biggest hypocrisy that comes to mind was a promise the production made to amputees in the region they filmed. They promised them prosthetics and they never delivered.

BLOOD DIAMOND was trying to have the best of both worlds. It's RAMBO meets HOTEL RWANDA. I have no problems with either of these films on their own, but together... damn. It was insulting and, maybe not intentionally, racist... or at least ignorant.

Same goes for THE KINGDOM. I heard an interview with Carnahan (the writer) and he pitched it CSI: RIYADH. They succeeded. They made a show about complex issues and turned it into something Americans could swallow while still pushing western ideals in foreign places is acceptable.

BLOOD DIAMOND and THE KINGDOM make no attempt at analyzing these worlds. They make them familiar and they make them with one GIANT, HIDDEN purpose: money.

Don’t get me wrong, I'm all for making money and I think movies are a great way to do that.

But I'm tired of people telling me they have am important message, that they're saving lives, that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator and we must invade IRAQ. Maybe it wouldn’t bother me if those same people weren’t profiting from those peoples lives and deaths.

If it doesn’t bother you, if you have nothing better to do than be cynical of a cynic, then give them your ten bucks and shut the hell up.