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October 1999, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Stephen Brophy <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 8 Oct 1999 05:56:09 -0700
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Colleagues - Perhaps the most intelligent movie produced by mainstream
Hollywood since "L. A. Confidential" is in danger of dying a premature
death.  "Three Kings" did not do as well as expected during its opening
weekend, October 1-3, and is widely rumored to have been dropped by Warner
Brothers promotions, even though the studio paid $50 million for it.
Theater owners in some parts of the country requesting one of the ads that
use a "masterpiece" blurb are being told to cut and paste it from other
publications, according to one story.
        The film has already been badly marketed, with its trailer
emphasizing the "macho soldiers out on a lark"  and caper aspects, and
making a confusing jumble of the rest.  Given this faulty marketing, and
the fact that the film's stars are more identified with action movies than
art, is it any wonder that people who crave intelligent filmmaking don't
know that this is one to treasure?
        If this film does not find its audience pretty immediately, what
will be the repercussions for other studio film projects that dare to do
things like explicitly condemn George Bush's conduct of the so-called
"Desert Storm" war against the Iraqi people?  That spend some screen time
actually thinking about what modern war does to its participants?  That are
as visually playful and inventive as the young Truffaut of "Shoot the Piano
Player?"  This film was written and directed by David O. Russell, who gave
us "Spanking the Monkey" and "Flirting With Disaster," and has given us
here a story every bit as smart and sharp and full of heart, but on a much
grander scale, than those comedies.
        Is it possible that we could use the Internet to turn the fate of
this provocative film around?  What if most of the thousand or so people on
the two lists I am posting this plea to (H-Film and Screen-L; I apologize
to those who receive this twice) were to take friends and family to see
this movie this weekend?  And if they then spread the word to other
film-lovers lists and groups.  Maybe by the films 4th weekend it could sell
more tickets than is sold its first week.  If we can pull this off, we will
have successfully spoken up for more intelligent, artistic filmmaking from
        If you want to know why I consider this film to announce the
arrival of a major new filmmaker, check out my review at the website listed

Stephen Brophy - Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Visit my review archives at

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