I've been attending screenings, parties, & schmoozing with the rich and boring at The Toronto Film Festival.
Later I'll talk about the films that have done well, but it should come as no surprise that the response to several Iraq themed films that are screening here, including Redacted, Valley of Elah, Rendition and Battle for Haditha, has been lackluster.
At first I thought that perhaps this was only the opinion of a small minority, but in truth, it's not. While Reuters insists the films have had "positive response", a reality check proves otherwise.
A top inde producer told Reuters that he did not believe:
" the many Iraq war movies playing here would find audiences,..... people were tired of being bombarded with war and killing on television, the Web and in newspapers and magazines."
That aptly expresses the general feeling towards these films by those in the industry and by the general public in attendance at the festival. Also weighing in is film critic Richard Roeper, a liberal who is no fan of the Bush administration:
"Of course we shouldn't shirk from the atrocities, alleged and confirmed, committed by our side. But would it be so horrible to make a film showing American soldiers performing genuine heroics?"
Director Nick Broomfield of "Battle for Haditha" told Reuters
"I think there was a hope until about two years ago that there might be a way forward, that democracy was going to work, and I don't think anyone has that belief anymore. We need to look at things in detail to make informed decisions."
But Bloomfield makes no bones about his intent: he wants to persuade the US government to pull troops out of Iraq.
"It’s the runup to the American election so it’s an important time to influence the American public now in a way that goes beyond the television news."
Someone needs to tell this dolt, that the Marines do not join the Army- they join the Marine Corps!
"I hate the way they join the army and they turn into killing machines, but you can’t blame the marines. If you teach a dog to be an attack dog, which is what they are, don’t be surprised when they attack."
While Broomfield insists that his film "Battle for Haditha"
"doesn’t truly vilify anyone, not the men who plant the bomb nor the jittery soldiers who commit a terrible crime in a moment of madness"
that statement more than implies that Nick has followed in the footsteps of John Murtha indicting the Haditha Marines of murder despite the fact that at least three Marines had all charges dismissed against them when exonerated by the evidence; that the evidence against another Marine remains inconclusive, and that based on the evidence gathered, all charges against the remaining Marines will more than likely be dropped.It's utterly inconceivable to me that after hearing Broomfield's comments, Elliot Ruiz and Eric Mehalacopoulos, two actors in the film, both former Marines who had tours of duty in Iraq, can honestly believe that the Marines have been fairly represented in this film and that "Nick didn't take sides" .
While these films, particularly"Battle for Haditha" have received some critical kudos, look for the lackluster response at The Toronto Film Festival to ensure an even more lackluster, if not dismal, response at the box office.
American movie audiences could care less about, and are fed up, with the long list of manipulative left wing agenda based excessively violent Iraq themed films that endlessly disparage our brave men and women serving in the Military, many of whom have had several tours of duty in Iraq, and dishonor those who have paid the ultimate price. The latest doc “No End in Sight” has earned less than $1 million at the box office, while a slew of documentaries that hit theaters last year also bombed. Irwin Winkler’s feature film, “Home of the Brave,” about returning Iraq war veterans, also failed earning a paltry $44,000 in U.S. ticket sales.
A feel good, kick our enemies ass, true story about the brave actions of our soldiers & Marines will be much better received. Just ask Michael Yon.
Update: 9/15----Variety's Todd McCarthy weighs in:
No matter the specific qualities of the writing, filmmaking and performances; the problem for me is that all these films emanate from precisely the same mindset, the safest, least provocative attitude it is possible to have: the war sucks, Bush sucks, America is down the tubes.
But yet another knee-jerk condemnation of Bush, wayward soldiers and misguided policy, such as exported torture (as in another underwhelming new film, "Rendition")? I've been hearing all that for years and I'd rather spend my time learning and experiencing something new and forward-looking, as well as analyzing the ever-changing political map of the Middle East, not stewing in the juices of stale vitriol.
Now that the vast majority of Americans have misgivings, at the very least, about the Iraq adventure, producers are betting that mainstream audiences may be ready, up to a point, for the homefront stories of mangled, maimed and disturbed vets and their families. But the overt polemics of most of the Iraq films thus far, such as those expressed so predictably at the end of "In the Valley of Elah," seem calculated to once again stir up the Cindy Sheehan crowd, to preach to the converted of four years ago. Move on, indeed.
Read: War films crash and burn in Toronto