Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We Can't Wait #13 Stop-Loss

Directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry)
Starring A who's who of young (male) Hollywood
Synopsis A soldier (Ryan Phillipe) who believes he's done with his tour of duty in Iraq is called back due to the Stop-Loss clause.
Brought to you by MTV & Paramount
Expected Release Date March 28th, 2008

Nathaniel: Joe wrote a good piece on why people (himself included) might actually want to see the Iraq themed Stop-Loss, media concerns be damned, by why are the rest of you anxious for Kimberly Peirce's soldiers inbetween tours drama? Is it the cast: Channing Tatum, JGL, the Ex Mr. Witherspoon, Victor "Vargas" Razuk? Subject? Director? All of the above?

MaryAnn: Well, *I'm* media -- not huge corporate military- industrial- entertainment -complex media, but media nevertheless -- and I've been saying much the same thing for a while now, that it looks like Americans don't want to hear about Iraq, that we've stuck our collective fingers in our collective ears and are collectively saying "Nah, nah, nah, can't hear you!" I mean, since when do reviews impact movies starring Tom Cruise and Reese Witherspoon. They're two of the biggest movie stars on the planet, and if they can't put asses in seats, then I gotta conclude that means people do not want to hear about Iraq.

But I do, and I keep railing about how we all need to know what's being done in our name, and how it is affecting our soldiers, which is why I'm looking forward to this one. Plus: JGL is shaping up into the best young actor working today. And I've been dying to see what Peirce would come up with after Boys Don't Cry, which feels like such a long time ago...

Joe: There's a difference, MaryAnn, between "don't want to hear" and "shouldn't have to hear" and it's that difference that I was talking about. And while critics may not be able to keep people from seeing movies starring big movie stars, the constant drumbeat of the mainstream media dubbing those films failures before they even leave the gate sure can. And that's what I was talking about. If we all seem to be in agreement that the media shapes our perceptions when it comes to politics, I wonder why there seems to be so much resistence to the idea that they can shape our perceptions when it comes to the movies we want to see as well.

Anyway, hot boys destined to break my heart and a director whose return I've been longing for are why I'll see it.

Rob Brown, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Phillipe, Channing Tatum and Victor Rasuk [src]

MaryAnn: I agree that the mega-media shapes our perception in many things. But as you pointed out, the mega-media has told us people didn't want to see a lot of movies they ended up seeing in droves anyway. So where does that leave us? Are we capable of making decisions contrary to what the media tells us we're supposed to, and is there evidence to show that people do in fact do that, or not? Look, I'm the biggest cynic there is, particularly when it comes to the mass media and the idiocy of the average person, and in this case, I think it really is the idiocy and willful ignorance of the average person that is keeping mass audiences from movies about Iraq.

Gabriel: Aren't the gauges of success/failure a little different for Stop-Loss? There's no Cruise, Witherspoon, or Streep in this (mostly) young, mostly indie-oriented cast. I expect it didn't cost a lot to make, and therefore doesn't need to do as much to be "successful".

I'm hoping that Peirce -- who so eloquently and honestly brought the horrors of anti-transgender violence into the theaters of America -- can create a similar mix of controversy, storytelling, and young-turk actors that might jump-start a national conversation. Unlike the narratives of Rendition and Lions for Lambs and The Kingdom, the subject of overworked, over-used, underappreciated soldiers is one of the great unexplored tragedies of the Iraq War. I've got big, big hopes for this one.

MaryAnn: I've got big hopes for this one, too. Not big hopes that it will be a multiplex blockbuster, but big hopes that it'll actually be a powerful film.

Glenn: The reason, I think, for the failure of movies like Rendition, Lions for Lambs and so on is because they looked like awful movies. I saw an ad the other night for Rendition (it's only just being released here, natch) and it was snooooze central and Lions for Lambs? That just looked like people gasbagging for hours on end. I can't say I expect Stop-Loss to be a big hit, but the return of Kimberly Peirce, plus Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Abbie Cornish in her international debut (I don't believe I've heard of this Elizabeth movie you speak of) is enough to get me into the cinema. Channing Tatum (I'm sorry, but his face is like Crichton off of Red Dwarf - can I get a "hell yeah!"?) and Ryan Phillippe are not on my radar, sorry. By the way, do you think there's some mysterious reason why after getting a divorce both Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe decided to star in Iraq-themed films and then hook up with their respective co-stars. Weeeird.

Nathaniel: Rebound lovers and rebonding films: are they trying to make up through the power of the cinema?

MaryAnn: The thing is, though, that Rendition and Lions for Lambs were NOT awful movies...

Gabriel: Define "awful."

MaryAnn: I'll stick to these two movies. Rendition was pretty Hollywood but was an excellent introduction (or would have been, if more people had seen it) to very unAmerican injustices that are being done in the name of our supposed safety, things that Americans should know about. Lions for Lambs was talky, sure, but it presented a balanced, not-hysterical look at the deep mess we're in while also offering hope for fixing it. Both films were well produced and had good performances from appealing casts.

Maybe they were poorly marketed, and that's why no one saw them. I'd like to think that's the case, and not that most Americans prefer their ignorance. I'm not sure I can believe that, though.

Glenn: Since when has that mattered with the general public? From a quick look at the box office charts for any given year after 1980 and the successful films are hardly a barometre of what the quality films were.

MaryAnn: Well, that's what I've been saying. It hasn't mattered before whether movies starring Tom Cruise or Reese Witherspoon were *good,* people went to see them anyway. But not movies about Iraq. Which suggests that people really, really don't want to hear about Iraq.

Nathaniel: Whether or not they do I suspect the topic is to rich dramatically to deter filmmakers who can find patrons somewhere to fund it.

But back to the movie at hand. You'll remember we posted some anonymous positive test screening responses a couple of months back and the movie is but a month away from our hungry eyes. I should also note that Kimberly Peirce is actually blogging and answering questions about her new movie over @ the Stop-Loss site so check that out. I know I will. Think she'll answer why she took so awfully long to follow up her stellar and moving debut.

the countdown
#10 Sex & The City: The Movie
#11 The Lovely Bones
#12 WALL-E
#13 Stop-Loss
#14 The Women
#15 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Introduction / Orphans


The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

I will watch Ryan Philippe in anything (recently have Little Boy Blue on tap. Oh if I only knew how to send money online, I'd have the film experience review that).

Oh, and I'd lay off Channing Tatum for now. Didn't anyone watch A Guide to Recognizing your Saints? The guy is going to grow up to be Eric Roberts. Isn't that enough?

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh, I must say though that Phillippe did impress me in 2007's Breach, but I could have him never make a movie again and I wouldn't be upset. Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the other hand...

H. Alan Scott said...

I sorta, kinda love that Pierce (a fantastic queer director) cast one of the leads in my teenage queer fantasies as the star of her new film (Philippe). Obviously she did it just for me.

RC said...

one of the things i've noticed is that while people have ignored movies about iraq, they haven't ignored the documentaries.

i think people are more interested in factual interpratation over dramatic interpretation.

this movie looks a lot better though then some of the other iraq-based-dramas.

i know i want to see it.

Anonymous said...

Hate to throw a wet blanket on the proceedings (and I've already posted this once before on TFE), but I saw a test screening of Stop-Loss a few months ago and it is an enormous letdown. I was a fan of Boys Don't Cry, so also looking forward to Peirce's next film (especially with such a delicious cast), but it really misses the mark due to trite plot points and no sort of character development. As far as Iraq-themed films go, I think this is the worst one I've seen (I saw LFL, Rendition, and Elah).

Sorry :(

But hey - balance this out with the positive screening review Nathaniel posted awhile ago, and maybe my opinion will be in the minority.


the scott... you should go over to the stop-loss blog then and thank her for fulfilling your fantasy!

derek noted. I'll stay curious though until i see it. One of the reasons i rarely ever post anything test screening related is opinions seem to be all over the map and it's tough to say until the film is locked and loaded and reviewed what the general feel towards it will be.

RJ said...

I still remain unconvinced that Rendition or Lions for Lambs are any good. Movies like that NEED good reviews. Neither got them. You have to remember that. It's too easy to blame America for not seeing movies about Iraq. Without good reviews, people just don't see more serious fare.


another thing derek and i mean NO offense by this because maybe you have extraordinary taste... but i'm finding it harder and harder to trust one person's opinion... anyones. I mean the amount of people who can see a performance like the one Julie Christie gave in Away From Her and come away with "it sucks"...

I just...

the mind reels from how differently people see things.

beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

rural me too.

Anonymous said...

I loooved Boys Don't Cry. I'm definitely looking forward to this one... if "looking forward to" is the right phrase?

Glenn Dunks said...

I'm surprised nobody came out and started hollerin' "Meryl Streep is Iraq-poison!!!" considering the way online film journos are these days.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of Kimberly Pierce's work, and am really looking forward to this movies. All of the comments that the film is getting is just making me want to see it more! The cast is great in my book, and I completely adore Joseph Gordon Levitt

Anonymous said...

maybe people try to stay positive. No one likes the war but the movies are are negative when it comes to talking the war in Iraq.
How about we make something different? Something that shows how the guys/gals in uniform are doing their best to make this thing work... not for Bush or the politicians but for America. Real stories of heroism. Americans and Iraqis standing together to make a difference but no one cares about them. Only crappy stuff get the attention of the people who make movies.
If you can't be famous be infamous!