As the media gratefully takes a pass on Iraq, the election or anything else
of depressing substance for the golden opportunity for endless inanity presented by the new OJ case, the
success of the upcoming spate of War on Terror related movies seems in doubt. After all, don’t people go to the movies to escape the troubles of
the world rather than be confronted with them? And when the news itself
doesn’t even want to think of all that bad stuff, what chance does “In The
Valley of Elah” (which I think is a crock, but that’s not my point) have
against, say, “Good Luck Chuck?”
indeed, some pundits and critics have already buried the trend before the first films have barely been released.
Carr in “The New York Times:” “Are audiences ready for the steady stream of
movies and documentaries that bring a faraway war very close? … historically,
audiences enter the theater in pursuit of counter-programming as an antidote to
isTodd McCarthy, lead critic for “Variety."
After catching Brian De Palma's "Redacted," Nick Broomfield's
"Battle for Haditha,” Paul Haggis' "In the Valley of Elah," James C. Strouse's "Grace Is Gone"
at the Toronto film festival, he concludes, “I think I know exactly where
they're coming from and that I'm not going to learn anything new from them… Just
the war sucks, Bush sucks, America is down the tubes.Does anyone in Hollywood think anything different than this? According
to polls, more than 60% of Americans also agree.” The anti-war films, he adds,
are an inverted instance of the gung-ho war movies of seven decades ago: “Just
as, during World War II, Hollywood pictures had a unified aim, to rally viewers
around the war effort and present an image of the Allies prevailing, today they
are also identical in nature, except in the opposite direction.”
those war movies do pretty well commercially? And if they hadn’t be sure the
ever-bottom-line-minded studios would have stopped making them. Then maybe films
reflecting an anti-war mood might draw an audience also. According to
the IMDB, the preliminary box office reports on “Elah” look pretty good.
(“a solid $150,000 in nine
theaters, averaging $17,000 per theater.” ) Since all
they’re getting from the news is fluff and from the administration spin and
lies, maybe the 60+% of the people who think the war might be a bad idea
will show up for films that offer them an escape from make-believe and back into reality.