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David Poland

By David Poland

Why Is The Best Feature About Iraq Still Without US Distribution?

14 Responses to “Why Is The Best Feature About Iraq Still Without US Distribution?”

  1. Me says:

    Because American audiences don’t want documentaries about Iraq, don’t want fictional films about Iraq, don’t want metaphors about Iraq in their films. Hell, American audiences don’t even want to pay attention to information about Iraq on the nightly news. After wasting millions of dollars, I think the distributors are starting to catch on. (Unless of course you count that Matt Damon/Amy Adams one that got greenlit somehow…)

  2. Roman says:

    If you’d at least seen the trailer you’d know it’s not a documentary. It got a good buzz in Toronto, so hopefully eventually it’ll get picked up.

  3. Direwolf says:

    Because America as a whole can’t face up to the fact that we lost in Iraq. Bad enough it was wrong in the first place. Even worse that we screwed it up. Liberals already know the story these movies tell us. Conservatives don’t want to face the pain of reality.
    I really don’t mean this as a political statement. Just my view of why these movies are failing to find an audience.

  4. gogo says:

    I don’t want to see that film. I’ve read the article in the New Yorker, I’ve seen the piece on CNN, I’ve read about it in the New-York Times, it’s painfull and ugly, Horrible. I Know the war is a mistake, I know some soldiers have done attrocious things, children have been killed, women raped, lives destroyed…
    Maybe I’m wrong but I just don’t want to spend some time watching a horrible story that is still unfolding in real life while I’m sitting confortably eating a pop-corn.
    I don’t like torture-porn. I don’t like war-porn.

  5. Malone says:

    Whatever happened to Pat Dollard?
    The huge VF article about his Iraq war film and his “antics,” a little love from Jeff W, and it’s like he fell off the face of the earth.
    Anybody know anything?

  6. Aris P says:

    Malone — one of the most entertaining articles I’ve ever read in my life, and I read pretty much all of them. Not sure how “sympathetic” Dollard would be in a film, ergo, nothing will ever come of it.
    Also I’m thinking that “a little love from Jeff W” might not have been such a good thing, all things considered.

  7. jeffmcm says:

    Pat Dollard is alive and kicking and turning his footage into a reality show under the banner of Scott Free Films.
    I can tell you much more about what he’s up to beyond that.

  8. LexG says:

    Does this one use LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR in the trailer?
    Because STOP-LOSS does, and that trailer OWNS.
    I’ll again observe that NO ONE on this site is fucking METAL or HARDCORE at ALL, but BODIES by DROWNING POOL is the best song ever.
    Poland, OBVIOUSLY you wouldn’t lower yourself to answer this question, but do you ever listen to METAL?
    People who don’t listen to METAL are usually douchebags.
    Distorted E-string power chord thrash 4 Life.
    ALL other music is for bitches.

  9. jeffmcm says:

    Lex, you and Pat Dollard would get along well.

  10. Tofu says:

    That was… Weak. B-grade delivery, on the level of The Hills Have Eyes 2. Not terrible enough to be insulting, but not executed well enough to draw you in at all.

  11. hendhogan says:

    this is an exercise in futitlity. too many people enter the debate with set, preconceived notions on both sides of the ledger.
    the liberals will claim it’s denial over what really happens in iraq. the conservatives will claim it’s tired of the slated reporting coming out of iraq.
    most people go to the movies for entertainment. when it comes to iraq, too many doubt the intentions of the filmmakers (rightly or wrongly) on both sides of the aisle. when there’s a fundamental lack of trust between the audience and the filmmaker, there’s no way these films can be successful financially.

  12. Nicol D says:

    Well put.
    It will be at least a generation or so before we can really tell good stories about what happened in Iraq. Right now, for better or for worse, the dust has not settled and both sides do not want to even explore the opposing sides. SImilarly, Hollywood is just not moderate enough to be as comlplex and nuanced as these films really need to be.
    That is why Stone’s Bush film is also useless. It takes time to get perspective in anything regardless of your politics. That is just a truism. When you are in the thick of it, either side just reeks of propaganda.

  13. brack says:

    Maybe because the movies are so serious. The answer would then be….an Iraq comedy? *shrugs*

  14. hendhogan says:

    Maybe because the movies are so serious. The answer would then be….an Iraq comedy? *shrugs*
    maybe we can repurpose the “operation dumbo drop” script!

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin