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Author Topic: Miramax Shelves "Unpatriotic" Movies
'lance
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posted 13 December 2002 03:54 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
If a major star like Michael Caine, with a shot at Best Actor, has so much trouble persuading a Hollywood studio to release a film [like The Quiet American that criticizes US foreign policy of a half-century ago, what is happening to other films that somebody might consider unpatriotic or anti-American? We already know about another completed film now regarded as a problem: Buffalo Soldiers, an antimilitary satire about the US Army in Germany in 1989, which one critic said "makes M*A*S*H look like a recruitment video." That's another one that Miramax acquired before 9/11 and then put on hold. Miramax told the Times it planned to release the film in March with a new voiceover by Joaquin Phoenix, but events in Iraq could change those plans.

Cave.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
josh
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posted 13 December 2002 04:01 PM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Find it ironic that "The Ugly American" was released in 1963 shortly after the Cuban Missle Crisis. Of course JFK was president then, not Herr Bush.
From: the twilight zone between the U.S. and Canada | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 13 December 2002 04:11 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Miramax's burying the movie doesn't surprise me in the least. I believe most distributors have no soul, and as for morals... Well, don't get me started.

I'd really like to figure out how to get my hands on a copy of Quiet American, though. Brendan Fraser AND Michael Caine... This I have to see.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alix
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posted 13 December 2002 04:33 PM      Profile for Alix     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Grrrrr

And I was so looking forward to The Quiet American, and now goodness knows if I'll get to see it before it goes to video.

This whole situation pisses me off so much!


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Lima Bean
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posted 13 December 2002 04:39 PM      Profile for Lima Bean   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This is just the kind of media manipulation that I was getting at in this thread. It started out as a discussion about human sheilds, but became a discussion about free press and public awareness...

Makes me mad...

[ December 13, 2002: Message edited by: Lima Bean ]


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swallow
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posted 13 December 2002 05:58 PM      Profile for swallow     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We may get to see this film at lleast in art-cinema release. I saw a preview for it at the Cumberland theatre in Toronto this week, and doesn't that usually mean that it's about to be released?

At any rate, the book (still easy to pick up in any country) should be required reading -- the US slide into Vietnam under people like Col. Edward Lansdale (and yes, JFK) is looking awfully familiar today.


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'lance
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posted 13 December 2002 06:19 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hollywood has definitely changed. During the depths of the Vietnam War, they released both M*A*S*H and Catch-22, neither of which -- to put it mildly -- spoke highly of the US military.

On the other hand, nobody made a movie about Vietnam during Vietnam -- except for John Wayne, with The Green Berets. And as Michael Herr said, that really wasn't about Vietnam, it was about Santa Monica.


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Smith
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posted 13 December 2002 11:37 PM      Profile for Smith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The New Yorker reviewed The Quiet American in its last issue - if it's being pulled, they didn't seem to know about it.

I heard it had been toned down a lot from the anti-Americanism of the book. The book is just vicious - I hope they didn't tone it down too much, because the viciousness of it is so much fun.

I find it very interesting contrasting From Here To Eternity with Pearl Harbor. Same subject, two very, very different treatments. Blind patriotism is all the rage these days.

If I don't get to see TQA, I'll be pissed off. I think Michael Caine is a little old to play the Englishman, but he's wonderful enough that I can overlook it - and Brendan Fraser would make a perfect Pyle.

[ December 13, 2002: Message edited by: Smith ]


From: Muddy York | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
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posted 13 December 2002 11:43 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The movie isn't being pulled *now*. It's being released after Miramax sat on it for over a year.
From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 13 December 2002 11:52 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, sorry for the slightly misleading thread title. Certainly the thing was shelved for a considerable period. And exactly what kind of release it's getting is still a little unclear to me. I'll have to re-read the New Republic thing.

Edited to add:

quote:
I find it very interesting contrasting From Here To Eternity with Pearl Harbor. Same subject, two very, very different treatments. Blind patriotism is all the rage these days.

The Quiet American was also filmed in 1958, by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. I haven't seen this version, but I was told by someone who has that Pyle, rather than being a more or less "witting" (as they used to say in covert circles) agent, is framed, set up as the apparent author of nefarious deeds by... none other than nefarious Communists, of course. Fascinating. Hardly surprising, in a barely-post-McCarthy Hollywood film, but fascinating nonetheless.

[ December 14, 2002: Message edited by: 'lance ]


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The Libertarian
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posted 14 December 2002 02:43 AM      Profile for The Libertarian        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
it would stand to reason that a business would not release a product into an unfavourable market. Ergo Miramax and others will probably release such films at a later date when the furour of the attacks against the US have died down and the call to arms has ceased.
These are, afterall, money making ventures, not art studios.

From: OK, USA | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smith
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posted 14 December 2002 03:08 AM      Profile for Smith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's not just an issue of profits. It's an issue of freedom of expression.

Not to mention that there's no evidence that unpatriotic movies would necessarily do badly in this climate. Look at Bowling for Columbine. I don't think profit is necessarily the issue; if it were, Miramax wouldn't put out art movies at all.

quote:
The Quiet American was also filmed in 1958, by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. I haven't seen this version, but I was told by someone who has that Pyle, rather than being a more or less "witting" (as they used to say in covert circles) agent, is framed, set up as the apparent author of nefarious deeds by... none other than nefarious Communists, of course.

He is indeed framed, and he dies a hero's death. I haven't seen it, but I hear the Vietnamese girl is played by an Italian actress.

Ah, Hollywood.


From: Muddy York | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
The Libertarian
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posted 14 December 2002 03:13 AM      Profile for The Libertarian        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
uhm, i think Bowling is bombing...but i dont know the actual figures, thats from some where on www.Salon.com. you are free to exprss whatever you like. And distribution companies are free to not distribute it and owners are free not to sell it. Sorry but if i own a movie i can market whenever and to whomever i wish without stomping on anyone's "freedom of expression".
From: OK, USA | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smith
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posted 14 December 2002 03:23 AM      Profile for Smith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
uhm, i think Bowling is bombing...

I'd be surprised. It's been selling out for weeks here.

It's made almost $13 million and been in the top 60 in the US for nine weeks. It set the all-time opening box office record for a documentary in the US.

Not bad for an indie documentary in limited release. Obviously it's not beating the latest Bond movie, but how well do documentaries usually do?

quote:

but i dont know the actual figures

Colour me surprised.

quote:

Sorry but if i own a movie i can market whenever and to whomever i wish without stomping on anyone's "freedom of expression".

Of course. I get that. But I can look askance at you for your choices. And isn't it just a little interesting that one has to fight this hard to get even a mildly unpatriotic movie released by a large studio?

Commercial and political interests seem to be lining up rather nicely.

[ December 14, 2002: Message edited by: Smith ]


From: Muddy York | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
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posted 14 December 2002 03:24 AM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Talking about movies that can't get US screen time:

Eleven short films about 9/11

A collection of movies about September 11 is winning praise round the world - except in the US, where it is yet to find a distributor. By Duncan Campbell

Friday December 13, 2002
The Guardian

It is September 11 2001 and a young man goes missing in New York. Because of his eastern name and his Islamic religion, he is suspected of being involved in the attack. The FBI inquire about him. The neighbours of his family show their disapproval. Eventually it transpires that, as a trained paramedic, the young man had rushed to the scene to help the survivors and had died doing so.

His true story, one of the many tales of heroism on that day, is the basis of Mira Nair's contribution to 11'09"01, the title for 11 films by 11 directors of 11 different nationalities that, in 11 minutes and nine seconds each, consider the events of September 11. The directors include Ken Loach, Claude Lelouch, Mira Nair, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Sean Penn, and the countries represented include Egypt and Burkina Faso, Israel and Iran. Put together by the French producer Alain Brigand, the films vary from the quietly reflective and personal to the more internationalist and polemical. All the contributions are provocative in different ways and at least four are real gems.

But while the film has been released in 17 countries and has won plaudits at film festivals around the world, the one major territory where it has yet to find a release is the US. Mira Nair, who feels passionately about the project, believes that there is an audience within the US that is hungry for such a film. She attended a screening of the film in front of 600 people at Columbia University in New York and says it was received with great enthusiasm.

"It was seen as a very brave and interesting film and there was a lot of discussion afterwards," says Nair. "It was a crowd that was hungry to know what the media doesn't let us know in this country."

She believes there is a sizeable market for the film, which should allow it distribution on the independent circuit. "But it's hard because it's an overtly political film," she says, adding that the suggestion made by one reviewer at the Toronto film festival that the film was "anti-American" was wrong. "It's a cheap shot to say that it's anti-American," says Nair, director of Monsoon Wedding, Salaam Bombay and Mississippi Masala. "What it does is force you to reflect on 9/11 from other parts of the world."

It was her screenwriter, Sabrina Dhawan, who came across the story of the lost paramedic that inspired the film, while Nair had been keen to tackle what she saw as a pervasive Islamophobia that followed the attacks. She had worked closely with the New York-based family of the dead young man and they had wanted his story told, she said, as a way of helping to counter some of the reactions. She and the family are going to Karachi for the showing at the upcoming festival there.

A much bigger project has also had its distribution problems in the US, of course. The Quiet American, starring such names as Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser, had been held up since last year for fear that its critical take on Vietnam might alienate audiences. In fact, it has now been released to glowing reviews and no perceptible hostility; Michael Caine may even win an Oscar. The audience where I saw it last weekend applauded at the end. Nair says that she thought the nervousness over both The Quiet American and 11'09"01 was "triple-guessing" and that there was no need for such overcautiousness.

The US is represented in the film by Sean Penn, who recently nailed his colours to the anti-war mast by placing a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post, attacking the idea of military action against Iraq. He has neither shied away from political controversy nor courted Hollywood's approval, so he was, perhaps, an obvious choice to tackle the subject.

"I thought, what a wonderful chance to explore my own reaction, an opportunity I would wish for all people," says Penn. "After September 11, I cancelled a feature film I was about to make that, in context, was not relevant or had at least not been provoked by this new state of things. I wanted to take a deep breath and try to begin to understand what our new obligation would be."

The result is a beautifully shot film featuring Ernest Borgnine as an elderly and confused widower who lays out his dead wife's dress for her and remains locked in his own private grief and bereavement as the events of the day unfold, unnoticed by him on the television in his tiny apartment.

"The events of that day, tragic as they were, seemed to have been overwhelmingly coopted by the media. And somewhere inside all of us, I think, is not only the recognition of the losses and impact of those horrifying events but also of the mother who lost a son to a drunk driver on that day, to an overdose, a daughter to a murder, a father to an illness," says Penn. "Loss comes every day and pain follows it. The question has always been how to be at peace with today and believe tomorrow can be better."

Perhaps the most harrowing episode to watch is that directed by the Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who made Amores Perros two years ago. It shows, in greater detail that has been shown on television, people falling from the buildings, their arms and legs still waving as they plunged to their deaths.

"I wanted to express that this event is beyond politics, that it has more to do with the dark side of our nature," says Inarritu of his participation. Ironically, he had moved to New York with his family because it seemed safer than an increasingly violent Mexico City. "It has more to do with Cain and Abel than with Bush and Osama. This is a problem of human beings projecting themselves, their fears and desires, through a God that has been deformed for their own convenience, and using him to justify their actions. This is something that is happening in the east and the west. It is about the emotional spirituality, the fanaticism, the fundamentalism, the nationalism and the misinterpretation that man has made of God's light."

He said that he wanted to avoid "political gibberish and rhetoric" but he was struck by the claims and counterclaims to good and evil. "If you review the terminology of Bush's speeches and Osama's messages, it is scary because beyond reasonable fact, they were talking about good, evil and God, all of which are very vulnerable and subjective matters. So the question at the end is for both sides of the world."

The film has had a mixed response from critics in the US, and one American film writer has said that he believes it is commercial rather than ideological concerns that have been holding back a cinema release. There is a market in the US for independent films that might be attacked for being anti-American - as Michael Moore has shown with the success of Bowling for Columbine. Now Nair and her fellow directors are hoping that someone else will follow suit and give 11'09"01 the exposure they feel it deserves - to help prompt a national debate that has still to take place.

11'09"01 is released in the UK on December 27.

[ December 14, 2002: Message edited by: Mycroft ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 14 December 2002 11:59 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Sorry but if i own a movie i can market whenever and to whomever i wish without stomping on anyone's "freedom of expression".

I don't see this as having too much to do with freedom of expression, or the repression thereof. Rather, it looks to me like Miramax being craven cowards -- or perhaps 'opportunists' would be more accurate. Weighing the chances that a backlash against them would cost them more than the films' full release would benefit them, kind of thing.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 14 December 2002 02:08 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Ergo Miramax and others will probably release such films at a later date when the furour of the attacks against the US have died down and the call to arms has ceased.
These are, afterall, money making ventures, not art studios.

Well, they are and they aren't. That's the funny thing about cultural industries.

The paranoia in the film industry following Sept 11/01 killed a lot of pictures due for release, in production, and in pre-production. I know of a couple of Canadian prodcos who primarily do "service productions" (American films that come up here to shoot without any Canadian content, etc.) who went under when pictures were shut down in a partial level of completion.

There's also been some rousing games of "red-light, green-light" as funders with differing opinions and agendas either promise or pull funding. 9/11 had an enormous impact on the film industry in and out of the US.

quote:
Sorry but if i own a movie i can market whenever and to whomever i wish without stomping on anyone's "freedom of expression".

That's not entirely accurate, and shows you have a fairly limited knowledge of the film industry, especially the part that pertains to distribution. You can't market to whomever you please because there are only a few big companies who just happen to own the majority of the screens in North America, and they don't look so kindly at competition. Distribution is the toughest part of indie filmmaking. Unless it's melodramatic fluff supporting the status quo with a "name" star, you've got a hard sell on your hands, regardless of how good your film is.

Another quick point -- Bowling for Columbine is actually doing well even if it isn't making the scads and scads of bucks that something like the latest Bond film or Arnie Schwarzenegger flick does because it has less recoupment to make up. If you spend $100 million, you have to make that up before you see profit. If you spend $100 thousand, you've got a lot less distance to cover. So if you look at it in terms of percentage (which is how distributors and equity financers look at it), Bowling for Columbine is actually sitting pretty.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Smith
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posted 14 December 2002 05:20 PM      Profile for Smith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Indeed. I don't know how much it cost to shoot it, but I'd guess it was much less than $13 million.

It's like any other business - they look at ratio of expenditure to revenue. That's why My Big Fat Greek Wedding is considered such a success - not because it grossed $200 million, lots of movies do that, but because roughly $195 million of that is profit.

Bowling for Columbine has also continued to make money weeks into its release - unlike many of Hollywood's crappier movies, which open big and then peter out within a few weeks. Video sales on BFC will probably be pretty good.


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Mycroft_
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posted 14 December 2002 06:20 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Michael Moore's publishers were considering pulping Stupid White Men (which was due to be released after 9-11) but were somehow persuaded to "risk" releasing it - probably because of costs already incurred.
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pogge
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posted 14 December 2002 09:02 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Moore was on Politically Incorrect shortly before it was cancelled, and addressed this. He said it was a prominent conservative who called the publishers and convinced them that 9/11 shouldn't be used as an excuse for stifling dissenting views. I wish I could remember who the prominent conservative was, but I can't.
From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
The Libertarian
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posted 14 December 2002 09:32 PM      Profile for The Libertarian        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
its wrong to compare literature and film markets. They have vastly different consumer bases. This means they publish movies (entertainment, not documentaries) and books for different reasons.
From: OK, USA | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Smith
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posted 14 December 2002 09:48 PM      Profile for Smith     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So?
From: Muddy York | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged

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