Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chat: Three Kings

Tracy: So ready to chat Three Kings, a movie that both shows and tells?

Natalie: Ha! Yes. If I'd know we were supposed to do show and tell, I would have brought a cat or something. Before I watched this one, J described it as what war movies should be. I thought that was interesting.

Tracy: That is interesting. And I think that for me, for the first third or so in particular, I really agree. I like how the movie foregrounded and literalized the search for "treasure," and how the Iraqi people got marginalized and instrumentalized when they got in the way. But once they try to save people, I don't know, it started to feel a little preachy or fable-like for me.

Natalie: I agree. I was interested in the culture of these guys and the not-so-tense representation of extraordinarily tense situations. But then it just kind of devolved into a buddy road trip absurdist comedy with a lot of telling us what we should think. We talked about it being long yesterday and I think it would have benefited from some editing for length and content--the ideas were good but then they ran amok, like the guys in the desert.

Tracy: It's true! The movie got away from him a bit. And that torture scene was pretty much out of nowhere, though I liked the contrast between the dungeon he was in and his wife at home--it was another version of the disconnect between war and the homefront that I think was just as successful as Hurt Locker, but it was in the midst of this plot that I had lost interest in. I liked a lot of the particular scenes, but the plot itself towards the end, eh. The whole "let's sacrifice ourselves for these Iraqis," I don't know, I didn't care. I would have preferred these guys to remain who they were rather than become these more traditional "heroes." 

Natalie: The contrast between him and the wife at home was great. I also liked the tiny bits of humor--like the wife calling in his location. I think maybe it thought it could be a little more like O Brother and it failed with plot and tone inconsistencies. I was lost by the end so I didn't care what they did as long as it ended the film.

Tracy: Hah! Yeah, it dragged. And it's weird--it liked turned into this traditional war movie where the young innocent tragically dies. And it didn't start out as that sort of movie at all--it was almost deconstructing those stereotypes and then fell right into them. Do you think that was intentional in some way? Like with Adaptation? Even if so, I didn't like it one bit. (Didn't like it in adaptation either.)

Natalie: At least in Adaptation you knew it was coming--all of the cards were on the table with the genre and whatnot. If it was intentional, it needed more intent, if that makes sense at all.

Tracy: True. I did like the more unusual shots and such. I like David O. Russell as a rule, but this was just a bit of a mess. Did J say anymore about what he liked about it?

Natalie:I like him in general but he does tend to like to play with genre mashing in a way that isn't always successful. Silver Linings Playbook does it a bit with more success but, eh--it goes the same Hollywood ending way. J didn't say much about it since I hadn't seen it yet and then I forgot to ask him . . .

Tracy: That's interesting. Maybe he has an ending problem. This would be easier to ascertain if I could remember how Flirting with Disaster or Huckabees ended.

Natalie: I can't remember how anything else he did ends. I only remember Silver Linings because I just saw it and we were just talking about the end in the office. But, yeah, if he has a problem with endings that could explain all of the problems.

Tracy: And he's psycho. We can't forget that. So do we think it should be included? I'm on the fence with this one.

Natalie: HA! Psycho does cause a variety of issues. Eh. I'm on the fence. I don't hate it but I don't want to watch it again and I can't imagine why we needed to see it.

Tracy: I can't either. It's not like it was a masterpiece enough or influential enough. I'm going to say no. 

Natalie: That's true--definitely not a masterpiece and I'm not immediately thinking of anything it influenced. So, me too for a no.

Tracy: I wonder if we watch any others of his. And not only do I not have the book with me, I left it in the Fort. Duh.

Natalie: I thought you might have. I meant to look last night but totally failed. I'll look when I get home and then we can discuss via e-mail to add it. I'm not sure about others. Maybe Fighter was added?

Tracy: Oh, I forgot about Fighter! I think I did like that one all the way through, ending included, as I recall. But yes, maybe fighter. I'd put Huckabees in there, but I'm not sure if the editors did.

Natalie: I have the list in my e-mail . . . no Huckabees or Fighter

Tracy: Well, there you go! So I bet we're done with Russell . . . for now.

Natalie: Yep! I'm not sure why they didn't add Fighter but whatever, especially given their Oscar hard-on.

Tracy: Ack! Have to get to class. We can definitely chat more via email when we hear what the almighty editors say. Hee to Oscar hard-on. :)

Note: I've completely failed repeatedly to look in the book that sits beside my bed to see why the editors wanted us to watch this film. So, in the interest of actually continuing the blog, I'm just posting this now--seems we never agree with the reasons and/or there aren't real reasons anyway.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Three Kings (1999)

There has been a lot of talk (at least there was, post Hurt Locker) about the dearth of good Iraq War films. And usually, people mean the second one. The first (Hey, remember the 90s?) has its pinnacle in David O. Russell's Three Kings. George Clooney, joined by a "hey, he can act!" Mark Wahlberg and a "hey, he's not embarrassing himself!" Ice Cube, goes searching for gold in the midst of an uprising against Saddam Hussein. The movie is funny, action-packed, and politically astute.