Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Introducing P.O.R. and Our Effects on the World of Movies

The "people of religion" (my new, copyrighted, politically-correct phrase for people who believe in God) have been blamed for many things over the ages - e.g famine, the Ten Commandments, persecution of witches, The Lord's Prayer, the Bill of Rights, plagues, locust, the Pledge of Allegiance, tsunamis, etc. I am proudly among this ever-shrinking minority of Americans. We "people of religion" (hereafter, abbreviated, simply "P.O.R."), and others like me, have endured these past condemnations with a combination of pride and a resolute sense that "we have done the right thing."

However, I draw the line when the P.O.R. are blamed for bad movies. You see, according to the esteemed Oliver Stone, the P.O.R. are responsible for the poor box office revenues for his latest release, "Alexander." This $150 million sewer-clogging epic has, according to the latest box office figures, grossed a paltry $35 million in U.S. distribution. The 3-hour snooze-fest garnered negative reviews from the New York Times (which called the script "inane" and that was one of the nicest things the reviewer said) to the San Jose Mercury News (which says, among other things, the movie is "so over the top that you begin to expect The Village People to show up as part of Alexander's war council") and most every stop in between. Even Roger Ebert, that Teddy Bear of reviewers and widely known for being all-too-kind to even the most blatant Hollywood waste (for God’s Sake, he gave Stanley Kubrick’s "Eyes Wide Shut" 4-stars!!), could only meekly offer that "Alexander is not a success, but it is ambitious and risky." Is that a good thing, Roger? Even Colin Farrell, that embodiment of Irish virtue and bleach blond star of the film, acknowledged that friends who had seen the film had told him: "It's not exactly Gladiator."

Despite being bludgeoned to a early death by the reviewers, Oliver refused to accept any blame for both writing and directing "Alexander" directly into the commode. Oh, contraire, mon ami! He has chosen to take the low ground. According to the Oscar winning director, the real culprits behind his film’s early exit from theaters near you was, you might have guess already, we P.O.R.

In an interview given in London and reported by the Associated Press, Stone said the film's commercial failure in the United States could be linked to "a raging fundamentalism in morality in the U.S." He elaborated further, and more geographically, when he said "From day one audiences didn't show up. They didn't even read the reviews in the south because the Media was using the words, 'Alex the gay.' As a result you can bet that they thought, 'We're not going to see a film about a military leader that has got something wrong with him."'

Old Ollie goes even further. He also blames the United States’ invasion of Iraq for the film’s poor box-office performance. In one interview, he claimed audiences saw too many similarities between Alexander the Great’s invasions to that of President Bush. He was quoted : "Because Alexander at times sounds like George (W) Bush, (people) get the two confused. I think it makes people feel queasy about empire and the concepts that Alexander espoused but Alexander was not attacking the east in order to drain it of its resources. He stayed in the east." Ollie is implying, of course, that Alexander the Great (a.k.a. "Queer Eye for the Macedonian Guy") was pure of purpose when he invaded the Middle East. We, of course, are just doing it to grab oil reserves."

The comparisons were also not lost on the intellectual Colin Farrell, the mini-toga wearing, waxed-leg hero of the film. He was quoted by Anthony Breznican (November 24, 2004) of the AP as saying "The film was never made for the purposes of a correlation or to say anything about today's present state. People say history repeats itself, well it does in different ways, shapes and forms. This was kind of a freaky coincidence that our story takes place exactly where all the madness we're all talking about takes place now." When Colin Farrell talks history, people listen!

Richard Corliss, writing in Time magazine, attributes much too much insight to the film. He suggests that the film is an allegory for our time: "This Alexander is a clear model for George Bush, pursuing destiny or delusion from the civilized West into Babylon-Baghdad, completing the quest George H.W. Bush left unfinished."

Of, for pity’s sake, people! Let’s just agree that the film is a giant vacuum - it just plain sucks.

Critics can be truthful and say it’s just really bad or they can really stretch and say things like "it may be really bad but it has a message." It certainly does have a message. The message is, clearly, even Oscar-winning directors can sometimes produce Scheiße. [Nota Bene: You’ll need a German dictionary for that last word.]

To conclude, Ollie has said, when discussing his latest movie, "I operate on my passion and sometimes I'm naive, I don't think about the consequences." Note to Ollie: When you are spending $150 million of someone else’s money, you might want to start thinking of the that little detail of consequences. Just a thought from a lowly P.O.R.

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