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Three Kings (1999)

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I like this film, but it's re-release timing is interesting.

Russell has a new film coming out in Nov/Dec this year (I Heart Huckabees), so that's a nice way of cross promoting it.

Would have loved to have been at the first meeting of Marky Mark and Ice Cube.

Edited by Clint M

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Great to hear. A truly great film.

Only down side is I'll have to buy the new DVD.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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...one of the most underrated films of the 90s, again.

Funny you see it that way. I think of it as one of the most over-rated films of its time. Showed up on tons of critic Top Ten lists, but I didn't care much for it. No time to write much just now, but I thought it was uneven and, in fact, muddle-headed (cake and eat it too syndrome). I guess I didn't particularly mind the hodge-podge of styles and genres (I could forgive that under the po-mo rubric, while secretly suspecting that it was actually a lack of craftsmanship), so much as...

spoilers1.gif

...I was disappointed that the film was doing an provocative job of subverting American Heroes Save The Day War Movie Cliches for much of its running time, only to give into them at the climax. I thought that was just plain offensive for a movie that clearly knew better. The SAVING PRIVATE RYAN flaw.


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Ron wrote:

: . . . cake and eat it too syndrome . . .

It will be interesting to see how this film is received nowadays, since, on the one hand, it rubs our faces in the gory details of bullet wounds etc., yet, on the other hand, it also ends on a note criticizing the first Bush administration for failing to finish the job in Iraq -- a note that SOME would certainly construe as supportive of the second Bush administration's recent actions. (Or was the film only criticizing the first Bush administration for raising the hope of liberation among the Iraqi people? Would the film have been content if that hope had never been raised, and the Iraqi people had been left to live and die under Saddam's regime?)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The most significant thing about this film for me was that it was a key moment in Mel & I getting together. We went to see it with another couple from church (really good friends of mine) while we were still just "housemates", but on the way to becomming a couple (who were no longer living in the same house). It was quite random really as we were meant to be going in a bigger group, but all but us 4 dropped out, and well the rest is history.

I do remember wondering at certain points if she was OK rather than thinking about the film, but also thinking about how powerful it was.

Matt

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Here comes one of the most underrated films of the 90s, again.

Did spot that. Has a huge cult following in the UK. Adorns most student's shelves - possibly as a result of the ongoing DVD sale at HMV...

it's re-release timing is interesting

I thought the release timing was a little...hmm... advantageous of a negative situation - i.e. the current war. Seemed it was making use of the current anti-Bush bandwagon to make a bit more revenue. Miramax have made a load on Fahrenheit 9/11, so why shouldn't they follow suit?

And yeah... I'm always a little dubious of war films made by the "invaders," as such. But I'm willing to admit that's probably me being over cautious.


"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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: Seemed it was making use of the current anti-Bush bandwagon to make a bit

: more revenue. Miramax have made a load on Fahrenheit 9/11, so why shouldn't they follow suit?

Well you could argue that 3 Kings started the anti-Bush bandwagon, it was after all a pretty damning statement against the original war (of Bush snr) when that wasn't a popular viewpoint. Several people commented on how prophetic it seemed during the build up to the recent Iraq war, and as Bush & Blair have increasingly criticised the film argualy deserves another look.

Certainly I'd say its a bit rich to claim that 3 Kings is climbing on the Fahrenheit 9/11 bandwagon. If anything Fahrenheit 9/11 is climbing on a wagon that 3 kings itself put into motion.

IMHO of course wink.gif

Matt

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It also has a very interesting thread about the reporting of the war and how the journalists who were in the Gulf during the first war seemed to have developed an unhealthy influence on the course of conflict rather than just being observers. Again, definetly something which warrants a second look when in the overthrow of Hussein something like 3000 journalists were sent to the Gulf along with the armed forces.

Phil.


"We live as if the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be." - Angel

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MattPage wrote:

: Well you could argue that 3 Kings started the anti-Bush bandwagon, it was after

: all a pretty damning statement against the original war (of Bush snr) when that

: wasn't a popular viewpoint.

But what exactly IS that statement? The lasting impression I have of that film is that it criticized Bush I for failing to go INTO Iraq and finishing the job -- for hinting that he would liberate the Iraqi people, and thus encouraging them to rise up against Saddam, and then standing by and doing nothing while Saddam brutally put his own people down.

Somewhere on this message board I believe there is a thread in which Darren H recalls seeing footage of Bill Clinton watching this film at the White House, and then saying afterwards, with the director in attendance, that some day "we" would have to finish the job that Bush began. That, it seems, is the statement that Three Kings made to HIM. And it certainly plays into the hands of those who believe Bush II is simply doing what Bush I and Clinton wanted to do and "knew" had to be done but just didn't have the guts to actually DO.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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well I'm not sure how accurate this is as a memory (or should that be "I'm not sure how accurate this is - it's a memory"?) but my lasting impression was that it was saying that the war was basically just all about the oil.

Matt

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Yeah... It's been a while since I saw this film but I remember being frustrated by the ultimate redemption of the soldiers - they helped the citizens of Iraq/refugees. I'd have to see it again, though, to really comment.

I suppose I should clarify the anti-Bush bandwagon comment: by this I didn't mean that anti-Bushism is a new thing, rather that making masses of money out of it is.

I just have problems with films overtly about war, particularly when they generate masses of profit and I honestly can't see how this re-release is doing anything but taking advatage of a bad situation to make more money. Kinda like the Bill Hicks thing with artists and adverts. Romantic idealist? *hand up in air*


"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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I like this film, but it's re-release timing is interesting. 

Russell has a new film coming out in Nov/Dec this year (I Heart Huckabees), so that's a nice way of cross promoting it.

Yeah, but he also has that documentary about the current Iraq war coming out this fall (see article link in Jeffrey's first post), so that's the more likely cross-promotion angle.

As for "Three Kings," I agree with Ron. I thought the film started with a smash, stylistically at least (the introductions of each character are outstanding), but something happened along the way that lessened my interest in the film. I walked out of the theater disappointed. Maybe I'll feel differently about it this fall?

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Hmmm, I can't find it on the NYT website right now, but today, the National Post ran a NYT story to the effect that the re-issue of Three Kings will NOT be accompanied by Russell's new documentary. (And I can't find the story on the NP website either, presumably because it's not their story.)

Anyway, the gist of it is that Warner Brothers rep Barbara Brogliatti says it would be "totally inappropriate" to release the antiwar documentary during the current political season: "This came out to be a documentary that basically condemns war. . . . This is supposed to be a special edition of Three Kings, not a polemic about war." Apparently they expected the film to follow the real lives of Iraqi extras and advisers who had worked on the film, such as (in the reporter's words) "one political refugee who moved back to Iraq and was doing underground political work." Brogliatti again: "That's not what this turned out to be."

The studio will probably give the film back to Russell, who says he can't quite understand the political objection, though he hopes to distribute the film through MoveOn.org: "The point is, yes, Saddam was horrible. . . . A lot of people, my Iraqi friends, say they supported the war. . . . Then you have a human rights activist saying it's better that Saddam is gone, but I'm not sure the world is better off with this war."


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Victor Davis Hanson revisits the film:

I was watching the old pre-9/11 Three Kings the other night


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Jeffrey Wells reports from a recent promo event for American Hustle:

Russell told a great story about attending a fund-raiser in 1999 for George Bush the Younger at the home of Terry Semel, then a big Warner Bros. honcho. Russell asked the guy who took him to the party, “Is Terry a Repubican?” The guy replied, “Terry’s an opportunist.” Anyway, Russell got a minute or two of face-time with Bush, and he told the candidate that “I’m editing a film” — Three Kings — “that will question your father’s legacy in Iraq.” And Bush immediately said, ‘Well, I guess I’ll have to go back there and finish the job.’”


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I saw this again a couple months ago and I couldn't help but enjoy it.  I also have to say that this scene was not unrealistic.  It is actually not that far off from how things were when I was in Iraq.

 

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