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The Kite Runner


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In my mind, Benioff is best known for his novel and screenplay The 25th Hour, which was a fantastic film by Spike Lee.

"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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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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  • 2 years later...

'The Kite Runner' Is Delayed to Protect Child Stars

The studio distributing "The Kite Runner," a tale of childhood betrayal, sexual predation and ethnic tension in Afghanistan, is delaying the film's release to get its three schoolboy stars out of Kabul -- perhaps permanently -- in response to fears that they could be attacked for their enactment of a culturally inflammatory rape scene.

Executives at the distributor, Paramount Vantage, are contending with issues stemming from the rising lawlessness in Kabul in the year since the boys were cast.

The boys and their relatives are now accusing the filmmakers of mistreatment, and warnings have been relayed to the studio from Afghan and American officials and aid workers that the movie could aggravate simmering enmities between the politically dominant Pashtun and the long-oppressed Hazara.

In an effort to prevent not only a public-relations disaster but also possible violence, studio lawyers and marketing bosses have employed a stranger-than-fiction team of consultants. In August they sent a retired Central Intelligence Agency counterterrorism operative in the region to Kabul to assess the dangers facing the child actors. And on Sunday a Washington-based political adviser flew to the United Arab Emirates to arrange a safe haven for the boys and their relatives. . . .

New York Times, October 4

"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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Lou Lumenick:

What the Times didn't tell you is that the MPAA has rated the flick PG-13 "for strong thematic material including the sexual assault of a child, violence and brief strong language.'' And that "The Kite Runner'' is being marketed to families with a giveaway competition for organizers of fan clubs ("Trip for you and a guest to travel to San Francisco, visit with and enjoy a meal with Khaled Hosseini''). . . .

"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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  • 2 weeks later...

Rated PG-13 in the United States (which means anybody and everybody can see it without adult accompaniment), rated 14-A in Ontario (which means under-14s need adult accompaniment), and rated 18-A in British Columbia (which means under-18s need adult accompaniment). I can't recall the last time a film got an adults-only rating in B.C. while being open to everyone in the United States; if anything, things have tended to go the other way.

What's interesting is that the all-ages PG-13 rating AND the British Columbian 18-A rating BOTH come with content advisories mentioning the fact that the film has a scene of sexual violence involving minors, but the Ontarion 14-A rating -- the rating which says teenagers can see the film unhindered -- makes no mention of this at all. Instead it just makes vague references to "disturbing content" and "violence" and, if you press them (i.e. if you go beyond the newspaper ads and look up the film's entry on the Ontario film-classification website), "sexual innuendo", but it makes no reference whatsoever to the under-age stuff.

"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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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I know the scene that the rating refers to in the book, and if they portray the scene in more than just a suggestive way, I'd be surprised that it didn't get an R rating here. The scene in the book is quite disturbing and explicit. They must have done a lot of work to get a PG-13 rating. I would have guessed that even apart from that one scene, a big screen adaptation would easily merit an R rating for other things that come up throughout the story.

I am, however, looking forward to seeing this. The book is a great read, very well written, thoughtful, and touching.

Edited by Joel C

Listen to my tunes by visiting my website, or come say hello on Facebook and Twitter

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yikes. Slant slams it hard.

Ed Gonzalez says that Forster "has shat on it, transforming a presumably brutal and nuanced account of class difference and innocence lost into Disney-style kitsch."

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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There are so many people who loved the book (like my wife) that faithfulness is going to be a major concern. The studio seems to be wanting to assure those who loved the book that the film won't ruin it. Enter Barry Koltnow's (entertainment writer for the OC Register) mother. When Koltnow told publicists of his mother's concern, they set up a screening for her in NJ. Story

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 2 weeks later...

Although the RT rating was just barely "rotten" as of this morning, I'm genuinely surprised at how many major critics like this movie (the "Cream of the Crop" rating was much higher than the overall percentage).

This is a movie that completely falls apart, and is never all that great to begin with. That other critics don't see that, or gloss over the obvious flaws on their way to declaring how "important" and "earnest" the movie is, depresses me.

I'm used to disagreeing with critical opinions, even consensus, but it's rare that I feel so little ability to relate to the rationale among those who are on the other side.

"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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FWIW, my review.

"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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This is a movie that completely falls apart, and is never all that great to begin with.

I felt that the film succeeds best as a litmus test for critics.

My personal assessment is that the film is passably good entertainment -- for a topic that shouldn't be thought of as "entertainment." The depiction of the Taliban is particularly laughable.

Greg Wright

Managing Editor, Past the Popcorn

Consulting Editor, Hollywood Jesus

Leader of the Uruk-Howdy, Orcs of the West

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Well done, SDG. One rarely finds typos in Peter's work.

Peter knows I keep track of his. :) This is one he's prone to.

Maybe it's a Brit/Canadian thing like "favour". (But I doubt it.)

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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FWIW, my review.

I liked Ershadi as well, although early in the film, when it became clear that he was anti-authoritarian whether the authorities were Communist or Islamic, I thought the filmmakers were tapping into a rebel spirit that was a little too simple. Who among the film's viewers doesn't oppose Communism and the Mullahs? But that scene where the truck is stopped, and Baba defends that woman, moved me and changed my mind about the character.

It may have been the only scene in the film that I liked.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

I liked it. My wife really liked it. (She had read the book.) I thought the story up to the father's death is done much better than the story from then on -- almost like they said, oops, we only have a little time to finish this off.

My favorite part of the movie is the Sami Yusef song, "Supplication" - very beautiful setting for a very nice Islamic prayer.

Allahumma salli 'ala,

Sayyidina,

Muhammadin an-Nabiyyi al-ummiyyi,

Wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi wa sallim.

(O Allah, send your peace and blessings upon our Master Muhammad, the Unlettered Prophet, and upon his family and companions.)

O My Lord,

My sins are like

The highest mountain;

My good deeds

Are very few

They

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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The Kite Runner is an important film because it puts a human face and historical context on what happened in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, when many Americans think of Afghanistan, we think of Al-Qaida, terrorism and 9/11. (What's happening with the film's young stars doesn't help.) The Kite Runner does much to humanize the conflict and break those stereotypes.

I wanted to love The Kite Runner, but I was never entirely emotionally invested in the story. I think it is because the main character, Amir, wasn't. Amir overhears his father complain that there seems to be something missing in the boy when his friend Hassan must stick up for him because he won't. "A boy who won't stick up for himself won't stand for anything." The kite contest was one way Amir could prove himself to his father. But he seemed disengaged even when he won. Then he betrays his one loyal friend. When the communist invade the country, the family is forced to escape to America leaving his friend behind.

The now grown up Amir gets a call from His father's friend in Afghanistan offering Amir, "A way to be good again" by going home. He has a chance to redeem himself by saving his friend's son. Back in Afghanistan, he seems like a tourist during the most important event of his life. The climactic moment feels like it's from another film -- an action film. By the end he has finally learned to stick up for the son of the friend he betrayed in a satisfying scene.

Despite it's flaws, The Kite Runner has an important theme of guilt and redemption. The movie succeeds in putting a human face on what happened in Afghanistan creating more understanding.

Jana Segal

http://reelinspiration.blogspot.com/

Edited by Jana Segal

Reel Inspiration's mission is to encourage and promote the production and theatrical success of diverse films with entertaining, powerful stories that uplift, challenge, give hope or inspire the human consciousness.

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Jana Segal wrote:

: The Kite Runner is an important film because it puts a human face and historical context on what happened in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, when many Americans think of Afghanistan, we think of Al-Qaida, terrorism and 9/11. (What's happening with the film's young stars doesn't help.) The Kite Runner does much to humanize the conflict and break those stereotypes.

I agree. I saw this film two or three weeks before Charlie Wilson's War, and it was striking to see how the latter film, for all its supposed liberalism, was kind of content to just let Afghanistan and its people remain a stereotype. I don't know if I would have been as conscious of that as I was if I had not seen The Kite Runner so recently.

"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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Having read the book, I thought that as an adaptation, the film version honored the source material well. The film covered the main plot points of the book, but I would imagine that for people that haven't read the book, they might have trouble understanding the relationship between Amir's father and Hassan's father, and the class differences between the boys themselves, because the film doesn't explain this too well.

I wasn't bothered so much by Amir's lack of emotion in the film, since he seemed to be someone who internalizes his emotions. Maybe as a wanna-be writer myself, I can understand his temperament, and how in the last part of the film, he undertakes his quest as a sense of duty rather than emotion.

I thought Baba had some nice scenes in the middle section of the film. And the kite flying scenes were beautiful. This one of the rare films where I think CGI is used properly, enhancing rather than distracting from the film.

Edited by Crow
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  • 2 weeks later...

Afghans ban 'Kite Runner'

Afghan authorities have banned the import and release of locally set pic "The Kite Runner" because it contains implicit scenes of the rape of a boy plus scenes of ethnic conflict.

Variety, January 15

"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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