Are Anti-War Films Failing this Fall?
I came across an interesting discussion today over at Spout. The Sundance Audience Award winner, Grace is Gone, had its release date moved from October 5th to December 7th recently. Karina discusses a claim made by NY Post writer Lou Lumenick that states that "Harvey Weinstein may have bumped Grace in reaction to 'the soft opening numbers' of Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah." That leads her to the discussion of whether anti-war films are failing this fall and whether that's why The Weinstein Company actually moved Grace is Gone's release. I don't think that's the case, but looking at all the Iraq war films coming out soon, are they doomed to all fail?
Personally I believe they're moving Grace is Gone to focus more on an Oscar campaign and better emphasize the film in December. Although I'm not very confident in The Weinstein Company (besides Harvey, the studio is bad at everything from marketing to good distribution), they at least bought a damn good film. Half of all of the war films in question here aren't even released yet in cities besides New York or Los Angeles or other major markets. Many Americans can't even see them yet and I wouldn't say something has failed unless it opens nationwide and the audiences then reject it.
There is one thing that I'll point out in this argument. At the Toronto Film Fest a number of anti-war and/or Iraq war focused films were shown and to my knowledge, none of them really had any positive buzz leaving the fest. Brian De Palma's Redacted was one of the biggest that has been getting very interesting reactions from audiences, some feeling very strongly moved by it, others nearly protesting it. I saw it at the fest and thought it was terrible, although it's message was important. The others, including Rendition (in a way) and In the Valley of Elah, didn't fair too well either, and I feel like films focusing on the Iraq war are overflowing in numbers especially in the indie world.
What is your response, do you think this fall is overflowing with Iraq war movies? I can't exactly judge how everyone feels and whether anyone actually wants to go out and see any of these films. From the likes of In the Valley of Elah (Paul Haggis' latest powerful drama after Crash), The Kingdom (which opens this weekend and has yet to see if it will fail), Rendition, The Kite Runner, Tom Cruise and Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs, and Grace is Gone.
The Iraq war seems like a setting that Hollywood is really focusing on recently and attempting to elicit anti-war feelings from. I wouldn't say that message is necessarily bad, it just seems to get boring almost when you hear that you're favorite filmmaker is doing an Iraq war movie next along with tons of other war movies. It's a touchy subject to begin with, but given that Hollywood is focusing on it too much it does worry me that some films will fail. Those that try too hard will fail, but there are those that I know will succeed.
Films that hone down and focus on a very good story at hand that isn't directly set in Iraq will likely succeed the most. In the Valley of Elah is a great example, despite currently not performing well at the box office, it's a great story and great film that surrounds the war. However when we get around to Grace is Gone, that'll be another one I know will do great, just given reception at Sundance alone. As for the rest, we have yet to see…