I was disappointed to see Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass’ new movie, “Green Zone” make a relatively low amount of money this weekend. Not because I have any ownership in the film, but because it is sort of disappointing that Americans don’t want to engage the Wars in the Middle East on any level, even fictional.
It is sort of a Catch 22 that films like Green Zone, which is somewhat political (if you consider the truth, albeit fictionalized, “liberal”) and 2009’s Best Picture, The Hurt Locker, completely apolitical, are unsuccessful because of American society’s war fatigue. If we had such aversion and fatigue over war, where was it in 2003 when troops marched off to war in Iraq? In other words, if people were as tired of war and wanted to hide their eyes from it as much in 2003 and they do in 2010 then films like Green Zone and The Hurt Locker would never have been made.
Sometimes I have friends who say, I just want to go the movies for a diversion, something mindless, not for some high minded message movie. But how much mindlessness can we actually tolerate – Facebook, Twitter, reality television, Internet, video games, porn – and that is just my day before noon! At some point don’t people want something thought-provoking that isn’t a 90 second clip on The Daily Show?
But I was actually very surprised to see a Matt Damon movie with such a good director fail, no matter what the topic. It raises a question in my mind: is there anyone who could actually sell a Middle East War movie successfully to our half apathetic/half-indignant society? Here are some ideas I am pitching:
1) Scorsese directs DiCaprio in “The Enlisted”. DiCaprio plays Tommy Coughlin, a Boston tough who joins the Army and is sent to Iraq as an alternative to going to prison. There is a ton of Rolling Stones music, a lot of quick shots and of course, DiCaprio gets to speak with a Boston accent all while shooting a lot of brown people.
2) Will Smith & Tom Hanks in “I Am Soldier” directed by Steven Spielberg – probably the best bet for a successful Middle East War Movie. Tom Hanks plays General Michael White who is asking Captain John Black (Smith) to go on a dangerous one man mission. When it seems like Capt Black will fail, Sandra Bullock shows up as a sassy southern enlisted woman who is lost and helps him complete his mission. (Captain Black and General White could be role reversed, at which point instead of Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks companion in the desert would be a volleyball).
3) “I Can Do War Torture By Myself “or “Why Did I Enlist” by Tyler Perry – the wild card here – this film will be about a man whose marriage to Janet Jackson is on the rocks because he is not living a Christian lifestyle. After receiving advice from his 6’6″ transgendered grandmother the man decides to enlist in the war to prove that he, like Jesus Christ, is willing to sacrifice his life for a greater cause.
4) “Sandstorm” – starring Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Pattinson plays an English enlisted man fighting in Iraq, but he can only fight at night because of his deep brooding nature and a secret he has (he’s a vampire). Lautner plays an American fighting alongside, but harboring an even deeper secret (he’s a gay werewolf and if either of those things is found out he will be kicked out of the armed forces).
5) “Memorial Day” – starring the cast of Valentine’s Day. The concept of this movie is simple – every cast member of this film actually volunteers for active duty in Iraq as part of a documentary with an option for a reality television spin off.
Let me know which you think has the best chance.