Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Concerning Kingdoms

Watched The Kingdom on Sunday with project BoomGard (for me, movies fall into six categories - the first one, then the ones i want to watch with Boomgard, the horror titles I want to watch with shakira, The ones I want to watch in a group, the animated ones I watch with Candy and finally the ones I want to watch alone.)

If i had to describe this movie in two words, it would be 'irresponsible Film-making'. Many times one will engage with a media text critically, dissect it per se – look at the deeper meanings embodied in it. Whether it is a work of fiction that depicts some cataclysm, or an advert that reveals a certain prejudice (Its hard to look for deeper meaning in everything mind you)

OK, backtrack – the Kingdom is loosely based (I assume) on the American compound bombings a few years ago in Saudi. Pushing aside the diplomatic option, four agents enter the Kingdom and proceed to blow shit up. The movie paints a bleak picture of Islam and Muslims( well, not so much paints but rather hurls a bucket of red paint our way) I’m very critical of the Saudis, but the courtesies taken by the film maker are inexcusable. Its one thing to have a fictional little Middle earth and have little creatures decimate each other mercilessly, but to have constant negative reality based references to give your movie a sense of authenticity is just wrong. Every image in this movie was a calculated attack at Islam, Mostly subtle, and implicit. There must be some checklist of things you need to include to make a movie like this – like, after every shot of a musjid or a minaret, there was a terrorist activity of some sort. The use of kids for making bombs, the good arab weaned on tv shows like the Incredible Hulk, helping the good Americans (this can be seen in 3 Kings as well) And a few men (well, I include Jennifer Garner in this category – the bitch is butch) wiping out over thirty armed gunmen and not sustaining a single bullet hole.

This was just ridiculous – picture this – you’re in an alley of some sort – over twenty gunmen, armed with RPG’s, and automatic weapons are firing at you from all directions and from an elevated vantage point, yet you manage to kill all of them, even though you aren’t Army, SAS, or even Mossad – you’re just Mulder or Scully with a gun! Two of the four guys in the team were CSI types – forensic mofos. Very unbelievable. I know this review seems fragmented, and for this I apologise.

Herein lies the rub – will I recommend people to watch it- yes. I would suggest sneaking into the theatre so that none of your money goes back to Michael Mann, but in the end you’re only really hurting Nu Metro (and I feel sorry for them losing the Edgars partnership already) Why watch it? Simple really – Education. There is nothing worse than an ignorant muslim trying to torch a cultural item that he does not understand. A lot of people watching this movie feel like this towards Arabs already and in way, the movie is irresponsible, but there are also people who negotiate the movie. I'm not apologising or denying that there are crazy muslims out there. The scariest thing about the movie is that there are Muslim fanatics out there, who hate non Muslims and will kill without conscience. There are.

Two quotes from the movie that illustrate its agenda

[before breaking open a door in terrorist apartment]
Ronald Fleury: Which side do you think Allah's on?
Colonel Faris Al Ghazi: We are about to find out!

Adam Leavitt: What did you say to Mayes to get her to stop crying?
Ronald Fleury: I said we were going to kill them all.

Compared to Syriana or Babel which took a more balanced look at post 9/11 tensions, this movie does nothing positive for peace. The quote above ‘kill them all’ is actually the moral of the movie. MY solution – pump money into movies that portray Islam and Muslims positively – nothing too explicit At first – subtle at first – have a look at this comic book, I think its amazing

I wonder how I would have engaged with the text if I wasn’t a muslim. If I was a Christian South African or a New Zealand Jew or an American who lost his brother in the two tower attacks. I wonder…



J said...

I hate these sort of films.

Engaged with the text, MJ? Did you imbibe puffed monocotyledonous kernels and caramelised sugar water simultaneously?

I think it's monocotyledonous.


Anonymous said...

i agree with joe --I HAVE THESE ANTI-MUSLIM MOVIES ! its so frustrating to that these movies are pulling in big audiences. There is nothing we can do about it -the buck stops with rich arab countries -why dont they object or lobby or something!! Mj have u watched cnn or bbc lately? frighteningly they beginin to sound like nazi propaganda !

Anonymous said...

Besides me trying to figure out which side killed more in "the war", the concept of portraying Islam as evil within movies just pisses me off!

After 3 Kings, I havent had the urge to support such movies that purely defames my moral beliefs and where justice is masked by superpower intervention with WMD's.

I often look at the source of origin which in this case is a contradicting war-machine that's misled the puppets' sense of justice.

A misconception that citizens of the west are propagated towards, is... war = peace therefore revenge = justice.

Thats how it bluntly looks from my hemisphere.

r said...

amen to educating ourselves. We can't defend our religion if we don't know what we're defending ourselves against. Know thy enemy?

SingleGuy said...

I agree with Joe....it's Popcorn and Coke. Although I love Popcorn and Coke, I hate it when Popcorn and Coke thinks it's Norwegian Salmon Paté and Sparkling Grape Juice. It does irritate me how Micheal Mann, who as far as Action Movie Directors go, have a certain amount of credibility amongst Moviegoers, and because of this, Moviegoers who have trouble thinking in more than 1 dimension will not realise that this stereotyping is actually false. Micheal Mann just went onto my shitlist. I'm disappointed in Jamie Foxx, whom I thought would be a bit more discerning with movie roles.

Hats off to the crowd who made Syriana, it was a brilliant movie that both questioned the West's Role in the Mid-east as well as sent a message that the Arabs need to stop building shopping Malls and need to start building industry and infrastructure, OR invest in loads of KY Jelly because they're about to be screwed by the corporate multinationals that run the West.

Nooj said...

I had this same debate with one of my best friends after watching mighty heart on saturday. I really don't regret watching it even though the implicit pavlov style associations like tasbeehs and covered women lead you to hidden terrorists were quite nauseating hence the taste of bogey flavoured jelly bean. However, this was a portrayal of an actual event and yes ppl are going to watch movies like these as if they are the authority. especially since cnn is hardly better. But also we need to withstand such criticism and not HATE the movie but find FACTS that dispute such a portrayal.

Anonymous said...

I met a women,(not muslim) who spent 3 months in palestine...and someone asked her if she could understand the reason people strap themselves with bombs and she said that she could actually understand where they where coming from...

ZK said...

hey sweety its been too long...but here goes...
1. Dj Cleo is not Kwaito lol he's house (saw him live 2weeks ago)his music alone is house but when he mixes as a producer and so on he does do so for kwaito musicians as well...

2. The Kingdom -- haven't watched it yet -- want to so i will soon enough...
personally i think that when directors get caught up in moments they some how seem to get the facts wrong...nothing we haven't seen before...so how come not much 'loudness' from the Muslim population like we saw with the film with denzel washington (cnt remem it right now)
'depiction can be reality'
we have had countless arguments regarding suicide bombers and personally you know how i feel but bottom line any movie wishing to portray it should explore the facts to a larger extent...
ciao ciao

Shafinaaz Hassim said...

hi MJ.. interesting review commentary.. and while, for the most part, I agree with SG about Syriana.. theres still that sharp-edged line that needs to be considered in so-called artistic interpretation and representations of the world/societies.. and a deepset responsibility to encourage tolerance in a lack-lustre, chaotic and rather divided world.

i have yet to see the kingdom.. :)

Ghulam said...

I think it tried to reach compromise on the reality. i.e. they needed the villain/shlyock type character but couldn't discount Salauddins role so easily, so they went with the noble savage notion.

When I say they couldn't discount Salauddins role, I mean that it was not possible within the historical context, to portray Muslim society as savage. I did appreciate the allusion to the Muslim "failing" on western material philosophy when one of Salauddins advisors steeped into similarly fatalistic approach to war and was reprimanded. But thats a comment on where Arabs were heading rather than where Europeans were heading.

If you read the IMDB posts, there are alot of disgruntled people. The movie pleased just about noone.