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Body of Lies Archives - ShowBizCafe.com

Body of Lies Archives - ShowBizCafe.com

Mack Chico

By

2008/10/12 at 12:00am

"Beverly Hills Chihuahua" barks up a second win!

10.12.2008 | By |

"Beverly Hills Chihuahua" barks up a second win!

This is how far movie stars have fallen in their ability to pull audiences into theaters, at least when the story revolves around Iraq and the messiness of the Middle East: A picture about talking dogs, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” trampled Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe at the weekend box office.

“Body of Lies,” a terrorism thriller starring Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Crowe, sold an anemic $13.1 million in tickets at North American theaters, according to the theater tracking company Box Office Mojo. The movie’s stars are considered two of the biggest draws in the business. And the film was directed by Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner,” “American Gangster”), one of the few filmmakers who are household names.

Warner Brothers, the studio behind this serious, expensive movie, blamed the bad timing of an economic crisis. “The result is directly related to the dire mood of Americans,” Dan Fellman, president for domestic theatrical distribution at Warner Brothers, who flatly rejected the industry belief that the film’s megawatt stars should have garnered higher sales regardless.

Still, Warner Brothers had turned “Body of Lies” into a referendum on star power by choosing to market the film squarely on the backs of Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Crowe, delivering scant information about the plotline in the process. And the marketing was considerable, beginning in force during the Beijing Olympics and continuing with a major billboard and television campaign. (“Body of Lies” cost an estimated $70 million to produce; the average studio film costs an average of nearly $36 million to market.)

The studio worried that selling “Body of Lies” based on its plot would be difficult. Adapted from the best-selling novel by David Ignatius, the movie centers on a C.I.A. operative who is tracking a terrorist leader, and bounces from Iraq to Turkey to the United States to Jordan. In the past few years movies focusing on the Iraq war and the fallout from 9/11 (“Rendition” and “Lions for Lambs,” for example) have generally performed terribly, even with big-name stars like Tom Cruise and Reese Witherspoon.

Escapism definitely ruled the weekend — something that should ring alarm bells for almost all the Hollywood studios as they prepare to flood the market with somber awards-driven pictures. Films like “Changeling,” starring Angelina Jolie as a mother in search of her kidnapped son, and “The Soloist,” featuring Jamie Foxx as a homeless musician, may have an extra hurdle to cross.

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” a Walt Disney Pictures release, sold an estimated $17.5 million in tickets over the weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. That was enough for the No. 1 slot for the second week in a row, bringing its cumulative gross to $52.5 million. Second place went to another escapist entry, this time in the horror genre: “Quarantine,” released by Sony/Screen Gems, sold about $14.2 million in tickets, drawing heavily on younger moviegoers.

“Body of Lies” was third. Fourth place went to “Eagle Eye” with $11 million (for a new total of $70.6 million). And “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” was fifth with $6.5 million ($20.8 million).

Mack Chico

By

2008/10/10 at 12:00am

Body of Lies

10.10.2008 | By |

Rated: R for strong violence including some torture, and for language throughout.
Release Date: 2008-10-10
Starring: William Monahan, David Ignatius (novela)
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country: USA
Official Website: http://bodyoflies.warnerbros.com/

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Body of Lies

 

Three years ago, Ridley Scott‘s ill-conceived epic Kingdom of Heaven implicitly asked the question, “What would a movie about the Crusades look like if everyone in it had a 21st-century ideological outlook?” (The unsurprising answer: It would look nothing at all like the Crusades.) With Body of Lies, Scott once again turns his eye to conflict in the Middle East, though this time he wisely keeps his moral and historical frames in present-day alignment. The result is a film that, while far less muddled, still doesn’t have much new to say.

 

A former journalist Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) injured in the Iraq war is hired by the CIA Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) to track down an Al Qaeda leader in Jordan. The movie jumps from London to Iraq to Washington to Amsterdam to Jordan, Dubai, Turkey, and Syria with box-checking diligence. There are betrayals and kidnappings and rogue operations and collateral damage. Things are not infrequently blown up. The elements of the film, in other words, will be reasonably familiar to anyone who saw Syriana or The Kingdom or Traitor or Spy Game.

 

The script, adapted by William Monaghan from a novel by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, shrewdly sticks to shades of gray; those waiting for a stark double cross that will reveal the movie’s true villain will wait in vain. DiCaprio and Crowe deliver their customary quality, even if neither shows us anything terribly fresh. (I, for one, look forward to the next role in which DiCaprio doesn’t feel a scruffy goatee is needed to confirm his postpubescence.) But the movie’s true revelation is Syriana vet Strong, who plays head of Jordanian intelligence Hani Salaam. Trim and elegant in narrow pinstripes, Salaam is crafty, charismatic, and sophisticated, with an odd but charming insistence on referring to male colleagues as “my dear.” He is a man capable of brutality when it is required, but glad to avoid it when it is not. A scene in which he administers a carrot to an al Qaeda suspect in place of the anticipated stick is perhaps the best in the film.

 

Scott directs with characteristic panache–the rapid editing and varied camera speeds, a delight in aerial surveillance shots evidently inherited from brother Tony’s Enemy of the State— but as in Kingdom of Heaven his aesthetic and political purposes are in tension: How upset can we be about a deadly explosion when Scott has labored so mightily to make it look cool? Though evidently intended to straddle the divide between action thriller and geopolitical fable, when pushed, Body of Lies tumbles into the former genre. (Its chief bid at seriousness, a confrontational colloquy with the top terrorist near the end of the film, comes across as the awkward regurgitation of a hastily swallowed subscription to The Economist.) In the end, it is an above-average entertainment, though not a terribly memorable one. By contrast, a sequel following the exploits of spymaster Hani Salaam, the George Smiley of Jordan–now that, my dear, would be something to see.

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