Two media moguls vie for ownership of a pro football team, at first they play by their own rules of fair game but then it gets dirty. In an attempt to out do one another each one makes it more personal as their own greed and ambition takes their toll on their families, companies and employees. Written by
This movie has a brilliant, intelligent script (starting with the title!) which makes a very interesting connection between the famous Renaissance Princes and present day Media Moghuls. I will check out other movies based on scripts by Larry Gelbard as soon as I can!
Remember the Borgias, the Medicis, the Viscontis, the Sforzas and all those other guys who came from nowhere and rose up to seats of great power and founded lasting dynasties in Renaissance Italy? Those so called Condottieri were brutal and ruthless, yes, but they also furthered the arts and sciences. Maybe they did it solely for their own glory, but in the end the larger community could profit from the result. This came to my mind when I watched Weapons of Mass Distraction.
Lionel Powers and Julian Messenger are two testosterone driven characters who rose out of the gutter to establish international media empires. In the movie they are contesting for the ownership of a football team. They both don't really need it, they just have this constant urge to confirm their potency to themselves. A game of power and betrayal unfolds which becomes more wicked as it reaches deeper an deeper in to the hidden corners of different people's biographies. The electronic media is used to discredit and destroy anyone who could stand in the way of the «big boys». And no quarter is given.
Despite of all the modern gadgets, it becomes quite clear that it is a timeless story that is told here. Almost every character seems to be a reflection of court life in past centuries: there are crown princes, jesters, courtisans etc. etc. Thanks to the mass media these characters zap through real and virtual space until it is impossible to tell the one from the other and truths multiply - but all remains profoundly human.
There are direct references to the Renaissance age - to me it seems I detected gestures and postures who come out of paintings of the period. Then there is Powers' family crypt, where the big man retires to in times of distress ... The two big guys are contrasted by a small guy, a «peasant» who is at the mercy of those who wield power. His outlook on life is in its entirety conditioned by TV - but whose is not? - and you feel that Weapons of Mass Distraction is a movie about a post democratic society.
Gabriel Byrne and even more so Ben Kingsley are fabulous in the leading parts, so is Chris Mulkey who plays the «peasant» very convincingly. Also memorable are Jeffrey Tambor as the really sleazy adjutant and Paul Mazursky as the owner of a potency clinic. Ladies play second fiddle throughout but several of them are very pretty. The jokes are generally coarse but intelligent and well placed in the story. The most memorable moment is the the owner of the potency clinic explaining the different kinds of enlargments he has to offer for the male sexual organ - it's very detalled and really not very appetizing!
Friends of Architecture watch out. It seemed to me that Julian Messenger's office was installed in Louis I. Kahn's famous Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. If my guess is right, they did not use those wonderful spaces very well.
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