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What Robert Altman did for Vietnam with M*A*S*H, Stephen Surjik
(director)and Larry Gelbart (writer) do to modern media corporations
with Weapons of Mass Distraction.
If anyone wants to know how the mega rich owners of big corporations are "screwing the little guy" and getting away with it, then you HAVE to watch this movie. The film uses biting satirical comic writing to deliver its message about how money and media power dominates the political process to the detriment of all but a very few people at the top. Imagine the screenplay being written by Voltaire or Jonathan Swift. Gabriel Byrne and Ben Kingsley's performances as the two greedy media moguls who will do anything, no matter how sleazy or illegal, to get their way, are brilliant. Jeffrey Tambor is fantastic as Byrne's personal assistant whose morals are as ambiguous as his sexuality.
A wonderful film, a savage attack on what happens when too much power is vested in the hands of too few. Watch it and wince.
Insomnia was acting up late one night and I started channel surfing and
happened on this flick on Cinemax ... there was only about thirty
minutes left of the movie but even at that point it SUCKED me right in.
It's a great flick to watch on a Sunday afternoon - watch it closely. Gabriel Byrne and Ben Kingsley are excellent. I think this was the first movie I saw Jason Lee appear in.
The multiple stories coinciding into one single story of rich scumbags tearing into other's lives for their own gain.
Illeana Douglas's character (and her husband) ... their story ... the secret histories of the rich scumbags ... a lot going on in this movie ...
HIGHLY recommend it.
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.
just because i had my caps lock on doesn't mean i'm shouting! this movie is great. it's one of a kind. i first saw it when i was a young teenager. the film has stuck with me since. it's dark, funny and i enjoyed the all star cast. check this one out if you think your life isn't going the way you want it to.its also not a well known picture, so if you can get your hands on it, i would advise you to do so. these other people don't know what they are talking about. i also think that a ten line minimum is too much. you start talking about nothing just to get your 3 line comment in. any ways keep up the good work you IMDb. you are doing a great job.
I liked the fact that this satire became more and more outlandish & soap
opera-esque as it continued - reading one of the other user comments, it
would appear not everyone got this...
Weapons of Mass Destraction is about men without souls or, if they had
souls, they lost them along the way while on their quest for more
wealth and power. Corporate titans Lionel Powers (Gabriel Byrne) and
Julian Messenger (Ben Kingsley) are fighting over a pro-football team,
but the object of their struggle is irrelevant. What is relevant are
the despicable things they are willing to do to each other to get want
what they want.
Of course, one of the reasons why they can engage in blackmail and smear campaigns has a lot to do with the fact that there are very few characters in the film who have any morality. I won't spoil the twists and turns. Suffice to say, the powers that be engage in extra-marital affairs, rape, child molestation, murder, blackmail and bribery. The screenwriters were even able to introduce the holocaust at one point. It is hard to sympathize with people like that, even when they suffer. This is largely because this film is about horrible people, but also because the characters themselves are reduced -- ironically because of their great success in the corporate world -- to beasts with impulses. Lionel's relations with his wife are characterized almost solely by lust, rather than any true affection. Only Jerry Pascoe (Chris Mulkey), the hapless worker who was recently laid off, possesses any humanity, though his morality falls by the wayside by the end of the film.
Yet in spite of the emptiness of the main characters or maybe because of it, I had a perverse fascination with Powers and Messenger's struggle as it unfolded. Part of it was my interest in watching naked ambition and sheer determination on screen. At one point, Messenger told Powers I survived Adolf Hitler and therefore I could survive you. Lionel responded, "I will try not to disappoint you." As it turned out, Messenger had it better under the Fuhrer.
The other main character in this film is, of course, the media. The media is probably even more despicable than the characters, which says a lot. It focuses almost exclusively on sex scandals, car chases, petty murders and like, and ignores anything with substance, meaning or sophistication. Perhaps, Lionel Powers and Julian Messenger are, in some respects, parodies of the media and advertising.
So what do I think of the film? It is not a great film. Unlike Visconti's "The Damned," which is also about moral decay, "Weapons of Mass Distractions" lacks the sophistication that would make its characters fascinating, which is the only way to compensate for our lack of sympathy with them. In fact, stupidity, selfishness and base impulses -- the qualities that are more common in children -- are the only things driving this film, which is really not enough. It is not an optimistic picture, because we are witnessing people living in hell on earth, which makes the church that Powers visits with his wife rather ironic. But it's still an interesting film in a perverse sort of way. It makes fun of sensationalism, but it also uses it to great effect to keep people watching. In many ways, "Weapons of Mass Destruction" reminds me of the fascination one gets looking at the sensational (and false) stories on the front cover of the national inquirer or the Globe. Perhaps in the end, the film is not about Powers and Messenger, but about ourselves. It tells us something about ourselves.
I rented this film because Ben Kinsley is was of my favorite actors of the present time. I thought the acting was funny and smart, the dialogue delicious, and the humour extremely dark. It's not the best film or television movie ever made, but it was entertaining and kept my interest. I wouldn't recommend this film to everyone, but it was one of the brightest and most refreashing films I've seen from HBO.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must be real stupid. This movie was too deep for me. I couldn't figure out what was going on for most of the time. For example, why did that guy jump off the roof and kill himself at the end? What was the point of that parallel story about the out of work guy who kills a bus load of school kids? why did the son's helicopter have to fall and put him into a coma? what is it with this Cricket girl? i was actually quite engrossed towards the end because i thought the movie would reveal itself to me and i'd get the answers to all my questions, but alas, it didn't. i guess i'll have to spend many more years researching on IMDb before i'm ready for a movie of this caliber.
Weapons of Mass Distraction proves to be an inconsequential mess of loose
plot points and unanswered questions. In what was initially supposed to be a
satire, it only gets lost in it's web of lurid, superfluous, irrelevant
Two billionares rival over ownership of a famous American football team. That's what we understand from the blurb. Unfortunately, the references to that are just so vague that it is somewhat of a sub-plot. There really is no plot. It goes nowhere!
On one end of the spectrum we have Robert Altman's fine satire "The Player", focusing on big business and movies. On the other end of the spectrum we have this.
Combine this: helicopter accident, closet gay businessman, jewish holocaust surviver, appendage enlargement, trans-gender wife and adulterous cable repairman newly fired. That's precisely what the film is!
It's awful. One out of ten.
A great story about the "silent" (if you count out the use of their media)
attacks that two television tycoons carry on each other; all to determine
who will be the owner of an important football team. While the two are
"having fun" in destroying one another, the middle class is living through
(and watching) the consequences.
It deserves at least 7 out of 10.
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