'Stop Loss': Not Another Anti-War Movie

Metro film critic Daniel Holloway discusses Kimberly Peirce's new film, in addition to this weekend's other new movies, including Run Fat Boy Run, Priceless and Faithless.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

So, as we said, stop-loss is the focus of a new movie out today called just that, "Stop Loss." And we heard an explanation of the real-life implications of this policy on U.S. troops. But all of that aside, is this something we want to go spend our 11 bucks on this weekend? Here to help answer that question and talk through all the other movie gems out the next couple of days is the friend of the BPP and Metro film critic Daniel Holloway, in studio. Hi, Daniel.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Good morning, Dan.

Mr. DANIEL HOLLOWAY (Film Critic, Metro Magazine): Good morning, people.

STEWART: Thanks for being here. So, we just heard the real-life explanation of stop-loss itself from Washington Post reporter Ann Scott Tyson. You heard that Daniel, that interview. Does that jibe with how the film characterizes the policy?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: For the most part, yeah. The film basically revolves around Ryan - I can never get his name right.

STEWART: Phillippe.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Right, Phillippe.

STEWART: Phill-i-pee?

MARTIN: Phill-i-pee, I think.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Ryan.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Ryan plays Sergeant King, and he gets stop-lost. But the rest of his unit is going back except for another friend of his who's another sergeant, who - well, I won't give anything away. But basically, he - it's not his entire unit that gets sent back, it's him himself. And I guess the reasoning is that he's trained with these guys and they need him to be an effective leader. This is compounded by the fact that he got some people killed and doesn't really think he's an effective leader right now, so...

STEWART: I think we've got a little bit from this scene. Here is a scene with Ryan Phillippe where he's just learned he's been called back into the military.

(Soundbite of movie "Stop Loss") ..TEXT: Ms. LINDA EMOND: (As Ida King) They stop-lost you? How can they do this?

Mr. RYAN PHILLIPPE: (As Sergeant Brandon King) They're doing whatever they want to do. With a shortage of guys and no draft, they're shipping back soldiers who're supposed to be getting out. It's a backdoor draft is what it is.

Ms. EMOND: (As Ida King) What about Steve?

Mr. PHILLIPPE: (As Sergeant Brandon King): Ida, I don't know. Some of us are getting it, some ain't.

Ms. EMOND: (As Ida King) This cannot be happening. No! You almost died over there. What do you want to do? You want me to take you to Mexico 'til this blows over?

Mr. PHILLIPPE: (As Sergeant Brandon King): No, Mom, no. Out of the question, Mom. I ain't dragging my tail across New Mexico.

Ms. EMOND: (As Ida King) I'll take you.

STEWART: So, is this an anti-war film? I mean, we've seen a few of these come and go over the past year. Some have not been so successful. Is - was that your take-away from this? And if so, is it successful?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: It's definitely an anti-war film in the sense that it doesn't really address the issue of whether or not we should be in Iraq at all. It's addressing the issue of how the war is being prosecuted. Whether or not it's doing that effectively, I think, is up for debate, because the film, as you said earlier, is highly stylized.

It's an MTV movie, which - I know you should not read too much into what production house is making a film, but it's hard not to make that connection when the welcome home party that these guys get near the film's beginning basically involves - I live in New York, there's more beautiful women here than there are just about any place else in the country.

But I mean, these guys are surrounded by what looks like back-up dancers in short shorts and low-cut tops and little pink cowboy hats. I've never been to Texas, so I can't really say, but it doesn't seem like a realistic representation of any place in America.

MARTIN: And the movie posters, it does it kind of MTV, teen video kind of - they're slung on the car front and...

STEWART: But it is directed by the woman who directed "Boys Don't Cry," right?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes.

STEWART: I mean, she's...

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Kimberly Pierce, yes. I had high hopes for this film, as a matter of fact, for that reason. This is her first movie in ten years.

STEWART: Are her brothers in Iraq or something?

MARTIN: I think it's her younger, half-brother's sister.

STEWART: Yes.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: OK, I wasn't aware of that.

MARTIN: So, you think she does a good job? I mean, you had high hopes.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I had high hopes, and I think the movie is - look, I think more people will see it than saw "In the Valley of Elah." I think the reason for that is that this film is so stylized, that the actors are so good looking. You know, Phillippe and Channing Tatum. Channing Tatum is just, like, he looks like a professional wrestler.

MARTIN: That guy is ripped.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: In this film, you know, yes, everybody's very good looking. Everybody is hip and young.

STEWART: So that takes away from the realism a little bit?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: It takes away from the realism, but it might get butts in seats, so you're a little torn over that. It's watchable. It's a decent film. It's not as good as "In the Valley of Elah" was, but probably more people will see it.

MARTIN: OK, we're going to switch gears dramatically. "Run Fat Boy Run."

STEWART: Comically.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Before we get to your review and your take on this, we're going to play a one-line review from our own auxiliary Holloway. Here's what your wife, Daniel Holloway's wife Heidi, had to say about this film.

Ms. HEIDI HOLLOWAY: It seems like a movie that David Schwimmer directed, because he did.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: We love that so much. Please, please expound. What does Heidi mean here?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I think, you know, I think she summed it up better than I ever could. David Schwimmer directed "Run Fat Boy Run" from a script written by Michael Ian Black and then, I believe, rewritten over that by Simon Pegg. It's a very middle-of-the-road comedy, unfortunately.

If you're a Simon Pegg fan or you're used to films like "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead," these, you know, really some of the best comedies to come out in the last few years, this is a much more mainstream affair. It's a romantic comedy with all the vanilla that is implied by that.

STEWART: Is Simon the fat boy who is running?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes, he is.

STEWART: Why is he running?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: He's running because he's in love with Thandie Newton, but he left her at the altar years ago while she was pregnant.

MARTIN: Dumb man. That lady is good looking.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes, yes.

MARTIN: To prove Heidi's point, we've chosen the David Schwimmer-iest clip we could find from this.

(Soundbite of movie "Run Fat Boy Run")

Mr. SIMON PEGG: (As Dennis) Libby, I'm - I never actually thanked you.

Ms. THANDIE NEWTON: (As Libby) For what?

Mr. PEGG: (As Dennis) Well, for, just sort of letting me back into your life.

Ms. NEWTON: (As Libby) Jake's life.

Mr. PEGG: (As Dennis) Well, you know, I'm going to - I wouldn't be surprised if you just cut me off completely, you know.

Ms. NEWTON: (As Libby) Now you tell me.

Mr. PEGG: (As Dennis) What? No, I mean...

Ms. NEWTON: (As Libby) No, he needs his dad.

Mr. PEGG: (As Dennis) Yeah. You were right, you know, about me entering the marathon. You know, it wasn't because I was, sort of, trying to win you back, kind of thing. And I always kind of hoped maybe we'd, you know, get back together and that, but you know, when I saw you with Whit...

Ms. NEWTON: (As Libby) Dennis.

Mr. PEGG: (As Dennis) I know, I know. It's the height of hypocrisy, and I know doing this isn't going to change anything or make anything better, but I just, I'd settle for your respect.

MARTIN: Oh, man. That is, like, a minute too much.

STEWART: Here's the thing. It wasn't even a minute, according to my...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: That felt like 45 minutes.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Shouldn't there have been a joke in there? You know, shouldn't there have been a fart noise or something? It's just, it's kind of - and you don't ever believe that Thandie Newton would be with this guy. He's such a shlub.

MARTIN: OK, we do have to ask before moving on, how many of your reviews are actually your wife's reviews?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: All of them.

MARTIN: All of them.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: She writes them for me and then tells me what to say before I come here.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Awesome.

STEWART: So, she's saying, if you like David Schwimmer, it's a film for you.

MARTIN: That's what you can do this weekend. OK, moving on. "Priceless." It's in French, but do we have some of the English-language trailer?

(Soundbite of movie trailer "Priceless")

Unidentified Man: On the luxurious French Riviera...

Mr. GAD ELMALEH: (As Jean) (French Spoken) Pardon, excusez-moi, pardon.

(Soundbite of noisy farmyard animals)

Unidentified Man: Jean was just a lowly hotel worker and Irene was working the high life.

(Soundbite of drink being poured)

Ms. AUDREY TAUTOU: (As Irene) Oh!

Unidentified Man: When a case of mistaken identity, a little deception, and a couple of cocktails turn their lives upside down.

MARTIN: OK, that's the idea, what's - what do you think? What's your take-away from this one?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: You know, it's funny. I saw that trailer the other day and I don't see many trailers that - it doesn't do the film justice at all.

MARTIN: Oh, really?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes, this and it is - my two favorite movies so far since the new year are both screwball romantic comedies, this and "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day." I love it, it's great. Audrey Tatou from "Amelie" and "A Very Long Engagement."

MARTIN: Love her.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: And a fellow named Gad Elm - I'm going to ruin this, too, Gad Elmaleh, who is a Moroccan-born French comic actor. And she plays a gold digger who, through a series of misunderstandings, ends up having a brief affair with him. He's actually a hotel barman, but she thinks he's a millionaire.

She gets caught. She's about to marry the rich guy she's been working on for two years and he kicks her out, and so then they start spending time together and she starts teaching him how to be a gold digger. He like lands a, you know, 50-year-old cougar. Then, you know, they fall in love and there's all kind of hijinks, but it's really good.

MARTIN: It's worth it? OK.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Oh, yes.

MARTIN: OK, we're not going to hear a clip from this because we've run out of time, too bad. But what do you think about the new one with Michael Caine and Demi Moore?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: They'd be good if it wasn't for that whole Demi Moore part.

MARTIN: Yes, "Flawless," this is called, I believe, a heist film?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes, it's a heist film. She plays the first female executive at a British diamond company that is basically a stand-in for De Beers, and they're going to steal some diamonds. It's actually a really nicely made film, but the Demi Moore performance is really, extraordinarily problematic.

MARTIN: Really?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes. She's walking around with her face frozen and her power pumps on and her very tight, you know, '60s suit dresses, and it just doesn't like - it sucks all the energy out of the room.

MARTIN: She was never since good as "G.I. Jane." It was all downhill from there.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I know. It's been a steep slope since she shaved her head for "G.I. Jane."

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Daniel Holloway, thanks. Can we bring your wife in next time, too?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes, definitely. Let's do it.

MARTIN: We liked her. OK.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: We can be Siskel and Ebert.

MARTIN: We're going to go to the movies this weekend. You've convinced me there's at least something out there, I think, for everyone. Daniel Holloway, film critic for Metro papers. Thanks as always, Daniel.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Thanks guys.

STEWART: Coming up on the show, a conversation with the head of Rutgers women's basketball team. Vivian Stringer has a new book detailing her rise to head coach and the trials and tribulations once she got there. She'll speak with us next. This is The Bryant Park Project from NPR News.

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