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July 14 2007

NY Times Review of Captivity. In addition to (negatively) reviewing the film, talks about the controversial marketing of Captivity... including Joss' comments.

Thanks, lisaspo.
The person who ought to be most embarrassed by this airless dud is its director, Roland Joffé, a two-time Oscar nominee who in the space of just five years regressed from working with Tom Stoppard to associating with the kind of people who mix eyeball smoothies and force-feed them to defenseless women.

Actually, he's the person i'm starting to feel most sorry for. The more news that comes out about 'Captivity' the more I think it's almost entirely unrelated to the film Joffé made. Reckon he's been screwed big time.
I've not seen enough evidence either way to judge, Saje. Are you thinking a lot of material has gone into the movie he didn't direct, or do you mean the reviewing of the movie hasn't been about the movie but the subject matter?
The former. A couple of articles refer to the studio adding in scenes and recutting to make it more teen-horror market friendly. And even then, people on here that watched it have said it's still more of a psychological thriller than the ad campaign suggests.

Maybe i'm being naive but I struggle to believe the guy that made such a monument to the human spirit as 'The Killing Fields' could intentionally make such an apparent piece of exploitative shit. Course, people change, get older, maybe he just lost it.
Perhaps Joffé has lost it, or has become a cynical and sleazy hack. His next film, Finding t.A.T.u. (starring Mischa Barton of The OC fame) is described as follows on Wikipedia:
Set against a background of music, internet chatrooms and hedonistic Moscow nightlife, the story follows friendless American teenager Janie Sawyer who is trying to escape her lonely life in Moscow through her love of music. Janie meets Lana Starkova in a fansite for the popular pop-band t.A.T.u. Trapped in a provincial Russian town, Lana is desperate to flee her mundane life and the two girls develop an instant connection. Their trip to a t.A.T.u. concert becomes the catalyst for a series of adventures that will not only test their newfound friendship, but also their ideals and aspirations.

t.A.T.u. have stated the movie will be very scandalous, and won't deal with the "love and roses" often found in films, but the real scandal and hardships that come along with relationships. The two girls who this story is based on are currently imprisoned in Russia.

The film is based on a novel, written as a series of text messages, by Russian far-right politician Aleksey Mitrofanov. Mitrofanov has also made an erotic movie "which portrayed two people called Misha and Yuliya in various sex scenes who resembled then ex-Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko and President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili". (Both Saakashvili and Tymoshenko are pro-Western and fervently hostile to Russian influence over their countries.)
Saje, you could argue Captivity is him regressing (webular linky).
Hmm, do you mean the transgressive element or the burlesque/porn aspect gossi ? Cos the latter is part of the problem I have with 'Captivity' even without seeing it, purely based on its advertising.

Nude women are emphatically not the same as tortured women, that's the very line that 'Captivity' blurs, the two human drives that it tries to combine and that's what's so dodgy about it.

Still, from both links and pieces of info it seems like he hasn't so much lost it as only sporadically 'had it' in the first place. His career as a whole is a bit of a mess to say the least. Maybe 'Captivity' was an attempt to recapture his transgressive days of yore, just seems so ... obvious, y'know ? Let's 'transgress' the boundary by being disgusting. Inspired ... for a secondary school film project. For a grown man ? Not so much.
Ah, the Art of Film making:

“Captivity” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Characters are burned with acid, buried in sand, drugged repeatedly — and then have sex.
On a positive note, I was at the movies yesterday, at the multiplex that includes the Chinese theater, and it looked dead, except for the people going to see the new Harry Potter (excellent, see it!). They were showing Captivity, but to whom it was not clear. I know it's thin to go on, but I think my flop sense may be detecting a flop, and if so, yay!
dreamlogic, it took $4.3m opening day, so more than Serenity. Considering it was filmed in Russia, I'm willing to bet it's already made it's production budget back.
Actually, no, I'm wrong. I was including the worldwide gross. It only took $0.5m opening day. Heh.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-07-14 21:24 ]
Damn. I would have taken a deep, almost sexual, pleasure in their suffering from failure.

ETA: Ah, that's better!

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2007-07-14 21:29 ]
Sexual Pleasure 3:16!
Sex and box-office failure ? That's the kind of line I don't mind 'Captivity' straddling ;).
Hah! the reviews, including of course this one, are confirming that it's pretty stinkola.

I loved this from the NYT Review, especially the last line:

"By the time those heightened expectations are dashed (What? No chain saw?), the money is in and the sequel already in the works. There are no refunds on your innocence."

Though I suspect the likelihood of that particular sequel is slim to none.

IGN also reviews the film, saying this:

"There is precious little to recommend Captivity. It is an ultimately pointless tale that throws in anything and everything that might offend -- misogyny, cruelty to animals, patricide, incest, pedophilia, mutilation, cannibalism -- in the hopes of being shocking."

The L.A. Times is reviewing it Monday, due to the lack of a press preview screening. They did, however, review this week's Captivity party in which they quote promoter Courtney Solomon:

"Solomon claims that Joffé was supportive of the revisions to the film, returning to do reshoots, if not perhaps to the test-marketed ending. 'He's a really nice man,' says Solomon."

Huh. I do wonder what the real story on that one is...

They also note, "The original billboards made a cameo appearance at the party, when they were affixed to the outside of the building during early evening hours, easily visible from Sunset Boulevard, until representatives from the MPAA showed up on-site and demanded their removal."

How very socially-conscious and green of After Dark to recycle their discarded billboards. also sent someone to the party:

"If you're wondering why all the hardware stores in LA were sold out of electrical tape, it's because much of it was stuck to the nipples of the models at the Captivity premiere party last night."

Classy. From the descriptions of the party, I guess Solomon has given up all of his earlier pretense that the film is "also about female empowerment...". By the way, the star and most of the announced celebrities, including the director, failed to attend this glittering soirée, which is sad, because they missed, among other empowering moments, this:

"The music takes a turn, buckling from a poppy remix of The Bravery's 'An Honest Mistake' to the grind of Pantera's 'Walk.' And on cue, like a magician removing a cloth to reveal his latest bit of trickery, the curtain drops and a steel cage full of Suicide Girls spill out, teasing on-lookers, teasing each other, dancing to the music. Hallelujah. This moment crescendos with the entrance of a bald fella who proceeds to hang himself from the top of the cage by hooks in his chest. His skin stretches like rubber. The audience gasps. Those aforementioned tanned bedmates who befriended Navarro? They stand by the sidelines, cameras in hand. Eyes wide and flawless lips curled up in shock. It becomes apparent these are not Suicide Girls by any means. Likely wannabe actresses/models hired for the show. Sheep in a den of wolves."

Oddly, for what seemed an obvious attempt to court additional publicity-arousing controversy and protest, the event-planners were a tad ambivalent about the party's media coverage, according to Condé Nast/ Hollywood Deal, first inviting, uninviting, and then re-inviting three reporters.

" was hard to understand why the party set-up had been handled by super crisis-management firm Sitrick & Co., or why tthree female reporters--from Portfolio, the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker--had been told over the weekend they were uninvited to the party. After kicking up dust, they (we) were let back in. When asked about the initially rescinded invitation last night, Solomon said, "there had been a lot of sketchy people on the list " and that we had been flagged. Hmmm. Portfolio? WSJ? New Yorker? Sketchy publications indeed." also reported:

"Toward the end of the night, Solomon, who stood watching as a pale and bare chested man was suspended from a rack by pins in his flesh, ruminated on what might be the sunset of the torture-porn genre. 'It's at the end of a movie cycle,' he said. 'This is like a party for the end.' "

OMFG, one can only hope.

This party was held just around the corner from me, at the charmingly-named "Privilege". I think probably if I had just dressed in black, stuck a prop axe through my head and carried a blender, I could've gotten in. Unfortunately, I had to wash my hair or something, I forget what.

ETA:'s Ryan Stewart has also reviewed Captivity, but I must say I was kinda revolted by his review, and felt compelled to leave a comment.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-07-14 22:59 ]
OMFG, one can only hope.

One can also hope that the organizers decided to use the Mask of Ovu Mobani as a party decoration. :)
Perhaps I'm just not artsy-fartsy enough to truly appreciate the link betwixt horror, mutilation, and sex kittens -- but I don't, by any means, feel left out as a result of skipping everything surrounding this movie.
QuoterGal, the press were warned in advance of that party event that it would send "women's groups" mad. They might as well have hung a sign outside saying "Fuck you, Whedon and chums".

Although, it looks like the movie has flopped. It'll make it's money back for sure, but them there are no sequel numbers. So, marketers that take serious critism about something and turn that critism into the marketing campaign, you loose. (I could have phrased that less civilly).
gossi: QuoterGal, the press were warned in advance of that party event that it would send 'women's groups' mad. They might as well have hung a sign outside saying 'Fuck you, Whedon and chums' ".

Yeah, I know, gossi - I posted the link to this NY Times article last week on whedonesque:

"But the warren of live torture rooms is a must. As Mr. Solomon envisions it, individuals in torture gear will wander through the West Hollywood club Privilege grabbing partygoers. All of which is a prelude to an undisclosed main event that, he warned last week over slices of pizza a few doors from his company’s new offices on the Sunset Strip, is 'probably not legal.'

"The women’s groups definitely will love it,' Mr. Solomon hinted. “I call it my personal little tribute to them.' ”

It actually hasn't, in fact, sent women's groups mad, since they were apparently well aware that this party was, among other things, an attempt to play them to get more outrage publicity.

This was, of course, a game little try by Courtney et al. at stirring up some more shit they no doubt hoped would translate into box office (Defamer filed it under "Annals of Desperation") - I imagine he was dreaming of hoards of picketers outside the party, but it was no go - it was too transparent a ploy, and too obviously related to their other marketing attempts at exploiting the billboard controversy.

He wanted to have some kindof viewing & debate with women's groups in NYC, but he got this instead:

" 'We would not be receptive,' said Meaghan Carey, deputy director of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women. 'We’re not going to go protest so they can get press.' ”

I think - I hope - we've just witnessed a little filmic fizzle, followed by... what's the phrase I'm looking for?... oh, yeah: abject failure.

Nonetheless, this kindof crap needs to be pointed out whenever noticed...
Nonetheless, this kindof crap needs to be pointed out whenever noticed...

Definitely. I'm writing something called 'Let's Watch A Girl Get Tortured To Death' at the moment (I'm all with the original names), and I've got an entire chapter from CAPTIVITY.

The pictures from the film's launch party are... An interesting new form of press advertising. I'm thinking that picture with the exec's quote about the film being about female empowerment would work.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-07-15 00:03 ]
I feel totally empowered just looking at that photo, gossi. Totally. Empowered to do even more of what Joss has suggested:

"All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail."

I'd love to read what you've written, gossi, whenever and however. And do post about it on the I am Dua Khalil blog if you decide on a public viewing...

P.S. Isn't it very late in Britannia-Land?
Thanks gossi for "I could have phrased that less civilly". I got a huge laugh from the imagined possibilities:)
And what could be more fitting than having this movie self destruct in such humiliating fashion?
Now I have to see the movie, so that my opinion isn't coloured by people's bias.
Box Office Mojo is projecting $1.55 million for the weekend. HAH, hah! I don't care if it was filmed in Ghana with a camcorder - all that advertising, all those prints - that take is lousy. Captivity makes Serenity look like fucking Star Wars.

I haven't followed the box office on a movie this closely since Serenity, and this time strictly from malice. Not too evolved, I guess. So I'll stop. This thread is about to go off the front page, and it looks like the satanic carnival will be leaving town earlier than expected, due to lack of interest. So good-bye, Captivity makers and marketers. Thanks again for the educational billboard by the school in my neighborhood, and just let me reiterate how glad I am that you're being eaten by snakes.
dreamlogic, I loved this: " looks like the satanic carnival will be leaving town earlier than expected..."

It conjured up such a wonderful mind-clip, complete with soundtrack.

I've found more reviews, and Roland Joffé is taking such a complete beating that now I'm starting to feel bad for him.

Variety critic Joe Leydon calls it a "nasty piece of work" that was "Destined to be better remembered for its grisly billboard imagery than for its relatively tame torture-porn tropes."

Boston Globe critic Ty Burr called Captivity "pointless" and said, "Yes, it’s one of those movies that deplores sadistic acts visited upon nubile, trussed-up women while indulging the audience’s pleasure in same."

He also points out that, "Finicky film freaks will recognize 'Joseph Tura' as the name of Jack Benny’s character in the classic To Be or Not To Be, which means someone’s hiding under a pseudonym and it’s probably Joffé. Anyway, the oddest thing about "Captivity" is that the movie’s a Russian-American co-production shot in a Moscow studio. How nice that the two former enemy superpowers can at last agree on something: that the world needs more crappy horror movies."

I noticed the "Joseph Tura" credit, being a big Carole Lombard fan, but it somehow never occurred to me it could be Joffé - 'guess I thought there would be conflicting guild rules and all. Huh.

The LA Times critic Robert Abele appears to have reviewed Captivity already, although the paper had announced it for Monday. Maybe there'll be another one tomorrow...

He says, "A spirit-sapping exercise in female degradation fantasy, it was directed by Roland Joffé, who has seen his career go from bewailing the killing fields of Cambodia to slobbering over the hell-maze of a hooded kidnapper/murderer. It's the movie equivalent of encountering someone you once knew begging for money on the street." He also exhorts us to "remember that theaters have exits. They can be put to use, too."


Terry Lawson of The Detroit Free Press writes, "There has been industry speculation that torture horror has peaked, based on the fact that the gruesome Hostel II flopped earlier this summer... One can only hope this is so, because one has to worry about a world where there is a constant appetite for films like this one. Should you choose to send Joffé a get-well soon card as opposed to rewarding him further for descending to this level by buying a ticket, you will do everyone a favor."

This was when my pity kicked in. The poor bugger.

Finally, Ryan Stewart of"America Slams the Door on Torture Porn: 'Captivity' Opens In 12th Place", who yesterday delighted us all with this poetic remark, "I could conceivably write a glowing review of a movie where the lead actress is gang-raped by a group of angry coal miners, gives birth to a two-headed rape baby, and then is forced to eat that baby moments after delivering it..." in his reluctant panning of Captivity, was afraid that the death knell had been rung for horror films? torture-porn? by the film's failure:

"Anyway you slice it, this disasterous showing will have huge consequences for the horror genre going forward. Horror films of the 'torture porn' variety will probably not disappear from theatrical release all-together, but I bet that, going forward, the more gruesome elements of these films will be completely hidden by the marketing gurus rather than promoted."

Again, one can only frakking hope that Courtney Solomon will never eat lunch in this town again, and that torture-porn sounded its own death knell by using his ilk to promote their film.

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