10 THE LIST 2
GEORGE CLOONEY is the first to admit the quality of his films has been mixed since he was discharged from e.r. But Three Kings may
be his finest yet. -.'.c-:;.«,: Miles Fielder
OKAY, LET'S GET THE SHOWBIZ GOSSIP OUT of the way: George (‘looney went head—to- head with director David 0. Russell oyer 'I'ltree Kings. '\\'e had about three good screaming matches but there was ney er a fist fight.‘ (‘looney patiently explains. ‘11 was a creatiye process. but it was difficttlt because the director is also the writer and he has a really specific point of \‘lC\\'. \Vhich yott want. but we were all a little ottt of our depth. :\s you know. stuff happens.‘ Then. laughing. (’looney recalls another director. who shall remain anonymous: ‘Xow that guy's a schmuck. Him I shoulda hit.’
Punch-ups are as good a place as any to start with (‘looney's new film. Set at the end of the (‘1qu War. Three Kings plays somewhat like a modern day \‘L‘l‘sltm of Kelly's Heroes or 7716 Dirty l)n:en. It's a war film with a caper plot which has Clooney and fellow soldiers Mark Wahlberg and Ice ('ube stealing Saddam l-lussein's gold. .\lore interestingly. it
questions American policy dttring that conflict.
‘I liked the idea of showing a side of the war that. especially in the l'nited States. we didn't really see mttch off says Clooney. ‘We’re a nation of very smart policy makers: we learned from Vietnam not to show the effects of bullets becattse we don‘t haye the stomach for war. The (lulf War was just like a \‘lLiCO game when l was watching it in the early 90s; we were completely desensitised to it. But what I didn‘t understand was how we asked the Shi’ites to rise up and fight for a democratic goyernment. and then pulled out and left them with rocks and sticks fighting an army we had supposedly defeated. We let them he executed. If this film inspires you to go look it tip and be informed. then it‘s done something gootl.‘
The trailer. howeyer. sells the film as pure boy‘s own adyenture. a marketing strategy that’s rankled (‘looney ‘01] screen. the \‘lUiL‘liCL‘ is so cold and callous. it’s there for effect.’ he argues. ‘l)a\'id is brilliant in this: his idea is to resensitise people to \‘ltllL‘llL‘C. He didn’t just want to show the effect of a gunshot: he wanted to show it literally in your body. And he wanted to show it in your home and how it effects your family. “liyery bttllet
counts." He kept saying that eyery day. .\'ot when we were fighting. howe\er.‘ Ho. ho.
()f Russell's script. (‘looney recalls: ‘lt was the most immediate film I‘d read since (MI ()1' Sig/it: funny. smart and with a strong point of View. Most films from studios since Network and .ll‘élﬁS‘E‘ll (1976 and l‘)7(). respectiyely) hayen’t been point of \‘iC\\ films.’
Since he broke into film on the back of his e.r. glory. (Tommy‘s career choices hayen’t always been of the calibre of Three Kings. ()ul (USN/it -— Steyen Sotlerbergh's superb lilmore Leonard adaptation -- or the quality trash of Vampire road moyie from Dusk Till Dawn.
For a start. there‘s the risible But/nun .‘illd Robin. t'lt‘s hard to think of things to say about it.' admits the ('loonster.) Then there's Return ()l. The Killer 'limtulnes and the under- performers. One line Day and The Peacemaker. So. taking the career controls. (‘looney has formed a company with Soderhergh. '\\'e're fitting into scripts which is an acting choice as
'The Gulf War was just like watching a video game; we were completely desensrtised to war.’ George Clooney
opposed to pitching and dey'eloping stories.' he explains. ‘Btit I also help get films made now. and that's sort of a trick.’
Next up for (‘looney is a remake of the terrifyingly conyincing World War III thriller. l‘ni/ Sale. which will go ottt lite on American television in black and white. That unusual piece of programming is followed by the hurricane at sea adyenture. Per/eel Storm. and the new ('oen Brothers' film. () Brut/1e): ll'ltere Art 771011.". a comic Version of Homer’s Odyssey in which (‘looney’s l'lysses is recast as a conyict on the run.
In the flesh. (‘looney is modest. good- natured. respectful. And handsome. of course. .-\nd none of it appears forced. [it short. he’s the same in person as he is on screen. It‘s the kind of straightforward decency we associate with (iolden .-\ge Hollywood film stars. His career philosophy comes as no surprise. then. 'lt’s just abottt getting a job. I’ll be doing a cheesy mini-series in no time. begging people to come see it.’
Yeah. right. l'nlike :\tiict‘ica\ insolyement in the Gulf War. (‘looncy 's contribution to Three King.» is no l’yrrhic \ ictory. Neither is it likely to be shortliyed.
Three Kings opens Fri 3 Mar. See review, page 24.