NEW DVD "Embedded": Actor enters stage left and takes aim at the lying politicians and their lapdog

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by JAS, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. JAS

    JAS Guest

    Tim Robbins at War

    Actor enters stage left and takes aim at the lying politicians and their
    lapdog media

    By Bruce Kirkland / Winnipeg Sun

    NEW YORK -- Psychologically, Tim Robbins sits poised somewhere between
    Hollywood celebrity and American citizenry. It is neither a comfortable nor
    a safe place.

    On one hand, Robbins is an Oscar-winning movie star known for the complexity
    of his performances, whether as hero, as victim or just as often as the
    villain. In Steven Spielberg's current sci-fi movie War of the Worlds,
    Robbins is all three rolled into one for his strong cameo. During the alien
    invasion, Robbins' half-crazed character obliges hero Tom Cruise to make an
    astonishing moral choice to ensure survival for both he and his daughter.

    On the other hand, Robbins is a concerned citizen, a left-wing activist who
    was -- by default -- one of the most vocal Americans to oppose the invasion
    of Iraq and who now believes George W. Bush is "a lame-duck president" who
    should be repudiated by his own Republican backers. Along with his long-time
    romantic partner Susan Sarandon, also an Oscar-winner and political
    activist, Robbins has been ridiculed for his willingness to take a stand.
    Most absurdly, he was one of the celebrity puppets lampooned as dupes and
    fools in the South Park creators' comedy, Team America.

    Today, Robbins' two hands are clapping together on one project. It is a new
    self-financed DVD called Embedded -- and it is not available by conventional
    means. Instead, Robbins is flogging it over the Internet in a bold, if risky
    move that could show a new way to proceed for filmmakers to avoid getting
    lost in a glut of DVDs at the big-name video stores.

    "You can't think in the old paradigm," Robbins tells The Sun in an exclusive
    interview in the library lounge of his funky office penthouse in lower
    Manhattan. "You can't think like that."

    Robbins is changing a lot of his thinking. For the War of the Worlds media
    onslaught, Robbins did just a mass press conference. For Embedded, he sat
    down for an hour one-on-one to talk about a citizen's responsibility, the
    pressure on celebrities, what he perceives are the evils of the Bush
    government and his disillusionment with "the pussies" in the Democrat Party,
    including John Kerry, who refused to oppose Bush over Iraq.

    Some of that is woven into Embedded, which was written and directed by
    Robbins. Along with fellow members of his theatre troupe, The Actors Gang,
    Robbins also co-stars as a sympathetic U.S. soldier shipped off to Iraq for
    the war.

    Embedded is a spin-off from Robbins' play by the same name. Designed as a
    satire but containing many gut-wrenching moments as well, it tells the story
    of embedded journalists as well as active soldiers who were involved in the
    invasion of Iraq by American forces. The play, and now the film version,
    savages the deep thinkers in the Pentagon and the White House for their lies
    and deceptions about weapons of mass destruction and other issues, including
    false intelligence that linked Iraq to terrorist cells. Embedded also
    confronts the U.S. mass media for what Robbins sees as a gross failure to
    uncover lies, thus serving as propaganda machines.

    The play was written before it was fashionable to acknowledge the truth --
    yet Robbins is still attacked as an activist in a country where the word
    "liberal" is a profanity. "But we were right!" Robbins says. "We were right.
    They were wrong. And why was it us who were the ones who stepped forward to
    say those things, to ask those questions?"

    By "us" Robbins is referring to other Hollywood celebrities, such as Sean
    Penn, Alec Baldwin, Janeane Garofalo and Michael Moore. "And most of us, by
    the way, were simply saying: 'Let the (UN) inspectors have more time.' We
    weren't purporting to know what was going on but just saying: 'Let's be
    patient. Let's not be hurried. This is human life we're talking about. Let's
    be judicious.' It's not like we wanted to do that. It's not like, if there
    was an opposition party, a strong voice of resistance, that we would go:
    'Wait! I want to be on the show, too. I want to say something.' No, there
    would be absolutely no need for it. There would be no need for an actor to
    speak. But we don't live in that world."

    Obviously, the U.S. government ignored the protests, at home and abroad, and
    the invasion of Iraq went ahead. It was at that point that Robbins decided
    to create Embedded as a play. It was his personal reaction to the situation.

    "Definitely," Robbins says. "We have a limited number of venues where we can
    tell stories or get information." U.S. television was neutered, Robbins
    says. Only one major radio show, Democracy Now, was confrontational, he
    says. The mainstream print press was failing, too, in his view.

    "So where do you go? What do you do? You do what you do and I am incredibly
    fortunate in that I have a theatre company and a theatre (an arrangement
    with the Public Theatre in New York) and I could write something and put it
    on stage and get the information out that way."

    Robbins chose not to try to make a regular film, like his acclaimed
    political satire Bob Roberts. "If I thought that I could do it on film, I
    would have attempted it that way. But I didn't feel that it was possible,
    when you consider who owns the film companies. It would also be a process
    and it would just be coming out now, if I was lucky enough to have raised
    the money way back then. I had the immediacy of my own theatre company and I
    was able to do it right away, which, for me, was really great and, for the
    actors, it was really great. It was a way for us to do something when
    everyone felt so frustrated and impatient about our ability to stop this war
    from happening -- and, once it happened, to spread the information that we
    knew was out there."

    Not surprisingly, Embedded first generated lousy reviews, in L.A. and then
    in New York. "If you were to read the reviews and if you were to believe the
    reviews, you would think that what we had done was silly and
    inconsequential," Robbins now says with a grin. "It was marginalized in the
    reviews and I knew that was going to happen. You don't go in to the backyard
    of the media and say, 'You're full of s--!', and expect them to embrace

    Some reviews attacked him for allegedly making up stuff. In fact, much of
    the dialogue and the situations depicted were mined from real-life events,
    including BBC reporter John Simpson's eyewitness experience in a firefight,
    as well as accounts of the dubious Jessica Lynch rescue. She is called
    Jen-Jen in the play but Robbins says she is iconic now and the character
    will immediately trigger images in a viewer's mind.

    The reviews hurt the show for a week, Robbins says. Then word-of-mouth
    revived ticket sales and led to sell-outs.

    "We always considered it the little engine that could," Robbins says proudly
    of the play. Now he is saying it about the DVD version. He could not find
    financial backers to film the play. So he sank his own money into the
    project. Then he could not find a regular DVD distributor to handle it.

    "We didn't want to release it as a film. We wanted to go out to DVD and to
    television and still there was that fear of it."

    So Robbins hooked up with Netflix, the U.S.-based service that supplies
    films by overnight mail to its subscribers. "That's three million people,
    potentially, but there's no way that all of their subscribers are going to
    (order Embedded). So we're selling it on our own website (
    and also on and now it keeps growing. It really is the little
    engine that could. We're losing money as of now. But I always knew that,
    just like the play, it would be slow, there would be a resistance to it, but
    eventually it would find its audience."

    Robbins and company were crafty enough, as well, not to simply film
    themselves acting out the play. The DVD version of Embedded shows the play
    as "an event" that mirrors his attitude towards theatre in the first place.
    "We've always kind of done theatre in The Actors Gang that's all raucous and
    rude and loud. We were all punk rockers when we started the group so we all
    have that aesthetic -- to stir things up."
    JAS, Jul 27, 2005
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  2. JAS

    Napalm68 Guest

    yeah, whatever
    Napalm68, Jul 27, 2005
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  3. JAS

    Bratboy Guest

    Hey, at least now I know why it had a Netflix logo on the main DVD menu when
    I watched it. Have to admit his working out a deal with Netflix to be the
    distro seem a clever way to accomplish getting it out. As for the show
    itself I thought it was good, didnt give any "new" info but still
    Bratboy, Jul 27, 2005
  4. JAS

    Stan Brown Guest

    Er, that's "him and his daughter", dude.
    Stan Brown, Jul 27, 2005
  5. JAS

    RichA Guest

    Oh lookie! A leftwing reviewer (Kirland) reviews a rabid leftwinger's
    stage play (Robbins). They should be skinned alive.
    RichA, Jul 27, 2005
  6. JAS

    Napalm68 Guest

    LOL. Yeah, Live theatre is for left wing girly-men.
    Napalm68, Jul 27, 2005
  7. JAS

    Black Locust Guest

    The only girly-men I see are the right wing ones who support the war(and
    the semi-retarded chimp-faced president who started it), but don't have
    enough balls to actually enlist in the military and get their chicken
    shit butts over to Iraq. Yes, that applies to you, tough guy...
    Black Locust, Jul 28, 2005
  8. JAS

    Billy Joe Guest

    Er, that's "him and his daughter", dude.[/QUOTE]

    Quit possibly: an astonishing moral choice, to ensure survival of his
    daughter and himself.

    Himself being the reflexive form of him. Meant to imply an action upon, or
    affecting, oneself.

    Whereas, "they threatened him and his daughter," emphasizes that an outside
    influence is/was at work.

    "Dude!" Now there's an underwhelming use of English ;-0)

    Billy Joe, Jul 28, 2005
  9. JAS

    Stan Brown Guest

    You're right on all counts. I've been hanging around college
    students WAY too much. :)
    Stan Brown, Jul 29, 2005
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