Newsbites: Busey in Iraq! Manson! Spear!

Time for another round-up.

1. In the mid-1990s or thereabouts, Gary Busey became a Christian and a Promise Keeper and did what many washed-up movie stars, especially those of a religious bent, have done: he starred in an end-times movie, namely Tribulation (2000). Produced by the same folks who made the Left Behind movies, that’s the one in which the Christians rig a house to blow up and kill those henchmen of the Antichrist who burst into the place. Somehow I don’t think the martyrs would have approved.

Anyway, given his taste for wacky movies and his overall weirdness in general, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that Busey is now playing an evil Jewish-American doctor who works at Abu Ghraib and harvests Iraqi organs for wealthy Yankees back home, in a movie called Valley of the Wolves: Iraq that has been tagged “the most expensive Turkish movie ever made”. Billy Zane plays the evil American commander. Reports Reuters:

A host of Turkish celebrities and politicians joined the film’s stars at its Hollywood-style premiere on Tuesday night in Istanbul and Turkish guards in fake U.S. military uniforms maintained security.

Many in the audience said the film rang true.

“This film shows the reality of the oppression in Iraq,” said university student Emrah Adiyaman as he posed for a photo in front of Hummer vehicles and weapons used in the movie.

“This is an important film. It should make Americans see why the world doesn’t like them,” said businessman Sabahattin Can.

The Associated Press says the film is motivated by a “personal grudge” that goes beyond the usual anti-Americanism:

“Valley of the Wolves Iraq” opens with a true story: On July 4, 2003, in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq, troops from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade raided and ransacked a Turkish special forces office, threw hoods over the heads of 11 Turkish special forces officers, and held them in custody for more than two days.

The Americans said they had been looking for Iraqi insurgents and unwittingly rounded up the Turks because they were not in uniform. Still, the incident damaged Turkish-U.S. relations and hurt Turkish national pride. Turks traditionally idolize their soldiers; most enthusiastically send their sons off for mandatory military service.

In the movie, one of the Turkish special forces officers commits suicide to save his honor. His farewell letter reaches Polat Alemdar, an elite Turkish intelligence officer who travels to northern Iraq with a small group of men to avenge the humiliation.

Think this one will make the rounds at film festivals?

2. Speaking of weird people, the Hollywood Reporter says Marilyn Manson will play the title character in his writing-directing debut, Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll. Wonderland will never be the same. And somehow I don’t think his performance will have much in common with Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland (2004).

3. Back in October, I posted an item on End of the Spear and a small controversy brewing then over the fact that Steve Saint, one of the 20th century’s best-known evangelical martyrs, is played in that film by an openly gay actor. It seems the controversy has since gotten a fair bit bigger, as reported by Newsweek, the Associated Press and CT Movies, among others. For its part, Time magazine steers clear of this controversy and focuses on the movie itself, which was #8 at the box office two weekends ago.

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  • There is also an article about the “End of the Spear” controversy in yesterday’s NY Times.

  • Bob

    This whole thing is taken way out of proportion.