Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Trailer for "World Trade Center" is Up, And I Have Some Thoughts. It's Soapbox Time at the Inanities

The trailer for World Trade Center went up this week. You can take a gander at it here. I'm wondering, after watching the trailer, how the movie will continue to be interesting after the two policemen characters, played by Nicholas Cage and Michael Pena, have been buried in WTC rubble. And if 3/4 of the movie take place before the towers fall, than won't the majority of the film just be a big-budget recreation of the terrible events of that day? What's the point of that? Will that be cathartic? Will we be edified by unique insights into the meaning of that day? I kind of doubt it. Oliver Stone, who directed the movie, has said it's not a political film. How do you make a film about that day that's not political in some way? Or better question: why bother?

I think it'll be many years before the pain of that day recedes from the collective unconscious enough so that a clear-eyed retelling of what happened can be made. I don't know. It seems like the filmmakers of these first few 9/11 films (World Trade this August and United93 before it) are all operating in this hyper-politicized atmosphere that seems to demand their films be apolitical. In essence, don't make the film you want to make, make the film you think will offend the fewest number of people. Only a cold, clinical retelling of facts will do. I don't think you get to art that way.

I guess these films that tell the stories of the regular people who were directly and personally confronted with the horrors of that day have their place -- triumph of the human spirit and all of that -- but I'm really feeling that these big-budget Lifetime movies are a waste of celluloid. What does Paul Greengrass (the director of United93) think of what happened that day? What does Oliver Stone think of what happened on that day? What do they think of all that came after? It's like they're just lifting the most gripping sections from the 9/11 Commission Report, sprinkling in some authentic-sounding dialogue, and then filming them for entertainment value. I think the story of September 11th is much broader than what happened with those four airplanes on that Tuesday morning, and to concentrate so doggedly on the planes and the buildings to the exclusion of all else, is disappointing. I'm probably getting into Bob Dole territory here by talking about movies I haven't seen, but I guess that even without seeing the films, just seeing trailers and reading reviews, I can see that these movies aren't the 9/11 movies I want to see. I'm guessing they probably won't be making those for awhile.

Okay. Enough self-righteousness. Have a sweet weekend.


Captain Mike said...

I think it's remarkable that in this media-saturated age, it has taken nearly five years for mainstream movies to finally portray 9/11. "From Here to Eternity" was released 12 years after Pearl Harbor, and I don't think anyone considers that movie to have a political swing in one way or another. I haven't seen "United 93," but knowing what little I do about what happened on that plane and what the filmmakers did to portray those events, it is difficult to image a more dramatic human struggle - hardly cold or clinical. I seriously doubt that the people on those planes or the rescue workers who were buried alive in New York were thinking much about politics, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, or Bush & Cheney's ties with Saudi Arabia. They were ordinary people thrust into an unimaginably horrific situation who were trying to save their own lives and the lives of those around them. Those are compelling stories and they deserve to be told - on film and every other medium. If these movies arent political enough for you, make your own damn movie!

harwell said...

There is a HUGE difference between Pearl Harbor and 9/11 in regard to movies though: the entire world saw 9/11 unfold on TV as it happened. When I think about the idea of it being "too close" to the event of 9/11 for a movie to be made, I think about it as something I remember watching on TV very clearly. I've seen the real footage; how can a movie compare??? Why would we want to pay for something we lived five years ago? Americans didn't live Pearl Harbor in the same dramatic sense. They lived the aftermath of it on their radios.

And besides, From Here To Eternity had so little to do with the actual attack on Pearl Harbor. It was mostly a soldier's story. It could've been told without the actual event, in a way and still have been compelling. Can we say the same thing from what we've seen of the two 9/11 movies that have been made???

Regardless, I'm totally with Crane and Paul and I have talked about the idea of making a non-politicized 9/11 movie. The story of the ordinary person in the extraordinary event of 9/11 was told over and over again on all the networks in the months after 9/11. They exist on dvd. United 93 was made as another film for cable before this one hit the theaters. I've seen the stories of the guys who went in the buildings to rescue people and I know some of them didn't come out. I heard the sound of the bodies hitting the ground. It's all been played out before on television. Movies are already having a difficult enough time competing; why retread so directly?

How can anyone in their right mind think the trailer for World Trade Center looks half as compelling as the 9/11 movie we THOUGHT the director of JFK would make???

Craig Moorhead said...

I don't understand why Oliver Stone would waste his time if he wasn't going to piss someone off. But then, how would he do that? By suggesting that Bush was involved? Been done. By suggesting that all Muslims are homicidal fanatics? Been done.

It's true - this story has been told so many times by so many people that it's all white noise. It has all run together. There's not a single thing about that trailer that makes me want to see it (which I can't say for United 93, which looks a good bit more interesting).

blankfist said...

It's not too soon. Saying that right now, at this very moment, that it's too soon, is arbitrary. People keep whining about it being too soon. Stop! Whiners. Weiners.

harwell said...

It's not too soon emotionally, it's just too soon to be unique. These movies are like 9/11: the Refresher Course. Problem is, I don't know anybody who really needs to be refreshed. Five or seven years from now, okay, yeah maybe I will have forgotten a few things. Right now though? Nahhh. Unnecessary. If you're standing at the theater wondering which flick to drop nine bucks on, do you go with something you've never seen before or something you've seen on TV over and over and over again for five years?

That's why it's too soon, dude. We have to forget first in order to appreciate being reminded.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Hardswell - we need to see a 9/11 inside job movie - a film that explores that possibility (maybe the director discovers through the film that this was not feasible)... I would LOVE to see that...A real thrill thride..Unfortunately, I think that a majority of the public is still damn sore about this because the 9/11 commission report was so blaringly full of holes and illogical conculsions (like swiss cheese). Others act as if they have some collective feeling to the event - as if they were present, and others feel it is too early because the media, church and select government leaders tell them so.

It's amazing that the spectacle of the act was probably more intense than the actual event itself.

If anything, a documentary would be fine and that's what I would call United 93 - a kind of cinema verite docu-drama akin to Battle of Algiers or Greengrass' excellent film, Sunday Bloody Sunday about the murder of pro-Irish Independence activits in Northern Ireland.

What I like about the prospect of films like United 93 is that it is anti-spectacle - meaning there are no canned experiences, melodrama, sacrifice to a commercial "hook" or climax - or focus on one set of characters over all others...

-this film was made by an outward leftist and opponent to US foreign Policy. I've read a ton of shit about this film and I believe that it is was set up to show the every day life of people - how important the worker is to society and yet how detached they are from the "real events" due to technology and the dominant social system of exhange value. I can't wait to see this film just from a philosophical perspective.

Imagine De Sica merged with FrontLine....

Again, I see this more as a philosophical exploration of the event on many levels - synthesized by the directors opinion of a post-modern world where we are so specialized and disconnected, the only act of solidarity one can muster is for mutual survival.

If anything - this could be seen superficially as a factual attempted reconstruction of the event or more deeply, as a painful deconstruction of the circuits of life within our capitalist society.


Brian O'Malley said...

Too soon? No way. I say, "Let the bodies hit the floor!"