One of the best things about releasing one’s film in August is the dearth of interesting things to cover â€” this year you’ve got your "Snakes on a Plane," and you’ve got your "World Trade Center," and that’s about that. Which may explain the avalanche of feature on the Stone film at the moment, despite the fact that, now that our 9/11 film cherry has been popped (boy, we’re getting some emails about that one!), it doesn’t seem to be nearly as urgent a story. At the Risky Biz blog, Anne Thompson highlights some of the recent stories that have been published about the film (among them that odd piece from Claudia Eller at the LA Times about how the kids are just loving those 9/11 films). There’s also David M Halbfinger‘s set visit report in the Guardian, in which he notes that an unavoidably scrupulous attachment to scale and realism (an instinctual signifier that something is in good taste?) makes the topic the sole realm of the blockbuster for the moment:
The countless measurements taken and calculations made by scientists and government agencies helped Ground Zero rescue workers pinpoint dangerous areas in the weeks after the attacks. The data also provided a fuller historical record of how the buildings collapsed and lessons for future architects and engineers.
Only a movie budgeted as mass entertainment, though, could harness all that costly information to reconstruct the point of view of two severely injured and bewildered men, who didn’t even know the twin towers had been flattened until rescuers lifted them to the surface many hours later.
The film’s the cover story in Newsweek, where David Ansen, in a long feature story, writes that "This is not the 9/11
story most people would expect from Oliver Stone. There are no
conspiracies lurking in the background. No axes to grind." (It would be extremely ballsy if he did â€” as raw as this topic is, if Stone approached it with an agenda in mind, he’d be run out of town.) Evan Thomas and Andrew Romano idiotically continue this train of thought in a piece about our national need to mythologize historical events:
One might expect Hollywood’s Oliver Stone to drum up a conspiracy theory to explain 9/11. He is, after all, known as the director of a movie, "JFK," that essentially accused Lyndon Johnson, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of killing President Kennedy. That Stone did not go to the dark side to explain the attacks of September 11 tells us something about the American sensibility toward that day.
Jeff Giles interviews the film’s real-life subjects, Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin.
So instead of stories that reflect how 9/11 changed us, we have stories that help us flatter ourselves into believing that it did. The Flight 93 movies and World Trade Center, not to take anything away from them, cherry-picked the few triumphant stories of 9/11. They let us see it as a day when Americans tapped their strength, transformed and sacrificed–whether you and I, munching our Raisinets in the audience, did or not.
And Richard Schickel reviews and likes the film, ironically, for the reasons Poniewozik has such trouble with: "Very simply, World Trade Center is a powerful movie experience, a hymn in plainsong that glorifies that which is best in the American spirit."
It was messy and painfully theatrical, but we liked "The Great New Wonderful" quite a bit simply for the ambitiousness of what it tried to portray â€” that sense that, a year out from an event that felt world-rending, a event from which you were supposed to emerge stronger, and wiser, and better, you were still in the exact same place.
+ Paramount Sells World Trade Center (Risky Biz Blog)
+ 9/11 Film Resonates With an Unlikely Group: Teens (LA Times)
+ Where angels fear to tread (Guardian)
+ Natural Born Heroes (Newsweek)
+ History: How American Myths Are Made (Newsweek)
+ Interview: ‘I Had Made My Peace With God’ (Newsweek)
+ The Day That Changed… Very Little (Time)
+ Fine Movie on a Bad Day (Time)