Monday, July 17, 2006

Is It Too Soon?

Is it too soon? Even the trailer under "Video: Click to Watch" at made me a little emotional, and I pride myself in not crying at movies.

Out of sheer morbid curiosity, I went to back in April when the movie about the United Airlines flight that crashed in Pennsylvania was released. Among the video trailers, spots, clips, and featurettes, I read the Director's Statement. Why didn't he think it was too soon? I know it's important to never forget, but should movies be one of the first forces to help us remember? It has barely been five years. It makes me wonder if the future of mankind will be one where every great tragedy is reenacted for box office sales and a shot at an Oscar before a scholarship fund can even be established. And now another movie called "World Trade Center" is about to be released. I saw a preview for it on TV this morning and again felt the kind of emotional lump in my throat that movies - much less previews - do not usually make me feel.

It seems like exploitation when it's not even history yet. Some people say that it will help us remember. But it's not like any of us who were old enough to know what was happening on September 11, 2001 could ever forget. It's not like Pearl Harbor or D Day - events in which most of Hollywood's major moviegoers weren't alive to experience. It just bothers me sometimes when it seems like we've become a society that needs a movie to depict for us why something is important. Instead of learning, researching and thinking for ourselves, we wait for Hollywood to tell us which events or issues are significant.

Back in April, Ebert & Roeper gave "United 93" two thumbs up. "World Trade Center" has yet to be reviewed, but this was Joel Seigel's review of "United 93" in April:

April 28, 2006 - Full disclosure: I did not want to see "United 93," the controversial Sept. 11 film that opens today, after premiering at New York City's Tribeca Film Festival, which, ironically, was started after 9-11.

This film is the story of the hijacked Boeing 757 that crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers struggled to retake the cockpit from terrorists. It's not easy to watch, but "United 93" is great filmmaking, and it's sure to make my "Ten Best" this year.

The action and stomach-churning tension in this film doesn't happen on the flight but in the air traffic control centers, where many of the cast members are playing themselves. And how they lived through this horror a second time, I'll never know. The quick camera moves - sometimes handheld, sometimes out of focus - create a hyper realism, docudrama raised to a new level.

Many of the most effective scenes are played out in real time, and there are no recognizable stars. If we saw Denzel Washington in row four or Harrison Ford in seat 7B, we'd feel in our hearts someone would save the day. On this day, we know in our gut no one does.

You'll notice that there's no musical swells, and no pregnant pauses punctuating the dialogue. That would make it a movie.

The soundtrack, too, is perfect for the dialog. In the beginning, waiting for Flight 93 to take off, its percussion, made to sound like a heartbeat. At the end, when Flight 93 hits the ground, there's no sound, no explosion, no crash. The screen goes black.

And from the audience, no applause. Sobs. Real, deep, heartfelt sobs. That's why I can't recommend you see this movie. Only you will know if you can. It is that close to being there. Grade: A-.

My Review (not having seen "United 93" and with no plans to see "World Trade Center"): I'm not questioning anyone who wants to see either of these films. Certainly that is every American's right - every human being's right. But after the lights come up, the theater empties out, and popcorn boxes are thrown away, the best way to honor those who saved our Capitol or who perished with the Twin Towers is to sincerely cherish each and every day that they lost. So let's roll with that ...


Anonymous said...

It discusts me that Hollywood is making money off this film...

nice blog :)

Senorito<- Ako said...

I'd be impress by the US's maturity if hollywood made a film about Iraq. General theme being... "When they said that we had Weapons of mass destruction".

It's a cry for empathy perhaps... or a justification to make swiss cheese out of afghanistan. But to attack Iraq and bypass the UN. hmm...

FYI, I don't hate americans... just 'dubya'. Hell, I know 2 american's here in Wellington who hates bush and abhores the 'general perceptions' of america.