Thursday, September 28, 2006

Disconnected thoughts on WORLD TRADE CENTER

WORLD TRADE CENTER is an earnest film. It handles a shocking event in US history with sensitivity. It features a script by newbie Andrea Berloff that carefully uses testimony from survivors no matter how hackneyed or unintentionally political the results may be. It features the sort of glossy, big-budget, impressive, weighty production design and cinematography that one would expect from a grave Hollywood treatment of this subject. And most of all, it features a career-redefining performance from Nic Cage as one of the fireman rescued from the wreckage of the Twin Towers, as well as strong supporting performances from Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

WORLD TRADE CENTER is NOT an Oliver Stone movie. It does not have a grand visual style - it does not engage in taboo subjects with excoriating insight - it does not challenge us to re-evaluate our relationship with events that have become, for better of worse, part of our pop-culture. And while the use of the true story of the heroic religious marine sticks to the facts, it undoubtedly creates a political spin to the movie that seems rather crass and, bizarrely, at odds with Oliver Stone's previous work. Indeed, in this movie I fear that Stone has finally been what his critics have always accused him of being - irresponsible with history - in focusing on the story of the gung-ho US marine.

WORLD TRADE CENTER is not a movie that I think belongs on the big screen, despite its good intentions and largely good performances. I think it belongs on The Hallmark Channel. It may be all 100% true and earnestly transmitted to the audience, but the conversations between the two firefighters and the visions they experience seem to me - when projected onto a movie screen - incredible and manipulative.

It is, to me, incomprehensible that a film-maker should come at 9/11 from this angle. For me, it is up there with SCHINDLER'S LIST as a truly bizarre film. I find there to be something sociologically interesting but nonetheless depressing about the choices that Stone and Spielberg have chosen to make. To me, 9/11 is about an act of brutal violence and innocent civilians being murdered. It's about bad things happening. To focus on the handful of people who were rescued - on the small glimmer of light - just seems dishonest. And I know my reaction is perverse, because after all these are true stories and deserve to be heard too. But I can't get rid of the sneaking suspicion that Oliver Stone has handed us a security blanket when what I, for one, really want is for someone to shake me up and help me make sense of what happened.

WORLD TRADE CENTER is on release in Canada, the US, Italy, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Israel, Portugal, Thailand, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Brazil, Spain, Turkey and the UK. It opens in Australia, Slovenia, the Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, Japan, Greece, Italy, Argentina and Hong Kong in October. It opens in Egypt, Chile and Vietnam in November 2006.

No comments:

Post a Comment