Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thoughts on Oliver Stone's World Trade Center

People wonder if this movie "World Trade Center" is too soon. After seeing the film the answer is nah, of course not. It's a real life story, and art is about creating a lens to help understand truth, beauty, ideas, and things that words alone cannot express. A lot of words have been expressed post-9/11, and words alone can not express human emotion and help create understanding.

Is the movie good? My friend Mitsu called this film a "one and done." You wouldn't want to buy this and watch it over and over again with a tub of buttered popcorn. But, Oliver Stone tells the unique story of Port Authority Police Officers John McLoughlin and William Jimeno. And while the overall story takes part in a larger context this story makes a great piece of a much larger mosaic of what happened that day.

It reminded me of the 2,996 September 11th Tribute that D.Challener Roe has initated on his site. I encourage you to participate. I sent him an e-mail this morning and he says that so far 1900 names have been given out. There's still 1000 people who are left to be memoralized for this project. I urge you to take part.

Did the movie make me cry? Yea, it did a little bit. I know some people cried more, but I cry in some of the strangest movies, at some of the strangest parts. This movie doesn't force an emotional response as much as I thought it would. The homefront stories led by the characters wives (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and and Maria Bello) were emotional, but not in the heavy handed way I expected.

One of the most interesting parts of the story I thought was the Dave Karnes character (played by Michael Shannon). I thought every scene Shannon was in was very interesting, and that they made Karnes a very interesting piece of the Jimeno-McLoughlin story.

Was Nicolas Cage distracting in this role? I don't really think so. There were a few times were I felt like Cage was overacting, but that was probably because the injuries of his character were probably far worse than those of William Jimeno (played by Michael Pena).

Will World Trade Center play a role in the 79th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony? Many have currently begun predicting that World Trade Center will get nominated for best picture. I'm not sure about that, it will depend on the success of later movies this year and how award buzz developes, and whether current thoughts stick around. I am sure it will get nominated for something, and maybe Michael Pena will get a supporting nod, but I really am not certain.

How does it compare to United 93? I loved United 93. With it's unknown cast and complicatedly simple style and story telling, I really think it's a unique film and Greengrass certainly deserves a Best Director nod for his work on the film. But these stories are simply different. They take place on the same day and deal with September 11th themes of shock and uncertainty, and yet they involved different people, different places, and in different hard circumstances. In the years to come I think we will see many films that create a wide dialogue that discusses what happened and was experienced that day. And these films both just look at 9-11, the actual day, just think what stories will come out of the days that followed.

Are either of the film United 93 or World Trade Center more controversial than the other? No, neither are very controversial in my opinion, and Oliver Stone really doesn't introduce conspiracy into this story.

Did you know the real William Jimeno plays a port authority police in the film. Check him out next to Michael Pena in the picture above.

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Kate said...

Great review - I had been wondering what World Trade Centre would be like. I have seen Flight 93, it is a difficult film to watch, but well made and the director has managed to avoid any overt sentimentality.

Glad to see you mention D. Challener Roe's September 11th tribute, I signed up a while back. Lets hope he can get more people involved.

Marilyn said...

Cage really is a horrible actor and I think he is where he is because of who he's related too. I would like to see this film but I'm also hesitant about it.

Arden said...

i will not see this movie

tooners said...

Don't know when this movie will come out here... probably won't be for a while. Still haven't seen United 93, but I'd like to.

neolithic said...

I haven't seen Flight 93, though it's more the argument of who gets next pick, my bride to be or myself, so as such, seeing as the film is phasing out of theatres, I will watch it as a rental.

I did see World Trade Center last night, and thought it really hit the mark. I do think Cage's performance in the role was on the mark. And seeing as the story is focused around McLoughlin and Jimeno, as opposed to Flight 93, the use of star power I think is justified.

I don't see the contreversial edge on this film either. It doesn't raise any conspiracy or anti-establisment agenda, but rather shifts the audience's focus back from the politics to the heart of what happened on 9-11.

Bennett said...

We saw it. "one and done" is a good saying.

I did like that there wasn't really much preaching. It seemed like more story and less preaching. I usually only like films that preach if they are preaching something that I do believe or need to believe. I guess the only message was that there is evil in the world, but there is also a lot of good. You might could draw some conclusions like "it takes the evil to reveal the good" or "we are at our best when we are drawn together", but these seem more like presuppositions in the story than conclusions.

Of course, maybe there was a huge message there, but I missed it.

I didn't like Cage's haircut. He should have buzzed it.

Seriously, this was a painful movie. I compared it to going to a funeral.

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