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Thread: WTC and United 93

  1. #1
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    WTC and United 93

    As Oscars Award nominations are being considered, there will likely be discussions and comparisons made between inevitably United 93 directed by Paul Greengrass and director of The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and World Trade Center directed by Oliver Stone. On the one hand, United 93 had a much more naturalistic, independent, no-name actor presentation, focussing on the events and facts as they played as if the audience was observing events of frustration and heroism but not the people themselves. On the other hand, World Trade Center uses Oscar Best Actor Nicholas Cage in the lead role and focusses on a few individuals and their families involved in the tragedy and heroism in a more typical but compelling theatrical presentation.

    Personally, United 93 seemed more real, hard hitting, presenting the complexity of the technical ordeal of a group response to tragedy but weakening in at the end. World Trade Center seemed to have some cinematic inconsistencies in the beginning but ended very strongly, particulary when it came the raw, complexity of human survival, trauma, and emotion. Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, script, and performance in all easily is one of the strongest and compelling character this year, hopefully earning her a Best Supporting Actress nomination.World Trade Center . But I would suggest that a Best Picture and Best Director nomination go for United 93.

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    Check out this excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's excellent and insightful review of WORLD TRADE CENTER. It addresses the consequences of the film's narrow focus and, indirectly, highlights a major difference between the Oliver Stone film and the superior UNITED 93.

    The movieís being sold as an apolitical, nonideological human drama that will make red-blooded Americans want to stand up and cheer. Critics across the political spectrum are buying this contradictory packageóDavid Ansenís Newsweek cover story is a case in point. The film does work pretty well as an adventure thriller. I donít question the legitimacy of celebrating the courage of these individuals and their families, and I can even tolerate the hokey nostalgia for World War II epics. But Iím troubled that the filmmakers have elided so much else of what happened on that day, as if it were some kind of neutral backdrop.

    And Iím troubled that so many critics seem to think those elisions donít matter. The most disquieting things Iíve read so far are some of the raves. Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas called the movie ďone of the greatest pro-American, pro-family, pro-faith, pro-male, flag-waving, God Bless America films youíll ever see.Ē Columnist Cliff Mayís post at the conservative National Review Online site said, ďWords I thought Iíd never say: God Bless Oliver Stone.Ē But the mind-set at work is truly laid bare in a longer review on the same site. Kathryn Jean Lopez contrasts World Trade Center with another recent treatment of the 9/11 attack, a film about the United flight that crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers struggled with the terrorists: ďTasteful and well done as United 93 was, there was something about the movie that bothered me. The filmmakers showed me a bit too much of the terrorists. Calling home. Feeling sick. Praying. Forgive me my insensitivity, but I didnít care to see them. I didnít care if one or another of them was nervous in the minutes before the attack. Itís not terribly Christian of me, but I donít really care about themómost especially in a movie thatís supposed to be about the good guys. I only wanted to see our 9/11 heroes.

    ďAnd in this regard, Oliver Stone delivers what United 93 didnít. . . . [World Trade Center] is about us. Itís exclusively about the good guys. Itís about us when weíre heroic (those of us who are). Itís about us when weíre scared. Itís about us when we wake up in the middle of the night to go to work, listening to 1010 WINS (if youíre from New York City, thereís something extra-personal about this movie, and those attacks). Itís about us when weíre freaked-out kids who say mean things to our freaked-out mothers. Itís about a Marine who will drop everything to return to service. Itís about a team of rescue workers who will leave no man to die. Itís about our deep, abiding faith in God. Itís about our love of family, and the work weíll do for them, and the joy they bring us. Itís about the irreplaceable, incomparable bond between a man and wife. Itís about the united outrage we feel when Americans are murdered. Itís about why we fight.Ē

    If Lopez wanted a mirror she could have stayed home and watched kiddie shows about the good guys. But there are reasons other than Christian charity for wanting to know something about terrorists. And whoís she seeing in that mirror? Whoís this ďweĒ who have a deep and abiding faith in God, love of family, etc? Sheís only outraged about the murdered Americans, failing to notice the foreign nationals and illegal aliens, including the service people who got up in the middle of the night and maybe even listened to WINS. She seems to suggest that our concern for Americans is supposed to supersede our concern for humanity, and so sheís privileging symbolism over individual people, which is what the terrorists did. Sheís simply ignoring the non-American victimsówhom sheís treating like all the innocent bystanders the U.S. has alienated or killed overseas while claiming to be bettering their lives.

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    Here, here. I can't wait to read Knipp's review! FYI - Time magazine estimates that between 10-15% killed in the WTC on 9/11 were foreign nationals, 22 Arabic.
    Last edited by cinemabon; 08-12-2006 at 07:03 PM.
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    Sometimes Oliver Stone really excites me; then he makes sure to beat me over the head with his themes so that I'm confident in what he was trying to say.

    Spoilers herein:

    Some of the film was really well-made; some of the intensity and emotion was really well expressed visually. My biggest gripe with the film was that some expressions simply weren't subtle enough. The U.S. marine character I frankly found laughable, and the two visions of Jesus were so plainly defined that I wish Stone had taken a less obvious route in terms of a possible divine presence. One thing that's really obvious is that Stone took great labor in making the film as authentic as possible; in this I mean that I know that he talked extensively to those involved in this event, and what it ultimately does is create awkward moments of realism that don't really fit with the rest of the film's occasional grandeur.

    End spoilers.

    So, yes, I get that Stone is trying to express the good that people can be capable of through a great tragedy. Well, that's great, but in the end I was depressed, because since that time only 5 years ago, we have already returned to the indecent behavior with our neighbors that we did before September 11th. The harmony kind of wore out. So if human decency can only be achieved through tragedy, I must thusly remain a misanthrope.
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    In the past, I have been a supporter of Stone regarding some of his films such as JFK (got the discussion going on this site!), Born on the Fourth of July, Platoon, and others. I did not like the idea of commercializing this subject so soon. I can't say how glad I am that it has commercially failed. Opening in third place and by week two slipping into seventh. The wounds of that day are too fresh, and will be for many years to come. I believe the public would just as soon lay this memory to rest for a while. Let some future generation raised on Grand Theft Auto and immune to violence create a realistic version for their generation to ogle. I'd just as soon forget the whole thing and move on. We've become so focused on terror, we've lost the joy of living, our joie de vie.
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    United 93 Needed To Be Seen

    cinemabon In the past, I have been a supporter of Stone regarding some of his films such as JFK (got the discussion going on this site!), Born on the Fourth of July, Platoon, and others. I did not like the idea of commercializing this subject so soon. I can't say how glad I am that it has commercially failed. Opening in third place and by week two slipping into seventh. The wounds of that day are too fresh, and will be for many years to come. I believe the public would just as soon lay this memory to rest for a while. Let some future generation raised on Grand Theft Auto and immune to violence create a realistic version for their generation to ogle. I'd just as soon forget the whole thing and move on. We've become so focused on terror, we've lost the joy of living, our joie de vie.
    America is in the middle of a war where thousands have died in part as a result of 9/11. It's time after five years that America begin to regain its sense of heroism and pride in what plain Americans were able to accomplish to avoid another disaster instead of hiding behind our post traumatic stress disorder. United 93 is a fantastic, noble, and carefully crafted depiction of the positive courage of man against man in the face of death. We need to honor both the people who gave their lives and to remind ourselves that they did not die in vain.

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    Originally posted by cinemabon
    I can't say how glad I am that it has commercially failed. Opening in third place and by week two slipping into seventh.

    Beg to differ. Film is projected to surpass its production budget ($65 mill) in domestic box office alone. It's at $56 million right now and collecting over $6 million per week. The film will have a wide release throughout the world over the next two months. Well over a third of Americans polled who stated they wanted to see it, said they would watch it on dvd. The film will collect at least $200 million overall from domestic, foreign B.O., and dvd sales. Not a commercial failure although those are certainly not Pirates 2-type numbers.

    I believe the public would just as soon lay this memory to rest for a while.

    According to a large national poll conducted by Box Office Mojo ( a respected Hollywood outfit), a rather large 23% of those polled seem to feel the way you do and would avoid it.

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    Yes Tabuno, United 93 is the better film because it's less narrowly focused than Stone's. Technically, it's absolute perfection. And I know what you mean by "hiding behing our PTSD". But I bet you realize many would rather "lay this memory to rest for a while" and are better off doing that if that's what their hearts and minds tell them.

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    It's hard for me to think of going to this film now, for various reasons, though I'm flattered that somebody is interested in reading my take on it. First, I agree that it's too soon to look at this event (or these events). Second, it sounds as though Stone narrows down his focus too much.

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    We're going downtown

    This movie is straightforward LIFE.


    It's reality, how it really went down.
    Oliver Stone threw his fans AND critics a curveball.

    I was sure he would be controversial with a 9/11 film.
    But I now know why he made World Trade Center.


    This story NEEDS to be told. For several reasons.


    No one can come out of the woodwork and slam Oliver Stone for this movie. He has shown tremendous integrity with this powerful film about life and death and how we as human beings need to come together more often.


    There is no Bush-bashing here.
    Who needs to anymore?
    Most people now know that whenever Bush opens his yap he's lying or deluding himself.

    On September 11th 2001 George Bush had the world in the palm of his hand. He had the world's sympathy. An act of war on U.S. soil- unheard of in any of our lifetimes.
    The battle call came on that day.

    Maybe Oliver will make a film that exposes Bush like the one he made exposing Nixon. Please God, let there be a cinematic cannon be loaded by Mr. Oliver Stone. (and SOON).

    2 Port Authority cops (one senior, one junior).
    2 separate trips to the towers, which are billowing smoke.
    All "first responders" are going to the towers.
    All have no clue what they are gonna be facing- the absolute unknown. An emergency first on a mammoth scale.
    John McLaughlin: We're prepared for anything. But not for this. Not for something this size.

    There's a shot of the two towers looking straight up that is sheer horror movie shit. Apocalyptically grim.
    You sink into your seat a little further when you know what you know....
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Papers blowing in the wind
    dust like volcano ash, like fallout
    an airplane tire on the street
    jumpers
    people covered in blood
    people yelling, crying, confused.
    MADNESS.

    never forget? NEVER FORGET.


    McLaughlin rounds up a crew of guys, who's going in?
    Like Jimeno says later: "They couldn't live with themselves if they didn't go in".

    They march into the tower lobby, to get ready to deal with chaos.
    What's going on with tower two?!?!?!

    That scene when the towers come down, imploding, is so powerful, so unreal- like being in the room when an atomic bomb goes off, that I could not believe it. Amazing simulation of what it must have been like having 100 floors of concrete, glass, and steel crush you like an ant.

    And to survive the collapse!
    Jesus Christ.

    This is a situation that many people can't fathom, will never know.
    Which is why I recommend anybody to see it.
    This is about the innocents who didn't ask for this.
    This is about good people doing the right thing, regardless of whether it's in their job description or not.
    People coming together, out of a basic understanding of the GRAVITY and SERIOUSNESS of a hellish situation that nobody anticipated. (Too bad Homeland Security didn't- will they/do they take memos a little more seriously now?!- let's fucking pray.)





    *Will post more later- I'm having trouble with "cookies" at the moment...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    World Trade Center was/is an attempt to "not lose focus" on why America is on the path it's on.


    The film is fragmented in my mind.
    I will always remember scenes like the military-like roll-calls, the scene of the lone soldier walking down the ashen street (to his "mission"), the two visions of Jesus- how great thou art, no? He's offering water to Will.
    Water IS life isn't it?

    and John's vision was equally powerful. What a great scene.
    anchor points of the movie.

    Oliver shows everyday life.

    If you're a Port Authority cop, what are the odds you're gonna be talking to street people? What are the odds that tourists will ask you for directions? What are the odds you'll experience near death before you take your lunchbreak?

    This movie is all about the first responders, who reacted to the disaster as best they could.

    The word "heroes" is tossed around a lot, but what does it really mean? What is the definition of a hero?
    Depends on how you see it.
    Cops and firemen are not considered "war heroes" very often like military personnel are. But the fact is they go to war every day.

    It's a different kind of war- urban war, close-quarter combat if you will, house clearing, domestic disputes, city problems, stuff like that. Firemen are truly outstanding individuals in the first place. You gotta be in top-notch physical shape and be able to think quickly in high pressure situations. And you gotta be ready to drop everything and respond to that fire like your life depends on it, because someone else's surely might.

    Death or risk of death comes with the job, but it's not something that's on the scale of what these professionals deal with in
    World Trade Center.

    John McLaughlin was the guy who dealt with the planning of evacuees from the towers after the 1993 bomb. But 9/11 is a whole other game, like his wife said: the buildings didn't FALL DOWN!

    Did anybody notice the "GWB" on the black officer's lapels?
    Does GWB mean anything other than what I think it does?

    Oliver Stone has recreated everything exactly.
    It's driven home when Will is pulled out of the rubble and he looks up and is stunned that the towers are gone.
    How would he have known? He wouldn't. John either.

    Imagine surviving that kind of explosion- you ARE a living monument to that day. How strange it must feel to be a survivor, when you're so close to death.
    It's a miracle that those guys were the last pulled out.
    How many others perished in there, maybe 20, 30 stories below?

    I shudder to think of the horrors that were playing out...


    Bottom line, WTC is a celluloid reminder (for all eternity- let's hope cinema lasts for thousands of years) of a massive tragedy that should never be forgotten, if only out of respect for the thousands who died- it could have been any one of us.

    And Stone points out (as someone else here mentioned) that there were people from 85 COUNTRIES in those towers that day. This wasn't just "an attack on America"- this was something that affected people from all over the globe.

    The UNITED NATIONS headquarters is in New York.
    New York is a world-class city, not just a great AMERICAN city, but a city of the GLOBE.
    9/11 was such a galvanizing event that more movies should be made to explore the real effects: on victim's familes, on government, on Homeland Security, on Terrorism, on FEAR and ECONOMY, and how it's created zillions of other little "markets"- this is an all-emcompassing tragedy that has changed our *society's* universe.

    Why people are saying it's too soon to explore this event baffles me.

    Why the fuck is it too soon?
    What exact date do they have in mind?
    These issues need discussion, they need answers.
    Many many questions still linger after that day, yet we get nothing.

    I have been an admirer of Oliver Stone for quite some time, and this film has me even more enamored of what he's accomplished and is trying to accomplish.
    Last edited by Johann; 09-27-2011 at 01:29 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    And the technical aspects of this movie truly are remarkable.

    The lengthy scenes with Will & John in the twisted morass junkyard purgatory were HEAVY.

    The sound: I was reminded of Titanic (another disaster epic)

    Remember when Jack is handcuffed to the pipe and Rose goes off looking for help?

    The sounds coming from the bowels of the ship, creaking and groaning and booming- same thing in WTC.

    The fires- the gunshots (what were the gunshots going off all about!?), the constant hail of dirt, rocks and pebbles- Oliver took us IN there.

    Oliver doesn't give any more horror than we need.
    We already know enough about it to have to see long gratuitous shots of pure carnage.
    Our imaginations can fill in the blanks....

    See it. Support it. Oliver Stone is one of the GOOD GUYS.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    What does everybody think of the new tower at the WTC site?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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