Thursday, August 17, 2006

911 Redux(World Trade Center)

9-11 Redux

Echoes of F.D.R.
Ring in my head—
“A day which will live
in infamy”;
Like the phone
Which awoke
Me from sleep.
While somewhere,
Scores were dying.
And now I find it harder
To sleep
‘cause now I hear blood
crying from the ground.

People will ask,
‘Do you remember where
you were when?’
And I will say,
‘Yeah, in a state of shock,’
which turned into
a New York
state of mind,
wishing I could stop
the madness
that crashed into
the twin brothers
in this first year
of the new century
on the 11th day
of the 9th month—
a day whose numbers
are linked
with the number
for emergency;
a day when chaos ruled
and the news became
a liturgical obituary;

when my bloodshot eyes
were red, not from lack of sleep,
but from the carnage
that filled my TV screen;
when the local news
battled the world news
for body counts.

They say in space,
‘No one can hear you scream’,
But on this day,
I think I heard
The whole universe
A sound matched only
By the falling of teardrops
In a forest of humanity.

© Joseph Powell

World Trade Center(A Review)

The defining moment of our generation, the attacks of 9/11, are brilliantly reenacted in the powerful new film from Oliver Stone, "World Trade Center". There are those who say that it's too soon for a film like this or the earlier release, "United 93"(which I have yet to see), but five years hence, if we've learned anything from history, it's that we should never forget. And Stone does an amazing job of reminding us of the events of that day--from the shadow of the first plane just before it hits the first tower, to the courage and determination of the first responders to the scene at the twin towers; the confusion of what was really transpiring that morning, to the impact it had on the families of the police and firefighters who were doing their duty without realizing that they were diving into the belly of a fierce and relentless beast, from which they might not return.

Whatever you might think of Stone, his politics, or the controversies and conspiracy theories that tend to surround most of his films, this film is an exercise in brilliant, albeit straightforward moviemaking. In the words of Dragnet's Jack Webb, it's "just the facts, ma'am". In addition to making us relive the horrors of that day, we enter into the story of two of the first responders on that day, Sgt. John McLoughlin(subtly played by Nicholas Cage) and Officer William Jimeno(in a bravura performance by Michael Pena, recently of "Crash"). They were just two of an unfortunately small group of survivors from the destruction and we are made to feel that we are with them when they are eventually trapped beneath the rubble of the buildings. Actors are usually required to use every part of their body when performing, whether it's stage or screen(Cage is a perfect case in point in almost every film we've ever seen him in), and I believe it's a remarkable feat when these two actors spend the majority of this movie, trapped with only their faces mostly showing, are able to convey the tension and uncertainty of what those officers must have been feeling in that situation. Kudos also to the two strong actresses who play their wives, Maria Bello(of "The Cooler" and "A History Of Violence"), who plays Donna McLoughlin and Maggie Gyllenhaal(of "Secretary") who plays Allison Jimeno. These are two of the better female performances of the year thus far, not to mention fine additions to what are strongly impressive resumes and they capture the strength and conviction that these two women must have faced(and possibly what every police officers' wives face when their husbands go off to work on what is supposedly just another typical day). There is also fine work from some of the smaller supporting roles of family members and fellow officers, which gives us a sense of the fortitude and determination of the New Yorkers that were involved.

This is another of a long list of Oliver Stone's impressive films(which include "Platoon", "Wall Steet", and "Born On The Fourth Of July", which simply tells a story of real people in unique and sometimes very harrowing circumstances and how they deal with those and how it changes their lives. And as with those films, after viewing them, we are somehow the better for it, if for no other reason, that we are reminded of humanity's potential for good. Sometimes you can't ask for a film to do much more than that.

1 comment:

Marji said...

I agree! I think IN SPITE OF Stone's strong convictions and political opinions, he made this film. It is apolitical in content except possibly for a single reference toward the end of the film by a Marine saying "...avenge..." The performances are incredible, the sets are amazing, the makeup believable, the continuity perfect, the script beautifully written - by a woman, which is nice to observe. One tiny credibility flaw was at the end also - a shot of too many people standing on the perilous heap of rubble. Someone forgot and remembered it was a set - Stone should've fixed that.

How can it ever be too early, really? Is it too early because we are not fully numb yet? We will never be fully numb! We were numbed by the chaos, the destruction, the feeling of helplessness, perhaps blaming ourselves later that we didn't expect the buildings to collapse. In hindsight, how could we NOT know they would after being hit by a 747? That, too, is shown in the film - the unsuspecting going in to save and becoming part of the deluge themselves.

It brought back memories in a second - the insurmountable clouds of dust and paper and fumes rolling ever forward as they encapsulated that part of New York. I was left to wonder if I would be more moved had I lived there at the time?