Tuesday, September 9, 2008

World Trade Center

I flew out of New York on September 10, 2001 to Chicago. Driving in to work the following morning, I received a page from a friend that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. When I got to the office, like every other office in America, we tuned the television to the news and watched in stony silence as the second plane hit. It was one of those events that most people will remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. This event was both unifying as well as controversial. The perennial conspiracy theorists came out of the woodwork before the dust ever settled over New York. Without touching political issues or distracting theories, World Trade Center tells the story from an individual perspective. It is effective and non-controversial. It is simply a story of how the events of 9/11 affected a small group of individuals. I originally received free passes to attend a private screening, which I intended to see. However, I had to work that night and ended up missing it while it was in the theaters. I rented this movie which was okay, but I think some of the scenes may have been better on the big screen.

When I first heard that this was an Oliver Stone film, I decided I didn't want to see it. Stone has a way of injecting his own political bias into films. Although I enjoyed Platoon, I thought Born on the 4th of July was very off-putting. As I mentioned earlier, the writers on this film avoided cheap shots, political controversy and conspiracy theories. They portrayed a dramatic representation of the way that the individuals who responded to the World Trade Center and their families were affected by the events of September 11, 2001. The dialogue in this movie was interesting and believable. The telling quality of the writing was the depth of the characters involved. The family members react in very different ways and the interaction between people is sometimes somber and sometimes combative. A wide range of emotions and physical reactions are explored with taste and sincerity. This movie could also have been exploitive but it wasn't. It simply dramatized the events and portrayed them from a very personal perspective that draws you in. I cared about the characters in this film. The story was well written.

I can take or leave Nicholas Cage as an Actor. I thought he was average at best in National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Ghost Rider. In this film, Cage looked very different...they did a great job on his makeup. Additionally, his acting was actually good for a change. I thought he was both believable and interesting. His wife is played by Maria Bello who I enjoyed in History of Violence. Bello had the more difficult role in this film, playing the wife of a Port Authority Officer who doesn't know if her husband is alive or dead (probably dead) and holding her family together at the same time. She sells her part completely. A difficult role in the hands of a talented actress makes for great cinema. Connor Paolo, Anthony Piccinnini, Morgan Flynn and Alexa Gerasimovich round out the family. The family dynamics in this movie were exceptional due to great writing, but the actors delivered the story in a very effective performance. The other dynamics in this movie involve the conversations and support between Cage and his Port Authority partner played by Michael Pena. Pena was solid in his performance. The rest of the cast is extensive and not developed enough to necessarily single out any other particular performance. However, all of the characters in this story were believable. The other actors added dimension to the film by demonstrating some of the various reactions to family tragedy and the attacks as a whole. The cast members in this film pulled off an epic performance.

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