9/11

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s awards season contender and recent winter box office champion Zero Dark Thirty was released wide on the coattails of considerable controversy pertaining to the film’s depiction of torture. Journalists Frank Bruni and Glenn Greenwald, critic David Edelstein, and documentarian Alex Gibney are amongst those who have criticized the film for seemingly forging a direct link between “advanced interrogation techniques” (better known as “torture”) and the actionable intelligence that lead to the death of Osama bin Laden. This controversy has gone far beyond the film community; politicians and CIA spokespersons have called the film out for alleged misrepresentation. After finally seeing Zero Dark Thirty after reading about this controversy for months, I wonder, did any of these people see the same film I saw? And are criticisms like these really what it means to be anti-torture in a post-Cheney America?

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Boiling Point

They say laughter is the best medicine and well, world, I’m dying here. I need my medicine. I need to laugh. I need to be entertained, but it seems every time I try to chuckle these days, someones standing right there to make me feel bad about it. Over the last few weeks in this column, I’ve mostly pointed the finger at big corporate entities bowing to some outside force, whether it’s a perceived notion that they must be politically correct to the point of being historically incorrect or whether it’s removing a joke that probably cost thousands of dollars to animate to not offend a small handful of people in a far off land with a disease that’s rapidly disappearing. Today, I point my finger elsewhere. I point it at you. I point it at them. I point it at us, a society that has lost its sense of humor – and that is a damn shame.

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Culture Warrior

For the past few weeks, cinephiles, journalists, and critics have been grappling with the notion of what ‘post-9/11 cinema’ is, has been, will be, and/or looks like. What they’ve come up with are a group of wildly different, potentially specious, but ultimately quite fascinating explorations on the relationship between art, commerce, and life – and by ‘life’ I mean, in this case, that rare type of event whose effect takes on an enduringly profound, universally personal, omnipresent ripple. The overwhelming conclusion that most of these observations end with is, rather appropriately and naturally, “I don’t know, but here are some thoughts.” Besides those works of audiovisual media that were directly inspired by, intentionally referenced, or somehow directly related to 9/11, it’s difficult to say exactly what a post-9/11 film is unless one allows for literally every film made afterward to potentially enter such a category. But perhaps we’ve been asking the wrong question.

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Why Watch? Go grab some tissues. No, really. You’ll need them. StoryCorps is doing an amazing, beautiful, difficult job of finding at least one story for every life lost on September 11, 2001. They’ve recorded family members and friends talking about the loved ones that died that day, and they’ve begun the process of creating animated short films which tell about their lives. This particular story features a divorced couple who still love each other and a phone call to say goodbye from the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center. What does it cost? Just 3 minutes of your time. Check out Always a Family for yourself:

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When Zoolander came out on September 28, 2001, the production had digitally removed The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers from the New York City skyline in an effort to avoid displaying a devastating image in the middle of a comedy about the world of fashion. If they’d have left it in, it wouldn’t have been the first time the buildings had been featured on film or television. Since they didn’t, it marks the first time the buildings were ever erased. With the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 coming this Sunday, it’s impossible not to be consumed a bit by the gravity of an action that killed so many and lowered a different world view onto all of us. Landon and I talked on Reject Radio regarding the effect that the day had on movies and movie-watchers, but that mostly dealt with the last decade – the world that came after that morning. As a counterpart, here’s a simply-edited montage of the past. Dan Meth has built a view to the movies where the Twin Towers either stood proudly in the background, made prominent appearances in the front of the action, or acted as the set. It’s stirring in its matter-of-factness, and it’s more than a little moving, but it’s ultimately a celebration of a symbol that no longer (physically) exists. Check it out for yourself:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we take on the cinematic emotional roller coaster by speaking with comedian Bill Bailey about getting him hired for the next Star Trek movie and by dissecting Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle with psychologist, Dr. Jeff Greenberg. Plus, Landon Palmer joins me for a long-form discussion about the terrorist attacks of 9/11, their effects on movie culture, and on audiences. Download This Episode

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Would it be cooler to say that you father died in 9/11 or of a heart attack in your driveway? What will the kids at your middle school think? These are the pressing questions that will hopefully get answers in the first feature film written and directed by Emmy nominee Michael J. Weithorn. There’s no telling what kind of tone A Little Help is going to strike because, from the trailer, it looks like a happy-go-lucky comedy shoved into a drama that’s unafraid to get dark and tell jokes that will leave some uneasy. This very well might be a sunshinier version of World’s Greatest Dad or it could be an animal all its own. An animal that annoyingly repeats everything you say. Either way, you get to see what Chris O’Donnell’s been doing (and you get to see what Jenna Fischer‘s been doing on her nights off from The Office).

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with Troll Hunter writer/director Andre Ovredal, Prom screenwriter Katie Wech, and The Conspirator screenwriter James Solomon. Perhaps you’re starting to see a theme emerge. Plus, Dustin Rowles and Joanna Robinson from Pajiba enter the Movie News Pop Quiz ring, and both safely exit. Then, we talk about Doctor Who. Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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It will be interesting to see how audiences respond to a film about 9/11 being released on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. On the one hand, it feels like a great reminder and bittersweet tribute. On the other, it could be the hand that rips the bandaid off uncovering the wound again. Still, since the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is based off the superb writing of Jonathan Safran Foer (check out Everything is Illuminated as well), and being helmed by poetic Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry, there’s little chance that it won’t be soaring and heartfelt. Now, John Goodman has joined Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks for the story of a young boy who loses his father in the 9/11 attacks and goes on a journey with a key his father gave him to find where it fits. [THR]

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Stephen Daldry is attached to see Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel about a little boy, his father, and 9/11.

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There’s a new brand of historical fiction emerging that fictionalizes what we’ve just seen in our 24-hour news cycle. The Green Zone stumbles in the genre’s early baby steps.

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Marion Cotillard

So here I was, surfing the net in the wee hours of the morning, and what do I see? Another celebrity making an ass out of herself.

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