Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


It started out like any other morning, I woke up, stumbled down the stairs to make coffee, or what my friends would call 'that sludge that would give an elephant a heart attack', turned on CNN with sound muted, read the news banners and started that hour-long grueling process known as waking up.

Mom called, we chatted. Call waiting beep, I picked it up, a friend asking me if I saw what was happening on the news. I paused, looked up and dismissed, I saw something like that happen years ago, sometimes small planes hit that thing, its huge and it happens. I went back to mom, then, minutes later, mom and I simultaneously hung up on each other. More minutes passed and my friend Amy called confirming our lunch date. Rather, she was calling to see if I was still in the mood.

Absolutely. I remember thinking it would be a good break, since I knew the rest of the day I would be watching CNN in disbelief and making phone calls to New York City. It was important to keep the lunch date, it was Amy's daughter's birthday and we didn't want to ruin it for her sake. We arrived at the restaurant at 1130, apparently the business lunch crowd was not yet aware of the current events, since they were joking, laughing and enjoying their lunches. We were not about to tell them anything was wrong, seriously wrong. Amy's daughter had a great time and a special birthday. We both did actually, since September 11th is my birthday as well.

Later that day I met a group of friends for my birthday dinner, the mood in the mainly empty restaurant was somber to say the least. We all looked at each other for what felt like hours. Then, one friend finally broke the ice.

"Dont you hate it when terrorists upstage your birthday!"

It was very politically incorrect and exactly what we needed to hear. The rest is so much history but needless to say it was my most eventful birthday to date.

When I first saw previews for this film, I was sure I would never see it. I lost a good friend to that day and there seemed no reason to pick the scab. But today, I found myself spontaneously flipping an illegal U-turn, darting across 6 lanes of angry traffic, landing at the theatre, buying a ticket and watching.

World Trade Center

You already know the storyline of the two Port Authority Policemen who were trapped but ultimately rescued from the collapse of the Twin Towers. This is their story. Its very personal, zoom in on their lives and thoughts during the tragedy, pan left and right to their families as they wait.

What I liked about the presentation was the lack of cheap heart-string pulls, the production could have easily played that chord to the hilt but they showed admirable restraint.

Nicolas Cage - Might as well call him Midas, I think he is incapable of giving a bad performance. No disappointment here.

Michael Pena - I loved this guy when I first saw him Buffalo Soldiers, kept loving him through Million Dollar Baby and Crash. Still love him. You take some risks sharing the screen with Cage, he has a strong screen persona and you could become eclipsed and faded even in a stellar performance. Pena stands up under the Cage shadow, in fact, he was better.

You know the Academy will nominate this for something, they have to, it would be political suicide not to do so. But still, World Trade Center is deserving of recognition in many ways. The sound and visual editing were phenomenal; archive clips, real-time Manhattan and computer generated images all blended seamlessly to give a painfully accurate viewpoint of being on the ground from first impact. Directing is soft-spoken, giving the viewer enough emotion to feel the memory without being swept away.

Aside from the technical merit, this is still an important film and a defining moment in our history. I doubt anyone will forget exactly where they were and what they were doing the day the World Trade Center came down.



Blogger steve'swhirlyworld said...

Hey Jim - I'm sorry that you lost a friend that day...I'm sure 9/11 will never be the same for you.
I saw the WTC last week in NYC - I wanted to see it before the memorial was erected. It is hard to believe what actually happened there - very moving.
I still haven't decided if I want to see this movie - thanks for your review.

8:48 PM

Blogger Jim said...

I hope you see it Steve, I was glad I did!

6:59 AM

Blogger Jason said...

A lot of people were appalled that they were making this, feeling it's too soon and would glorify the situation. I think it doesn't matter how much time passes, some people will just not want to revisit this tragedy. I felt if the film was done right it could be an important step in the healing process as well as learning. It sounds as though from your review that it did just that. Thanks for the review. I was kind of on the fence for this one and now I will go in with an open mind and see it in the theatre.

8:52 AM

Blogger Ryan Charisma said...


I'm sure the movie is good. I have no intention on ever seeing it though. As a New Yorker who lived through this event (as I work 2 blocks from Ground Zero) "IT'S TOO SOON. WAY TOO SOON!" There are pleanty of stories of heroism that don't have to remind me of that horrible day. I can honestly say that I don't know anyone who lives here who intends on seeing it.

From the circus that ground zero has become I'm surprised Oliver Stone is not hanging up a makeshift movie screen and charging money to see this movie on tht actual site of the former WTC. Now that's entertainment! After all, let's be real, this movie was not made to heal anyone. It was made to make money. And it will.

I'm disgusted.

9:15 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Jason, I know some people will not go to see this, I was one of them until yesterday. I dont know if it was more a step in the healing process, probably more a confirmation that the healing process, for me, is complete.

12:00 PM

Blogger Jim said...


I felt very much the way you do when I first saw the previews; not only was it too soon (and I still think that is true to an extent) but that it was disrespectful to the countless people who suffered a loss, directly or indirectly.

I have to admit, twice I left the theatre during the previews before the movie. All during the movie I forced myself to stay in the seat. But, in the end, I walked out feeling good. Before the film I wasn't sure the WTC attacks were something had truly processed, I think that was the root of my fear. Now I have confirmation, while it is certainly something I will never forget, it is also something I have processed and put behind me.

I would have paid more than $6 for that knowledge.

12:11 PM

Blogger El Güero said...

Wow. I had no idea your birthday is 9/11. That's a heavy thing to remember on your birthday.

2:40 AM

Blogger Jim said...

It was a heavy thing in 2001, but now its ok.

7:33 AM


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