Day: July 26th, 2006

World Trade Center screening

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006 | All Things, Film

Brooklyn’s Borough Hall is a four-story marble Greek revival building that currently houses the borough president’s office. Before January 1898, when the independent City of Brooklyn was consolidated into the City of New York, it served as the City Hall of Brooklyn.

Borough Hall

Nearby on Court Street, I attended an advance screening of Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center. In contrast to yesterday’s screening attempt, this was a more orderly, lower key affair: RSVP required, and the Paramount representatives were checking names at the door, which cut down on the whole cattle-call feel these events tend to have. We arrived about 45 minutes before show time, and were among the first inside; at start time, the theatre was only two-thirds full — perhaps understandable given the still sensitive subject matter. The subdued atmosphere may also have been in keeping with the studio’s careful marketing of the film; the producers are planning no outdoor advertising in New York and New Jersey. In addition, 10% of the first five days’ grosses will be donated to September 11 charities.

What to say about the film itself, which unavoidably recalls all the emotions of that most terrible day? The natural comparison will be to the other recent September 11 movie, Universal Picture’s United 93, which I screened in film class earlier this year. From a purely cinematic standpoint, both films faithfully recreate events and characters, while offering little commentary. Even Stone, one of our more controversial working filmmakers, mostly shies from his usual editorializing. United 93, where most of the action was confined to the close plane cabin, may have been more viscerally “exciting,” but World Trade Center is broader in scale, and perhaps more emotional in its focus on the two Port Authority Police Officers and their families who are the film’s subjects. Of particular note was the startling accuracy and scale of the sets: I vividly remember roaming those very corridors of the World Trade Center concourse; the collapse — as seen from the perspective of the trapped officers — is terrifying. A few sequences had audience members quietly sobbing in their seats; particularly difficult to watch was the shot of the lone tower jumper.

Feeling drained after the movie, we wandered around the corner to Atlantic Avenue for dinner at Waterfalls Cafe. Wonderfully fresh, flavorful Middle Eastern fare — friendly owner, and their smokey Babaghanouj was I think the best I’ve had in New York City, or anywhere else.

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