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PCR # 333  (Vol. 7, No. 32)  This edition is for the week of August 7--13, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"World Trade Center"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"World Trade Center"  by Mike Smith
Happy Birthday Nolan....This Time Last Year....Future Goals  by Mark Terry
Odds are, I'm Back!...Catching Up with Oddservations....VHS Grindhouse....Mel Gibson...."Talladega Nights"  by Andy Lalino
Amity Island Excursion  by Matt Drinnenberg
You Say It's Your Birthday....Welcome Back....Will It Never End....Off To I-O-Way....My Favorite Films, Part 32: "Major League"  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 5 mins

Like I'm sure many people did, I had to raise an eyebrow when I heard that Oliver Stone would be directing a film that dealt with the events of September 11, 2001. With three Academy Awards to his credit, and another eight nominations, Stone has long established himself as one of the premier filmmakers of his generation. Whether dealing with his experiences in Vietnam, exploring the world of insider trading or taking a closer look into the assassination of a president, Stone has made us think. But what would he make us think about 9/11?

New York City. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Port Authority Police Sgt John McLoughlin (Cage) woke up in the early morning darkness, took a shower and headed to work. In another part of the city, rookie police officer Will Jimeno (Pena) does the same. They aren't on the job long when they hear what sounds like a muffled explosion. They are stunned to hear that an airplane has flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. A security expert who devised several rescue options for the WTC after an attack in 1993, McLoughlin takes a squad of men to the scene to see what needs to be done. Gathering his men outside the building he asks for volunteers to assist him in evacuating the building. After a few moments of silence, Jimeno volunteers. A few more do the same. They begin working in the lobby of building 5 (the World Trade Center was comprised of seven buildings, the two tallest being buildings 1 and 2). Asked what should be done, McLoughlin is unsure. He tells his superiors that his team prepared for every possible WTC emergency except the one facing them. Suddenly there is a loud roar. When the noise subsides, McLoughlin and Jimeno find themselves back in the darkness, trapped underneath what used to be tower 1. Unaware of what has happened, the two men begin a bond that will change not only their lives, but the lives of those around them.

Not as heart breaking as last April's "Flight 93," "World Trade Center" still shares much with the former. A story of great will and strength, "World Trade Center" is an inspiration. Working from a script by Andrea Berloff, director Stone does what he does best, and that is tell a story. With little in common besides being cops and being trapped, McLoughlin and Jimeno form a partnership that expands with each minute spent together. Stone has always gotten great performances out of his actors (Michael Douglas won an Oscar for "Wall Street" and Tom Cruise earned his first Academy Award nomination for "Born on the 4th of July") and here he adds Cage and Pena to that list. Unable to move and surrounded by rubble, Cage acts with his face, his eyes becoming our window into his soul. Pena, so good last year as the Hispanic locksmith in "Crash," matches Cage beat for beat. Neither man has no idea what has happened to the world above them. They don't know that they are buried under the remains of a 100 plus story building, though I don't think it would have mattered if they did. They have been trained to rely on each other and that is what they do.

Though television footage of the burning towers is shown, Stone has used great restraint in not showing the horror of that day graphically. The first plane is only seen as a shadow. While inside building 5, the rescue team is puzzled by intermittent "thuds" they hear above them, not realizing it is the bodies of those that have jumped from the top windows of the tower to avoid the fire. Again, here, less is more.

So, back to my question. What did Oliver Stone make me think about? In a nutshell, he made me remember that this country was built on the hearts and resolve of it's citizens. That is what carried us for the past 230 years and what will surely sustain us for another 230. And that's a very comforting thought indeed.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give "World Trade Center"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "World Trade Center" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.