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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Airport 9/11: only another Universal disaster pic? (Kaufman, Denby, Ebert)

At AlterNet, New Yorker Anthony Kaufman contemplates whether United 93 is the descendant of movies starring George Kennedy and singing nuns like Helen Reddy. “The Sept. 11 attacks, it has often been noted, looked eerily similar to a Hollywood blockbuster. With Universal Pictures’ United 93… we have arrived full circle… Just take a look at United 93… or what it is: a movie, but more specifically, a gut-wrenching disaster movie, complete with regular American folks who turn into heroes and a collection of authority figures [who] don’t know their ass from their elbow. How does this piece of media function—as a jingoistic call to arms, or a searing indictment of power? butdoesinworkintheory_2347.jpg Rhetorically, he ponders, “Is it just a coincidence that Poseidon, Hollywood’s new big-budget remake of the survival tale, opens just two weeks after United 93?. Writes Kaufman, “The ’70s disaster [movies] arrived during a period of profound crisis in our nation’s history, when the Vietnam War had reached the breaking point, and the government was losing its grip… [T]he film’s distrust of high muckety-mucks ultimately reinforces the renegade populism of the Bush presidency—and more widely, the American western mythology. Again, the valiant individuals on the hijacked plane have always provided the potency behind the real-life story of the doomed flight 93… About three weeks ago, an early version… screened for critics… ended with the title card: “America’s war on terror had begun.” The neocon-cowboyish clarion call has since been cut from the film. But the sentiment still reigns.” The increasingly neocon-sounding David Denby, who has been known to turn a fine phrase in his time, concludes his New Yorker review: “Flight 93’s departure, scheduled for 8 A.M., was delayed. By the time the plane got off the ground, the attacks on the World Trade Center were only a few minutes away… [O]nce the flight is aloft Greengrass sticks to real time, and the passing minutes have an almost demonic urgency. This is true existential filmmaking: there is only the next instant, and the one after that, and what are you going to do? Many films whip up tension with cunning and manipulation. As far as possible, this movie plays it straight. A few people made extraordinary use of those tormented minutes, and United 93 fully honors what was original and spontaneous and brave in their refusal to go quietly.” Roger Ebert ends his review this affecting way: Greengrass “does not exploit, he draws no conclusions, he points no fingers, he avoids “human interest” and “personal dramas” and just simply watches. The movie’s point of view reminds me of the angels in Wings of Desire. They see what people do and they are saddened, but they cannot intervene.” ALSO FROM ALTERNET: How is Universal modifying its advertising on blogs, which began on predominantly right-leaning sites? Link here. [More at the links.]

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“Netflix has spent the past couple years attempting to brute-force jailbreak this law. Its counter-theory has seemed to be, sure, a billion dollars doesn’t guarantee quality but how about three billion dollars? How about five billion dollars? Seven?

“This week’s latest cinematic opus to run across no-man’s-land into the machine-gun emplacements has been the Jared Leto yakuza movie ‘The Outsider.’ Once again, debuting on Netflix, another thing called a movie that at one glance doesn’t look like any kind of movie anyone has ever seen before, outside of off-prime time screenings at the AFM.

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