9/11

9/11 StoryCorps animations from the Rauch Brothers

Article: 9/11 StoryCorps animations from the Rauch Brothers

The 9/11 media blitz is well under way, and will rise steadily by the hour until we hit total saturation on Sunday. I’ve been subjecting myself to quite a bit already, ranging from news analysis to anecdotal retellings. Regarding the latter, NPR certainly knows how to go to the heart of the emotional matter, but it’s been this series of Rauch Brother animations that have so far been the most resonant material for me. The Rauch’s have basically created a visual to a selection of 9/11 StoryCorps interviews, part of the oral history project which, amongst many other goals, aims to record one interview for every life lost. If you haven’t encountered StoryCorp before, it’s fantastic. Members of the public simply book an appointment and then bring a friend or loved one to a roving StoryCorp “booth” for an interview about his or her life. The StoryCorp site features edited excerpts from these interviews, categorized by topic. And, as one might imagine, there’s a sizable 9/11 section. The Rauch Brothers use their playful style for these heartbreaking stories, lending them an extraordinarily moving, as well as surreal effect; We’re watching cartoons suffer, for Godssake.

A shopper's guide to crappy 9/11 products

Article: A shopper's guide to crappy 9/11 products

The 10th anniversary of September 11th is a time for reflection, family, and apparently, shopping. From commemorative iPhone speakers to decorative dinner napkins, it seems consumerism will truly triumph over all – including good taste and common sense. Here, a list of the best (worst) crap available to gear up for the big day.

Twin Tower movie cameos

Article: Twin Tower movie cameos

Twin Tower Cameos from Dan Meth on Vimeo.

Just in time for the tenth anniversary this Sunday of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Dan Meth created this impressive mash-up video that pays homage to the fallen twin towers by stitching together scenes from various films from 1969 to 2001 that featured the World Trade Center “prominently in the foreground [and] sometimes lurking in the distance.” The accompanying soundtrack with songs from these decades is also pitch perfect. Watching this made me feel sad for all the human loss and destruction, as well as a sense of nostalgia of my youth that some of these films (HOME ALONE 2! WHEN HARRY MET SALLY!) evoked for me. However, I’m looking forward to and hopeful for One WTC’s completion, which, I anticipate, will serve as a similar anchor of downtown Manhattan and symbol of New York City in all the films yet to be made.

FOUR LIONS: can terrorism ever be safe for comedy?

Article: FOUR LIONS: can terrorism ever be safe for comedy?

FOUR LIONS, a comedy about terrorism at the Sundance Film Festival 2010

FOUR LIONS, a pitch-black farce that begins with jihadi-video bloopers, raises some obvious questions. Are jokes about suicide bombers in poor taste? Is it too soon to be finding the hilarity in extreme radicalism? Can terrorism ever be safe for comedy? But if FOUR LIONS proves anything, it’s that “safety” and “taste” are irrelevant concepts for a comedy about such a deadly serious subject; whatever larger meaning we might glean from the film comes from the inherent danger of the project and from the discomfort it provokes.

THE OATH: an intricate and provocative portrait of a would-be jihadist

Article: THE OATH: an intricate and provocative portrait of a would-be jihadist

Abu Jandal, a Yemeni cab driver and former Al-Qaeda member in THE OATH

I’ll be surprised if I see a fiction film at Sundance this year that comes close to the novelistic scope and richness of Laura Poitras’s exemplary documentary THE OATH — or has a character even half as complicated as THE OATH’s main subject, Abu Jandal, a Yemeni cab driver and former Al-Qaeda member.

In The Loop – Lost in translation

Article: In The Loop – Lost in translation

I have no doubt that the days before the US declared war on Afghanistan in 2001 were hectic and that accusations and insults were flung about prolifically amongst various government offices. Such is the setting of the political farce IN THE LOOP, which plays out during the final, clamorous days of a war-free United States – from the British perspective. Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) is a bumbling British Secretary of something-or-other who inadvertently gets involved in the war planning after a gaffe during an interview and spends the rest of the film trying to stay afloat amidst a sea of war-hungry American politicians.