(ru) wrote: Sometimes, All You Need Is What Was There There are a lot of documentaries out there about the events of September 11, 2001. (I usually write dates day first, but there are some dates that are best known month first, and I follow American usage for that.) Even leaving aside the crazy, stupid Truther crap, I have no intention of reviewing all of them. Few of them have anything really new to say. Heck, arguably none of them do. Once we got the commission's report, there wasn't much left to learn about the events of that terrible, terrible day. We know the physics, the intelligence, the engineering, the politics, the inter-agency squabbling--we know what happened and why. There's only so much point in going over it again. I'll admit that I still watch a lot of the documentaries, but I also admit that I've started looking away during certain parts. I just don't need to see the planes hit the Towers or the Towers fall, over and over again. What, then, is different enough about this version that makes me willing to review it? Well, I'll admit--it's partially that I haven't watched anything else to review today. I slept late and then wen out and did things. But there's also something unusual about the format. This movie is a real-time documentary. There is no narration. No soundtrack. Just the events of one hundred two minutes, not even two hours, playing out as they happened. Much of the footage is from the cameras of New Yorkers who just happened to have cameras that day. Most of the audio is from either random people near the cameras or else, chillingly, 911 operators and so forth telling the people in the buildings that there was really nothing they could do for them. I don't think all the operators were doing their job very well, but I suspect it was also extremely difficult to do it at all, that day. We watch firefighters go to what we know will be their deaths, and we watch others choose to jump to theirs. That last is probably the hardest for me. Hardest for the people doing the filming, too, based on a lot of what they're saying in the background of these shots. I absolutely believe it's the choice I would have made, but at the same time, it was pretty awful for the people watching it. Especially the people down at the plaza in front of the buildings, I should think. Imagine knowing that you'd survived and then seeing the bodies of those who never even had a chance. I've had friends insist that those images should never be shown, but to me, it almost feels like honouring the bravery of those who made one last choice, one last impossible choice. Rather than wait to die, they chose. I really do admire that. I'm not sure that means I want to watch it, even eleven years later on DVD in the privacy of my own home, but I do think it was a better decision than merely sitting there and waiting to burn--which I believe is one of the most horrible ways to die. We have more and more access to the thoughts of the average person. I mean, imagine the Hindenburg disaster, right? We had a single guy with a movie camera there, by pure luck. Pearl Harbor? Photographs, but not film. There's the Zapruder footage, and all those other people who happened to be on Dealey Plaza at the time, but think about it. At something like the Panamerican Exposition (in Buffalo!) today, half the audience would be filming their opportunity to meet William McKinley. And indeed, we do, I believe, have footage of McKinley from earlier that day, as movie cameras did exist, but nothing from his fatal meet-and-greet at the Temple of Music. I would suggest that, along with everything else, September 11 was the first major event in the world where we have vast amounts of footage filmed by ordinary people who just happened to be there with cameras. It's become more and more common, just as earthquake stories since I was a kid are often accompanied on the news by footage from security cameras. If you had asked me on September 10, 2001, what one of the oddest parts about my generation was, I would have told you that I believed we did not have a unifying moment. My mother can tell you where she was for Kennedy, the other Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Apollo 11. Most of my generation was in school for [i]Challenger[/i], and while some of us got to watch it live on TV anyway, most of us did not. I was really beginning to believe that Kurt Cobain's death was kind of it for us, and I wasn't completely okay with that. What I'd forgotten was that Apollo 11 is almost unique as a unifying moment. If you look at that list, three of them are deaths. My grandparents knew where they where when they heard about Pearl Harbor and the death of FDR. We are more often united in tragedy than in joy. I suppose that's at least in part because what makes us joyful is rather more likely to vary than what makes us sad. Everyone agrees that the deaths of innocents (assuming they accept them as truly innocent) is sad, but there were even people who weren't pleased at Apollo.
(fr) wrote: God Help the Girl is a quirky film about a young girl who is struggling with some issues, but seeks refuge in music. She connects with a boy and a girl who share her musical passions and they decide to create a band. The movie has an ethereal quality, similar to the songs that are sung throughout it, as if you're watching the entire thing in a dream. But there are moments where the harshness of real life sink into this world, and they made some interesting decisions to reflect that in the visual style. I liked the characters a lot, and found myself connected to their struggles completely. The lyrics and melodies of the songs also seemed to betray some of the hidden thoughts of the characters, so I think repeat viewings might enhance the experience even more for me. The film has some humor to it as well, but it's not laugh-out-loud jokes, more a general oddness or irony that made me smile. In reality, there isn't much that happens in God Help the Girl, and initially I thought it was going to fall flat for me because I prefer a clear narrative structure. Yet there was something enchanting in the music, in Emily Browning's performance, and in the overall visual aesthetic of the movie that reeled me in. It's not the type of movie I will recommend to most people, and I'm not sure if I will ever consider it a favorite. However, God Help the Girl has a magical quality that works for me, and a soundtrack that I will probably seek out some day.