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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, December 12, 2005

"World Trade Center" Stone Style...

I am reluctant to bring this up. Let me preface this by letting people know I'm a movie buff, and I enjoy a really well-made movie. To date, Lord Of The Rings is the best movie made. It's actors, how they converted the story, and minute attention to details were outstanding.

The primary reason why I am reluctant is this film, "World Trade Center," is a production of Oliver Stone. I dislike Oliver Stone because this man, while being a decent filmmaker, is a conspiracy nut. When I first heard that he was going to be making a movie about 11 Sept. I figured this would be another one of his crack-pot conspiracy theory movies, much the way Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" was. Moore's movie was a walking lie based on innuendo and speculation.

But for Stone, there's the following from the New York Times:

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 12) -- Scores of extras loiter, their faces covered in soot. A man sprays gray insulation foam - in lieu of concrete dust - at what looks much like the corner of Church and Vesey Streets in Lower Manhattan. Another tosses reams of paper in the air. Nearby, others are debating precisely how to crush a fire truck and an ambulance.

And just over there, across a dirt road in this isolated industrial tract not far from Marina del Rey, the twisted facade and mangled girders of the wreckage of the World Trade Center are taking shape into a meticulously rendered mockup of ground zero.

A continent removed from the scrutiny of scarred New Yorkers, Oliver Stone's film about 9/11 rescue workers is deep into its second month of principal photography. And crew members working round the clock are dressing one of the most sensitive movie sets imaginable.

The film, which as of now is to be called, simply, "World Trade Center," tells the story of two Port Authority police officers, John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, who were the last two rescue workers pulled from ground zero alive. It is billed as an uplifting story about everyday New Yorkers helping one another amid a cataclysmic tragedy. So for 20 days in October and November, the cast and crew were in the New York metropolitan area, filming at the police desk in the Port Authority bus terminal and along the route the officers took downtown on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. They filmed scenes on the Staten Island ferry, the Long Island Rail Road and a subway train in Brooklyn. They shot in Clifton, N.J., near Mr. Jimeno's house, and in other suburbs.

But now, as the production turns to the grim heart of this story - the scenes inside the World Trade Center, and inside the horrific pile it became; the discovery of the two officers 30-odd feet below the surface by an accountant who had donned his old Marine fatigues; and their extrication after a long and arduous night by teams of rescue workers - the shooting of Mr. Stone's movie is being done where it will attract far less attention: in and around the gigantic airplane hangar where Howard Hughes once built the Spruce Goose.

"Obviously, not to do it in New York was crucial, because it would offend the sensibilities of some New Yorkers," said Mr. Stone, who is one himself. "Others may look at it as a memorial, a good memorial, something that's powerful. Any memorial is subject to criticism; it's how you do it. I hope we do a good job."

The producers allowed a reporter and photographer from The New York Times to visit the set in hopes that the first images of this staged ground zero would be placed in context, rather than risking that unauthorized photographs hit the blogosphere devoid of any explanation.

"Sensitivity and accuracy, at the end of the day, are the same thing," said Michael Shamberg, who is producing the movie for Paramount Pictures with his business partner, Stacey Sher. "Because of what we've heard from the police, firefighters, civilians, the Port Authority, everyone who was there that day, loved ones - they said, 'Tell the story accurately so people understand what happened.' You can't do the Hollywood version."

The production brings its own credibility: Donald J. Lee Jr., the film's executive producer, was taking his children to school, crossing the Avenue of the Americas and West Eighth Street, when the twin towers were attacked. And Jan Roelfs, the production designer, was atop the Empire State Building to shoot a music video for Lenny Kravitz.

"The hard thing is, everybody knows it so well," said Mr. Roelfs, speaking both of the geography of Lower Manhattan and of the contours of ground zero itself. "There's not much creativity here."

Mr. Roelfs and his team of designers drew on the volumes of available data - including three-dimensional scans of the rubble field, blueprints of the trade center and interviews with many of the survivors - to reproduce what is essentially a one-acre swath of the 16-acre site.

Hundreds of carpenters, he explained, had hand-carved thousands of beams from Styrofoam, molded rubber into countless strands of stand-ins for shredded reinforcing bars, and assembled all of this inside a pit erected atop stacks of cargo containers.

At its core, the mockup of ground zero will be full-size, and as close to an exact replica as is practical, Mr. Roelfs said. At the perimeter, where fragments of the towers' facade are meant to loom in the distance, it is 65 feet high, or about half-scale; smoke and nightfall will complete the illusion, he said.

The scene is even eerier inside the old airplane hangar, where the production team rebuilt a portion of the World Trade Center concourse - complete with period handbags in the Coach storefront, clothing in the Banana Republic windows and shoes from Johnston & Murphy.

There is the elevator shaft where Mr. Jimeno, who is played by Michael Peña, and Mr. McLoughlin, who is played by Nicolas Cage, had leapt in the instant before the concourse collapsed on top of them.

And a few yards away, suspended on cables from the hangar's ceiling, is a three-dimensional sculpture of the design team's best guess of what the officers' immediate surroundings looked like as they struggled to stay alive - with a very small space for the two actors to squeeze in.

"You get actors in there, they're already getting claustrophobic," Mr. Roelfs said.

The producers of the movie, which is scheduled for release in August, had hoped to shoot extensively in Lower Manhattan, said Mr. Lee, the executive producer, who said he lost five friends in the attack. "I wanted to shoot toward St. Paul's," he said. "I wanted to shoot towards the Woolworth Building." But city officials refused to allow anything below Canal Street, he said.

Eventually, he said, officials relented for two scenes: Mr. Stone was able to film a volunteer rescuer crossing a barricade to get to ground zero. And he was able to shoot cast members in a city bus and a police S.U.V., driving down West Broadway toward the trade center complex.

With those exceptions, whatever verisimilitude the movie achieves will come from digital renderings of the Lower Manhattan streetscape, and from carefully chosen substitute locations. A street in downtown Los Angeles stood in for Manhattan's Barclay Street, with crew members tossing debris in the air.

If sensitivity and accuracy were somewhat in tension in New York, they seem not to be in Los Angeles: an earthen berm and an adjacent construction project conceal or camouflage the set in every direction except for a few houses that overlook it from the top of the Westchester bluffs.

The palm trees in the distance, Mr. Roelfs promised, would never make it into the frame.

Filming at ground zero will begin next month, he said, as he walked up to the spot beneath which the real-life police officers were discovered. And considering how carefully this set has been built, it is still an unusually dangerous one, with foam girders shifting underfoot and steep drops at any given step.

"It's kind of odd," Mr. Roelfs said, surveying his brutal sculpture. "You know it so well, suddenly you stand in the middle of it, and God - it's awful."

OK. After reading this, I'm heartened by the fact the production crew has done as much possible to tell a single tale of survival and heroism. And it looks like they might be doing their best to make it as accurate as possible, including what it was like trapped in the elevator. Like I said above, when I first heard that Stone was doing this movie, I was skeptical. I was expecting some crazy conspiracy nut movie. Something that showed someone on the plane who worked for the government helping the terrorists take the plane, or maybe a Boston Tea Party scenario where eeevil government agents dressed up like terrorists hijacking the planes for the eeevil Pres. Bush's "Hitlerian dreams of conquest." (See, even I can go to the moonbat level; this, of course, only proves that at times I should be committed.)

Seriously, I'm happy to see that this movie doesn't seem to be one of those conspiracy jaunts he's used to making. So, there might be hope for this movie. Further, this movie might do something to the people of this nation that the media seems scared to death to do. It might serve as a reminder to the public why we're at war. It's been four years since the events of 11 Sept., and all too often I keep hearing people throw out talking point after talking point that "Saddam Hussein" or "Iraq never attacked us."

We've never stated that they did. Hussein, however, did have ties to terrorist groups in the Middle East, including al Qaeda. In Richard Miniter's new book "Disinformation," he cites 19 specific times that Iraqi officials met with al-Qaeda people. There are ten times catalogued that Iraq gave al Qaeda monetary assistance. There are eight specific cases of Iraqi officials giving al Qaeda people training, including this telling cut from the book:

"Nationally syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock sifted through the publicly available information about al Qaeda operatives training in Salman Pak, and reported on "Sabah Khodada, a former Iraqi army captain who once worked at Salman Pak. On October 14, 2001, Khodada granted an interview to the PBS television program Frontline stating 'This camp is specialized in exporting terrorism to the whole world.'"

Point being, it seems as though Stone is trying his best to avoid the days of his wacky, nutty theories and is focusing on the truth. This movie is supposed to be about two guys trapped beneath the WTC after the terrorist attacks, and how they got out. For his sake, and the sake of the nation, I hope the movie sticks to that, and he does an excellent job of representing this important event in this nation's history.

Publius II


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