Forget The Departed or Babel or The Prestige, which are fine films and will be on my top ten. Borat was possibly the most wildly over-rated movie since Shakespeare in Love. It was Jackass for intellectuals. I will soon see Children of Men and Flags of Our Fathers and let you know what I think. And at some point The Queen, The Lives of Others, Letters from Iwo Jima and Pan’s Labyrinth will appear in my mailbox. So sometime in the next month or two, I’ll write my usual post on what I thought were the best movies of the previous year. I hate doing it five months after the fact, but what do you want? I live for Netflix.
But I can’t imagine that any of the remaining films will surpass United 93, which I watched this week. It’s not exactly an enjoyable film. But it was easily the most powerful. I thought it would be exploitive but it’s shot documentary-style with an immediacy and an urgency that is gripping. It doesn’t judge anyone, it just tries to give as accurate a picture as possible of what happened that awful day.
And it is not too soon. We were making films about Pearl Harbor practically before the Arizona had stopped burning.
Mel Gibson could learn a thing or two from United 93. 9/11 was one of the most brutally violent events in our history. And while the film pulls no punches (the takeover of the plane and the fight at the end are brutal — as they presumably were in real life), it is not exploitive at all. It does not revel in its violence. It portrays it. There’s a difference.