John Tucker Must Die
"United 93" reveals the inside story of the fourth plane hijacked on Sept. 11th, 2001, the only one to miss its intended target. The film covers the short time span between passenger boarding and plane crash and is set in air traffic control centers and onboard the flight. We see in detail the confusion that resulted when civilian air traffic controllers and the military learned of the first three hijackings while hijackers on the fourth plane belatedly began their mission. Movie stars and big-budget production values are conspicuously absent from this film. Instead writer/director Paul Greengrass cast relative unknowns and shot the film like a documentary using handheld cameras. Overheard passenger conversations, operational air traffic control procedures and whispered prayers of hijackers are strung together masterfully as events unravel and escalate in one long inevitable crescendo. This is a mesmerizing piece of cinema which captures the drama with subtlety, rawness and astonishing force. Some will feel like living through these events once was enough. Fair enough. Others will question the making of this film. For my part, I think it only fitting that this story, both a human tragedy and a historical chronicle, be told and retold as responsibly as Mr. Greengrass has done.
( Sherwin Das )
Hmm, this is a very tricky film to review. "United 93" got extremely good write-ups from most reviewers, but it left me feeling deeply uncomfortable. The film follows the tragic course of United 93, the fourth airplane hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. The passengers reportedly grouped together and decided to try and overpower the hijackers, resulting in the plane crashing into a field in Pennsylvania without any survivors. "United 93" is an extremely well-made film told in real-time. It's riveting viewing at moments, particularly watching the chaotic scenes in air traffic control. As a film it all works very well, but that's the problem: it's just too filmic. If anything "United 93" made me question our disturbing dependence on media narratives to make sense of the world rather than providing a useful insight into why those awful events took place that day. As so many people commented when they saw the footage of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers 's "it looked like it was straight out of a film." I don't wish to belittle the heroism of those passengers who did what they did but I found this film disturbingly formulaic in its telling. It was a film waiting to happen, like the attack itself.
1/2 ( Tim Ochser )
John Tucker Must Die
If aliens came to earth and, during their research into humankind, stumbled into a screening of John Tucker Must Die, here's what they might report: Of earth's many species, one of the most interesting is the human teenager. Being popular is important to the human teenager, particularly the females. Popular female teenagers have one objective: to be with the most popular male. The most popular male, however, is programmed to be with as many females as possible. He accomplishes this by trickery. When females realize that they have been simultaneously tricked by the same male, they seek something called revenge. Revenge aims to destroy the male and is very satisfying to teenage females. They utilize various methods to extract revenge. One method is to put female hormones in the male's protein drink just before a human basketball game. This causes the male to act emotionally sensitive and his nipples to hurt while playing. (Strangely, teenage humans have only two nipples.) Another method is to coax an unpopular female into pretending she is popular, lure the male into pursuing her, and then perform what is known as "dumping." Teenage behavior appears to be similar to another species we have found on earth 's the reptile.
( Sherwin Das )
John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) is the high school stud who says whatever girls want to hear to have his way with them. But when three girls find out he's been simultaneously dating all of them they join forces to get their revenge on him, recruiting Kate (Brittany Snow) along the way. Kate is supposedly the school nobody but she magically transforms into a beautiful somebody once her newfound friends give her a thorough makeover. Then all she has to do is get John Tucker to fall in love with her and break his heart. "John Tucker Must Die" is just your average American teen comedy in a long, dismal line of American teen comedies. All the usual suspects are there, from all the usual cliques, saying all the usual things, meaning there is nothing remotely unusual about any of it. The script tries to be sassy but ends up as sentimental mush. Kate is annoyingly winsome, while everyone else is a one-liner spouting caricature. There are some amusing moments but, frankly, I can't even remember what they were. It's possible to make a good teen comedy, to go strictly by genre, such as the outstanding "Election." But this is about as subtle as rhyming John Tucker and motherf****r.
( Tim Ochser )