Set up very much like a documentary United 93 puts you right there onboard United Airlines Flight 93 the fourth hijacked plane on Sept. 11 2001 which crashed in a Pennsylvania field just short of its intended target. The first half of the film cuts between the mundane routine of boarding the ill-fated flight to the horrifying events unfolding at the World Trade Center played out in airport control towers as well as the FAA's command center in Herndon Va. and the military's center at the Northeast Air Defense Sector in upstate New York. Everyone is scrambling trying to figure out what’s happening while an air of absolute powerlessness hovers over them. Then for the last unbelievably heart-wrenching 30 minutes or so we are back on the plane. We watch as the hijackers wait and wait to make a move and then once they do watch as the passengers realize the gravity of the situation after talking with their loved ones on the ground. The heroism the defiance is palpable. "They were the first people to inhabit the post-9/11 world " Greengrass says in the press notes. And to keep things as accurate as possible Greengrass reportedly interviewed more than 100 family members and friends of those who perished in order to get not only their blessings but an inkling of what might have transpired on the plane. He also gathered facts from the 9/11 Commission Report. He hired flight attendants and commercial airline pilots to play those roles; hired several civilian and military controllers on duty on Sept. 11 including the FAA's Ben Sliney who plays himself; and finally rehearsed and shot his actors in an old Boeing 757 at England's Pinewood Studios. You’ll recognize some faces character actors who’ve been in countless films and TV shows. But the key is to keep United 93 rooted in reality--and to do that you can’t have an A-list star mussing it up. Greengrass is not afraid of making hard-hitting films such as 2002's Bloody Sunday a dramatization of the Irish civil rights protest march and subsequent massacre by British troops on January 30 1972. With United 93 he has once again documented one of modern history’s most defining moments. Of course the controversy surrounding United 93--whether or not it should have even been made--is all understandable and justifiable. Sept. 11 is still indeed a raw nerve. How can it not be? We are living in a completely changed world because of it and no amount of time can ever really alter that. But you can't fault Greengrass for feeling compelled to tell this story and can only appreciate him for doing his homework thoroughly and giving it to us straight from the heart. Sort of a collective heart I should say since it really speaks to humanity and the ways we are capable of such great courage in the face of such insurmountable odds. Obviously we will never know exactly what happened on the flight but at least we know something monumental took place. Now let’s see how Oliver Stone and Nicolas Cage handle 9/11 in the upcoming World Trade Center.
Singer-actress Courtney Love is being sued for failing to pay more than $40,000 in rent for a Vancouver home she rented while working in the on the film 24 Hours, The Associated Press reports. Love was to pay owner Peter Ashby $26,500 for a period from April 20 through June 7, with a $15,000 deposit. In a statement, Love said the agreement was subject to her approval of the home, which she had not seen. The singer and her daughter moved out after one day, saying the mansion was too big and had too many stairs. She has asked the court to dismiss the legal action.
Radio personality Garrison Keillor had surgery Wednesday for a common valve repair and is expected to make a full recovery, AP reports. Keillor, 58, has hosted A Prairie Home Companion on Minnesota Public Radio since the show began airing in 1974. Keillor also is the author of several books and hosts the daily five-minute radio show The Writer's Almanac.
Charlton Heston and science fiction writer Ray Bradbury are trying to save the Cinerama in Omaha, Neb., from demolition, AP reports. The Indian Hills Theater was built in 1962, but costs to renovate it would be too high. The Methodist Health System bought the bankrupt theater and intends to turn it into a parking lot for its nearby nursing college. Kirk Douglas, Janet Leigh, Patricia Neal and film critic Leonard Maltin also have joined forces to save the theater, which is still capable of showing films on its 70-foot-wide, curved, floor-to-ceiling screen.
Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez is in talks to star in a modern Cinderella tale by director John Hughes, Variety reports. Hughes will write and produce the romantic comedy for Revolution Studios and could begin filming in 2002. Lopez will play a young dreamer who gets a job as a chambermaid in a luxury hotel, meets a British chap and falls in love. Hilary Swank was originally set to star in the project.
Musicians Moby, Beastie Boys, Alanis Morissette, the Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty, Trey Anastasio, Jackson Brown and James Taylor have formed a coalition named the New Power Project to urge the president to develop a more responsible energy policy, Rolling Stone magazine reports. The group plans to use their tours and Web sites to educate listeners about oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic Wildlife Refuge and renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy. They also will circulate petitions to be sent to congress and the Bush administration. More information is available at www.saveourenvironment.org.
Rapper Eminem and Australian Prime Minister John Howard are involved in a war of words, BBC News reports. The feud erupted after the rapper's first show in Melbourne, Australia, when he joked to an audience that he wanted to buy a house and move to the continent, but that he didn't think the prime minister would like it. Howard warned that Eminem was still on probation and could be thrown out by immigration ministers. He has publicly said he does not like Eminem's music or lyrics, and the illusions to violence that are involved in his performance.
Mark Wahlberg wants to help inner-city youths stay out of trouble, AP reports. On Thursday, Wahlberg announced that the Mark Wahlberg Foundation would raise and distribute funds to youth service programs. The actor credits the Col. Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club in the Boston's Dorchester neighborhood for helping him turn his life around.
Volume.com will feature an exclusive webcast of a Mos Def benefit concert with Jack Johnson, starting July 27. Filmed at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, features Mos Def and his new group Jack Johnson with members of Living Colour and P-Funk and includes performances of Ms. Fat Booty and Umi Says. Information and registration for the exclusive webcast is available at http://www.volume.com/mosdef. The concert will be available online through August.