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December 11, 2008 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Just Like The Movies. Michal Kosakowski reconstructs the morning of 9/11/01 completely through clips from Hollywood movies released before 9/11. More of Kosakowski's short films are available here.

David Foster Wallace articulates this rather well: "Any really felt sense of a larger world — is televisual. New York's skyline, for instance, is as recognizable here as anyplace else, but what it's recognizable from is TV."
posted by mattbucher (40 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Been done.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:44 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Meh.
posted by rusty at 8:54 AM on December 11, 2008


This is a good idea. It's well executed, interesting and seems to make sense artistically. (I can, as a standard bloke in the street say, "Ah! I see what he's done there.")

But I get this urge to ask whether he really needed to add the jaunty little comedy motif when the planes hit the tower.

Not, I hasten to add out of respect for the dead. Or the families of the dead. Or their memories.

But because if I see another artist beating that "OMG IM BEIN IRONIC" drum I think I'm going to puke blood.
posted by Jofus at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I guess showing the Lone Gunmen pilot would have been too easy?
posted by designbot at 9:32 AM on December 11, 2008


Irony is easy. Treating 9/11 seriously in art is difficult.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:43 AM on December 11, 2008


Too long, too many edits that skip between different times of day, and better without the sound turned on. Seriously, the piano got annoying. Also, what's up with showing him on a split screen playing? I wanted to like this, but couldn't.

I don't think that bodes well for the artist as pretty much anybody could take what is left after the criticism and string movie clips of NY together to try to tell a disaster story.
posted by Muddler at 10:10 AM on December 11, 2008


what's up with showing him on a split screen playing

This. WTF? I can't keep watching for this reason.
posted by Perplexity at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2008


So in conclusion.....many movies are set in New York City. Many movies show the hustle & bustle of New York City. Many movies show disasters occurring in New York City. Many movies have dramatic reaction shots of people in New York City. Many movies show law anforcement, emergency services, and media members rushing about in New York City.
posted by brandman at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


that was really pretty terrible. and i'm not saying that to just shit on the guy's work, but because it was so insensitive. the editing was terrible, yes, the music was overlong and the dramatic tension was stretched to the point of exhaustion, yes. but more than anything, all pathos for the moment was systematically eradicated in favor of providing some kind of shallow backdrop for his movie about himself playing an original piano composition. he kept piling on movie clips in order to fit the different bits of his piano composition, regardless of whether they made any sense together, and regardless of the treatment of his apparent subject.

we have faye dunnaway walking down a hallway timidly, coming up short all of a sudden in surprise. at what? at... patrick bateman's briefcase and phone? huh? i thought maybe it was the towers, oh but no i can still see them in the background while arnold schwarzenegger makes a milkshake. i wonder what the hell these clips are doing here, then. well, it's still the morning apparently, so... waitaminnit, now there's a shot of like 3 days passing in a time lapse shot, and the towers are still up.

and the whole time, we're staring at this guy getting way into his music and watching his hands play it. it's so... self-involved... you get the feeling he spent months working on the song, and an hour on the video (after he scoured his video library for clips). i'm not trying to be an asshole or anything, but the whole thing really does come off as self indulgent and crude. i didn't even think i was still that emotionally bothered by the event or anything, but this is kind of shitty.
posted by shmegegge at 10:17 AM on December 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


The film is better with the sound off.
posted by hanoixan at 10:23 AM on December 11, 2008


I think this guy is an egomaniacal dickhead.
posted by autodidact at 10:23 AM on December 11, 2008


I am 100% certain that I don't get the point of this. If it's just about how surreal and movie-like the whole experience was, well, yes, kind of, that is correct, but as MrMoonPie points out, The Onion did it with better tact and timing. If it's something about our violence-soaked media then it's a silly argument, weakly made. We like to watch violence but are loathe once it's actually in our lives? Just like every other culture at every other time in history? Damn, good point! ANd you prove this with four or five shots including any actual violence, and pad those out with increasingly irrelevant reaction shots from any movie that's ever had the WTC in the background of any shot? brandman got it right on this one.

The only thing that can hold this all together in any sensible fashion is if the whole point is just to add "controversy" to his rambling and nigh-upon-unlistenable opus. Which I guess is why we were also treated to staring at his face the whole time for the drama of him reading his sheet and occasionally making that contorted "musician face" which I'd be happy to see outlawed.

I'm pretty sure I don't like this Kosakowski person.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:29 AM on December 11, 2008


So...it's bad?
posted by mattbucher at 10:34 AM on December 11, 2008


The pianist and director are two different people, and the reason they show the pianist at the bottom was that this was a live showing.

I thought it was good. Yeah, sure it was overlong with establishing shots of people in NYC, but I feel that that allowed for a more gradual crescendo up until the sudden OMG feel of the first tower getting hit. The music was well done I thought and helped express a lot of the abstract WTF feelings.

Oh, and your favorite art movie sucks goat balls...
posted by schyler523 at 10:42 AM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Film scorers should be heard and not seen, but in this case neither would be preferable. That plunky obnoxious piano music reminds me of those terrible John Grisham adapations. Very tedious and pointless all around.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:42 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The shot of Rick Moranis from Ghostbusters when he's walking around dazed and confused made me giggle.
posted by schyler523 at 10:45 AM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Never noticed that WTC is in the background in Taxi Driver, when Travis is purchasing handguns from Easy Andy.

How 'bout dope? Grass, hash, coke...mescaline, downers, Nembutal, toluol, chloral hydrates? How 'bout uppers, amphetamines?
I'm not interested in that stuff.

posted by porn in the woods at 10:48 AM on December 11, 2008


There's five minutes of clips showing people getting up and going to work, presumably to the WTC on 9/11. Then there's a time lapse of a few days. I shut it off at that point. I mean 9/11 was EXACTLY like all those movies with the towers in the background of the shot.
posted by crashlanding at 10:55 AM on December 11, 2008


So... what they're saying is the horrible soundtrack drove the terrorists to attack?
posted by Krrrlson at 10:56 AM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


This, and all the talk about art reacting to 9/11 makes me recall the Neil LaBute's play The Mercy Seat. I saw it in London in 2003. John Hannah was the man, and I can't for the life of me remember the woman's name. It was pretty phenomenal. Of course, the part that really stuck with me is that we poor students got to meet JH after the show. That was cool.
posted by purpletangerine at 11:27 AM on December 11, 2008


Whatever it is the creator of this work was aiming to accomplish, he failed. It's not poignant, it's not funny, it's not ironic, it's neither a commentary--of any stripe--on 9/11 nor on Hollywood. The work itself is poorly paced and poorly edited.

The biggest hurdle it fails to overcome is that so many clips cause instant recognition--"That's Network! That's American Psycho! That's Independence Day! That's Taxi Driver! That's Ghostbusters (and WHAT THE FUCK GHOSTBUSTERS IN THIS?)--even if he had had some kind of message, there's no way you could focus on it.

Shorter me: Huh? Meh.
posted by tzikeh at 11:44 AM on December 11, 2008


Put me in the thumbs down camp. This strikes me as the kind of project that you dream up with your dorm-mates at 2am.

- "Dudes, I bet we could make a short film of 9/11 that takes a whole bunch of shots from other movies set in New York."
- "Cool idea. There's probably dozens of shots of the WTC alone!"
- "Yeah. We could edit it to go through the whole day, too, with people getting up in the morning and going to work."
- "Right. And then we could use clips from a whole bunch of disaster movies."
- "Cool. I've got a friend who is a piano player and composer. His stuff is a bit melodramatic, but I bet we could get him to do a soundtrack for free."

Should just turned in and slept it off.
posted by googly at 11:45 AM on December 11, 2008


But I get this urge to ask whether he really needed to add the jaunty little comedy motif when the planes hit the tower.

Anything like this?

i'm going to hell
posted by dunkadunc at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I like that it opens with a shot of the Twin Towers on Skull Island in the Dino De Laurentiis King Kong remake. But I stopped watching it right after that because the music was kind of annoying.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:29 PM on December 11, 2008


i'm going to hell

Too soon.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:35 PM on December 11, 2008


I tried, but I just can't watch this. It's still too soon.
posted by mds35 at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2008


I think you'll all too harsh on it, or at least expecting too much.

And I think the silent-movie piano playalong is gonna come back in a big way.
posted by leibniz at 1:25 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


...Okay: I didn't watch this, as a) the comments in here tell me everything I needed to know, b) I've read about ten "9/11 plays" now -- all of them unpublished ones from aspiring playwrights (what's really odd is that 4 of them featured characters who used sock puppets), and c) I've seen a video of a MIME TRIBUTE to 9/11, and that was pretty brain-breaking.

I think some people are going to just want to do something 9/11-y, but...I'm going to have a hard time having faith it won't completely suck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:25 PM on December 11, 2008


whaddya know, you all saw the 9/11 mime tribute as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:34 PM on December 11, 2008


Is the final shot from Kubrick's test footage for AI?
posted by A189Nut at 2:47 PM on December 11, 2008


I also think it's more serious and significant than many of you credit. I'm fascinated to see just how closely it is possible to replicate 9/11 from fragments of preceding film and television. It tells us something important about the sheer terroristic spectacle of the event as dreamed of and realised by the perpetrators and then experienced by us as spectators - spectators of the images that went around the world, following in the footsteps of these their subliminal parents.
posted by A189Nut at 2:58 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can see that the intention was to show that 9/11 as a sequence of events incorporated familiar motifs from TV and movies. But my first thought was that TV and movies have a such a vast stock of imagery that fragments that could be used to reconstruct just about any narrative, so it's no great significance that one matching 9/11 is possible. If, say, a meteorite, flood, fire or plague had hit New York on 9/11, we'd be here having exactly the same discussion.
posted by raygirvan at 3:41 PM on December 11, 2008


I'm fascinated to see just how closely it is possible to replicate 9/11 from fragments of preceding film and television. It tells us something important about the sheer terroristic spectacle of the event as dreamed of and realised by the perpetrators and then experienced by us as spectators - spectators of the images that went around the world, following in the footsteps of these their subliminal parents.

Well, you may be right. for what it's worth (maybe nothing) I'm inclined to say that's bullshit. If it "tells us something important about the sheer terroristic spectacle of the event as dreamed of and realised by the perpetrators and then experienced by us as spectators - spectators of the images that went around the world, following in the footsteps of these their subliminal parents," then I'd like to know what that "something important" is. Because I think what you just said could be said about the idea of making a piece like this, but the actual end result in this case falls incredibly short of telling us anything important at all. put another way: there's concept, and then there's execution. whatever the worth of the concept, the execution was straight up flat.

that is, of course, simply my $.02
posted by shmegegge at 4:02 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm fascinated to see just how closely it is possible to replicate {the mere spectacle of} 9/11 from fragments of preceding film and television.

Don't confuse this with the actual event.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:17 PM on December 11, 2008


The importance is entirely that the event was confused with its prior representation (or imagination if you prefer.)

As the short demonstrates (and there would be many other examples he could use), the spectacle of New York's skyscrapers in ruins has long been mesmeric. Check out IF Clarke's 1996 book Tales of the Next Great War 1871-1914 if you want some precursors in static images and popular literature.

So it's not just that many people who witnessed it from the street said that it felt like a movie, or that many people who saw it on TV felt the same, it's that the terrorists themselves realised - in every sense of the word and learning from the PLO at Dawkin's Field through the IRA to their own over-ambitious and abandoned Operation Bojinka - that a successful attack on America had to create spectacular, terrifying images. That they would be resonant with prior representations was essentially a given.
posted by A189Nut at 5:32 PM on December 11, 2008


I can't believe everyone hates this. As a New Yorker and a fucking film editor, I can certainly respect the amount of work that went into this.

At the very least, it's a dramatic, cinemascope picture of how New York has been depicted (and destroyed) throughout film history. Of course fucking Ghostbusters is in there! How could it not be?

Once again, Metafilter never fails to shit on free pancakes.
posted by fungible at 7:40 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I found out what happened on 9/11 with a glance at a website that showed a photo of the towers burning--and in that fraction of a second before I read the caption I thought to myself, "Huh, new Jerry Bruckheimer movie?" So I'm sympathetic to the idea.

However, this is one of those art projects where the concept and artist statement promise more than the actual product delivers for me.
posted by availablelight at 8:30 PM on December 11, 2008


tl;dw
posted by duvatney at 9:28 PM on December 11, 2008


the terrorists themselves realised {...} that a successful attack on America had to create spectacular, terrifying images.

Bin Laden claimed to have been inspired by another set images when he began to consider attacking America - the "destroyed towers in Lebanon" on Beirut's once-famous skyline, which he saw (whether on television, in newspapers, or some other other media) during the 1982 Israeli invasion. He wanted a spectacle, too, for his monstrous crime but had something different in mind than anything from Jerry Bruckheimer's oeuvre.

In any case, I found Kosakowski's short piece, for all the time it must have taken to assemble it, to be a pretty facile piece of irony. Those brief stabs I feel when I see similar shots from A Better Tomorrow II, Men in Black, or, most recently, the US pilot for Life on Mars, wouldn't add up to much either if I spliced them all together in iMovie and added a royalty-free piano soundtrack.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2008


The importance is entirely that the event was confused with its prior representation (or imagination if you prefer.)

and that sounds like a great idea for a work of art. i wouldn't be surprised if some pretty stunning stuff (filmic or otherwise) had been done on that very premise. what is bothering me, and if i'm reading correctly a lot of other people, is that the final product kosakowski's created here isn't selling the point well. somebody just used the term facile, and I think that really sums it up well. The end result comes off to me as the bare minimum required to take a stab at that point, and the actual construction of the work (from its editing to its soundtrack) remove any humanity from what, I think, would ultimately be a very human experience. The idea of having ficitional precedent for terror that is ultimately realized in a fashion that seems unreal because of that precedent is a human experience. exploring the psychology behind that, and the psychology behind our initial fascination with the idea before it even happened, would have been excellent. this didn't feel like an exploration of anything, or a re-imagining or even a decent depiction. it just felt sloppy, insensitive, and rushed.

on the other hand, i think part of what ruins this for me is that it feels so impersonal, and that that may be the product of the piece having been created by someone living outside the event for other people who lived outside of it. It's the perspective, maybe, of someone who wasn't emotionally assaulted the way many americans were when the event happened. And that's a valid perspective, but maybe my problem with it is that I can't identify with that perspective, with that ability to coldly deconstruct the event and reduce it to a series of shallow sound bites and cliches.
posted by shmegegge at 9:04 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


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