xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
That's illustrated in the best of the segments, an overpowering film by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of Mexico, best known for "Amores Perros." He keeps his screen entirely black for most of the 11 minutes, occasionally interrupting it with flashes of bodies falling from the burning World Trade Center. We realize after awhile that the muffled thuds on the soundtrack are the bodies landing.
The soundtrack begins and ends with a collage of excited voices, and during the 11 minutes we also hear snatches of newscasts and part of a cell phone call from a passenger on one of the hijacked airplanes ("We have a little problem on the plane, and I wanted to say I love you..."). Toward the end, there is the sound of fearsome hammering, and we realize with a chill that this is the sound of the floors collapsing, one on top of another, growing louder. It must have been recorded from a radio inside the building; it is the last thing the terrified people inside the towers heard. This film is so strong because it allows us to use our imaginations. It generates almost unbearable empathy.
Another of the best films is by Ken Loach of Great Britain, who films a Chilean writing a letter to Americans in which he offers his sympathy. Then he recalls that on another Tuesday, Sept. 11--this one in 1973--the democratically elected government of Chile was overthrown by a CIA-funded military coup, President Salvador Allende was murdered, and the right-wing dictator Pinochet was installed as the U.S. puppet, to rule over a reign of torture and terror. I wrote in my notes: "Do unto others as you would have them do onto you." The third powerful film is by Mira Nair of India, who tells the true story of a Pakistani mother in New York whose son got on the subway to go to medical school and never returned. She was questioned by the FBI, her son was named as a suspected terrorist, and only six months later was his body found in the rubble, where, as a trained medic, he had gone to help. At his funeral, his hero's coffin was draped in the American flag.
One of the most sympathetic films comes from Iran. Samira Makhmalbaf's film shows a teacher trying to explain to her students--Afghan refugees in Iran--what has happened in New York. The kids get into a discussion about God, and whether he would kill some people to make others; "God isn't crazy," one child finally decides. None of the children can imagine a tall building, so the teacher takes them to stand beneath a smokestack, and the smoke from the top makes an eerie mirror of the catastrophe.