Currently on Netflix as the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 draws near, there are a few documentaries and a film that talk about that terrible day.
Beginning with director Sara Colangelo’s film WORTH stars Michael Keaton as Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer who wants to do something after seeing what has happened on 9/11.
Congress turns to Feinberg to be responsible for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Coming up with a ‘formula’ for payment to families, basically he now is determining something he once asked of his law students, “how much is a life worth?” One person fighting against his formula is Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci) who lost his wife in the twin towers.
Working with his head of operations Camille (Amy Ryan), the interviews begin as the clock ticks on those who need to apply. There is one person willing to hear what Wolf has to say is Priya Khundi (Shunori Ramanathan) who then continues to ask Feinberg to listen to the people.
As the stories unfold, Feinberg finds himself torn between what he can and can not do for the people who are trying to show him that it is about justice for their loved ones. This is film is about the stories and one man who needs to listen.
Keaton as Feinberg is absolutely brilliant and its not just because I am a Keaton fan. His take on Feinberg is hard, focused on data and formulas and lives in his ‘lawyer suit’ as a justification for issues that are consistently brought. Watching Keaton go through the stages of understanding, his character is on a learning curve he could never have imagined. Well done sir! It takes a character brought to the screen by Tucci in the form of Charles Wolf that stands by his principles and wants to help others find their voices.
Tucci as Charles is equally as brilliant as a man who is dealing with his own deep grief yet wants to make sure that the families do not fall through governmental cracks. Reuniting with Keaton after their work on the 2015 film SPOTLIGHT. In that film Tucci is a lawyer who is trying to right the wrongs, so the character of Charles is something he is good at playing and believing. Again, Tucci is an actor who embraces every character he plays, and it shows.
Other cast include: Talia Balsam as Dede Feinberg, Laura Benanti as Karen Donato, Chris Tardio as Frank Donato, Ato Blakson-Wood as Darryl Barnes, Carolyn Mignini as Gloria Toms, Victor Slezak as John Ashcroft, Marc Caron as Bart Cuthbert and Clifton Samuels as Oliver.
In the end – what is the value of life?
TURNING POINT: 9/11 and the War on Terror
Next is the five episode limited series TURNING POINT: 9/11 and the War on Terror by director Brian Knappenberger. Beginning with the images we all know surrounding the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there is a brief telling of the terrorists responsible for the nightmare of that day.
Then, the documentary uses a few episodes to tell the story of Iraq, Afghanistan and the soldiers who have fought those wars. In their own words, a few soldiers tell their story of what they experienced and their understanding (or lack of understanding) for the reasons they are fighting. From weapons of mass destruction to the continuation of the war in Afghanistan, the documentary gives the facts as those narrating and in-the-know can share.
The hunt of Osama bin Laden is sprinkled in the documentary with both Presidents Bush and Obama.
Documentaries about 9/11 are always difficult to watch because they bring up memories for us all as to where we were when it happened, to those who lost loved ones, to those who escape the destruction etc.
This documentary is geared more toward the politics. There is actually nothing in this documentary that I have not seen in other documentaries and that is a bit disappointing. What would have kept my interest more is if they would have gone into more detail about the terrorists such as where did they come from, how did they manage to do the things that they did and what caused them to do what they did in more than general details.
That being said, it does remind us that even with the death of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, there are issues that continue on Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan. Coming back to the beginning story of 9/11, the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are the biggest issues and the government is now prosecuting them with concerns about terrorist groups.
The episodes include They System Was Blinking red, A Place of Danger, The Dark Side, The Good War, and Grave of Empires.
The question becomes – what does the United States do with those who were part of trying to bring our country down?
In the end – history casts a long shadow.
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WORTH is a film that goes inside an issue that most people have no idea about. Learning that there was even a value placed on human life after 9/11 is a bit shocking to accept but even more difficult is the process in which these families had to deal with the aftereffects. It is an important story and I believe it is well done with Keaton and Tucci leading the way.
The documentary TURNING POINT is less so but only in that the issues brought forward are something I have heard before. Listening to the stories told by those who were a part of this history is important but, as I said before, there has to be a way to tell us more about those who participated that we know so little about.
Hussain and bin Laden are names we all know because most of us have lived through it all. The wars, soldiers, death and destruction. As a mother of a soldier, I have witnessed the aftereffects of the mistakes made under the guise of taking care of business for those that have returned home.
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, there will be more to hear, more memories, seeing the attack through videos etc., and the pain felt once again over and over. That being said, we also cannot forget how our country got here as the finality of Afghanistan has come to a close as well.
That is where the duality comes from, I suppose. We feel so deeply the sadness and anger of 9/11 and yet we do not know what to do with those emotions and we do not have answers of how can this happen and, even worse, can it happen again now that the Taliban is back in control of Afghanistan?
We can only be alert and have a hope that peace can hold in place.