My first reaction seeing the movie posters for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in the subways was: "Huh, it's not September." That's because the 9/11 story has been given a very narrow piece of public space to be explored. August is off limits. So is October -- and pretty much the rest of the year. But now, more then 10 years after the buildings fell, the questions, emotion, and complexity of the 9/11 story may be able to start to become part of the public conversation.
And, surprisingly it was Tom Selleck who began to convince me of that. But before we get to the re-birth of Magnum PI, the story begins with the theatrical film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Moviemakers worked hard to make this 'not a 9/11 movie' -- but alas it is. A film of loss, of new human connections, and of how the pain of 9/11 can open new doors. Maybe because I went into it with my guard up, or maybe because the telling of the story feels too emotionally art-directed, I found that it was neither a New York story nor a broader parable.
So, for me Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close goes in the category of 9/11 films that shouldn't have been made.
But, that isn't to say that 9/11 is off-limits.
Strangely, it's the CBS Drama Blue Bloods that seems to have gotten it right. The series is a strange elixir of familiar locations and a larger than life police commissioner and his family. The commissioner is played by Tom Selleck, an actor who I thought would be indelibly etched in my mind as Magnum PI. But the series, which is shot on location in NY, seems to have gotten into his bloodstream. Selleck, in last weeks episode -- finds himself dwelling on the topic: "Where where you on 9/11." My first reaction was reflexive... not another 9/11 drama. But it's February, not September. And, as the story emerges -- it turns out the Police Commissioner Regan is mourning not the loss of a friend on 9/11, but of a fellow cop who's in the process of dying from the exposure to the dust from that day 10 years ago.
As Commissioner Regan eulogizes his friend -- in a series of long, halting emotional thoughts, I found myself thinking this may be the first time I've seen the 9/11 story 'gotten right' in any dramatic story. You get the sense that Selleck has spent enough time in NY, and with NY cops, to truly understand the scars 9/11 left in the NYPD.
The episode ends with the Selleck character, standing at night at the side of one of the two 9/11 Memorial pools. This may be the first dramatic television series scene to be shot at the Memorial, certainly the first one I've seen. His hand reaches down to touch the names embossed on the bronze parapet that surrounds the two acre size pools -- and for a moment CBS is able to capture what it feels like to be there.
Well done, and worth watching -- again.
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