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On September 11

First, let me assure readers that critics from the New York branch of filmcritic.com (myself, Gordon Bass, Pete Croatto, Larry Getlen, and Rachel Gordon) are safe, if shaken, by this indescribable tragedy.

Witnesses described the World Trade Center and Pentagon nightmare as being, ‘just like a movie.’ There was no other way to put it, really. It was so far removed from the everyday life one takes for granted.

I saw one of the Twin Towers smoldering like a giant candle on the subway ride to work on the morning of September 11. I spent the hour before dusk walking through the dust coated streets of Brooklyn Heights among shell-shocked passers-by wearing surgical face masks, observing from the Promenade as black smoke billowed from the empty space where the Twin Towers once stood. The entire experience was surreal and horrible.

As a critic, I have long been disgusted by disaster movies. Many of them, in my estimation, trivialize catastrophes and their marked, often fatal impact on human life. There is obviously no comparison between so-called entertainment and the actual horrors endured by victims and onlookers. Hollywood has shown remarkable good taste in pulling the Arnold Schwarzenegger action-adventure Collateral Damage (about a fireman avenging himself against the terrorists who murdered his family). The studio is also pulling all billboards and advertisements for the film. [Sadly, this may be more about economics than taste. -Ed.]

I love New York City and also love the cinema. While the thought of writing film criticism is, at the moment, far from my mind, Rachel, Pete, and I will be attending the 39th Annual New York Film Festival, running from September 28-October 14. In the face of disaster, this is our way of anchoring ourselves with some shred of normalcy. It may seem like a moot gesture in the face of the unspeakable, but everyone will have to take their own small steps forward if we are to recover.

We are all living through an extraordinary time in history, but commonplace needs are necessary for our collective mental health. The cinema is a communal activity, one that brings strangers together in a darkened house to collectively experience an act of storytelling. Whether for distraction or clarification, heartwarming laughter or cathartic fright, there is an importance to this medium and we at filmcritic.com would like to do our small part in providing the Internet community with sanity and spirit.

We at filmcritic.com send our hopes and prayers to everyone out there during this bleak hour. We cherish our loved ones who have been spared, mourn the terrible loss of those souls no longer with us, and extend our gratitude to the brave individuals still toiling at ground zero. We at filmcritic.com do not live in a vacuum, and acknowledge the impact of this life-changing event.

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