Tuesday, September 11, 2012


On the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we offer today a review of the popular conspiracy documentary, Loose Change, which PURPORTED that 9/11 was an inside job. Needless to say, the three film critics below, David churchill, shlomo schwartzberg and Kevin courrier  found much to question about its credibility. originally published on SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010 in critics at large.

Screws Loose: The Dubious Credibility of Loose Change

Note: News that a group of so-called leading American deniers, who impute an inside government job as being responsible for 9/11, are touring several Canadian universities, where their legions of believers are most manifest, prompted Critics at Large to weigh in on Loose Change, the movie that has become the cinematic bible of those in the movement. Here are some thoughts on the film:

Loose Change (An American Coup), the latest version (2009) of the 'documentary' that claims to prove 9/11 was an inside job, is so easy to dismiss it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Beyond the fact this thing is dull as dishwater (I almost fell asleep watching it), it is poorly researched. If you look at what it does say, it's despicable. The film's creators claim the levelling of the two towers and WTC 7 (the smaller, nearby building) were all brought down by controlled demolition. On September 11, 2001, my wife was working at an engineering firm. Like many that day, the staff huddled around TVs watching the footage. When the towers came down, several of the structural engineers said "it's pancaking." They went on to tell my wife that in the event of a catastrophic event (such as super-hot heat from a fire that would cripple the building's core, causing it to collapse - heat generated by something like a load of jet fuel exploding), these buildings were designed to come down like that so that they would do as little damage as possible to the surrounding area. Granted, several other buildings were damaged and had to be destroyed, but if not for the original design the destruction would have been even worse. And if this was a 'controlled demolition,' it is probably one of the biggest botches of all time. A real controlled demo should not damage any surrounding buildings.

They also suggest that United 93 never crashed in Pennsylvania. I just have one question: What happened to Christian Adams, a passenger on that flight? Nik Weiss is an acquaintance of mine; Adams was a friend of his. Where's he gone? Beamed up by aliens? Bought off and hiding with Elvis?

It's all such a shoddy piece of work that I could go on, but why bother? It's too boring and too easy. My other concern is what is left unsaid. They subtitle this thing 'An American Coup,' but they never get into who benefits and why. They just hastily imply it doesn't matter whether it's Bush or President Obama, 'those' involved continue to do whatever they like. 'Those' are never really named, but one thing that is rampant within the 9/11 deniers' community is a strong anti-Semitic streak. Many people in this camp have suggested 'the Jews were warned to stay home' on 9/11, so 'no Jews were killed.' Too bad the official record of those who died clearly proved them wrong. I won't give credence to these racists by going any further, but by not naming who benefits from the 'coup,' the makers of Loose Change can try to distance themselves from those in their camp who hold these views. But, in effect, they really can't.

--David Churchill is a film critic and author of the novel, The Empire of Death.

Loose Change reminds me of the Christopher Hitchens quote about The Protocols of the (Learned) Elders of Zion, the Czarist era forgery that purported to expose the secret ‘Jewish’ plot to rule the world. Hitchens cleverly asked: Why would the Jews to be smart enough to run the world behind the scenes but be stupid enough to write their plotting down in a document that could be used as 'evidence' against them? Loose Change is something like that, too; it postulates that the U.S. government, or at least the neo – con part of the Bush administration, were brilliant enough to fool the entire world into thinking that Osama Bin Laden engineered the plot of 9/11 but sloppy and careless enough in their plotting that they could so easily be exposed by a motley bunch of scientists and ordinary citizens.

I’m actually surprised though that Loose Change is such a dull, enervated piece of moviemaking. I’m no fan of Michael Moore, but this ‘documentary’ could have used a bit of his bombast and carnival barker style; if you’re going to convince non – believers of your case, you ought to, at least, provide a catchy vehicle for your argument. Loose Change is decidedly non-gripping, or even compelling. Besides being deeply despicable and idiotic, as David so clearly points out, it also boasts a narrator, Daniel Sunjata, whom most people may not be familiar with. But fans of the fine Denis Leary cable series Rescue Me will know him very well. In that series, set in post 9/11 New York City and revolving around the lives of a group of boozing, womanizing but heroic firemen, Sunjata plays the role of Franco Rivera, the most successful womanizer in the group. Franco, like Sunjata, is also a believer in the Loose Change theory of history, a plot point brought into the series early in its fifth season, which aired a year ago. Franco attends a 9/11 rally, which causes controversy when he is captured doing so by a camera crew, as it suggests that his beliefs are somehow indicative of the firefighters’ general view, which it emphatically is not. While Tommy Gavin, the character played by series co - creator Denis Leary, stays out of the fray, others in the firehouse, specifically Mike Silletti (Mike Lombardi) don’t. At first, Mike is appalled by Francos’s commentary about the government being behind the fall of the two towers but then he comes around to questioning his country’s actions during 9/11 and at the end of the story arc is now prepared to hear Franco out.

I’m not faulting Rescue Me for bringing the issue up. It’s a legitimate subject for a television drama about those most affected by the events of 9/11 and the program is honest enough to show that someone like Franco would not be above using his conspiracy beliefs to also attempt to pick up women at the rally. But it’s also telling that it’s the character of Mike who is most receptive to Franco’s fallacious, unproven arguments. Mike, after all, is easily the dumbest, most gullible character on the series. So having him fall for Franco’s blather is certainly a statement of sorts from the show’s writers. That is, a dim bulb like Mike could so easily fall for the 9/11 conspiracy bullshit is apropos. I wonder though if Sunjata appreciates the irony of that episode’s particular resolution. I doubt it. When it comes to their belief systems, these conspiracy nuts rarely display a sense of humour.

--Shlomo Schwartzberg is a film critic, teacher and arts journalist based in Toronto.

Loose Change has more than a few screws loose. While trying to construct a massive conspiracy out of the 9/11 attacks (where the horrific event gets turned into another version of The Big Lie), director Dylan Avery can't provide a coherent narrative to sharpen our perception of that "lie," or connect any of the circumstantial evidence so that it adds up to some version of the truth. (Apparently, Avery started the project as a fictional screenplay in 2002 - it's still a work of fiction.)

There have been many exciting and powerful conspiracy films over the years, like Costa-Gavras' 1969 thriller Z and Brian De Palma's 1981 masterpiece Blow Out. But they are passionate calls for engagement. Loose Change, as Shlomo and David mentioned above, is so laconic and blurred that it has no urgency. None of the so-called conspirators are ever shown as true perpetrators of the crime. Avery instead uses supposition, speculation and dubious "evidence" to provide a picture of evil that never emerges with any clarity. There's a dead weight of despair cast over the picture that's bound to leave viewers feeling helpless and hopeless because it's all out of our hands anyway. Even as a journalist, Avery lacks the drive shown by more sharp investigative reporters who have uncovered real conspiracies like Watergate or the Iran-Contra scandal.

In the end, you'd have to be pretty impressionable to find Loose Change convincing. Perhaps for those prone to needing catastrophic occurrences explained away by faceless and sinister cabals, Loose Change becomes an incendiary statement. But if it is, it's in a voice so garbled and diffused that 9/11 might just have well been caused by extraterrestrial forces.

--Kevin Courrier is a writer/broadcaster, film critic, teacher and author. His forthcoming book is Reflections in the Hall of Mirrors: American Movies and the Politics of Idealism.

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