The first 20 minutes of World Trade Center, which was shown last night at 10 pm at the Salle Debussy, is smooth, well-cut, understated and pro-level all the way. But as I suspected, it doesn’t feel very much like a Stone film…not this portion of it, at least. One of the most urgent, hyperkinetic, go-for-it directors of the late 20th Century has chosen to go tasteful, respectful, and understated (no shots of the planes hitting the towers, only one glimpse of a jumper, etc.). Which is an okay way to go for a film like this, I suppose — it just feels like a film thatg anyone could have directed. I’ve said it before, but World Trade Center is basically Ollie’s make-up film for having failed with Alexander — he’s proving to the powers-that-be that he can play the role of a de-balled functionary who can turn out a money-making film. I guess we’ll see how the rest of it plays a month or two from now, but at the risk of boring everyone (including myself) I still don’t understand — I will never understand — what is so fascinating and meaningful about a couple of Port Authority cops buried by North Tower rubble on 9/11 and unable to free themselves until help comes along, etc. And I still really despise that soothifying Craig Armstrong music (i.e., music meant to tell you that what you’re watching is supposed to produce a lump in the throat). The warning buzzer sounded for me when Nicolas Cage‘s John McLoughlin character looked in on his sleeping kids and we suddenly hear tinkly Marvin Hamlisch piano music. But the sound is fantastic, and the film looks sturdy and disciplined. The only “bad” thing comes when the building starts to collapse and it goes into slow-mo when Cage says “runnnn!!” to his men. (Slow-mo action scenes are bad…very bad…they haven’t been hip since The Wild Bunch .) I was scrunched into one of the balcony seats. Before it began Stone came up to the stage and talked a little bit about WTC and also Platoon, which is being honored for its 20th anniversary. Three of his Platoon stars — Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe (the French emcee called him “Weeleem Dahfoohh!”) and Tom Berenger (“Tohm Behhrangeahrr!”) joined him on the stage, but they just smiled. Dafoe and Sheen look almost as young and trim as they did in ’86, but Berenger has clearly bulked up some. I sat through about a half hour’s worth of Platoon, a superb film that will hold up for a long time to come. The print looked fine but not spectacular (Stone said it hadn’t been restored) but I was totally shagged and fagged and couldn’t keep my eyes open. Stone abalogized the two films by saying, “For me, the struggle [all along] has been to try and make these stories about people who really see it with their own eyes and their ears, whether they were in the jungles of Vietnam or the deserts of Iraq or rubble of the World Trade Center.”