The two most passionate, best-written reviews of United 93 I’ve read this morning — one extremely postive, one more of a mixed response — are by the L.A. Weekly‘s Scott Foundas and N.Y. Press critic Matt Zoller Seitz. Foundas calls United 93 “nothing short of a direct refutation of all the conventional Hollywood wisdom concerning how such a movie should be made…it is the highest compliment I can pay Greengrass to say that he is a master of the mundane, the routine and the everyday…when he makes a movie about a historical event, he spends as much time showing us the buildup to that event as he does depicting the event itself…he’s fascinated by the gradual convergence of disparate people on a single point in time that then becomes immortalized by tragedy, and what interests him most is the randomness of it all — the way one minute life is just rolling along the way it always does and then, suddenly, it isn’t.” Seitz, likewise, is dead-on when he says that “anyone who denies its power is lying” but I disagree fiercely with his contention that “anyone who justifies that power on aesthetic grounds is perpetrating a greater lie.” I am speaking straight from the heart when I say the thousands of accumulated verite “truths” that this film is composed of, assembled into a unified reality-flow piece, deliver a kind of wondrous symphony of minutae that is all the more affecting because it’s not trying to sell a conjured or formulated idea, or even an emotional point of view. But Seitz scores in saying that Greengrass “delivers what he promised months ago — a movie shorn of almost any signifying sentiment from any recognizable school of thought on what 9/11 meant and where it led us. This conflation of mass-murder memorial and virtual reality experience marks United 93 as a queasy milestone in post-9/11 American cinema…after the attacks, commentators observed that 9/11 was, in some horrendous but palpable way ‘like a movie,’ with good reason. Like so many modern terrorist attacks, 9/11 was an example of mass murder as televised homicidal performance art, designed not merely to kill large numbers of people, but to create spectacular images which could then be replayed ad infinitum — the mass media equivalent of a dirty bomb, with lingering psychic residue. [United 93] is still more reenactment than art, and any praise heaped upon it should be qualified with this realization: almost five years after the attacks, Hollywood finally rose to the challenge of representing a grim day that was ‘like a movie’ by making a movie out of it. The 9/11 Show!”