9/11 Movie and Rock Musical "Clear Blue Tuesday" and tune, "The Day the Sky Fell"

August 31, 2010, 11:07 am
It’s a Movie. A Rock Musical. And It’s Rooted in 9/11.

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times Elizabeth Lucas, left, director of “Clear Blue Tuesday,” a movie musical about 9/11, and Jan O’Dell, an actor in the movie who suffered a fractured skull on the real 9/11, near ground zero last week.  Source:

There have been songs about Sept. 11, 2001, and there have been movies, and so it has always just a matter of time — 8 years and 51 weeks, it turns out — before New York learned whether it is ready for September 11: The Rock Musical.

Its actual title is “Clear Blue Tuesday,” a film opening at the Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village on Friday. Its cinematic forebears are “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Moulin Rouge” and the adaptation of “Rent,” and its backers hope they have accidentally happened into the slipstream of “Glee,” a show that did not yet exist during the film’s 19-day shoot in 2007.

“Clear Blue Tuesday” (see trailer) is not about the attack itself, which occurs off camera in the opening scene and is conveyed with blowing dust and office paper. It is more interested in tracking the changes in the lives of 11 characters as the anniversaries flit past: 2002, 2003, 2004, and so on. The attractive and eccentric cast of New Yorkers fall in love and split up, lose jobs, get jobs, shack up — and sing, roughly one song per character.

The film, often doggedly cheerful, will not please uniformly, and only die-hard fans of musicals, very earnest people and Sept. 11 completists are likely to digest it whole.

The songs are all over the map, stylistically and thematically, and include one called “Help Me Help You,” sung by an executive firing a depressed underling, and “Spank It,” a hair-metal piece about playing the drums. In another song, “Reckless,” the singer’s character — a harpist and science fiction fanatic — imagines marrying an alien in space in a scene replete with twinkling stars and floating planets.

“I have very little interest, as a director, in naturalism,” said the director, Elizabeth Lucas. “I find naturalism a little pedestrian.”

She believes the trouble with films about Sept. 11 in general — they include Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center” (2006) and “The Guys” (2002), which starred Sigourney Weaver — are too serious, “overly ponderous about the topic,” she said. She sees a musical, on the other hand, as a way to delve deeper into the characters: “finding the release and the perspective to look at ourselves and laugh at our tragedies,” she said.

For all the film’s upbeat songs and occasional clowning, the beating and wounded heart in its chest is the character Caroline, played by Jan O’Dell, who was 73 when the film was shot.

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