Monday, October 27, 2014

Blind Spot: Man on Wire (2008)

Marsh's little documentary is a fantastic movie.

Directed by James Marsh
Produced by Simon Chinn
Starring Philippe Petit, Jean-Fran├žois Heckel and Jean-Louis Blondeau

Plot Summary: Philippe Petit, a French tightrope walker, plans to perform on a wire suspended between the World Trade Center towers in 1974.

Significance: One of the most celebrated documentaries in recent years, it was featured in the latest Sight and Sound Poll (#322 in the directors poll and #894 in the critics one). It also won the BAFTA for Best British Film and the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature Film, among numerous other awards.

Thoughts: Marsh's thrilling documentary is an exhilarating and inspiring tale of daredevil who dared to dream. Through a combination of archive footage, new interviews and recreated sequences, this simple documentary follows Philippe's attempt to sneak up to the roofs of the Twin Towers and perform a tightrope routine, and it remains compelling from beginning to end. The film focuses more on the stunt than Philippe himself, but he is a likable, crazy character from the get-go. Despite the dangers of this mission, it's impossible not to get wrapped up in the story of Philippe and his accomplices, who are also risk-takers. It might be a small movie about a forgotten event, but it's also one of the best films of the last decade.

Rating: ****

This is the tenth film in my 2014 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil.

16 comments:

  1. Easily one of the best docs I had ever seen and the fact that Philippe was crazy enough to do that is ballsy.

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    1. Yeah, it's one of the best I've seen as well. I can't believe Philippe actually pulled it off.

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  2. Well. now I want to dedicate my next Blind Spot series to docs! I really need to see more of those. Nice write up. I haven't seen this yet, but now I really want to!

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    1. Thanks man! You should! I need to watch more docs as well. This now pops up in Picture, Director and Editing (which it wins) in '08. ;)

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  3. This is an amazing doc. Glad you had a chance to see it. Yeah, Phillip is a flat out nut. I mean that in the best way possible.

    http://dellonmovies.blogspot.com/2010/09/man-on-wire.html

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    1. I don't watch many docs, but this is one of my new favorites. Philippe was crazy - in a good way.

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  4. I've always meant to check this one out too, I love that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to play Philippe in a film next year. I'm already all over that one.

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    1. Oh, I completely forgot about that film. Can't wait!

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  5. Good review Josh. Pretty suspenseful stuff here, which is something you don't quite get with documentaries. However, it totally worked here.

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    1. Thanks Dan. Yeah, it was quite thrilling, even if we already know that Philippe didn't die.

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  6. The last half hour of the film is spectacle. Not sure it needed to be a 90 min documentry though.

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    1. Yeah, I loved the entire film, but the first hour isn't as exciting as the last half hour.

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  7. This sounds like a doc that'd give you a real adrenaline rush! I need to see this, in fact I didn't have a single doc on my Blindspot this year, so I should add this one to my 2015 list!

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    1. Yeah, you should add this one, Ruth! It's inspirational and very entertaining.

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  8. Definitely one of the best films from the past 10 years. I absolutely love this doc. And the way it's edited is just superb. It's like a thriller with a very fine payoff.

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    1. Absolutely. It's now my #2 behind In Bruges that year. It gets CinSpec nods for Picture, Director, and Editing, which it wins.

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