Thursday, July 31, 2008

New York Post: Movies

It took me this long to think of New York Post as a title? I must still be in vacation mode. Anyway, a recap of what we saw on t’other coast.

Man on Wire. Easily one of the year’s best, and a movie that was definitely worth seeing in New York. This documentary recounts Philippe Petit’s self-described coup of walking a tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Director James Marsh seamlessly blends interviews, archival footage and recreations. The result is like a Donald Westlake-style caper, only instead of taking something this band of dreamers and misfits is giving. You already know the outcome – Petit is on camera throughout, still ridiculously charismatic – yet the ratchets tighten. And the climax, in which a bland public space now erased from the earth briefly becomes a realm of magic, has a startling emotional intensity.

Transsiberian. Brad Anderson (Session 9, The Machinist) again delivers a thriller that never goes where you expect. Two American missionaries taking the nowhere-near-glamorous title train from China to Moscow fall in with a pair of mysterious vagabonds. The first hour chugs along at its own pace for good reason. But once it switches to the main track, hang on. Emily Mortimer kicks ass as a reformed bad girl, and Russian cop Ben Kingsley devours the scenery like it was made out of blintzes.