Running Time: 94 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Philippe Petit, Michael Nyman.
Tag-line: " 1974. 1350 feet up. The artistic crime of the century."Awards: Best British Doc at British Film Awards, Best Documentary at Karlovy Vary Film Festival, National Board of Review Best Documentary, Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, nominated for many forthcoming awards.
Everyone seems to love MAN ON WIRE. It's one of the best reviewed films of 2008, and there's a reason for that. It's extraordinarily well done, exhilarating, and suspenseful. But let me tell you how it falls short of being a masterpiece. I'm not denying that it's a very enjoyable, well-crafted film; I'm just going to toss in 3 talking points that bring this majority consensus into slight question.
#1, and most trivial, Impact font.
Why Impact font? I think it's safe to say that if I was constructing a main title sequence for a film, I would only choose Impact if my only choices were Impact and Wingdings. I would even prefer Chalkboard. Or that Party font that the elderly use for their brunch invitations.
#2, the music. This film uses Michael Nyman music- it is not scored by Michael Nyman. Nyman is one of my favorite working composers, and indeed all this music has been used before...in the late 80's films of Peter Greenaway. I'm sure the music works if you haven't seen any Greenaway, but it's not good if your wirewalking documentary keeps making me vividly visualize scenes from DROWNING BY NUMBERS and THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE, AND HER LOVER.
#3, Philippe Petit is a dick.
The Man on Wire himself, whom the film so lovingly lionizes (which is the only reason I take issue), is totally a dick. What he did is amazing, inspirational, etc., but as soon as he accomplished his goal, he cast aside his girlfriend and close friends who had supported him for years, literally and figuratively. Plus, where did he get all the money? (The movie insinuates that he came from a privileged background.) He had no job and managed to tool around in his backyard for years, afforded several trans-Atlantic journeys to NYC, rented a helicopter, and several times over paid for thousands of dollars worth of specialized wirewalking equipment. Eh. Anyway, just a few things to think about before you crown this 'King of Cinema.' But don't get the wrong idea- 4 stars and well worth seeing.