On August 7, 1964, French high-wire artist, Philippe Petit, completed one of the most breathtaking performances in modern history. Despite numerous setbacks, Petit and his accomplices broke into the World Trade Center and strung a thin cable between the two towers. Some 1,350 feet above the ground, Petit spent 45 minutes on the cable - walking, dancing, and entertaining the delighted and nervous crowds below. This documentary, appropriately shot like an old-school heist movie, is a beautiful and bittersweet look into Petit's world through his own recollections and those of his admirers.
An oldie, but a goodie suggested to me by my friend Alli. The film opens with a brief introduction to 8 young participants, ages 10-14, as they progress to the 1999 Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee. Early on we meet Angela Arenivar, the daughter of Mexican laborers who paid a coyote $500 to bring them across the border to Texas, April DeGideo, whose father is a former factory worker turned bartender and whose mother collects spelling bee related novelty items, and Harry Altman, who proudly asks the film crew, "DO. I. SOUND. LIKE. A. MUSICAL. ROBOT?". At times it seems like an over-the-top Christopher Guest movie (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind), but you can't help but tear up a little when your favorite contestants hear that fateful bell signal the end of their spelling bee road.
Prepare to be entertained and uplifted as you watch a chorus of senior citizens from New England cover songs by James Brown, The Clash, and Sonic Youth. The chorus is lively and sharp - pushing back when their musical director attempts to cut a poorly developing song from their performance list. This film is equally humorous and moving, due in part to the director's unflinching look at the realities that come with old age. Keep some tissues (okay, a whole box of tissues) nearby during the final performance of Coldplay's "Fix You". Note: I didn't come away with this feeling, but some critical reviewers found the director and narrator, Stephen Walker, to be insensitive and condescending at times. In any case, 88% of reviewers praised the film on rottentomatoes.com.