Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Suspension of Disbelief

There's a lovely little art house cinema in Sydney harbour. It has a beautifully tiled foyer with a circular staircase that leads to a bar or a restaurant above. It plays the sort of movies I like. The snack counter has beer and combo number 2 is popcorn with a glass of house red. I can't imagine wanting to drink alcohol before watching a movie you wanted to pay attention to but that's the sort of vibe here. The screens aren't huge either. And there's a girl who works in the box office, who I haven't actually met but who I'm told is an art college student, who spends her days there chopping up movie posters to make collages of each film. It's a nice touch. My last trip there was Saturday and there was a bride standing on the circular black and white marble floor with her wedding gown spread out having her picture taken from above. I'm sure it was a nice photo. Anyway I saw a film that I'd just decided to watch without any preconception based on a poster I found somehow intriuging. The premise of the film is interesting enough to warrant going when you really think about it, which is hard in these days of internet news. It's hard to consider anything truly amazing when every second email you get shows you something new and amazing, something that without the web you'd never have seen. And to some extent I think that's deadened our sense of wonder. It's blunted mine anyway.

So here it is, 'Man on Wire' is a documentary about a man called Phillipe Petit. In 1974 he travelled to New York and in a brilliant piece of guerilla DIY rigged a steel cable between the north and south towers of the world trade centre and walked across it 8 times. That's it. Wow, I can hear you say. And when you really put yourself there and imagine what it must have been like to see, what it must have been like to do, when you really put yourself there and try to imagine how the wind would howl 450 metres up, how your body would rock with fear then maybe you can bring youself to want to know more. Well that's where I was on Saturday, trying not to let this age of constantly eroding boundaries of amazement kill my jaw-drop reflex as I entered the theatre.

And wow. Really Wow. Whenever I hear people tell me a film brought them to tears I struggle to find the value in that. More often than not I don't want to be upset by a piece of entertainment. Great if a film can affect you in that way but how willing are you to have that happen, to surrender to that manipulation however much it may be worthwhile?

How about this? When was the last time a film brought you to tears of joy? Told you about something which seems merely amazing and showed you in simple convincing terms why it's actually truly beautiful? When was the last time that a quirky, animated, playful, inspiring, talented, driven individual was sketched out for you in ways that make you wish you had a tenth of his passion? In ways that will make you look, at least, if not find, something like that passion for yourself? I can't do this movie justice here but I can try to spread the feeling of real excitement that my sister and I left the cinema with, the feeling that you'd just been let in on a new perspective that makes the light of the world a tiny bit brighter:

Go watch Man on Wire. Today.

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