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Reviews for September 30th, 2015

Labyrinth of Lies

Directed by Giulio Ricciarelli


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Opens at Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

The Walk

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

      Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) had always been fascinated with wire-walker despite the disapproval of his father. He hones his wire- walking skills under the tutelage of Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), his mentor. After walking across the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral, he decides sets his goals even higher by planning to walk across the World Trade Center with the help of a few men who he recruits. Charlotte Le Bon plays his girlfriend, Annie.

      Based on Philippe Petit's autobiography, To Reach the Clouds, the screenplay by writer/director Robert Zemeckis and co-writer Christoher Browne fails to effectively bring the story of Petit to life because it opts to wow the audience with spectacular visuals rather than explore the character of Philippe Petit and his relationships. It feels as though the plot moves from point A to point B in a pedestrian fashion while remaining afraid to go darker or shed light on Petit's eccentricities. Having Petit narrate the film from the torch of the Statue of Liberty is very tacky, distracting and awkward---almost as distracting and awkward as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's attempt at a Parisian accent. There's very little room left for interpretation because the narration explains everything to you as though you're not smart enough to figure things out on your own. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does give a decent, charismatic performance, though, so at least The Walk becomes somewhat captivating thanks to his talents as an actor.

      What The Walk feels quite deficient at is what I call truly special effects: warm, subtlety, nuance, tenderness and other forms of humanism. Its CGI, especially during the last 25 minutes or so, look dazzling, awe-inspiring and expensive, but they're merely standard effects since there's nothing actually special about them. The doc Man on Wire had truly special effects because it made you feel a wide range of human emotions and leaves you inspired; The Walk feels mechanical and ultimately leaves you cold and uninspired. One would have to be an unsophisticated, shallow person to be so easily pleased by the sights of CGI without demanding and yearning for humanism, a truly special effect.

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Columbia Pictures.
Opens nationwide.
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