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Man on Wire

Magnolia
Movie B+
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 6.75 (out of 10)

Philippe Petit is one of the greatest, most fantastic nuts to ever walk the planet--or, more specifically, walk a tightrope. In 1974, he rigged up a wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center while they were still being constructed, and took himself on a little stroll. He made eight crossings, spending 45 minutes on the wire.

This film features the present-day Petit reminiscing about his illegal, incredible act. While there is no film of his actual walk, there are plenty of stills, and they are breathtaking. Petit filmed himself preparing and training for his walk, and much of that footage shows up in the movie as well. His brazen attitude in the new interviews offers clear evidence that Petit hasn't lost any of his mischievous spark in the intervening 35 years.

It's remarkable to find out how the man pulled it off. I remember seeing Petit in the circus when I was a kid, and the program had a picture of Petit's Twin Towers event. (He bragged that he would walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope next.) Unbelievably, Petit made multiple trips into the towers--including unauthorized areas--to map out his stunt. Without anybody knowing, he got all of his equipment, including his balancing poll, up the elevators to the observation deck. (He dressed like a construction worker.)

Having grown up in the Evil Knievel era, I saw a lot of crazy stunts in my time (like when he jumped over a tank of sharks; what an asshole). None of them topped what Petit managed in 1974. His survival was some kind of miracle: He didn't cross that wire once, but multiple times, even lying down on the wire and looking skyward while talking to a seagull. The DVD sleeve calls his stunt "the artistic crime of the century." Well said.

Special Features: The short film about Petit's 1973 Sydney Harbour Bridge crossing is as cool as the feature film. Petit admits that he had already been arrested more than 600 times for street performances and stunts. There's also a terrific animated short film called The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. It's told like a children's story, narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal, and it's quite enchanting.


Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Weinstein
Movie B+
Special Features F
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

This surprise winner for Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) at this year's Golden Globes is undoubtedly the finest work Woody Allen has put on screen in years. Penélope Cruz is on fire as Maria, the crazed ex-girlfriend of a painter (Javier Bardem) having relationships with two American women (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall) traveling in Spain.

Allen provides one of his funniest scripts in what seems like forever, but the performers are the true reason this film works so well. Hall is fantastic as the seemingly more sensible American, and Bardem is charming and funny. Cruz, however, steals the show, putting up some of 2008's best and funniest work; she rifles off hilarious lines at breakneck speed. Even when Allen's script gets a little dopey in the end, Cruz and company make it work.

My god ... Woody Allen actually made a great movie in the new millennium. It still hasn't quite sunk in yet.

Special Features: You'll get nothing. There is no reason why they couldn't have come up with some extras for us to check out. I'm not impressed.


Aqua Teen Hunger Force 6

Warner
Show A-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

I must confess: I don't watch this show in between DVD releases. It's always a blast to shove a DVD in the player and watch a bunch of them in a row. Master Shake, Meatwad and Frylock have lost none of their eccentric charms, and Carl is still astonishingly disgusting. Still, I make no effort to watch the show on the air. Does this make me a bad person? Am I not a proper ATHF fan? These are questions I ask myself, but I will not bother to explore those queries here any further, for they are boring.

Things just get stranger as this show progresses. The first episode of this season has Carl selling the Aqua Teen house to a bunch of robots who harass him and then burn off his shoulder hair. It's accurate to say that there's never been anything like this show before, and there never will be again.

I just made some attempts to accurately describe some of the episodes I've watched. In the end, it's just best to tell you this stuff is insane; it's an acquired taste.

Special Features: A bizarre section called "I'm Pissed" features our precious Carl ranting in multiple segments about sports figures like Joe Torre, the Manning brothers and others. This, alone, is worth the price of the DVD, and it's 1,000 times better than SportsCenter. Terror Phone is actually a live-action film about, well, a terror phone, and it's disconcertingly strange.

More by Bob Grimm

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