The Walk

I awoke later than usual but watched the chef segment of CBS This Morning. Alex Stupak’s signature Mexican dishes included: guacamole with pistachios, cochinita pibil tacos, deviled egg tacos with sikil pak, pineapple lardo tacos, a variety of salsas, and tres leches cake. I headed to the office to do a little work, and I looked up the American Top 40 playlist for the weekend. The Top 10 songs on October 10, 1970 were “(I Know) I’m Losing You,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Green-Eyed Lady,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Julie, Do You Love Me,” “All Right Now,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Candida,” “I’ll Be There,” and “Cracklin’ Rosie.” I did some grocery shopping before heading to the movie theatre for “The Walk.” They gave me a voucher for a free small soda, and so I took a Diet Coke with me to my seat. Not too many people were there for the 12:50 showing of this movie. With the surcharge for a 3D screening, it was rather expensive. The star of the movie was Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I didn’t find his French accent entirely convincing. I’d also say that it wasn’t the best idea to have him break down the fourth wall and address us in the beginning. How is it that someone would want to walk a wire? Philippe Petit says that he considers what he does an art, which I find highly arguable. It’s a skill, but I don’t see it as an art. What does it express, and what does it mean for the audience? They experience some fear and maybe some sympathy. It was interesting to hear the French renditions of pop songs like “Sugar, Sugar,” “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” “Black is Black,” and “Da Doo Ron Ron.” It’s funny how this story is a variation on the caper movie. There’s no money and there’s no escape, however. It was amusing how Petit gradually brings together his band of accomplices, almost like he’s Robin Hood. Ben Kingsley is the mentor Papa Rudy, who passes along his knowledge about setting up wires. It was hard to recognize Kingsley as the same man who was Gandhi back in 1982. I thought the movie showed a lot of skillful filmmaking and was suspenseful and engrossing. I felt that I was holding my breath through about half of the movie. I wondered what happened with Petit’s tooth. He bit on a candy and hurt that tooth. It seemed that he needed a lot of money for this caper but was only getting it from street performing. He needed to travel from Paris to New York, and get a lot of equipment. I don’t think the movie ever really answered the question of why someone would want to walk across a wire stretched between the Twin Towers. It was fascinating how they got it done, and it showed that security was lax in the project in 1974. Petit meets Annie, the love interest in the story, on the street in Paris as she’s singing songs like Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” on her guitar. You can’t look at the Twin Towers now without thinking of 9/11, and so there’s a sadness to the entire story because of a time that’s gone forever. Petit can’t revisit the location again. The whole caper was carefully thought out and planned, but they couldn’t execute it as originally planned. When we finally get to the wire walking sequence, it is tense. I kept thinking that the cops were going to distract Petit too much with their talking. The screen in the theatre wasn’t too big, but the 3D effects were still impressive. I imagine that I could have gotten dizzy and nauseous if I’d gone to see it on one of the huge screens in Emeryville. I kept thinking about what parallels Robert Zemeckis was making between moviemaking and this production of wire walking. To me, the venture was a self-centered one. Petit was doing it for himself and fulfilling his own dream and satisfying his own feelings. Performance art is something that passes, and over the long run, people don’t remember it. How was it that Petit stayed in this country? I kept thinking about the concentration it would take to walk across that wire. You have to give Petit credit for being determined and mentally tough enough and fearless enough to do this. Most people are weak and undisciplined and can only achieve mediocrity. If there is something in this movie that I would point out as important for people to pick up on, it’s that you have to work hard to achieve anything. You don’t casually reach greatness in anything. In some ways, I liked this movie more than “Forrest Gump.” It’s not a movie that leaves you as a passive viewer. Hopefully, the people who suffered vertigo watching it can go back and watch it again on television to appreciate it. It was one of the stronger films I’ve seen this year. I liked it more than “Straight Outta Compton” and “Black Mass.” I would say, however, that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will not be getting an Oscar nomination for his performance. I did see the documentary “Man on Wire” a while back, although I don’t remember it too clearly. I’ll have to say that Zemeckis showed a deep talent in making a powerful film. It could display some more emotional depth, but you also have to remember what Kurosawa said about good movies being enjoyable and easy to understand. Movies have to reach people. What good is it making them for yourself? That’s the difference between Petit’s goal and Zemeckis’. I returned home to listen to the game between the Cubs and the Cardinals on the radio. Trevor Cahill did a good job with his pitching. The Cardinals could not come back from five runs behind. I listened to the Mets and the Dodgers. Yoenis Cespedes hit a home run for the first run of the game. The Dodgers went on to win the game, however. The Batman episodes of the night had Julie Newmar as Catwoman. The Wonder Woman series had truly idiotic plots, but Lynda Carter did manage to be likable. Did they ever explain how the series could shift from World War II to the 1970s with Lyle Waggoner still around? The Star Trek episode was “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” I felt sleepy after I got back from the movie. I had a craving for a fish burrito, but I had spent quite a bit of money during the money. “On the Waterfront” was on KQED. Marlon Brando was great in it, although my firsthand memories of him are those appearances in “Superman” and “Apocalypse Now.” Some of the people who died on October 11 include Chico Marx (1961), Jean Cocteau (1963), Edith Piaf (1963), Redd Foxx (1991), and Gil Stratton (2008). Today is a birthday for Joan Cusack (53), Steve Young (54), and Daryl Hall (69). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 11, “The Bugs Bunny Show” debuted on ABC in 1960. In 1975, Neil Sedaka’s “Bad Blood” was Number One on the singles chart. In 1975, “Saturday Night Live” made its debut on NBC with George Carlin. In 1986, the Dana Carvey’s Church Lady made her first appearance in a Saturday Night Live skit. In 1991, Redd Foxx had a heart attack and died at age 68.

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