Saturday, January 10, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

The Cole family was in the mood for celebrating a birthday last evening and enjoyed a pleasurable double header of frivolity. We kicked off in the structure known locally and beyond as ‘Angel Chef’, an eat-all-you-want (a fee must be proffered for this privilege, naturellement) Chinese buffet facility near the Docks, respected in this household as a fabulous eaterie and a tempting temple of gluttony. As ever, I gorged a tad too heartily but with such a worthy selection of rices, noodle dishes, curries and other treats on offer, it felt negligent not to sample as much as possible. I am a growing lad. I and, I believe, my merry kinfolk departed the place satiated and mildly bloated.

A short and uneventful drive took us to the mighty Gloucester Guildhall for fabulous feature film thrills. Man on Wire is a documentary that examines the remarkable feat (and feet, come to think of it) of Frenchman Philippe Petit, a tightrope walker, who planned and executed an extraordinary plan in 1974: to wirewalk from the top of one World Trade Centre tower to the other. This proved no easy matter and numerous Paris to New York trips were made by Petit and his eccentric cohorts before an attempt was made. Merely avoiding security caused immense problems for the gang while the transporting of getting on for a ton of equipment to the top of the towers meant, unsurprisingly, plenty of effort. As ever when documentary films are made skilfully, the human condition was placed under the microscope and Man on Wire rather brilliantly examined egos (including ‘the clash of’), ambition, friendship, the age-old need to thumb the old nose at authority, amour and that old chestnut, mortality. There was some splendid archive footage of youthful hepcats rigging up practice wires in Gallic meadows interspersed with ‘talking head’ clips of the same dudes, now in their late fifties and early sixties, ruminating, very emotionally at times, on their astonishing adventures. A history of the construction of the WTC offered enlightening insights into a seminal erection and, it goes without saying, much of the footage was breathtaking. Of course, with the sixty year Petit (still as fit as a fiddle) sat there reflecting on it all, one could sagely guess the outcome of the attempt but the film-makers successfully maintained the tension so that the audience was, for the duration of the feature, consistently wondering what was goin’ to ‘appen next. I recommend this film to all. Sources inform me it is available on Digital Versatile Disc as we speak. Hurry, friends.


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin - stumbled across your excellent blog following a link supplied on Sh!teweb.

Trust all is well with you - don't know how to do links to music, but have a listen to Richard and Linda Thompson's (may be best googled as Linda Thompson and Richard Thompson) The Great Valerio, about a tightrope walker ... excellent stuff ...

Anonymous said...

Couldn't sign in as Westy as I've forgotten my password - doh! But you knew it was me, didn't you?

Cole said...

Welcome Pierre-Dude...thanks for visiting and thanks for the Thompsons tip. I am fond of 'Shoot out the Lights' and feel I should investigate more of their work. I must have heard '...Bright Lights Tonight' too, come to think of it. As ever I've got too much to listen to though - a good thing, I reckon.

Knowing your love of acoustic sounds, I'd check out (unless you already have) some of the beardy stuff that's crossed the Atlantic in the last few years. Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, Bonny 'Prince' Billy: all beautiful music. You'd love Calexico too, I believe. Haunting stuff played majestically.

I've noted a *massive* (twentyfold...) increase in traffic on my 'umble site today and have traced said influx from Shedhead. Generally, (apologies if this sounds 'precious', Pete) I'm quite keen for my pages to be tucked away and not read by huge numbers of people so I was ambivalent, it has to be said, about the link being posted. But on reflection, if a small number of charming gentlefolk pop by as a result it's ok by me. It's certainly great to hear from you.

All well here...hope all well there.

See you on a terrace nearby soon.