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Film Clips

Man on Wire, Tell No One, Traitor among capsule reviews of films currently playing in Charlotte


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New Releases

MAN ON WIRE / TELL NO ONE It's been a few weeks since Regal Entertainment Group elected to turn Park Terrace into an art-house theater, and so far, it's led to an embarrassment of riches when it comes to alternative offerings and foreign-language flicks. Coupled with Regal's Manor venue, this increases the chain's number of indie-friendly screens from two to eight; add to that the five screens at Ballantyne Village Theatre in south Charlotte, and local movie fans can expect to see limited-release pictures sooner rather than later – and, in some cases, movies that otherwise would have bypassed Charlotte altogether. Of course, patrons need to actually turn out to watch these movies for the implementation to succeed, and Man on Wire (at Park Terrace) and Tell No One (Manor) are both worthy of the admission price. Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in Sundance's World Cinema - Documentary category, Man on Wire tells the amazing true story of Philippe Petit, a French high-wire walker who in the 1970s could always be found risking his life climbing and traversing high points of note (including Notre Dame and Sydney Bridge). When Petit learned of plans to construct the World Trade Center, he waited impatiently over the years for the Twin Towers to become a reality, at which point he and his supporters plotted to set up a line between the two buildings so that he could cross over with only a thin wire under his feet. Present-day interviews and modern re-enactments provide the piece with its structure, but it's the awe-inspiring archival footage that makes this a giddy watch. Tell No One, meanwhile, is a twisty French film about a doctor (Francois Cluzet) who, eight years after the brutal slaying of his wife (Marie-Josee Croze), receives an anonymous e-mail hinting that she's still alive. Initially complex, the piece's grip loosens with the introduction of a transparent villain, but it remains an entertaining thriller bolstered by Cluzet's appropriately angst-driven performance. Both movies: ***

TRAITOR Tackling terrorism on screen is a dicey proposition, often resulting in a push-pull dynamic of trying to make an entertaining crowd-pleaser that nevertheless can't forget its civic duty to present its ugly subject matter in an honest and illuminating light. Traitor tries for that line drive right down the middle and, consequently, ends up as a middle-of-the-road movie. Don Cheadle (who also co-produced) stars as Samir Horn, born of an American mother and a Sudanese father. Understandably haunted by the childhood memory of watching Pop blown up by a car bomb, the Muslim-American Samir is now an international arms dealer who becomes mixed up with a fanatical Middle Eastern outfit plotting the usual death and destruction against American civilians. With his quick-tempered partner Max Archer (Neal McDonough) in tow, FBI agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) chases Samir across the globe with all the zeal of Inspector Javert hoofing it after Jean Valjean, not realizing there's more to his quarry than he initially believes. Operating from a story he co-wrote with Steve Martin, director Jeffrey Nachmanoff works hard to present Samir Horn as what most Americans will consider that most outrageous of characters: a sympathetic terrorist. It's a risky approach aided by Cheadle's understated performance, but it's rendered null and void by a twist that largely turns this into a standard thriller. Still, the film is overall more thoughtful than jingoistic, even if it does little to advance audience understanding of the War on Terror and its multi-tentacled morality plays. **1/2

Current Releases

BOTTLE SHOCK To lay it out in terms that both an oenophile and a cineast would understand, if Sideways is the cinematic equivalent of an unopened bottle of the 1945 Mouton-Rothschild, then Bottle Shock figures to be akin to a plastic cup filled with 2007 Boone's Farm Country Kwencher. The movie's catchy, based-on-fact premise contends that, in 1976, a wine tasting event between France (considered the world's best producer of vin) and California (whose wineries weren't on anyone's radar) helped put The Golden State's Napa Valley on the international map. The vintner who organizes the event is Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), a Brit living in Paris, and as long as the film focuses on his exploits as he travels to California to sample the wines, the movie's in good hands: Watching Rickman's quizzical expression as his snobbish character bites into a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken is probably the picture's high point. But whereas Sideways insisted on retaining the wine culture itself as a central player – that film made it clear that wine wasn't just a beverage but a life-force for its characters – this drowsy undertaking devotes far too much of its running time to the familial tensions between vineyard proprietor Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman) and his slacker son Bo (Chris Pine), and even more to a tepid love triangle between Bo, hottie intern Sam (Rachael Taylor) and Bo's best friend Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez). Nothing any of these people say is particularly interesting, leaving audiences wishing that they – and the movie – would just put a cork in it. *1/2


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