offoffoff film



Site links
  • Contact us

    Get our newsletter:
    Search the site:

    Film section
  • Film main page
  • Film archive
  • Audio index
  • Film links

    Top 10 lists

  • Top 10 films of 2004
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2003
    (Andrea, David, Joshua, Leslie)
  • Top 10 films of 2002
  • Top 10 films of 2001
  • Top 10 films of 2000
  • Top 10 films of 1999
  •  All of our top 10 lists, 1999 - 2004

    Current movies

  • Afterschool
  • Antichrist
  • Babies
  • Broken Embraces
  • Dare
  • District 9
  • The End of Poverty?
  • Fix
  • Food Beware
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Pirate Radio
  • Precious
  • Red Cliff
  • The September Issue


  • Brooklyn International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival


    Complete archive

    Recent reviews:
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer
  • The Art of the Steal
  • The Beetle
  • Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
  • Boy A
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • Burn After Reading
  • Cold Souls
  • The Duchess
  • Elegy
  • Enlighten Up! A Skeptic's Journey Into the World of Yoga
  • Five Minutes of Heaven
  • Flame and Citron
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
  • The Human Condition
  • Hunger
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • King of Shadows
  • The Lemon Tree
  • Lorna's Silence
  • A Man Named Pearl
  • Man on Wire
  • Memorial Day
  • Mister Foe
  • Morning Light
  • My F├╝hrer
  • My One and Only
  • Paris
  • The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  • Peter and Vandy
  • Police, Adjective
  • Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • A Secret
  • Sleep Dealer
  • St. Trinian's
  • Thirst
  • Throw Down Your Heart
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor
  • What's the Matter with Kansas?
  • Wild Grass
  • Jay DiPietro

  •  REVIEW: W.I.S.O.R.


    It's 'Bot time

    An engineering team builds a robot that will brave 300-degree heat to fix New York's underground steam pipes in the interesting though slightly mishandled documentary "W.I.S.O.R."


    For those who remember a couple of years ago when it seemed like every week a century-old buried pipe burst, closing Manhattan streets, sparking large fires and opening up huge, car-swallowing sinkholes, here's a look at how you handle an underground disaster like that.

    Directed by: Michel Negroponte.
    "W.I.S.O.R." follows a New York engineering team as it builds the Welding and Inspections Steam Operations Robot, a massive, self-propelled cylindrical pipe cleaner.

    The challenges are immense — W.I.S.O.R. must be able to withstand 300-degree heat in the steam pipes that run under New York, blow up a balloon that will hold the steam back while it works, cut and weld metal pipes, and never get stuck.

    The documentary works best when it respects the drama of its own story. The engineering problem and the struggles of the robot-building team prove interesting enough to carry the film, and some good-natured joking and off-the-subject philosophical ranting break up the seriousness of the project.

    There are even some unintentionally funny moments in the all-male workshop (considering the project's Freudian implications) when the crew exclaims, "We have rigidity!" and later, after a software failure, laments, "This has never happened before."

    Unfortunately, the makers have watered down their film somewhat with a strange machine-voice narration which, rather than dramatizing the man-versus-machine saga, verges on the inane.

    Still, the basics of the techie drama come through and the film is well worth seeing. You'll never look at one of those orange, steam-spewing smokestacks in the street the same way again.

    MAY 31, 2000

    Post a comment on "W.I.S.O.R."