Volume 74, Number 53 | May 11 - 17 , 2005

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

“Palindromes (-)

I decided to see this film after reading K. Smith’s review in the

New York Post: “A satiric attack on hypocrites of both the left and right that is sure to enrage both sides of the abortion debate. Todd Solondz’s twisted tale of a teenage girl who just wants to have a baby suggests that this problem has no solution.” Smith gave the movie 31/2 stars.

The movie is awful. I am a reasonably intelligent person, and while I understood the broad outlines of the script, I did not understand some of what occurred including when a girl who wants to have a baby suddenly appears black instead of white. Several young girls are pregnant but all are intended to be the same girl played by various actors. There are distraught parents, pedophiles, and a fantasy scene involving the Sunshine family. Mama Sunshine (Debra Monk) is the center of the universe of a family of adopted children all physically or mentally challenged. The cast includes Joyce (Ellen Barkin), mother of the pregnant girl, Mark (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a version of the pregnant girl, and a host of other individuals with whom I am not familiar.

The director, Todd Solondz, has directed several other films including “Storytelling” and “Welcome to the Dollhouse.” I cannot comment on them since I haven’t seen them, but he was certainly given an enormous break by Smith in the Post review. Smith may be held accountable for this favorable review in the great beyond where, I understand, praising “dogs” is considered a high crime and misdemeanor.

I read Roger Ebert’s 31/2 star review of “Palindromes” after seeing the film to learn what, if possible, I had missed. In his opening paragraph he writes, “Todd Solondz’s Palindromes is a brave and challenging film for which there may not be much of an audience. That is not a fault of the film, which does not want to be liked and only casually hopes to be understood. What it wants is to provoke. You do not emerge untouched from a Solondz film. You may hate it, but you have seen it, and in a strange way it has seen you.”

I found nothing redeemable about this film which has been referred to as a satire. In order to be a satire, it has to contain some humor. There is nothing humorous in the movie nor does it contain any drama to which I could relate. On the other hand, perhaps I am just a philistine at heart and insensitive to what Solondz was up to, but I don’t think so.

- Ed Koch

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