Volume 75, Number 5 | July 6 - 12, 2005

Koch on Film

B“Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (-)
“Yes” (+)

B“Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (-)
The movie has been universally panned, but HS wanted to see it and I acceded. I was properly punished. It is ludicrous.

These two spectacular looking people, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, lent their reputations to a film leaving their talents elsewhere. Undoubtedly, they left the soundstage with huge payments, perhaps even enhanced by their public relations efforts following the filming of the movie. Their participation is disappointing. Pitt’s interviews always display him as an intelligent person unafraid to be totally honest. Jolie’s lifestyle, including her endeavors to assist children worldwide in her capacity as a United Nations ambassador, shows her to be a dedicated person.

A brief description of the plot: It involves two assassins, John Smith (Brad Pitt) and Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie). They are unaware of each others’ profession and quickly marry after meeting on a job. A trick-pony aspect in the movie is that they are separately hired to kill one another. That effort goes on and on, and the film becomes extremely loud and includes more pyrotechnics and car wrecks than ever assembled in one flick. Too much can become boring as it did here, and I nearly fell asleep on one occasion. Jolie and Pitt have exceptional faces and bodies, and I am sure their movies have given lots of people great pleasure and pleasant fantasies. They rob us of any pleasure in this movie, however, because it is so bad. Fortunate for them, no one will remember it.

The last word is from H.S. “Of course, the plot is ludicrous and there was more shooting than in early Schwarzenegger (Commando), but he was so cool and she was so hot (or vice versa) that you kept your eyes on the screen.”

“Yes” (+)
This is a gossamer film and unique in that the dialogue is delivered totally in verse - iambic pentameter. It has neither a sing-song quality often present when actors haven’t mastered the delivery, nor is it the anarchistic, difficult to understand English of Shakespeare.

We are privy to the lives of She (Joan Allen), He (Simon Abkarian) and Anthony (Sam Neill). She, a scientist, is married to Anthony, a wealthy British diplomat. At a dinner where She is looking very sad and distracted, she meets He who is a Lebanese Muslim refugee, former surgeon, and currently a chef at a major catering establishment. He picks her up in a wonderful, adroit way and a torrid affair begins which is lovely to behold.

Adding to the uniqueness of the movie is the presence of a Greek chorus in the form of a housekeeper (Shirley Henderson) who discusses her clients and comments on the state of the world. The use of slow-motion and scenes in Tripoli, Lebanon, and Havana, Cuba, add to the luster and uniqueness of the film. An especially delicious monologue is delivered when a dying aunt talks to She who is sitting at her hospital bedside.

The writer and director, Sally Potter, has brought something new to the art of filmmaking just as Dennis Potter did in his screenplays “The Singing Detective” and “Pennies from Heaven.” (I don’t know if the two are related.) The movie is a treat.

- Ed Koch

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