Volume 75, Number 12 | August 10 - 16, 2005

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

The Devil’s Rejects (+) 
This movie is extraordinary. It is a burlesque of all the movies that have come before like Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Reservoir Dogs. The movie has victims killed by the dozens and tortured before being murdered. The aggressors include men who are as dirty and ugly as it is possible to be. The women are physically beautiful, but just as, or even more, cruel than the men and surely the most foul-mouthed creatures that you have ever seen and heard on a movie screen.

 While the humor is clearly there, you never have a belly laugh, because while you know it is certainly clever and totally unbelievable, it is acted as though it were a straight script.

 I learned of it when watching Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, the “thumbs up” critics, on television when without discussing it in any detail and only referring to it as the most disgusting film they had seen in a long time, or maybe ever, they recommended it. It sounded intriguing, particularly when I had just seen several films that while very high-minded and subsequently received plusses from me, I did not recommend them with great enthusiasm, because there wasn’t much of a story told on the screen and little action to boot. Here, every second is filled with action; but the language is so foul, it may revolt you. Yet, if you watch “Sex In The City,” none of the words will surprise you. It should become a cult movie. The cast had every B actor you’ve ever seen in similar movies and they were splendid in their roles. Strangely, the theater was only about 40 percent full when I attended on a Sunday afternoon. The plot will not be described by me, because it would make no sense and possibly give away shocking moments. Every actor is terrific: The Sheriff (William Forsythe), Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) and the prime female thug, Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and her brother, Otis (Bill Mosley). These are the bad guys.

 The good guys, or victims are Roy (Geoffrey Lewis) the first victim who we meet alive, his wife, Gloria (Priscilla Barnes) and another couple. They are equally good in their roles. I left out one of the best of the thugs, someone called Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook). She was unbelievably good. The director and writer, Robert Zombie (if that is his real name), is a genius.
 

The 3 Rooms of Melancholia (+)
This is a very interesting film that the New York Times critic called a masterpiece. I would not go that far. It is directed by a Finn, Pirjo Honkasalo, and the film was a collaboration among people from three countries — Finland, Sweden and Denmark — and it is a documentary on Russia. The time is current and the film is a triptych. The first section covers Russian children picked up off the streets throughout Russia who are on average ten years old. They are given cadet training at the Kronigsberg Fort situated on an island off St. Petersburg. The fort is a kind of orphanage, but not exactly since some of the children still have parents who cannot cope with taking care of them. But the children can visit them. I do not know if any of the children are child actors in addition to the other “orphans.” I would think so because they do perform brilliantly.

The second section is basically a trip to Grozny to see the near total destruction of that capital of Chechnya and to meet several families. One cadet gets leave to see his family. His father, now dead, was Russian and his mother is Chechen. He identifies with the Chechens.

The third segment is in the neighboring Russian Republic of Ingushetia, which is also Muslim. The camera takes us to Muslim religious ceremonies and the sacrificing of a sheep. Going into the movie I met a friend coming out and he said, “It’s the saddest movie I’ve ever seen.” It is true, every single person has a terrible story — one 12-year-old girl in Grozny was raped and had to have an abortion in her seventh month. A 10-year-old Muslim boy was sexually abused by Russian soldiers.

What’s missing in this film is an explanation of the history of the civil war. Occasionally, without explanation, we see the theater which Chechen terrorists blew up last year killing hundreds of children and parents of the local school in the town of Beslan whose residents are Russian and Orthodox Christian.

I am glad I went to see this movie, but I am not recommending everyone run to see it. Make your own decision based on what I have described.

—Ed Koch

If you decide to see this flick, let me know by e-mail how you would have rated it. (eikoch@bryancave.com)

- Ed Koch

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