Volume 75, Number 19 | Sep. 28 - Oct. 04, 2005

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

“Garcon Stupide” (+)
This movie was given an interesting review by Jeannette Catsoulis in The New York Times. She wrote: “Extremely explicit, yet not at all sexy, “Garcon Stupide” addresses gay dysphoria with an intelligent script (by Mr. Lionel Baier and Laurent Guido) and a creative use of digital video. While not without obviousness–-such as underlining the mechanical nature of Loic’s love life with a split-screen image of a gay threesome opposite pounding machinery—the film’s dazed atmosphere is rarely disrupted.”

The film is half soft- or hard-core porno, depending on your standards, and half artsy-craftsy so it falls within the rubric of redeeming social value rather than simple obscenity. It works but just marginally.

The 20-year-old male hustler, Loic (Pierre Chatagny), lives platonically, I believe, with his good friend, Marie (Natacha Koutchoumov). Maria, a teacher and graduate student, is opening the world of learning to Loic. There are explicit scenes of Loic and his male customers involving frontal nudity. Loic is also in contact with a man via the Internet who is never seen but whose voice is provided by the director himself, Mr. Baier, who is no Alfred Hitchcock. During the day, Loic works on the production line of a chocolate factory inspecting chocolate bars, a role that is reminiscent of Charlie Chaplain in “Modern Times.” Toward the end of the film Loic tells us that he is no longer homosexual. Don’t you believe it.

This is not a first-rate gay flick with respect to storyline, but the two principal characters are strong actors and will hold your attention. The movie, set in Lausanne, Switzerland, is beautifully photographed. It includes views of the Swiss Alps and a final scene in an amusement park where Luic’s seductive talents are displayed.

“Just Like Heaven” (-)
Reese Witherspoon, a beautiful woman, and Mark Ruffalo, a sensitive guy, are both good actors. Too bad they accepted roles in this silly and saccharine sweet film.

Variations of this plot have been used in movies many times before: two people who might ultimately marry are prevented from doing so because one is near death. Although I never wished death on the woman, the only sadness I felt while watching this film was that I had to sit through this endless garbage.

The story begins cheerfully. Elizabeth (Reese Witherspoon) is a resident physician in a San Francisco hospital with a bright future. Driving home after a 26-hour shift, her car is struck by a truck. In the movie, she is talked about as though she is dead, but she is in a coma, on a respirator. We learn that David (Mark Ruffalo) lost his wife to a stroke and is now very depressed. He needs an apartment and finds one on a month-to-month basis with the mystical intervention of Elizabeth. The apartment happens to be the beautiful one in which she lived. Her spirit appears in the apartment looking fully alive and not knowing her body at the hospital is on the verge of death. How the two principals meet and eventually fall in love make up the balance of the story.

If you are willing to take poetic license to the max, you might just enjoy such a story. But for me this film was simply two hours of drivel. Why, I kept wondering, would such two fine actors demean themselves by accepting these roles? Can the huge sums of money they undoubtedly earned and will use to buy creature comforts in their personal lives have been worth it? My opinion is a minority amongst moviegoers. Even HS with whom I saw the movie liked it. This schlock film was number one in attendance and gross receipts over the weekend. What has happened to quality in American movies?

–Ed Koch

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