Koch On Film
By Ed Koch
Oliver Twist (-)
It is hard to believe, but Roman Polanski turned this classic into a total bore.
I am not affronted that Dickens portrayed his villain, Fagin, as a Jew. However, Polanskis film version of Dickens book has been extolled by the press as a brilliant rendition without anti-Semitism. In prior films, Fagins Jewish religion was characterized by his face, hand movements, skull cap and clothing. Although Polanski removed the skull cap and lessened the caricature of the hooked nose, the audience is reminded that his Fagin (Ben Kingsley) is Jewish by his clothing, the background music, and the fact that when he sits on his prison bed awaiting execution, he shukles (sways back and forth as Orthodox Jews do when praying).
The acting is ordinary and the script in this version is boring. I wont repeat the story since everyone is familiar with it. The only redeeming values in this movie are that the city of London and the period clothing are accurately portrayed. Those details are worth admiring, but it is not worth wasting your time on seeing this film, which, I believe, will bore children as well as adults.
The reviews of this film were overwhelmingly negative, but I decided to see it because the script, based on a true story, sounded interesting.
Mark (Kip Pardue) is living in Kure Beach, North Carolina, where he hopes to save from extinction the loggerhead turtles that come to the beach each year to spawn. He left the Eden, N.C. home of his adoptive parents, Robert (Chris Sarandon) and Elizabeth (Tess Harper), because his minister father could not forgive him for his homosexuality, and his mother did not want to cross her husband or turn her back on her own values.
Mark finds a new possible lover in George (Michael Kelly), and their delicate relationship is remotely examined. Meanwhile in Asheville, N.C., Marks birthmother, Grace (Bonnie Hunt), hires an investigator to locate the son she gave up for adoption after conceiving him as an out-of-wedlock teenager.
The script may sound intriguing to you as well, but in my opinion the director, Tim Kirkman, failed, particularly in the confusing use of nonconsecutive flashbacks. When I asked several people leaving the earlier show what they thought, half said it was terrible or horrible, and the remainder said it was wonderful or sensitive. I would describe it as pretty, in reference to the North Carolina scenery, and also pretty boring in terms of overall satisfaction. What might have been heralded as a sleeper film instead may put you to sleep.
HS liked the picture somewhat more. The large turtles are spectacular, unfortunately you only see them during the credits. The film attacks the permanent sealing of adoption records, homophobic small-town preachers and their submissive wives, and gays who dont take their meds. If you havent seen the Outer Banks, Asheville or Charlotte, the movie may save you a trip.