Volume 75, Number 27 | November 23 - 29, 2005

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

“Derailed” (+)
Although this film did not receive good reviews by most critics, I wanted to see it because I always enjoy watching Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen. “Derailed” is an offbeat film noir with a script depicting an unbelievable crime story that is engrossing and enjoyable.

Advertising executive Charles (Clive Owen) lives in Chicago with his wife, Deanna (Melissa George), and their daughter, Amy (Addison Timlin), who has a debilitating disease resulting in enormous medical expenses for the family. On a commuter train, Charles meets Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) who pays for his ticket when he discovers he has no money that fatal morning. Thus begins an affair involving a bizarre plot, a villain by the name of LaRoche (Vincent Cassel) who is appropriately cruel in his role, and flying bullets in a sleazy hotel.

To reveal more of the plot would ruin the film for you. Suffice it to say that holes and all, and there are many, the script held my interest every minute along the way. I disagree with The New York Times reviewer, Manohla Dargis, regarding Aniston’s performance. She wrote, “One of the truisms about these kinds of movies is that you need just the right ankle to get the temperature rising and the story in gear…”In Derailed,” the ankle in question belongs to Jennifer Aniston, and while it is a very nice ankle, both the actress and the character attached to it are not remotely up to the task.” I found both Aniston and Owen to be superb in their roles.

Interestingly, performances of this movie have sold out while those of a film touted by the critics with rave reviews, “Pride and Prejudice,” have not. New York audiences are unpredictable. With hubris, I assert that I am closer to the beast, sharing its response to films more than most critics. I give the thumb of death to forty percent or more of the films that receive critical applause by other critics, and I often support with laudatory reviews films that they kick down the stairs. This film is one of the latter.

“Pride and Prejudice” (-)
I don’t recall having read Jane Austen novel, “Pride and Prejudice,” but I have seen several films based on her book over the years. This version is one of the prettiest you will ever see, but it is also one of the most boring.

The acting is stylized and the indoor and outdoor scenes are often tableaus. Matthew Macfadyen plays the role of Mr. Darcy who is ultimately successful in securing the hand of Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley). In her billowing clothes, Knightley reminded me of Kate Winslet standing on the ship with Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic.” Donald Sutherland portrays Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth’s father, and although not much is required of him in this film, like an old glove, it’s nice to have him around. As Mrs. Bennet, Brenda Blethyn creates no new personality and, if memory serves me, she simply conjures up the style of all the women who played that role before her. Judi Dench is superb in her role as Lady Catherine de Bourg, but Rosamund Pike, as the oldest and the most beautiful Bennet daughter, Jane, makes little impression in her acting.

Although this film has received rave reviews, for me it was a wasted evening.

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