Volume 75, Number 49 | April 26 - May 2 2006


Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

“Brick” (-)

This film reminded me of “A Clockwork Orange,” but it is not close to being a work of art as was the earlier film.

“Brick” is a reference to a brick of heroin, and the story is about drugs in a California town. The principal figure is Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a small-time drug dealer who exhibits an indomitable will in his physical fights, and a high threshold for tolerance of pain since he continues to come back for more. The story is quite complicated and especially so because the high school youngsters use a jargon that was mostly a mystery to me. Stephen Holden critic for The New York Times wrote that the language “dispenses with the adolescent gibberish of the here and now to graft the hard-boiled argot of Dashiell Hammett onto an upscale Southern California high school.” One example of the language used is, “I want to see the pin,” referring to the kingpin dealer.

Lukas Haas didn’t add much to the role of the “pin” and, indeed, his youth made the role seem ridiculous. Because of the subject matter and argot English spoken, this film could become a perennial favorite of the pre-college set. It received a special Sundance award. Fortunately, I wasn’t on that jury.

“Nathalie” (+)

The French have an affinity for small, well-made films, and this is another fine trophy. “Nathalie” is not a brilliant film like “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” made in 1964 and starring Catherine Deneuve, which is still lovingly remembered by so many, but it is near two hours of rapt involvement with a stellar cast.

Catherine (Fanny Ardant) is a gynecologist in her 50’s whom I would describe as handsome rather than beautiful with a Mona Lisa smile. She learns that her husband, Bernard (Gerard Depardieu), has affairs while away on business trips and decides to find out what motivates his infidelities. Catherine hires a beautiful prostitute, Marlene (Emmanuelle Beart), to service Bernard and report back to her the intimate details of their encounter.

The discussions of the two women are never sordid, and how the situation is all resolved makes up the balance of the movie. The plot has several unusual twists and its denouement will surprise you. (In French, with English subtitles.)

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