Volume 75, Number 50 | May 3 - 9 2006

Film

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

“Somersault” (+)

This Australian film is worth seeing. The story is unusual and the actors, all previously unknown to me, are first rate.

Teenager Heidi (Abbie Cornish) is obsessed with sex, and because of her low self-esteem, she is victimized by others who recognize her vulnerability. She, her mother, Nicole (Olivia Pigeot), and her mother’s boyfriend live in Canberra. When Nicole discovers her boyfriend in bed with her daughter, responding to the girl’s advances, she kicks Heidi out of the house. The girl takes a bus out of town and becomes part of a bar scene at a ski resort in Jindabyne. She meets up with an attractive farmer, Joe (Sam Worthington), who is not prepared for a serious relationship. Two homosexual approaches, one by Joe and one by his friend (Erik Thomson), are thrown in as if a touch of bi-sexuality and homosexuality is required for a film to be up to date.

Abbie Cornish reminded me of Lauren Ambrose who is now starring in “Awake and Sing” on Broadway after a brilliant performance in the HBO series, “Six Feet Under.” They are both understated and yet very affecting in their performances. In this film, Ms. Cornish has the ability to convey the emotions of a child in a woman’s body.

“Somersault” is not a kinky film like “Blue Velvet,” but it is riveting and well worth your time.

“Sophie Scholl: The Final Days”

This is a true story about three members of an anti-Nazi underground cell, part of the White Rose group, that functioned in Germany during World War II.

Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch), her brother, Hans (Fabian Hinrichs), and friend, Christoph Probst (Florian Stetter), are involved in preparing antigovernment leaflets denouncing Hitler and his troops in Stalingrad. It is clear that when Sophie and Hans distribute the fliers at Munich University, they will be apprehended and handed over to the Gestapo. Yet they are unafraid, proceed with the distribution, and are arrested.

The camera follows Sophie from the moment of her interrogation to her ultimate death. It is a powerful story because of the certainty that she exhibits regarding her cause, and the serenity, with occasional moments of fear, that she exhibits. Her moments alone, with the Gestapo detective interviewing her, and finally with her parents who are very brave and stand by her, are painful to watch. But those scenes also evoke feelings of great respect for Sophie as well as for Hans who also exhibits enormous strength in standing up to the forces of oppression.

The infamous People’s Court judge, Dr. Roland Freisler, is played by Andre Hennicke. The interrogator seeking to break down and destroy Sophie’s well-constructed and rehearsed alibi, Robert Mohr (Alexander Held), is excellent. This examination of the limited German resistance without any attempt to romanticize it or to add dramatic effects is first rate and deserves your attention. (In German, with English subtitles).

 

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