Volume 76, Number 17 | September 13 - 19, 2006

Koch on film

By Ed Koch

“Sherrybaby”  (+)
I tried to see this film last Friday night when it opened, but met a sold-out sign at the box office.  I was able to see it the following Sunday afternoon, and it was well worth the wait.

“Sherrybaby” is a superb short story about a young woman released from prison, having served a few years for theft and drug use. Sherry (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is placed on probation and meets with those in charge of her rehabilitation as she tries to get her life in order. Parole Officer Hernandez (Giancarlo Esposito) is dedicated to his job and tough on his parolees. The head of the half-way house where Sherry lives and her employment officer become obstacles for her which she overcomes with sex and favors.  Instead of helping Sherry with her rehabilitation, they willingly take their pound of flesh. 

Her brother Bobby (Brad William Henke), a very decent man, and his wife Lynette (Bridget Barkan), who resents Sherry, are taking care of Sherry’s baby, Alexis (Ryan Simpkins). They want to help Sherry but also protect the child.  Among the people Sherry meets at A.A. meetings is Dean (Danny Trejo), an American Indian who also has problems.  The temptations of alcohol, drugs and sex are enormous for them.  The shock — and I’ll leave it at that — is Sherry’s dad (Sam Bottoms).

Maggie Gyllenhaal is a superb actress willing to give her role everything she has, even if it entails undressing. All of the actors are excellent including the child who is pressured by her mother, aunt and uncle. 
The movie covers much of the same ground as “Factotum” starring Matt Dillon, also an excellent actor. I gave that film a minus rating, however. It is adequate but totally without any emotion other than depression, while “Sherrybaby” provides the hope of ultimate redemption. 

“Hollywoodland” (-)
This was supposed to be the movie of the week. However, the theater I attended for a6:00 p.m. performance was only 20 percent full, so the drums must have been sounding out the message — Stay away!

The story is intended to be epic in the mold of the 1974 film “Chinatown” which was an enormous success. “Hollywoodland,” however, is a dud. Ben Affleck received accolades for his performance and was the recipient of a major industry award the night I saw the film. I thought his performance and that of all the principals were adequate. 

The movie is a docudrama on the life of George Reeves, the original Superman on television. When the film opens, Reeves (Ben Affleck) is seeking to meet Hollywood producer Edward Mannix (Bob Hoskins) in the hope of advancing his acting career. He meets Mannix’s wife, Toni (Diane Lane), and begins an affair with her. Flashbacks occur throughout the movie, and an effort is made to tantalize the audience with the question of how George Reeves died. Was it suicide or murder, and if the latter who committed the crime? I tuned out early on, finding the movie and its plot to be dullsville. “Hollywoodland” is no “Chinatown” in brilliance or excitement.

I asked one of my movie companions if he liked the film. He replied, “I don’t know.” I can tell you that I did not.

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