Volume 76, Number 20 | October 4 - 10, 2006

Koch on film

By Ed Koch

“The Queen” (+)
This magnificent movie is spellbinding from the moment it opens until it ends. Most of the film takes place in Buckingham Palace and Balmoral, Scotland. The story covers the period from the recent election of Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) and his calling on Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) to the death of Princess Diana in a car accident. Diane is shown in newsreels. 

The reactions of the royals to Diana’s death, particularly that of the Queen, grandmother to Diana’s children William and Henry, was not very nice to say the least.  While the conversations among the Queen, Tony Blair, his wife Cherie Blair (Helen McCrory), Prince Philip (James Cromwell), Prince Charles (Alex Jennings), and the Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms) had to be made up by the scriptwriter, they all ring true.  The Queen and Prince Philip are shown regularly occupying the same bed. I doubt that is true. He has always been known as a womanizer, and I’ll bet he and the Queen have separate apartments.

Helen Mirren is a dead ringer for Queen Elizabeth and Michael Sheen looks a lot like Tony Blair. Although James Cromwell as Prince Philip, Sylvia Syms as the Queen Mother, and Alex Jennings as Prince Charles do not look like the people they portray, it is not an issue because they all captured their mannerisms. The one disappointment for me in terms of the acting was Sylvia Syms as the Queen Mother. I recall the apparent warmth of that woman who was revered by the British people. In this picture, Syms does not convey that quality but rather a doddering lush at the end of her life. Still, “The Queen” is the best film that I have seen this year.

“The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros” (-)
This is a boring film, notwithstanding the fact that it received several good reviews. The New York Times reviewer Nathan Lee wrote that the movie “has charmed film festival audiences from Sundance to Jerusalem with its refreshingly blasé handling of homosexuality, its amiable actors and its delicacy of milieu.” New York Post reviewer V.A. Musetto wrote, “It’s hard to tell the boys from the girls in ‘The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros,’ a tender tale from the Philippines.”

Take my word for it. This film is not worth your time.

Eleven-year-old Maximo (Nathan Lo­pez) is effeminate in speech, dress and mannerisms.  He lives with his father (Soliman Cruz) and older brothers Bogs (Ping Medina) and Boy (Neil Ryan Sese.) The family is involved in thievery. When local thugs threaten to rape Maxi, he is rescued by a police officer, Victor (J.R. Valentin). Victor seems to be an honest cop, but he also appears to be a pedophile who is attracted to Maxi. The question throughout the film is whether Maxi will be molested by Victor.

I have found that too often critics lower their standards for countries not heavily engaged in worldwide movie productions. I think that is probably the case with this film from the Philippines, although I must admit that I don’t know the history of movie making in that country. It had potential and contains several interesting scenes including a murder by the newly appointed supervising police officer. However, it never achieves the necessary tension or credibility needed to hold the interest of the audience. 

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