Volume 76, Number 27 | November 29 - December 5, 2006

Koch on film

By Ed Koch

“Casino Royale” (+)
“Casino Royale” is the latest reincarnation of a Bond script that was used in the 1960s. For what it is — a piffle intended to razzle-dazzle — I believe it meets all expectations of the true Bond believer, to which category I do not belong. I am not a fan willing to wait in line to see the latest Bond film, yet I have seen most if not all of them over the years.

Followers of the James Bond films, like the Trekkies of “Star Trek,” know every acting nuance of the previous stars playing the role of Agent 007. Daniel Craig, introduced as the new James Bond in this film, plays the role straight, unlike Sean Connery who displayed much wit and humor in his Bond films.

The story is somewhat complicated but suffice it to say that Agent 007 is directed by his female boss M (Judi Dench), head of M15, to go after an international gang selling drugs to finance terrorism. Special physical effects are used rather than the high-tech gadgets in previous films, and the abilities of the stunt men are demonstrated to the maximum beginning with a superb (although unbelievable) foot chase scene across a port city in Africa. There is mayhem galore, an amusing poker scene, sex involving two women including Bond’s new love interest Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), and great visuals of several European and African locales the most beautiful being of Venice and Lake Como. To keep up with the time, the hero is subjected to more sadistic torture than in prior films.  All’s well that ends well and with James Bond it always does.

Some Bond fans will come away thinking the King is dead, long live the King. Others like me who prefer the prior, more sophisticated portrayals of Bond will say ho hum. But in “Casino Royale” we do get an unbelievable but enjoyable 144 minutes of chase, love, betrayal and torture, nicely acted.

My movie companion HS said, “The movie was a frothy treat which showed a lot of places I would like to visit…so long as people weren’t trying to kill me.”


“The Aura” (+)
This is an old-time, highly suspenseful film noir written and directed by Fabian Bielinsky. Bielinsky, an Argentinean who also directed the superb thriller “Nine Queens,” died of a heart attack at the age of 47 in June of this year.

Every scene in “The Aura” creates tension. The plot involves an epileptic museum taxidermist played by Ricardo Darin. While on a hunting trip with a colleague, Sontag (Alejandro Awada), the taxidermist accidentally shoots and kills a fellow hunter, Dietrich (Manuel Rodal). The taxidermist looks through Dietrich’s belongings and finds a notebooks laying out a plan to rob a nearly casino. He decides to carry out the dead man’s heist.

Other interesting characters include the dead man’s wife, Diana (Dolores Fonzi); her brother Julio (Perez Biscayart); and the gunmen, Urien (Jorge D’Elia). Each of the actors seem made for his/her role. Also running around and appearing at interesting moments is a wolf-dog with two different colored eyes. 

“The Aura” refers to the state in which a person afflicted with epilepsy finds himself just before falling unconscious when he sees things in a very sharp light. The film contains everything you would want in one of this genre, and every scene is somber and often dark.  It is well worth seeing. (In Spanish, with English subtitles.)


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