Volume 76, Number 45 | April 4 - 10, 2007

Koch on film

By Ed Koch

“Reign Over Me” (+)

Normally I would not see a movie starring Adam Sandler. He is a good actor, but I think of his films as being of the slapstick genre joyously viewed by children. The plot of this film, however, is totally different than his usual movies.

Alan (Don Cheadle), a well-to-do dentist with a practice on Park Avenue, is very preppie in manner and dress.  He has a beautiful wife, Janeane (Jada Pinkett Smith) and two daughters. 

Alan’s dental school roommate, Charlie (Adam Sandler), has suffered a terrible tragedy. His wife and three daughters were killed on one of the 9/11 planes that went down. Charlie, who has not gotten over his grief, is a recluse, appears to be psychotic, suffers from paranoia and is occasionally violent.

We meet Charlie’s mother-in-law (Melinda Dillon) and father-in-law (Robert Klein) who are concerned about him, notwithstanding his rejection of them. A matter involving Charlie’s inability to function ends up in court presided over by Judge Raines (Donald Sutherland). All of these actors are excellent in their roles and Sandler and Cheadle are outstanding.  

Alan tries to help Charlie by spending time with him. They ride around Manhattan on a motorized scooter, and the Manhattan scenes rival those in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” film.  

Alan has his own problems at his dental office with a patient, Donna (Saffron Burrows), who is also a patient of a psychiatrist, Angela (Liv Tyler).  I won’t ruin the hilarious situation for you by revealing it in this review.  

You will lose yourself in this movie, if you respond to it as I did. The tragedy suffered by Charlie and his response are overwhelming and ring so true. His situation will cause the tears to flow, but the film is not in any way a soap opera.  

The New York Times film critic, A.O. Scott, wrote critically: “The delicate insights toward which ‘Reign Over Me’ at first seems headed, and the psychological subtlety of much of the acting, are squandered in revelations and confrontations that belong in a made-for-TV weepie. Mr. Binder can be a smart writer and a fluent director, but he can’t quite keep his dumb ideas from getting in the way of his good ones.  He’s a bit like Charlie without Alan, spinning his wheels and lost in his own head.”

Scott is wrong. Bravo to Adam Sandler for expanding his horizons.

“Avenue Montaigne” (+)

This is kind of a roundelay — recurring theme — involving a number of people living in Paris who interact with one another. Two of the people are Jacques (Claude Brasseur) and his son, Frederic (Christopher Thompson), who are interested in the same woman, the exuberant Jessica (Cecile de France), who dazzles everyone with her beauty and personality. 

The film contains no violence, no intimate scenes and little interesting dialogue. Nevertheless, I give it a plus rating because it is well acted, provides some enjoyment, and there aren’t many interesting movies available at this time to see. If you understand French, this film will undoubtedly have a greater impact on you.

The best recent love story on the glories of Paris is “Before Sunset” starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  If you haven’t seen it, you would be better off renting and watching it than trotting to the theater to see “Avenue Montaigne.” (In French, with English subtitles).

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