Volume 76, Number 53 | May 30 - June 5, 2007

Koch on film

By Ed Koch

“The Last Time” (-)

The comments I read about this film were not very good. In his Daily News review, Jack Mathews wrote of the three main characters, “Sticking with this trio is hard work, and even after their motives are revealed in a drawn-out and absurdly pat ‘surprise’ ending, there is no satisfying payoff .” He is right.

Ordinarily, I only see films that have received good reviews from other critics. Even then I don’t agree with 40 percent of them. In this case, I waived my usual standards and went to see this picture because I really enjoy watching Michael Keaton on screen. His performance is terrific; regrettably, the script is not first-rate nor is it very believable.

Ted (Michael Keaton) is a top-notch New York salesman but a miserable human being who verbally tortures other salesmen with his vulgar epithets. Jamie (Brendan Fraser) is hired from the sticks to work with Ted in New York, and in the early weeks, he appears to be a failure. Jamie has moved to New York with his girlfriend, Belisa (Amber Valletta), and as you might expect, an affair begins between Ted and Belisa. Meanwhile, their company is collapsing around them.

Keaton’s acting is pure artistry involving charisma, facial expressions (tics and all), and compelling body language. Regrettably, his performance will not be enough to carry the film for most moviegoers.

“Once” (+)

I went to see this film after reading Stephanie Zacharek’s review in Salon. She really loved it and summed up her review by stating, “What we’re seeing, and hearing, is an act of creation, and of love, a sweet, miniature echo of the spirit of the movie around it.”

I love Irish films and I’m a fan of folk music so I thought, what could be better than this creation? It is definitely not a blockbuster, but it is a pleasant picture and very appealing due to the quality of the music presented and the natural acting artistry of the two principals, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.  

The story involves a budding guitar player and singer played by Glen Hansard who in real life is a member of the Irish band called The Frames. His old girlfriend moved to London, and he is now singing his songs on the streets of Dublin. Hansard’s character meets a young Czechoslovakian woman living in Ireland, played by Marketa Irglova, who is also a talented musician in real life. In the movie, she has a child and has separated from her Czech husband. We never learn the names of the characters played by Hansard and Irglova.

The two characters are attracted to one another, and when he discovers that she plays the piano, they create a promotional CD of his songs which he hopes to hawk in London. There is a sweet scene between Hansard’s character and his father (Bill Hodnett) who is very proud of his son’s musical talent.  

This film wasn’t Irish enough for me, but it is good and will have to do until the next one is made which I will rush to see. I saw it at the Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema on East Houston Street in Manhattan. The majority of the people in the audience, mostly in their 20s and 30s, applauded when it ended. I snapped my fingers.

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