West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 12 | August 22 - 28, 2007

Koch On Film

“Rocket Science” (-)

Avoid this movie like the plague. It is awful. I was looking for a film that would start about 7:30 p.m. so I could make it an early evening. By process of elimination, this picture won out. It would have been better if I had seen a later movie and left early.

The plot of “Rocket Science” involves a ninth-grade student, Hal (Reece Daniel Thompson), who stammers badly and is lured into competing on the school’s debating team. Hal is part of a dysfunctional family. His father, Doyle (Denis O’Hare), and his mother, Juliet (Lisbeth Bartlett), get divorced. The mother later has a disastrous relationship with the father of one of Hal’s classmates. Hal has an older brother, Earl (Vincent Piazza), who torments him by calling him girls’ names like Penelope.

Hal has a near interminable kissing scene with the popular high school student, Ginny (Anna Kendrick), who tortures him with her indifference and dating of other boys. The movie goes on and on but no interesting plot unfolds. I had to fight Morpheus. On reflection, I should have allowed him to win out. You’ve been warned. Stay away.

HS said: “The movie has nothing to do with rocket science. Those are simply two words once uttered by Hal Hefner, an ironic name. The film sounds autobiographical. If so, I feel very sad for the writer/director. The handsome, pubescent hero is constantly humiliated by a mean girl, his sadistic brother and fellow students. If all that happened to me, I too would want to get it out of my system. But why do we have to pay to watch it?”


“Primo Levi’s Journey” (-)

It was a beautiful, lazy Sunday afternoon when I decided to see a movie. I went to The Quad theater where all their shows begin at 1:00 p.m. I hadn’t decided which film to see, but since most of the people buying tickets were going to see “Primo Levi’s Journey,” I decided to see it as well.

Primo Levi was, as most of you know, a Jewish Italian philosopher and highly regarded author who was sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis. After he was liberated, he sought to return home to Italy.  His near year-long journey took him through Russia, Ukraine, and much of Central Europe including Austria, Hungry, and Romania.

This documentary contains a few amusing scenes and some very interesting footage such as a look at Chernobyl after the nuclear explosion, but they don’t add up to a sufficiently interesting film warranting your presence. I did learn that Primo Levi took his own life by throwing himself down a flight of stairs. There are more certain and less painful ways to accomplish that goal.


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