West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 13 | Aug. 29- Sep.04, 2007

Koch On Film

“Bothersome Man” (+)
When I saw this film on a Sunday afternoon, there were five people in the theater including me. One reviewer quite accurately described the movie as a script that could have appeared on the television series “The Twilight Zone.” I agree with that comment and would also describe it as an unusual and disquieting short story stretched out to make a full-length film. 

The picture opens on a lonely, pastoral road in Norway where Andreas (Trond Fausa Aurvag) is the single passenger on a bus. He exits the bus at a one-building site bearing a welcome banner and is met by the single person at the depot waiting to drive him to his hotel. Andreas checks in at a hotel where no other guests are seen. The next morning he arrives at his new accounting job where he is welcomed by his fellow employees and his new boss, Havard (Johannes Joner). 

Andres becomes involved with an odd co-worker, Anne-Britt (Petronella Barker), and they move in together. He soon begins an affair with a second woman from his office, Ingeborg (Birgitte Larsen). Both women interact strangely with Andreas and without passion or emotion, notwithstanding their sexual involvement. Andreas comes to suspect that something is wrong when the liquor he consumes at night has no effect on him, the food he eats is tasteless and, he also points out, no children are present in any buildings or on the streets.

The film moves along in a totally unexpected way. I think Andres represents Everyman, and we the audience are in a strange way watching his life, death and perhaps his afterlife being played out. Strange as this movie is, I think it is worth seeing and that you will enjoy discussing it later on over dinner. (In Norwegian, with English subtitles.)

The film is only playing at the Cinema Village located on 12th Street between Fifth Avenue and University Place.

“This is England” (+)
In terms of acting and impact, this film is a gem.

The year is 1983 when Margaret Thatcher was in office. Graffiti on a wall refers to her as a twat. When the movie opens, we are introduced to 12-year-old Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) who is awakening in his bedroom to go to school. We learn that his father died the year before in the Falklands War, and he and his mother (Jo Hartley) are living in the midlands of England.

One day Shaun, a tough kid, meets and joins up with an older group of teenagers led by Woody (Joe Gilgun), who is clearly quite decent in his relationships with the others. The group members have adopted the hair and clothing style of skinheads but are not involved in violence or racial hatred. When the gang is taken over by Combo (Stephen Graham), who has just been released from prison, the group dynamics change and the members become violent. Some of the kids leave the group, but Shaun remains, attracted by Combo’s style. 

Racial assaults against British Muslims have taken place in England for many years. While there is also an animus toward blacks mainly from the Caribbean, much more hatred is focused on immigrants from Pakistan called Pakis. 

The gang, now led by Combo, becomes violent and even invites a speaker from the fascist national party to address them. Following that address, an incident occurs in which a Muslim storekeeper is terrorized, reminiscent of some of the terror that occurred in “A Clock Work Orange,” which I consider to be one of the greatest films ever.

How it all unfolds will rivet your eyes to the screen. “This is England” is only playing at one movie house in Manhattan, the IFC located at Sixth Avenue and West 3rd Street. Although it has been playing for several weeks, it still draws a full house so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance.

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