Volume 77 / Number 52 - May 28 - June 3, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“Reprise” (-)
After reading Manohla Dargis’ review in The New York Times, I was looking forward to seeing this film. In her opening paragraph, she wrote, “An exuberant, exhilaratingly playful testament to being young and hungry – for life and meaning and immortality, and for other young and restless bodies – “Reprise” is a blast of unadulterated movie pleasure.”

In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. It was a terrible, incoherent movie.

Two close friends in their early 20s who live in Oslo have just finished writing novels and are simultaneously mailing their manuscripts. The novel written by Phillip (Anders Danielsen Lie) is soon published while Erik’s (Espen Klouman-Hoiner) manuscript is rejected. In spite of the success of his novel, Phillip becomes very depressed and toys with the idea of killing himself. Each time he closed his eyes while walking or cycling the hair on the back of my neck would rise. Erik, disappointed by the rejection of his book, continues to support Phillip in his time of need.

All of the actors including Phillip’s girlfriend, Kari (Viktoria Winge), and Erik’s friend, Lillian (Silje Hagen), are attractive, as Scandinavians tend to be, and their performances are very good, but their good looks and acting abilities didn’t make up for a script that I often found indecipherable. The show was sold out when I saw it at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, and a smattering of applause could be heard when it ended. When I turned to my companions and told them I thought it was awful, they readily agreed with my response. I felt a little better but wondered why my reaction was the opposite of so many other critics. My advice would be to skip this one. (In Norwegian, with English subtitles).

“My Father My Lord” (+)
This film is a small gem that is very much worth seeing.

The movie focuses on an ultra-Orthodox family made up of the father, Abraham (Assi Dayan), his wife, Esther (Sharon Hacohen Bar), and their young, adorable son, Menachem (Ilan Griff). Abraham, the rabbi of a small synagogue, spends most of his day in study and prayer, and Esther is content to serve the needs of her family. Menachem, ruled by the rhythms and demands of Orthodoxy, appears to be a very happy child.

The family decides to take a vacation and allows Menachem to select the location. He chooses the Dead Sea and off they go. When they arrive, the mother is directed to an area where the women have gathered and dad and son join the men bathing and floating in the Dead Sea. The sea got its name, of course, because of its huge salt content which make it impossible for fish to live in but easy for swimmers to float on its surface. A catastrophe occurs just as the Jewish men leave the water to gather for evening prayers.

The tragedy calls into question the mercy and power of the Almighty, what is owed to him by we his creations, what can we demand of him, and for what can we hold him accountable. I am a secular Jew and a believer in God but, I am not observant in ritual. I love my faith and the freedom I believe I have to rant and accuse God of unfairness. I see the observant, who accept all that occurs as God’s unquestionable decisions, as the poorer for their acquiescence.

“My Father My Lord” has a tender quality and evokes a mystical mood which remained with me until I went to sleep that evening. I think you will enjoy it. (In Hebrew, with English subtitles).

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