Volume 78 / Number 3 - June 18 - 24, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“The Go-Getter” (-)
Road-trip films can be great, but this one is not.

Nineteen-year-old Eugene, Oregon resident, Mercer (Lou Taylor Pucci), steals a car belonging to Kate (Zooey Deschanel) and heads for the southwest in search of his half-brother, Arlen (Jsu Garcia), whom he hasn’t seen for many years. He wants to let Arlen know that their mother died a few months earlier and he is carrying her ashes in the car with him.

Mercer’s journey reminded me of the theme in the opera “Candide” directed by Leonard Bernstein. Mercer is always optimistic, full of hope and looks for the best in the characters he meets along the way. They often disappoint him including Arlen who at first rejects Mercer when they meet and then beats him up. Kate eventually joins Mercer on the road trip in her auto.

I was very disappointed in this film, often finding it boring and ridiculous, so I reread the short review in the Daily News to figure out why I decided to see it. The reviewer gave it four stars writing, “An excellent Lou Taylor Pucci stars in this memorable indie, as a loner who steals a car and then bonds with its owner (Zooey Deschanel).” I also read Stephen Holden’s review in The New York Times. He wrote, “What could be a bigger inde-movie cliché than a road trip in which a dewy young pilgrim on a quest is initiated into manhood and discovers the craziness of the world? But you can also view Mercer’s trip as a contemporary variation of a classic American odyssey in the tradition of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.’”

Our standards appear to be radically different. If you decide to see “The Go-Getter,” let me know whose views you support.

“The Grocer’s Son” (+)
This film, the second by director Eric Guirado, is a throwback to the French films that were popular after World War II in the late 40s and 50s. They often took place in idyllic settings of rural France and centered on everyday life. “The Grocer’s Son” is set in Provence where a couple — husband (Daniel Duval) and his wife (Jeanne Goupil) — eke out a living by operating a grocery store. She works in the store while he sells items, particularly vegetables, to people on the outskirts of town from his traveling van.

Antoine (Nicholas Cazale), one of the couple’s sons, moved to Paris ten years earlier after being thrown out of the family home by his father. When his mother visits him in Paris to tell him that his father suffered a heart attack, the prodigal son returns to Provence to help run the store at her request. Antoine’s older brother, Francois (Stephan Guerin-Tillie), lives nearby with his wife from whom he will soon separate. Antoine’s girlfriend, Claire (Clotilde Hesme), soon joins him in Provence as well. All of the actors play their parts well, particularly Cazale and Hesme.

Suffice it to say that the difficult relationships of the principal characters ultimately turn out okay. Arriving at that point, however, occurs very slowly and sometime with repetitive scenes. On balance, I think you will find the film rewarding. When the movie ended, there was sustained applause from the audience which rarely occurs in New York City movie houses. I didn’t think it deserved such a hearty response but do think it is worth seeing. (In French, with English subtitles.)


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