Volume 78 / Number 6 - July 9 - 15, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since
1933
Theater

Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“Brick Lane” (+)
The story is about a 17-year-old Bangladesh woman, Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee), whose parents arrange for her to marry Chanu (Satish Kaushik) who is 20 years her senior. Formerly from Bangladesh, Chanu now lives in London.

When we see the couple in their London home 20 years later, it is clear that their marriage is a loveless one. Chanu is a foolish man and somewhat of a bully to his own family which now includes two teenage daughters. Nazneen takes up sewing in her home to help support the family and also to save funds for a visit to Bangladesh. She meets and has an affair with Karim (Christopher Simpson) the handsome son of a clothing manufacturer. Karim is a leader in the Muslim community who advocates militancy. The balance of the story deals with how the affair is resolved and the impact it has on the entire family.

The acting in “Brick Lane” is fine, but I was never enthralled with the story. It’s a good but not a great film.

“Elsa & Fred” (+)
A gem of a picture about two elderly people who live in Spain.

Seventy-eight-year-old Fred (Manuel Alexandre) moves into an apartment building after the death of his wife where he meets Elsa (China Zorrilla) who is about the same age. Each has a family concerned about their well being. Fred’s family consists of his bossy and argumentative daughter, her husband, and their 12-year-old son. Elsa has two sons. One is a successful businessman who takes care of her needs and the other is an artist to whom Elsa gives money to help him along.

Fred is a quiet and reserved man while Elsa is very exuberant. She sometimes exaggerates about her life, and she continues to drive her car despite being involved in numerous auto accidents. Elsa wants to go to Rome and repeat the scene in “La Dolce Vita” when Anita Ekberg walks into the Fontana di Trevi and her lover, Marcello Mastroianni, wades in after her, a scene replayed several times by Elsa for Fred.

The escapades between Elsa and Fred are wonderful to behold as their relationship warms to that of lovers. Some of those scenes are simply charming while others are over the top. I won’t reveal any of them to you, which are all a joy to behold, so that you will have the pleasure of watching them unfold on the screen. If you are about the age of Elsa & Fred watching them interact will undoubtedly cause you to reflect on your own life and relive past moments as well. Don’t miss this beautiful, modest film which is currently playing at both The Paris Theater and the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan. (In Spanish, with English subtitles)

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