Volume 78 / Number 21 - October 22 - 28, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“Choose Connor” (-)

Everything in this political drama is apparent from the very beginning. It contains no surprises and very little suspense.

At the opening of the film we meet 15-year-old Owen Norris (Alex Linz), a nerdy and friendless kid. Owen meets his local congressman, Lawrence Connor (Steven Weber), who is running for a U.S. Senate seat and is offered a campaign position.

It is soon apparent that the congressman is interested in more than Owen’s knowledge of political issues. He is clearly sexually attracted to him. Later on we meet the congressman’s adopted nephew, Caleb (Escher Holloway), who by conversation and action also conveys that he is attracted to Owen. The film contains no explicit intimate scenes but does show Owen on one occasion observing Caleb and others in a sexual setting.

“Choose Connor” leaves every issue unresolved. I doubt that anyone in the theater came away richer in knowledge or felt that the film provided a pleasurable evening of entertainment.

HS said: “This movie was a disappointment. It was a slight film. The story is simple: brilliant and likeable, good-looking but socially backward 15-year-old Owen is recruited by sellout closeted ephebophiliac Congressman Connor, running in a Senate primary. Boy accidentally discovers that candidate and henchmen do drugs and sex while they play with another teen, the Congressman’s sister’s adopted 16-year-old son, Caleb (as in East of Eden). He is a rich pothead, but has no friends. Owen is poor and also friendless. The two boys pal around, wrestle briefly but nothing more happens.

“Owen makes speeches and is used as a poster boy by Connor, until the kid wises up to the candidate’s perversion and venality. Owen then runs off, sadder but wiser. The director was there on opening night, inviting audience questions. One that he answered was what kind of film they used. To the others, he said that the film was subject to many interpretations, and he would not choose any. P.S. the film trashes politicians as whores. There is timeliness and partial accuracy in that judgment.”

“RocknRolla” (+)

This film, written and directed by Guy Ritchie, contains more violence than a Sam Peckinpah movie. More violence, frankly, than anyone can appreciate, including me. Nevertheless, the London setting is interesting and the English gang members are fascinating.

The plot revolves around a stolen painting belonging to a Russian mobster, Uri (Karel Roden). Other key figures include the leader of a British gang, Lenny (Tom Wilkinson), Lenny’s drug addict son, Johnny, and the Russian gang’s accountant, Stella (Thandie Newton). Flashbacks are used which help the audience figure out who is who. There are no sex scenes but references are made to them, both heterosexual and homosexual.

Mr. Ritchie is a very talented filmmaker. His picture, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” which introduced him to the American audience, was less complicated and vastly better than “RocknRolla.” Nevertheless, it is worth seeing. You will have to pay close attention to follow what is going on and to understand the accents. Subtitles would have been h lpful.

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