Volume 78 - Number 29 / December 17 - 23, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Koch on film

By Ed Koch

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (-)

The film, directed by Mark Herman and based on a novel by John Boyne, sends a message to its viewers that many individuals involved in carrying out Hitler’s Final Solution, were ordinary, likable people before the horror began.

Eight-year-old Bruno (Asa Butterfield) lives in Berlin with father (David Thewlis) a Nazi officer, his mother (Vera Farmiga), and teenage sister, Maria (Cara Horgan). When the father is called to a new assignment as head of a work camp for Jews, Bruno’s grandmother (Sheila Hancock) makes political comments that causes her son to caution her.
The family moves to a modern house in the country located outside a barbed-wire camp which quickly becomes an attraction to Bruno. Behind the wire he meets a boy in “pajamas,” Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), and the two become friends. I won’t reveal more of the plot so as not to spoil the film for you, but I will say that the events are all telegraphed long in advance and come with little surprise or shock.

If the movie’s intended message is that those who took part in some of the greatest violence ever perpetrated against a group of people – men, women and children – were not themselves monsters but rather caught up in circumstances beyond their control, it failed. Historians have written that anyone who refused to participate in the concentration camps as guards were never subject to physical punishment, so they were able to choose a different road. To suggest that Bruno, a bright child, never comprehended that he was looking at inmates locked in a prison camp is simply ludicrous. So, while the movie is well made and well acted, in my opinion it isn’t worth your time.

“Quantum of Solace” (-)

The film, which takes place in several locations including Italy, Austria, Haiti and Bolivia, South America, is filled with beautiful scenery and lots of action including chase scenes, high-tech explosions, and murders. I expected it to add up to one fantastic movie but instead found it downright boring. Shakespeare’s words uttered by Macbeth, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” apply to this picture.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) takes on a leader of the Quantum organization, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), who plots to control the supply of fresh water in Boliva. Other major characters include a Bolivian agent, Camille (Olga Kurylenko), former Bolivian leader, General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), and head of the British Foreign Intelligence, M (Judi Dench).

None of the cast members are outstanding in their performances, and there are absolutely no sparks between Craig and Kurylenko. Craig plays the role of Bond much too seriously which results in a boring performance. Former Bond portrayers - Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan – came across as very cultured and sardonic and performed whatever they were doing as a spoof which made the films so enjoyable.

It’s either time to retire Bond, get another actor to portray him, or find a first-rate writer to create a better storyline. Until that happens, find another movie to see.

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