Volume 78 - Number 49 / May 13 - 19 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“The Merry Gentleman” (+)
Despite its title, this is not a merry movie.  It is a well-done film noir, but too much subject matter is left to conjecture for it to be a totally satisfying picture.  Nevertheless, if you are a Michael Keaton fan, and I am, you should see it.  Keaton both directs and acts in the film and does an excellent job in both roles.

Frank Logan (Michael Keaton) is revealed as a paid assassin at the beginning of the film. His shooting of a victim is witnessed by a young woman, Kate Frazier (Kelly Macdonald), who describes what she saw to a cop, Dave Murcheson (Tom Bastounes).  Both Frank and Dave are attracted to Kate, the abused wife of Michael (Bobby Cannavale), who is seeking to woo her back.

The movie is bleak and creates a constant mood of sadness and mystery.  The mystery pertains more to which of the three men will ultimately win Kate’s heart than to the murders.  I was unsure about a few details when the picture ended, but overall I thought the film was very thought provoking.

“Star Trek” (-)
Three television programs that I particularly enjoyed over the years are “I, Claudius,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek.”  I’m not a Trekkie, but I enjoyed the series, which provided far more pleasure than this current film.  For me, this picture was a total bore.

The movie contains special effects, which are not particularly original but are certainly noisy.  The characters, including the two principals who are younger versions of Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto), are nothing like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who were the first “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

One bright spot in the picture was Anton Yelchin in the role of Chekov. He was both charming and humorous.  The tame romance is provided by Uhura (Zoe Saldana) — who gets the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock to show some emotion.  Leonard Nimoy does well in his role of the aged Spock.  Although old, he is still able to come to the rescue of young Captain Kirk.  I wonder why William Shatner, now a television pitchman, wasn’t brought back in some role.  He would have been hilarious.

At the end of the film, which was sold out, there was a smattering of applause from the audience.  Most of those present were men in their 30s along with a few women of similar age.  If the Trekkies derive pleasure from seeing the movie, that’s all that matters.

For those of you who will be angry with me for raining on your parade, you should know that for me the HBO film “Rome” did not hold a candle to the television series “I, Claudius,” and I didn’t see the 1983 “Twilight Zone” film produced by Steven Spielberg.  For me, the 156 episodes of “The Twilight Zone” could not in any way be encompassed in one film.  In fact, Spielberg dealt with only four episodes.

HS said:  “Surprisingly, this was Starquest’s (HS’s nom de plume) first exposure to the webs woven in Star Trek.  I really liked the movie.   It was more fiction than science, but who knows what we could invent in the future if we do not destroy our own planet first.  The good guys overcome their differences and become best buddies, and the bad guys are incinerated.  What more can one ask?”

“Rudo y Cursi” (-)
Written and directed by Carlos Cuaron, the movie tells its story haphazardly but with a winning measure of swagger and style.  It mixes soap-opera sentimentality with playful, jumpy aggression and dresses a bittersweet, rags-to-riches fable in the bright clothes of pop satire.”

The names Rudo and Cursi are nicknames given to Beto and Tato — which The New York Times’ A.O. Scott translates as “tough” and “corny.”  Having seen the film, I would say “ruthless” and “pansy” (as in sexual innuendo ) are closer to the argot.  The latter word is actually used by Tato when he objects to the nickname, as translated in the subtitles.

The story is of two half-brothers discovered by a charming scoundrel, Batuta (Guillermo Francella), who scours the back areas of Mexico looking for possible soccer stars.  The boys are hired by different teams and a rivalry takes place when they play against one another.  Also exhibited is the skullduggery of their mutual agent Batuta, their love of their mother, and the poverty of Mexico.

All in all, the film is too schmaltzy, much too long and often boring.  I see Bernal as another Johnny Depp capable of playing the widest range of characters.  This movie was a poor choice for his career. (In Spanish, with English subtitles.)   

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