Volume 79, Number 23 | November 11 - 17, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

Photo by Anne Marie Fox

Gabourey Sidibe stars as Claireece ‘Precious’ Jones in ‘Precious’

“Precious” (+)
This is an extraordinary story with an exceptional cast.  The painful life burdens of the movie’s main character, a teenager named Precious, will cause you to weep.

In the beginning of the film, an extremely obese teenager, Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), is caring for her Down Syndrome baby whom she has named Mongol.  She is soon to give birth to a boy who will be named Abdul.  The horror is that both children were fathered by Precious’s own father — who is the boyfriend of her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique), with whom she lives.

Mary, who stood by and allowed the raping of her child, has ill will approaching hatred toward her daughter.  One of the most poignant and dramatic scenes depicts a meeting at the office of a social worker, Ms. Weiss (Maria Carey), where the mother states why she resents her daughter.  I was pained by the plight of both mother and daughter and wept for both of them.

Precious is shown in a classroom with a half-dozen other girls who become her substitute family.  Without the positive interaction of her social worker, Ms. Weiss, her teacher, Ms. Rain  (Paula Patton), and her classmates, I have no doubt she would have been living on the streets.

The performances of Sidibe and Mo’Nique are extraordinary and spellbinding.  In fact, the entire cast, including Lenny Kravitz in the role of Nurse John, does a wonderful job.

I believe everyone in the audience must have felt the way I did:  How could God allow this to go on and what can our schools and society do to address the problem?  The obvious answer is to provide more educational and training programs as well as money for programs to care for those in need who may never work, notwithstanding the prodding of their social workers.  Clearly, however, we are not doing enough.  The ending of this film, while conveying the possibility of change and a better outcome down the road, does not leave the audience with an unrealistic expectation and happy ending.

I saw the picture at the Regal Union Square Stadium Theater on 13th Street and Broadway which I like very much because of its stadium seating.  The audience was made up largely of young black women.  This film concerns problems affecting both blacks and whites and should be seen by every racial group in our country.  It took enormous courage to make and participate in this film.  Those who did should be rewarded with the honors of the industry and the applause of the nation.

According to The National Center for Victims of Crime: “Incest has been cited as the most common form of child abuse.  Studies conclude that 43 percent of the children who are abused are abused by family members, 33 percent are abused by someone they know, and the remaining 24 percent are sexually abused by strangers (Hayes, 1990).  Other research indicates that over 10 million Americans have been victims of incest. Victims are often extremely reluctant to reveal that they are being abused because their abuser is a person in a position of trust and authority for the victim.  Many young incest victims accept and believe the perpetrator’s explanation that this is a learning experience that happens in every family by an older family member.  Incest victims may fear they will be disbelieved, blamed or punished if they report their abuse.”

Rated R. Run time: 1 hour, 49 minutes. At, among other places, Regal Union Square Stadium 14 (850 Broadway; at 13th St.). For screening times, call 212-253-2225. For the Box Office, call 212-253-6266.

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” (-)
This absurd film, in my opinion, illustrates the contempt that Hollywood writers and producers have for the intelligence of their audiences.

It is difficult to set forth a bare-bones outline of this picture, but I’ll try.  Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), an Army man who specializes in parapsychology, is trained to kill using his evil eye.  He demonstrates this ability by staring at a goat which has a heart attack and drops dead.  Cassady meets a young reporter, Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), and both enter Iraq surreptitiously. 

Flashbacks occur involving Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) the guru who teaches the new army psychic techniques.  Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey) is the serpent in the Garden of Evil.

These four actors are usually excellent in their roles but not in this film.  Their characters are contrived and the film, masquerading as a highbrow Hollywood production, is simply awful.

When I left the theater a young man in his thirties asked me what I thought of the film and whether I would review it.  I said, “It stunk.”  He called over a friend and said, “He said it stunk.  That’s what I love about this guy.”  Apparently my telling the truth about films that I review is viewed as unusual and surely to be encouraged.   Save your money and, more important, your precious time.

On behalf of the movie-going public, I appeal to Dionysus, lord of the theater in Greek-Roman mythology, to chastise the Hollywood punks who bring us such terrible flicks and are so contemptuous of their public.  Then he should punish those in Hollywood, e.g., Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein and Martin Scorsese, who jumped to the defense of Roman Polanski who raped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl.  And, of course, there is Jane Fonda to be properly dealt with.  When captive American soldiers appealed to her, she betrayed them to the Viet Kong.  Include Sean Penn, who praised the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, a bitter enemy of the U.S., who deprives his own people of human rights.  I also appeal to him to influence film producers to be more careful and sensitive in the movies they make.

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” is playing at several theaters.  I saw it at the Regal Union Square Stadium Theater on 13th & Broadway, a quite comfortable theater.

HS said:  “I thought it was absurdly unfunny; a waste of the actors’ talents and the audience’s time.  It is not amusing to see soldiers do goofy and dangerous things under the influence of LSD.  George Clooney is famous enough to make any movie he wants; his only film worse than “Goats” was his anti-American “Syriana.”

Rated R. 1 hour, 30 minutes. At, among other places, Clearview Chelsea Cinemas (260 West 23rd Street). For screening times, 212-777-3456, x597. For the box office, call 212-691-5519.

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