Volume 79, Number 37 | February 17 - 23, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“My Name is Khan” (+)
The acting, script and music add up to one magnificent film.  It is a totally different experience than “Slumdog Millionaire,” which was the first Indian movie experience from Bollywood for many American audiences that gave us an appreciation of Indian films.  The script of “Khan,” with touches that are especially Indian, could have come out of Hollywood.  Indeed, while an early series of scenes are situated in India, the movie is overwhelmingly sited in the United States.

The movie, almost epic in its story, is about Rizvan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. He has a staggered walk, makes repetitive comments, always tells the truth regardless of the consequences, reacts with panic to certain colors, and he doesn’t like to touch or be touched.  His condition is a variant of autism, and those who suffer from it tend also to be very smart.

Rizvan, a devout Muslim, follows his brother to America where he falls in love with Mandira (Kajol Devgan), a divorced woman with a son who works in a beauty parlor.  Mandira and her son are Hindu.  A lot happens in this movie, including 9/11, and the anger of some Americans is exhibited toward Muslims (sometimes in the form of assaults).  One such incident causes the death of Mandira’s son who took his stepfather’s name of Khan, which is an unmistakable Muslim name.  The young man is killed by a group of adolescents on a soccer field.

For reasons you will learn if you see the film, Rizvan is seeking to meet the U.S. president to tell him that he is not a terrorist, a compulsive need fostered by his autism.  There are tears and laughs throughout the movie as well as surreal scenes.  All in all, it is a work of art.  It is also a great plus for America’s Muslims — who will applaud the fact the film makes the case they are unfairly discriminated against.

I saw the picture at the AMC Loews Village .  The 6:00 p.m. show which I attended was sold out, as was the 2:30 p.m. show when I was turned away.  The audience was overwhelming filled with Indians, Hindus and Muslims.  I was told by a young Indian woman that Shah Rukh Khan is Bollywood’s major male film star.  He was superb in this picture.

Unrated. 2 hours, 25 minutes. Screening at AMC Loews Village 7 (66 3rd Ave., at 11th Street). Call 888-262-4386.

“Youth in Revolt” (-)
This film may appeal to teenagers, but it did not appeal to me, an octogenarian (85 to be exact).

It is the story of a 16-year-old boy who dreams of losing his virginity and wakes up every morning with starchy and stiff pajamas.  The boy, Nick, is played by Michael Cera and played well.  Cera also plays a doppelganger of Nick dressed more sophisticatedly with a mustache and a French accent.  This incarnation of youth in rebellion is there to egg Nick on to do things he wouldn’t otherwise do to gain attention.

Nick’s mother, Estelle (Jean Smart), is living with her lover, Jerry (Zack Galifianakis), who is quite scruffy and, understandably, not liked by Nick — who lives in the same house.  After Jerry leaves one morning, Estelle is visited by Ray (Lance Wescott), a police officer who brings her the news of Jerry’s death.  Ray soon takes Jerry’s place in the house.

Nick gets caught up in seeking the affections of another teenager, Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), who is much more sexually experienced than Nick and willing to share her greater knowledge.

The movie is a hodgepodge and, as I said from the beginning, a juvenile fantasy.  When I saw the picture, the audience was very young and seemed to enjoy it — laughing appropriately at some clever and some not so clever lines.  What shocked me was that my two companions, Henry Stern and AK, found the film amusing.  No accounting for taste, but those who trust me will stay away.

Henry Stern said:  “One reason one goes to the movies is to be amused, and I found “Youth in Revolt” amusing.  The title is misleading.  Nick is an attractive but shy youth who wants what most males want.  Because of his circumstances (the plot), he has to go to great lengths to find it.  Although I am no longer young, I enjoy a juvenile fantasy, if it is well done.  You should leave this picture smiling.  After all, it is only a movie.”

Rated R; 90 minutes. Currently screening at, among other places, Village East Cinema (189 2nd Ave.). Call 212-529-6799.

 

 

 

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