Volume 74, Number 14 | August 04 - 10 , 2004


Koch on Film

The Door in the Floor (+)
I recommend that you see this flick although it is seriously flawed.

Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) is an author and illustrator of children’s books. He is married to Marion (Kim Basinger), and they have a four-year-old daughter, Ruth (Elle Fanning), who was conceived to replace their two teenage sons whose car crash death is gruesomely described and displayed. Eddie (Jon Foster), who is entering his senior year at Exeter, a posh high school in Connecticut, is currently Ted’s summer intern.

The best part of the movie is the acting on the part of Bridges and Basinger. Ted is a degenerate, self-promoting, arrogant and demanding person, abusing others to satisfy his sexual needs. Marion is stoic but clearly grieves the death of her sons every moment of her day. Eddie’s hormones are kicking in, and he masturbates regularly using Marion’s underclothes as his focus. Foster’s performance is adequate but nowhere near the superb performances of Bridges and Basinger. Without revealing the details of a section of the film involving Ted’s revelation of his trysts with Mrs. Vaughn (Mimi Rogers), I can only say it made no sense and destroyed some of the picture’s credibility.

When I entered the theater, a departing member of the audience volunteered, “It’s a great movie; I’ve just read the book, and the film’s script deliberately covers only one-third of the entire story. And what a story!”

If the other two-thirds are filmed, I’ll go see it, hoping that the director has improved the product.

“Maria Full of Grace” (+)
This movie is outstanding. It depicts the lot of a 17-year-old, poverty-stricken Colombian woman, Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno), who works in a flower factory. She quits her job because of the miserable manner in which her boss treats everyone in the shop. She is also pregnant, and because she and her boyfriend, Juan (Wilson Guerrero), have a loveless relationship, they do not marry.

Maria decides to make money by becoming a drug mule and transporting drugs into the United States. She and other women hired by the drug smugglers, Franklin (Jhon Alex Toro) and Javier (Jaime Osorio Gomez), swallow heroin encased in condoms, knowing that if the condom breaks, they will die of an overdose. Intense scenes follow as the frightened women attempt the smuggling during which some of them are caught when they land at New York airfields. The acting is real in its impact and the characters are brilliantly performed by everyone.

A retired detective who saw the film with me said that he thought the plot and the dialogue rang true. A refugee from Cuba who was also with me said that he felt a special bond with Maria and the others because being Hispanic he understood the language, and he identified with the impoverished Colombian families who were victims of the drug culture.

I saw the film at the Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema on Houston Street and Avenue B and it was nearly sold out. It is a terrific movie. Go see it. (In Spanish with English subtitles).

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