Volume 74, Number 22 | September 29 - October 5 , 2004

koch on film

By Ed Koch

“Silver City” (-)
I find it painful that John Sayles is responsible for this movie. Sales, who is very left in his philosophy and a spinner of great stories in pursuit of his version of America, is a great artist. Some of the previous films that he has written and directed include “Lone Star,” “Passion Fish,” and “Matewan.”

This flick does not accomplish either of its objectives: successfully attacking President George W. Bush or supporting the environment. It opens with Colorado gubernatorial candidate, Dickie Pilager (Chris Cooper), filming an environmental commercial directed by Chuck Raven (Richard Dreyfuss) his campaign manager. While making the commercial, Dickie casts a fishing line into the lake and pulls up a dead man. Who the dead man is and why he was murdered make up the balance of what turns out to be a sophomoric script.

Dickie comes across as a fool and without a doubt is intended to evoke the image and campaign of George W. Bush when running for Governor of Texas. Former news reporter Danny O’Brien (Danny Huston) is now part of a private detective agency. His agency is hired to find out the dead man’s identity and whether or not he was a plant intended to in some way embarrass Dickie.

We are introduced to more silly characters like Dickie’s sister, Maddy (Daryl Hannah), who is a junkie and ready to sleep with anyone. Wes Benteen (Kris Kristofferson) is a Western Oligarch who wants to despoil the countryside by creating “Silver City” and filling it with condominiums that will put Vail and Aspen to shame. One actor barely used in this film is Tim Roth, and I’ll bet he doesn’t add this flick to his resume.

I could go on and on but it only gets worse in both plot and acting. John Sayles will undoubtedly make the rounds selling this movie on late night television talk shows. I feel sorry for him and hope that this foolish film doesn’t mean he has lost his talent.

“Zelary” (-)
If you are interested in being entertained by a film providing pleasure, this is not the movie for you. “Zelary” in a perverse way reminded me of the Eskimo docudrama, “Nanook of the North,” but this time the movie takes place in Czechoslovakia during World War II and has an audio track. Don’t get me wrong, “Nanook” was a masterpiece and undoubtedly still interesting to a very limited audience. “Zelary” pleased a lot of critics, but not me. It reminded me of some early World War II American films, one in particular starring Robert Taylor, which for me even at that time was very sophomoric in execution.

A young medical student, Eliska (Ana Geisleraova), is in danger of being revealed as part of the underground as a result of the Nazis capturing two of her colleagues. She is spirited away to Zelery, a hamlet in the mountains, aided by a rural Czech saw mill worker, Joza (Gyorgy Cserhalmi), to whom she donated her blood in order to save his life. Eliska marries Joza simply to hide her identity and blend in with her new community, but she eventually grows to love him. Nazis troops are in the vicinity and ultimately their town is overrun with either Russian or Czech troops.

The film is well done for what it intends to be. However, it was not my cup of tea and, therefore, I cannot recommend it to you.

–Ed Koch

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