Volume 74, Number 36 | January 12 - 18, 2005

koch on film

By Ed Koch

“The Woodsman” (+)
This film is not as good as I had hoped it would be; nevertheless, it is worth seeing.

Walter (Kevin Bacon) has just been released from a 12-year prison sentence for a pedophile conviction, having had sex with two adolescent girls. At work he meets Vickie (Kyra Sedgwick) and the two begin an affair. (Off screen, Sedgwick is Bacon’s actual wife and the mother of his two children). Walter is outed at work by a coworker who is angry that he has spurned her advances.

Walter is visited by a local detective (Mos Def) whose performance is splendid. Benjamin Bratt has an interesting cameo performance portraying Walter’s brother-in-law who wants to be helpful but is unable to do much since his wife, Walter’s sister, is very angry with Walter.

Walter has an ongoing obsession and a desire to have sex with young girls. He is attracted to 11-year old Robin (Hannah Pilkes). The child’s own family story will bring tears to your eyes as you worry what will happen to her when Walter, who is fighting his demons, asks her to sit on his lap.

While the film is acceptable on my scales, it does not satisfy because the story is too brief and the tension scenes are too few in number. The best movie that I have seen on pedophilia is “M,” the German-language film with Peter Lorre. “The Woodsman” pales in comparison with that film which you should watch if it is available on video to rent.

Megan’s Law, legally outing pedophiles in the communities in which they live, is not discussed in this film. But the informal and malicious outing by a coworker brings into question the effect upon the sex offender of the public’s knowledge of his history. But what can society do when children are involved? It must take such measures in an attempt to keep them safe from sexual predators. Bacon is not portrayed as a monster in this movie, and for the most part, the audience will like him. But when he is pursuing a child, you lose your sympathy for his problems.

“Fear and Trembling” (-)
This Japanese-language film is boring, and the subtitles are flashed so quickly on the screen that it is difficult to read them.

A Belgium woman, Amelie (Sylvie Testud), is hired by the conglomerate, Yumimoto. She is not of Japanese ancestry but speaks the language fluently. Everyone in the organization has a boss right up to the vice president. The president, who does not impose himself on any underling, is very stern looking.

Some information from my store of knowledge: Until recently, the Japanese never fired anyone, even for incompetence. Incompetent employees might end up doing nothing but sitting near a window. Everyone would know they were incompetent and the hope was that they would quit.

In this film, Amelie is ultimately judged as incompetent by her boss and is assigned to the job of bathroom attendant. A number of funny scenes occur, but it all ultimately becomes very tedious. Because of my obligation as a critic, I painfully stayed until the very end when Amelie finally quits. Avoid.

- Ed Koch

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