koch on film


“Thirteen” (+)

This movie, allegedly depicting the lives of children living in dysfunctional families, is a kick in the belly. The 13-year-old adolescents under the microscope of the camera’s eye live in California and are in the seventh grade.

When we first meet Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), she is inhaling a substance with her friend Evie (Nikki Reed) which gives them a high (and destroys brain cells). Tracy’s family consists of her brother Mason (Brady Corbet), and divorced mother Melanie (Holly Hunter) who lives on and off with her lover Brady (Jeremy Sisto). Brady and Mason are the sanest people we meet in the film; Tracy and Evie the craziest.

Evie, falsely claiming that she is an abused child, moves in with Tracy’s family. The activities and behavior of the two girls is astounding: tattooing, tongue and belly piercing, cocaine, marijuana, stealing purses, shoplifting, and engaging in twosome and threesome heterosexual and homosexual liaisons. I had to close my eyes during the piercing to prevent getting nauseous.

The performances of all the principal characters are excellent, but Holly Hunter is superb, as she generally is in every film she appears. My only cavil is that the two young actresses playing the roles of Tracy and Evie looked much older than 13.

Mothers and fathers who don’t have the faintest idea what their children are really doing when they say they are going to the school library to study, should see this film and pick up some clues.

“Le Divorce” (-)

A Merchant-Ivory film which ends up as a total bore: sophisticated bore. It lacks everything. The acting — and it has a huge cast of usually excellent actors including Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Stephen Fry, Kate Hudson, Sam Waterston and Bebe Neuwirth — all of whom fail to create any sense of drama or reality. It never even shows us Paris, since the scenes are overwhelmingly interior.

The plot opens with Melvil Poupaud (Charles-Henri de Persand), a young man married to Roxie (Naomi Watts) who is leaving her for another woman. At that exact moment, Roxie’s sister Isabel (Kate Hudson) comes to visit. Roxie is the daughter-in-law of Suzanne de Persand (Leslie Caron). Remember her as the gamine, luminous star of “Lili” and “Gigi?” Well, she is now in her 70s and playing the role of an upper-class Frenchwoman. I prefer the gamine of yesterday.

Isabel becomes the mistress of Madam de Persands’s brother Edgar (Thierry Lhermitte). The two sisters’ family comes from the U.S. to Paris to help. They include their mother, Margeeve (Stockard Channing) and their father Chester (Sam Waterston). They should have stayed home, having added nothing to the plot. There are several murders thrown in. They didn’t save the movie, but added another yawn. This dog permits me to comment on current France. As a result of the summer’s heat, in real life Paris, 11,500 people, primarily the elderly, died of the heat. Their sons and daughters were away on August vacation, leaving their elderly parents and grandparents unattended and many died. Many would not cut short their vacations to come home and bury their relatives. Shame on the French. The tourist boycott of France should go on for this additional reason.

– Ed Koch