Koch on Film


Before Sunset (+)

This movie has been widely praised as a blockbuster. It is not. It is well done, with tour-de-force acting on the part of its two principals, interesting dialogue and a modest tour of Paris. It is not a sensational, must-see movie, rather one that won’t disappoint if you set the standard of entertainment at a reasonable level.

“Before Sunset” is a sequel to the 1995 film “Before Sunrise.” Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is a best-selling author on tour, Paris being the last city he visits before returning home to the United States. Celine (Julie Delpy), a songwriter, attends Jesse’s book signing in Paris. The two last saw one another ten years ago in Vienna when she was 23 and he was about the same age. They decide to spend the next several hours together before Jesse leaves for the U.S.

They stroll along the streets of Paris, reminiscing and discussing why neither returned to Vienna six months after their first meeting as they had promised to do. The balance of the movie is comprised of each talking at length, at first with unimportant observations and then confessing secrets to one another and ultimately revealing their marital unhappiness. Each says things to hurt and to entice the other. I feared that the dialogue would dissolve into boredom, but it did not.

Jesse remembers their evening in Vienna as including sex to the point of offering to name the condom. Celine says they had no sex. The issue is ultimately resolved by one of the two recanting. You are not at a disadvantage if you haven’t seen the first movie.

“Spider-Man 2” (-)

It was Sunday of the Fourth of July weekend and a movie was in order. The reviewers gave this film terrific reviews. Joe Morgenstern wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “…the whole movie is a demonstration of controlled fusion, one that goes right from start to finish. Even more than before, this spectacular sequel, which was directed as before by Sam Raimi, draws its energy from a sizzling plasma of humor (Spidey racing against the clock to deliver pizzas in the first of many elegant actions sequences); humanity (Peter Parker washing his Spider-Man uniform in a Laundromat); romantic yearning (does saving the world mean that Peter must lose Mary Jane Watson?); and good old-fashioned super heroism (Spidey soaring above his conflicts into web-based exploits that do full honor to the film’s comic-book roots).”

I am glad that Morgenstern doesn’t do stock market analysis. With that kind of over-the-top selling, we would see a terrific, but unwarranted, run-up in the market. His review of this film cost me and my friends two hours of psychic pain and a wasted evening. I am always reporting on the latest worst movie of the year and this may be it, notwithstanding it is number one at the box offices.

The flick is marketed as one for adults, as well as children who are fans of the cartoon. It is not; it is silly and no better than most of the cartoon movies that have reached the movie screen in the last year. Spider-Man (Tobey Maguie) is still portrayed as an innocent juvenile giving up his personal life and love for Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) so that he can rescue the innocent. His enemy is Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), a mad scientist who, in creating a nuclear inferno, also attaches to his body four huge metal arms that look like snakes and have an independent brain. He is the ugliest and most ungainly monster I’ve seen in a long time. The film is simply dopey, devoid of interest, and boring. Do not encourage more of the same by adding to its cash receipts.

– Ed Koch