Koch on film

“The Bank Job” (+)

I thought this film, which received mixed reviews from other critics, was superbly done. It’s an old-fashioned, rollicking caper filled with good acting and first-rate dialogue, and its twists and turns will delight you.

The plot involves an effort by the British M15 Security Service to recover films taken of a royal family member in flagrante delicto. The photos are being held in a vault by Michael X (Peter De Jersey), a Jamaican leader involved in the sale of drugs and other criminal activity. The M15 agent in charge of recovering the photos is Tim (Richard Lintern) whose character is totally believable.

Tim has had an affair with Martine (Saffron Burrows), a strikingly good-looking woman familiar with both sides of the law. Martine hires a local, small-time criminal, Terry (Jason Statham), to dig a tunnel into the vault to recover the pictures for the MI5 and to steal the money and jewels in the vault for members of the gang. What happens as they dig a tunnel from two stores away and the relationships among the gang members is always interesting and sometimes hilarious. David Suchet as Lew Vogel, the porn king of Soho, London, is absolutely terrific in his role, which includes paying off many members of the London police force.

I won’t reveal any more of the plot, which would spoil the surprise for you. The movie is based on a true story of one of the largest bank robberies in England’s history. You’ll be sorry if you miss this one. When you leave the theater, you’ll have a smile on your face.

“Paranoid Park” (-)

If I could give this movie, directed by Gus Van Sant, a double minus, I would. And if I could punish the many critics who gave it a good review, I would put them in stocks next to the theaters showing this picture. All I can do, however, is warn you to stay away.

There’s very little to report on the storyline for purposes of this review. Fortunately, I’m not paid by the word. It centers around Alex (Gabe Nevins) a teenager in Portland, Oregon, who hangs out with and skateboards with his friends. While I have never participated in the sport, it can be exciting to watch as the skaters rise to the top of the bowl and throw themselves into the air, miraculously landing on their feet unscathed. These guys don’t even skate very well.

Alex also rides the freight trains and has a confrontation with a local watchman who dies in a terrible accident. The weight of the death hangs heavily over Alex. (I found his anguish boring.) My recounting of the story is far more interesting than that flashed on the screen.

In her New York Times review, Manohla Dargis wrote, “Like most of Mr. Van Sant’s films ‘Paranoid Park’ is about bodies at rest and in motion, and about longing, beauty, youth and death, and as such as much about the artist as his subject. It is a modestly scaled triumph without a false or wasted moment.”

One possible reason for her favorable review and that of other critics is the high regard they have for Mr. Van Sant, who has directed some very good films such as “Good Will Hunting,” and “My Own Private Idaho.” His prior successes do not excuse this dreck.

HS said: “I am not as tough on this picture as Mayor Koch. To me, it was a harmless homoerotic fantasy of white male teenagers showing their skateboarding skills on a half pipe in a seedy part of town. The park adjoins railroad tracks used by freight trains which teens hop for kicks. The Times’ front-page review indicated their view that this is a major work of art. It is probably too good for most of us to appreciate it. Everyone keeps their clothes on to the point of priggishness, and the heterosexual sex scene would turn anyone off. Maybe you could call it cinema grunge. Artistic but not that interesting, except to Van Sant devotees.”