Koch on Film


“Cassandra’s Dream” (+)

Regrettably, Woody Allen has lost his magic touch. He used to make delightful movies that centered on what some would describe as Jewish angst. You can’t do much better than “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Manhattan,” and “Annie Hall.” In 2005 Allen produced a drama, “Match Point,” which I enjoyed but was deemed a failure by many of his fans.

Allen’s new drama, situated in England, focuses on an Irish family. I prefer Allen’s films in which he acts as well. This one he only directs. The plot involves two brothers: Terry (Colin Farrell) and his brother, Ian (Ewan McGregor). Terry, an auto mechanic, lives with his girlfriend, Kate (Sally Hawkins). He is an alcoholic, compulsive gambler and substance abuser. Ian, who works in his father’s restaurant, is a dreamer and a thief. He steals from his father (John Benfield) hoping to fulfill his dream of investing in California hotels. Ian’s live-in girlfriend is Angela (Hayley Atwell).

When a wealthy uncle, Howard (Tom Wilkinson), visits the family, he asks a favor of his two nephews. He wants to have someone murdered. I can’t tell you much more about that plot without spoiling it for you other than to say that after the crime each brother reacts differently and becomes a threat to the other.

The plot has all the makings of a good film noir, but doesn’t deliver, and the movie too often drags. Still, I believe any film directed by Allen, especially one starring two great actors — McGregor and Farrell — is worth seeing. I’m not sorry I saw it, but I wish Allen would return to his own genius, which involves angst.

“Cloverfield” (-)

This is not a horror movie, it’s simply a horrible movie with absolutely no redeeming features.

None of the films opening this week appealed to me. I hadn’t read a review of “Cloverfield,” but when I arrived at the theater complex, everyone was purchasing tickets to see it, and several performances were sold out. So I, like a lemming, decided to go along with the crowd not knowing we were headed for the cliff and beyond. This is probably the worst film I have ever seen.

A surprise party is being held for Rob (Michael Stahl-David), who is leaving Manhattan for a job in Japan. Some of the guests who are in their 20’s include Hud (T.J. Miller), Jason (Mike Vogel), Lily (Jessica Lucas), and Marlena (Lizzy Caplan). Suddenly an alien invasion takes place. Little creatures are splattered around the city along with one enormous reptile, and they proceed with lightning bolts to level the skyscrapers. Rob latter tries to rescue Beth (Odette Yustman) from a crumbling hi-rise apartment building. The film is shot in cinema verite, meaning a shaky hand-held camera that made it even more difficult to watch.

I should have violated my rule of never leaving a film before it ends, but I didn’t want to lose my critic’s credentials. I wasted an evening going to see this rubbish. Don’t you.