Koch on Film


By Ed Koch

Lost in Translation (-)

This flick received universal Hosannas to the Highest with one exception — me.

It is hype, pure hype. There is no comparison to the movie it allegedly resembles, Brief Encounter. That movie of over fifty years ago, starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, still resonates with great meaning when its name surfaces. This current movie devoted to loneliness and connecting with another lost soul will not be remembered next year, let alone fifty years later.

The acting is fine on the part of the two principals, Bill Murray playing Bob Harris, an actor brought to Japan to do a scotch commercial. His co-lead is Scarlett Johansson, a newcomer on the Hollywood scene, playing Charlotte, the unattended young wife of John (Giovanni Ribisi), a photographer who is in Tokyo for a brief period for a photo shoot.

The script is devoted to the states of loneliness that two people — a man and a woman — suffer in a big town, where they know no one. Bob has a wife and daughter back in the States. Charlotte is left totally alone when each day and many evenings her husband is elsewhere as part of his gig. The script is deficient. After awhile, some of the scenes make no sense. Often boredom sets in for the audience, as it does for the two principals. Maybe it is supposed to. But, personally, I don’t appreciate a movie that becomes tedious. The scriptwriter and director is Sofia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. One gets the feeling that she may have been the beneficiary of nepotism. Someone else would not be getting the rave reviews she is getting. Some, including myself, believe were she not the daughter of the guy responsible for The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, the reviews would not have been as good.

Because I’m really alone in my feelings contrasted with other critics, my advice is go see it, just to see if I’m getting too jaundiced in my reviews. By the way, the theater was jammed. Interestingly, there was no spontaneous applause at the end of the movie, which you might have expected if this were truly a sleeper of tsunami proportions.


Camp (+)

This is at best a pleasant film, enjoyable but definitely not a blockbuster. It is a combination of the old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland films which had the two putting on a show at school. This has the kids putting a show on at camp and the kids are no longer corn fed and off the farm, as Garland and Rooney might have been. These kids would be right at home in the Harvey Milk High School in Greenwich Village, a school I support, created by the Board of Education for gay teenagers.

The youngsters in Camp all have emotional problems, but boy, can they dance and sing. There is a confused triangle involving a straight boy, Vlad (David Letterle), a gay boy, Michael (Robin De Jesus) who enjoys dressing in girls’ clothing, and a girl, Ellen, who is unsure of herself. Stop worrying. It all works out.

Stephen Sondheim’s appearance is an extra added attraction. He is one of the greatest of all lyricists. But, he is no actor and needs more coaching if they give him another cameo. It’s fun doing cameos. I’ve done more than half a dozen. My best were Woody Allen’s New York Stories, First Wives Club and Muppets Take Manhattan.

Maybe they should call me in next time to be Sondheim’s acting coach. I’m available.

– Ed Koch