Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“Whatever Works” (+)

I’m a Woody Allen groupie, and even his failures amuse me.  This film didn’t totally work for me, but it is interesting and often funny.

Boris (Larry David) is an idiosyncratic, know-it-all, genius physicist who meets and later marries a homeless woman, Melody (Evan Rachel Wood) — who is young and beautiful. Her mother, Marietta (Patricia Clarkson), shows up unexpectedly and ends up in a ménage a trios. Melody’s Mississippi near-hillbilly father, John (Ed Begley Jr.), also travels north to find his daughter.

The main problem I had with the film is that Larry David, who occasionally as in a Shakespeare play steps out of his role and addresses the audience, was not convincing in his role. He has an HBO show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” for which he writes his own terrific scripts. His performances are marvelous on his own show, week after week, but not so outstanding in this movie.

Woody Allen is always exploring new avenues. While “Whatever Works” isn’t close to his best films, it is far better than most of the current crop of romantic comedies, most of which are schlock.

HS said: “The movie is aptly titled. It worked for me, although I was turned off somewhat by the Woody Allen character’s egomania. I realize Allen was satirizing himself, but why at such length? Overall, I enjoyed the film, which is the purpose of paying to see it. I particularly liked the numerous location shots, which were very New York. The plot was preposterous, but so what? Woody Allen’s work attracts and holds your attention. See for yourself.”

1 hour, 42 minutes; Rated PG-13 (comedy); at City Cinemas Village East Cinema (181-189 Second Avenue). For screening times, call 212-529-6799. For Box Office, call 212-529-6998.

“Lorna’s Silence” (+)

I tried getting tickets for “Inglourious Basterds” on a Friday night after my Bloomberg Radio Show, which airs from 6:00-7:00 p.m., 1130 on the AM dial. The show had sold out by noon that day so I had to wait a few more days to see it. After reading a blurb in the New York Post on “Lorna’s Silence,” I decided to see it. The reviewer, who gave it four stars, wrote:  “From Belgium’s revered Dardenne brothers, the story of a young woman who becomes involved in an immigration scam.”

The picture is good, but far from a blockbuster. It is a Belgian film noir that lacks the sensuality for which the French are famous. I didn’t identify with any of the characters, but the story is interesting.

An Albanian woman, Lorna (Arta Dobroshi), fraudulently acquires the right of legal Belgian residency by marrying a Belgian drug addict, Claudy (Jeremie Renier). Claudy is paid by a crime syndicate for the arrangement. Lorna intends to divorce Claudy and marry a Russian involved in organized crime who also wants Belgian residency. The head of the criminal ring with whom Lorna is involved is Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione). Fabio’s enforcement thug is Spirou (Morgan Marianne).

Fabio, wanting to shorten the process allowing Lorna’s marriage to the Russian, opts to kill Claudy with an overdose — but Lorna prefers to wait a month for the divorce to take effect. You’ll have to see the film to find out who wins out. The movie is well acted but lacks soul.

HS said: “The movie was well done and well acted, but it was a real downer. Every actor was a thug or junkie, except for the one who became a psycho. The sudden ending left the audience unaware of what befell the unsavory characters in the film. We learned how immigration laws are circumvented, and how little human life means to gangsters and musclemen. The title character had the face of a boy. You couldn’t be sure until she stripped for action.