koch on film

“Secret Lives” (+)
This documentary is one of the best I have ever seen. It is the story of Jewish children from various countries who were saved during the Holocaust.

About 1.5 million children died in Europe during the Holocaust. Those who survived were saved by righteous Gentiles who risked their lives and those of their families to do so, since the Nazis had forbidden people from helping Jews in any way. There were brave souls who gave hiding places to Jews and others who raised Jewish infants and small children as their own and as Christians. After the war, many but not all of the children were claimed by their surviving Jewish relatives and, in some cases, by their own surviving parents.

This documentary follows some of those Jewish children, now 50 or older, who go back to Poland, Holland, and other countries to visit the families with whom they had lived and survived the war. Some of those interviewed are particularly articulate and describe their experience in intimate detail. One of those is Ed van Thijn, who ultimately became mayor of Amsterdam. I met him when I was mayor of New Amsterdam. He asks the final question in the documentary, “How many of us would have done what the heroic rescuers did?”

In the theater, I met Toby Appleton Perl, whom I know, and learned that she is a co-producer of the documentary. When the film ended and the lights went up, I shouted to her, “Bravo. It is a great film.”

Regrettably, the theater was not packed when I saw the film, but I urge you not to miss it.

“The Matrix Reloaded” (-)
This film can be summed up as high-tech dreck and drivel. I enjoyed the original and the first “Matrix” because of its novelty, but this sequel and second chapter is ridiculous.

The film has no major storyline other than the protection of humans in the refuge Zion, located somewhere in the middle of earth. (The Arabs must be going crazy over the name.) The humans living in Zion are trying to defend themselves from computerized machines bent on conquering them and destroying all humankind.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) is intended to be their reluctant savior. He can’t understand why he was selected. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) is his ally heralding Neo’s role with his oft-repeated line, “He is the one.”

Laurence Fishburne, playing Morpheus, is a fine actor, but in this movie he has nothing to work with. He simply utters ponderous, preposterous, pedantic statements. Keanu Reeves was far better in the first “Matrix” creating a personality, if not a character. In this film, he lacks luster and life. The love interest between Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is totally without fire or even charm, and she is devoid of talent.

Notwithstanding all the bullets fired and slams landed by the good and evil forces against one another, no one dies. Apparently they are immune to injury and death, so the combat scenes, which occupy most of the movie, become boring. The 15-minute car-chase scene, referred to in all the reviews and appearing to shatter the mold of such chases for future action movies, is also a bore since, again, no character is killed.

One hilarious moment for me occurred when someone early on asked what Neo was doing and was told, “He’s doing his Superman thing,” a reference to his ability to fly unaided. One reviewer pointed out that this film is not a comedy, and I agree. It doesn’t reach that artistic level or any cultural level except perhaps for children. And for them it is much too violent.

I know that fans are looking forward to the third part of this trilogy to be released in the coming winter, but I for one won’t be wasting my time seeing it.

Ed Koch


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