koch on film

Friday Night (-)
This French film is a huge disappointment.

The film opens with Laure (Valerie Lemercier) sitting in her car in gridlock traffic because of a transit strike. A man, Jean (Vincent Lindon), approaches her car and asks for a ride, which is not unusual given the strike. Remember, during the 1980 New York City transit strike, people offered rides to strangers.

Jean suggests they exit the traffic and have a cup of coffee, and Laurie suggests that he go with her to a friend’s party. She leaves the car to call her friend and learns that the party has been called off. When she returns, Jean and her car are gone. He soon appears driving her car and soon they are dining together. After dinner, they go to a hotel where lust takes over.

Given the brief story line, lack of interesting dialogue, and a love scene that pales in comparison with most movies made today, I would suggest that you not waste your time seeing this flick.

Tycoon (-)
I had high hopes for this film but it was a disappointment.

It provides a fictionalized history of the Russian oligarchs who became rich during the reigns of Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin when the Soviet Union was breaking up. The vast wealth of the Communist state — its factories, minerals, farms, newspapers and television stations — was up for grabs. Much of it was stolen by a few people who knew how to manipulate the government and the free market.

One of those who became an oligarch, or in this movie called a tycoon, was Plato Makovski played by Vladimir Mashkov. His life is similar to that of Boris Berezovsky who today actually owns vast Russian resources including television stations. Berezovsky fell out with Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin and may be tried by Russia on a host of criminal charges. I believe he is now in Britain and the subject of extradition hearings.

Putin should try to undo the enormous fraud committed by a few people, redeem the assets sold for pennies, and offer them for sale in an honest way. Russia would recover trillions of dollars.

When the movie opens, a crowd in front of Plato’s Moscow office is yelling, “Go back to Israel,” so we immediately know Plato’s religion and ethnicity. We later learn that he converted to the Orthodox Church, which I believe Berezovsky did as well. An interesting character in the film is Chmakov (Andrei Krasko) the honest magistrate who in seeking the truth becomes victim of the government.

The movie tried to be a little like the famous film “Z,” but the director and inadequate script — sometimes simplistic and other times too convoluted — were not up to it. It is a good attempt but, regrettably, not adequate. The Russians used to be the very best moviemakers. Let’s hope they reach the top once again.

—Ed Koch


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