koch on film

Bonhoeffer (+)
This is a very impressive documentary about a brilliant young German, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who became a Protestant minister and a mover and shaker among the clergy.

An issue still under debate is the role of the clergy in opposing, and more frequently supporting, Adolf Hitler before and during World War II. Bonhoeffer lead those in opposition, but even he occasionally failed in his strength. The most painful recollection for him was refusing to preside at the funeral of his twin sister’s husband, because his brother-in-law had Jewish antecedents and Bonhoeffer feared the Nazis.

Overall, however, he contributed enormously to getting a significant minority of the Protestant clergy to oppose Hitler. He was part of the group that with members of the German Army tried to kill Hitler in his Prussian battle headquarters on the eastern front but only injured him in the bomb explosion that occurred. As a result of being part of the plot, he and several members of his family, also part of the plot, were hanged in 1945.

The documentary uses films of Hitler as his forces overwhelm Europe and later when he is in retreat because of the Russian breakout after Stalingrad and the Americans opening of the second front. They are supplemented with home movies and interviews with family members and friends who knew him well.

I never tire of watching films about Hitler, because I still cannot comprehend how millions of Germans and many citizens of the countries conquered by Germany could support such fanatical hatred directed at the Jews. That question is even more relevant today since anti-Semitism has reasserted itself in Europe and has never been so high since the era preceding World War II.

I thought this documentary, playing at the Quad Theater, was very well done and well worth seeing.

28 Days Later (-)
When I called HS to suggest that we see this film, he was not happy. He doesn’t like scary films and had read The New York Times review which opened with “ ‘When 28 Days Later’ is not scaring you silly, it invites you to reflect seriously on the fragility of modern civilization…” I pushed the reference to the deeper, philosophical aspect of the film and he agreed to see it. At the end of the film, I said, “It was ridiculous.” He responded, “I liked it.”

The flick opens with an animal-rights group raiding a lab and freeing all the chimps. They are not aware of the fact that the chimps are infected with a rage virus causing very hostile attitudes, including a need to attack and kill. The virus is passed on by the exchange of blood, in this case by the biting chimps.

Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a deserted hospital recovering from an accident and subsequent coma. He leaves the hospital and walks the empty streets of London. Ultimately he meets three other people: Selena (Naomie Harris) who tries to kill him with her machete thinking he is infected with the virus, Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns). The ingenue, Hanah, showed no acting ability and while her father, Frank, was more animated, he was not necessarily a better actor.

The four begin their journey throughout the city looking for other inhabitants, in particular an army unit sending out messages. After meeting the British army contingent, the four have many incidents with the infected sick who act and even howl like animals. The time spent with the British contingent was more interesting than other episodes in the movie. The commander, Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston), has been corrupted not by money but by power.

I wasn’t scared nor was I amused. Adding to my frustration was the Danish Dogma 95 technique leading to no lights and hand-held camera work that makes the scenes often shrouded in darkness and difficult to follow what is happening.

Over the years, I have stayed away from movies such as “Night of the Living Dead.” I truly wanted to like this film; regrettably, it was a disappointment. At the end of the film the question I put to HS was where do we eat? We went to Chinatown and had a spectacular feast.

—Ed Koch


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