Volume 16, Number 9 | July 29–Aug. 4, 2003

MOVIE/REVIEWS


koch on Film

By ED KOCH

The Embalmer (+)
The style of this film, particularly the camera work and bleakness of scenes, reminded me of the Italian movies made after World War II like “The Bicycle Thief.”

The story involves Peppino (Ernesto Mahieux), a very short man in his 50s reminiscent of Danny DeVito, and Valerio (Valerio Foglia Manzillo) a very handsome man in his late 20s who looks like a model which he is in real life.

Peppino is a taxidermist and embalmer and Valerio is a waiter. Peppino is enthralled by Valerio’s appearance and seeks to seduce him. He hires Valerio as an assistant and invites him to live in his home until he can afford a room of his own. Peppino throws parties to which prostitutes are invited and soon four people are occupying one bed. Valerio clearly recognizes Peppino’s intent, but chooses not to submit to his advances.

Peppino is involved with the local mob, and the Don from whom he borrows money to buy Valerio gifts, makes clear in a heckling manner that he is aware of their relationship. Valerio meets Deborah (Elsabetta Rocchetti) a waitress who is fired because she has stolen from the store’s cash register. She quickly understands Peppino’s attraction to Valerio when she moves in with the two of them.

Has the plot hooked you? If you want to learn how it all sorts out, and it has a dramatic, unexpected ending, you’ll have to see it for yourself. It’s worth your time.

Johnny English (+)
This film is a spoof on the great James Bond 007 series. The production - acting and script - are thoroughly British and enjoying it requires a taste for British humor, e.g., slapstick, pratfalls and toilet humor.

The plot is ridiculous and requires only a passing reference. A British Secret Service agent, Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson), is assigned to safeguard the Crown Jewels of England soon to be exhibited in the Tower of London. At the same time, Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich), schemes to steal them and plots to be crowned King of England. An early car-chase scene is hilarious.

I love English drama movies with great acting. While I can appreciate British humor films, I usually find them oafish, as is this flick, and will admit they are not my cup of tea. So, depending on your view of our English cousins and their humorous side, you can determine whether or not you would enjoy seeing this trifle. I gave it a plus, but barely.

- Ed Koch


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