Volume 16 • Issue 37 | February 13 - 19, 2004


Koch on Film

By, Ed Koch

‘Latter Days (+)

This gay-theme film is currently playing at the Quad Theater to packed audiences. If it had been produced by a major studio with an appropriate budget, it would have been much better; nevertheless, it is well done and worth seeing.

The title refers to the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Aaron Davis, (Steve Sandvoss), and his fellow young Mormon ministers are sent by the church to Los Angeles to convert the Gentiles. Aaron is given a warm sendoff by his mother and sister, but he and his father have an awkward goodbye finding it difficult to embrace.

Aaron and the others take up lodgings near a group of restaurant waiters, most of whom, if not all, are gay. When the disparate groups meet, Christian (Wesley A. Ramsey), bets $50 that he can seduce Aaron which he does very quickly. The seduction, simply a warm embrace and a returned kiss, are witnessed by Aaron’s mission mates resulting in Aaron being sent back to Salt Lake City. He is tried by the church, hospitalized, and given shock treatment for his homosexuality. What happens thereafter, including Aaron slitting his wrists, his father turning away from him, and the impact upon his lover occupies the balance of the film.

The chemistry between Aaron and Christopher is believable and the acting is superb, particularly by Steve Sandvoss. The movie has a few sex scenes, none that could be labeled as lewd or lascivious. The storyline could have been stronger considering the possibilities, but it is still worth seeing.

‘Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer’ (-)

This documentary, directed by Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, is about Aileen Wuornos who killed seven men in Florida in one year.

Broomfield interviewed Aileen on a number of occasions while she was on death row. She describes herself as a hooker who picked up men on the highway and entered their vehicles. In each case, she says the “John” tried to force her to commit a sexual act that she would not agree to and that she engaged in self-defense when she killed each of them. She also rants a lot about police corruption involving her case. That Aileen’s life was a constant hell as a child and as an adult is clearly true. But her stories about the murders and her defense of them are bizarre and not credible.

Governor Jeb Bush instructed that Aileen be examined by three psychiatrists before execution to ascertain her mental state. Each of them found she was sane. I personally think she was totally loony. Can you be loony and still know the difference between right and wrong? I think so, in which case individuals can be held responsible for their actions and be executed. That is the traditional common law standard inherited from England.

I saw the Hollywood film about Aileen Wuornos, entitled “Monster,” starring Charlize Theron who has been nominated for an Oscar for her performance in that movie. She is a beautiful model in real life, but her makeup and weight gain totally transformed her appearance. She makes more sense as Aileen in that film, but then again she had a prepared script.

I gave this film a minus rating, because it is so monstrous. It is superbly acted, but the quality is similar to a homemade movie, and I learned much more about Aileen from the Hollywood version. If this character fascinates you, my suggestion is that you skip this documentary and see the movie.

- Ed Koch


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