Volume 16 • Issue 48 | APRIL 23-29, 2004


Koch on Film

“29 Palms” (-)
David Denby, The New Yorker magazine movie critic, spent a great deal of his review commenting on this film’s director, Bruno Dumont. He stated that Dumont’s films are “gaunt and cryptic yet they don’t insult the audience, they communicate their gloomy questions in ways that leave one aroused and unsettled.” Not this one, David.

As I was about to enter the theater, a woman leaving the earlier show wanted me to know that she and her companion thought twice about leaving during the film because it is so boring. She also wanted me to know that the ending is very violent.

David (David Wissak) and Katia (Katia Golubeva) are lovers. Not much happens during the first hour of the film during the couple’s travels through the California desert on their way to the town of 29 Palms. They have periodic sex displaying full frontal nudity. It is not particularly arousing, although it is a little harder than soft porn. It is clear that Katia is emotionally unstable, and I sensed that something was not quite right with David. Having been alerted about the violence, I watched for signs of its development. Sure enough, I concluded early on that the couple had entered “Deliverance” country, with a touch of “Psycho,” as J. Hoberman pointed out. While the end has enough violence for several flicks, it doesn’t make the first hour and a half worthwhile.

As for my companions, HS said the best parts were the desert scenery and the tortured intercourse. HG walked out early in the movie. V.A. Musetto of the New York Post gave “29 Palms” four stars. See it for yourself and decide whose review you trust. (In English and in French, with subtitles).

“Hellboy” (-)
Several reviewers made positive comments about this movie based on a comic series by Mike Mignola. They favorably compared it to films like “Men in Black,” and “The Hulk.”

The flick is broken into three segments. The first is about a superhero monster, Hellboy (Ron Perlman), who looks mostly human and destroys atrocious looking monsters.

In the second portion, Hellboy interacts with other humans and displays human emotions like jealously. He is infatuated with Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) who looks and acts human except for the fire that she breaths. I’m not sure if she is human or part monster.

The third segment, involving the final battle between good and evil, is much more interesting. However, the whole is less than its parts, and when it ended, I wished I had stayed home. Normally I would not have chosen this type of film to review but, once again, there are currently so few truly good movies available . A half-dozen youngsters in the theater cheered and applauded when the film ended, so there is an audience for this film. But, don’t include me.

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