| There were some genuinely funny moments
in KTF, but by and large, it does nothing to inspire me. And if you don't like
religious double entendres like that one, then you will not really enjoy
Jake and Brian
and Anna are childhood friends reunited after 15 year's separation. And the
whole film is about who loves who, and will the priest forsake his vows. Not
really compelling. He will or he won't. Not too many shades.
I will confess
(damn, there I go again), my problem with this film is Edward Norton. Plain and
simple, he falls into the class of film "Auteur" who is magically
capable of running the whole show. Jerry Lewis made that mistake, and Gene
Wilder - two eminently funny naturals who cannot direct themselves. Brooks does
better at it, but even his films would be better had he acted or directed. (And
I don't mean cameos, like M. Night Shyamalan in Sixth Sense). At least Norton
didn't write this one.
And that is that.
Norton does OK,
but as director, he does not know what to look for in himself that he doesn't
already know about. He can deliver anything but the unexpected, and that is
what distinguishes a great comedy director - goading your people into doing
things contrary to their nature, or knowing when to quit. No one can step that
far outside of themselves to deliver that, and that is not a criticism of
Norton. The criticism of Norton is that we are not as in love with him as he
seems to be. And I guess that really is a criticism of us.
From nowhere to
everywhere following on the heels of American History X, Norton will be center
stage for a long time, and though it is tempting for him to do everything
himself, it will be much more rewarding to the body of work he will produce if
he concentrates on one job at a time - direct or act.
But this review
rambles a little, like KTF. Their story is not all that interesting, and I got
the feeling that an entire substory was cut out - meaning the outcast brother
who seems to be important to the flow of events, but never makes an appearance.
He is just - in this version - some convenient abstract.
And we are never
given the satisfaction of seeing the Synagogue Board's deliberation on the
future of the Rabbi Schram - we just hear the results at the end. Possibly more
a casualty of the running time than the written story. There is no reason for
this to drag on, except Norton is wont to explore his characters with too much
detail and not enough depth. And conflict is resigned to the characters
imagining their plights, instead of actually being in dire
to a halt at the end, with one of the principals delivering a gruesome
confession not once but twice, and not just to his beloved, but to an entire
office. Why should anyone have to endure that humiliation? Why would anyone?
Rang false for me, but the audience seemed to like the film. There was a lot of
laughter, and I was laughing too. Maybe I am just OTR. For life.
Of all things,
Eli Wallach, who played Tuco Benedito Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez in The Good
The Bad and The Ugly, is an old, retiring Rabbi. Amazing. And Anne Bancroft is
Schram's mom. And there are others you will recognize.
All in all, not a
bad film, with a few moments, like blending the Harlem Choir into a Jewish
Service, but it could have been less and been more. And the only question I
have is "Where was God?".