Daily News header

Koch Film Review

By     get stories by email

Bittersweet Biopic Paints Evenhanded Post Mortem on Life and Times of Late NYC Mayor

Ed Koch (1924-2013) was the mayor of New York from 1978 to 1989, a three-term tenure over the course of which the city was beset by everything from racial strife to urban decay to the AIDS epidemic. To some, a feisty leader like Koch was precisely the right remedy for that mix of urban maladies. To others, he was simply too divisive a figure to forge a diverse coalition representative of every ethnicity.

To his credit, Koch did clean up Times Square and bring the city back from the brink of bankruptcy, even if he did irreversibly alienate the black community ab initio by closing Sydenham Hospital in Harlem right after entering office. That controversial move motivated Calvin Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, to say: "He's worse than a racist. He's an opportunist!"

koch
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Ever the optimist, Koch was nevertheless fond of always asking his constituents: "How'm I doing?" Although the feedback he received was generally positive, another African-American detractor, Reverend Tim Mitchell was prompted to respond, "You're not doing well, you're racist, and the people know it!"

So unfolds Koch, a warts-and-all documentary directed by Neil Barsky.

Overall, the movie might strike the viewer as a bit of a hatchet job, but that's only because it opened in theaters on the very day he passed away. And when somebody dies, that's a time for obituaries which tend to focus on the positive, not on "the evil that men do."

Therefore, fans of the film's recently-deceased subject might be distressed to see their beloved hero posthumously pilloried. For, the tough-talking politician frequently takes it on the chin here, from the gay slurs "Vote for Cuomo, not the homo!" which surfaced during the 1977 campaign to the allegations of corruption which sank his futile attempt to win a fourth term in office.

At one juncture, when asked his sexual preference, Koch sort of loses it, responding, "It's none of your [bleeping] business!" To deflect rumors from spreading, especially after a longtime associate, Richard Nathan, claimed to be his spurned lover, he began making plenty of public appearances with Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America on his arm.

Ultimately, the coup de grace was delivered to Koch's career when many Democratic machine bosses holding powerful positions in his administration were exposed as crooks. This forced the voters to face the fact that the man who had originally run as a reformer on a platform promising to clean up City Hall had himself tragically morphed like the characters in Orwell's "Animal Farm" into just another hack politician with his hands in the cookie jar.

The rise and fall from grace of a good Jewish boy gone bad who ostensibly sold out the Big Apple but never summoned up the courage to come out of the closet.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated

Running time: 95 minutes

Distributor: Zeitgeist Films

To see a trailer for Koch:

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

A new movie, UnFair: Exposing the IRS takes you behind the scenes of the devious IRS world, exposing the IRS as blatantly unfair.
Our movie reviewer Kam Williams shares his weekly previews that make choosing a movie fun. Look for movies being released this week such as God Help The Girl, But Always and more
Movie critic Prairie Miller has an interesting conversation with CNN reporter Jane Velez-Mitchell about her book based on the Jodi Arias murder trial.
Movie review Miv Evans reviews the film 'FED UP'. Evans states that the documentary doesn't contain any surprises and or any answers.
Scarlett sets off on a bus in Iran and ends up in the tunnels that lie below Paris. There are encounters with a Grim Reaper, the odd zombie, blood spatter. Fodder for a B-rated horror movie but, unfortunately, not one you'd want to watch.
Movie reviewer Kam Williams shares his weekly previews that make choosing a film fun. Look for films that open this week such as Sin City: A Dame to Kill for, Are you Here and more

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site