Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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NY1 Movie Review: "Koch"

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A new documentary, "Koch," looks at the life and times of the larger-than-life former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following report.

Serving as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, Ed Koch was a one-of-a-kind politician, as well as a unique character. Now there's a full-length documentary about the man, simply called "Koch."

Filmmaker Neil Barsky combines archival footage and sound bites, along with present-day interviews, from friends, foes, former colleagues and Koch himself, to paint a portrait of this quintessential New Yorker.

Along the way, we see how this man rose from a little-known Manhattan congressman to become mayor of the Big Apple, vanquishing six other candidatures, including future Governor Mario Cuomo to get to Gracie Mansion.

Koch was bigger than life and outspoken. To this very day, he still seems to say whatever's on his mind to this very day.

The film covers the ups and downs of Koch's three terms in office, examines the political power he wielded not only in New York, but also on the national stage, and the influence he still has today.

We're offered glimpses of New York City in the 1970s, when the city was on the verge of bankruptcy and how Koch went to Washington to lobby for money. The film also highlights Koch's handling of the transit strike, his bold housing renewal initiatives and the municipal corruption scandal that rocked his administration.

We're also given a glimpse at his roots, from his birth in the Bronx to his childhood in Newark.

I particularly enjoyed Koch's visit to his future grave site in a heavily trafficked cemetery he picked so that he'd get more visitors.

As a native New Yorker who lived through his years as mayor, I wished they examined more of his early years and showed other examples of his entertaining, larger-than-life personality. But at slightly over 90 minutes, there's only so much you can do.

For those who didn't live through it, the film is informative and entertaining, and for those who did, it will bring back a lot of memories.

And if you're wondering if Koch ever wanted to run for mayor again, he has an answer: "No. The people threw me out, and now the people must be punished."

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 3 Apples

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