Volume 76, Number 12 | August 9 - 15, 2006

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

“Miami Vice” (+)
My favorite television cop shows were “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue,” and the failed series, “Cop Rock,” all created by Steven Bochco. I didn’t watch the “Miami Vice” series, but I interfaced with the show when I was mayor. A poster was circulated depicting me as Sonny Crockett and then governor Mario Cuomo as Ricardo Tubbs. After speaking with the governor, I called the company distributing the poster and told them that although we loved it, New York law required them to receive our permission before using our images for commercial use if they were to sell it.

I was asked how much we wanted for our consent, and I said 15 cents total for the two of us which we would donate to charity. They said okay, but I don’t recall ever receiving any payment, and I doubt any posters were sold. That framed poster, hanging on my living room wall, won’t be sold on eBay. It, along with other memorabilia, will eventually be donated to the New York Historical Society and the Museum of the City of New York.

I enjoyed the “Miami Vice” film tremendously. Two Miami detectives are asked to break up a Colombian drug empire after a federal drug force failed to do so because of a leak in one of its agencies. The managing partner of the drug gang is Jose Yero (John Ortiz), who does a terrific job in establishing an atmosphere of violence. Isabella (Gong Li) is the wife of the drug lord, Montoya (Luis Tosar). She is seduced by and becomes infatuated with Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell). Law enforcement agent Trudy Joplin (Naomie Harris) is the love interest of Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx). I frankly didn’t think Farrell or Foxx were particularly brilliant in their roles, but they were certainly adequate.

In his New York Times review, A.O. Scott wrote, “Mixing pop savvy with startling formal ambition, Mr. Mann transforms what is essentially a long, fairly predictable cop-show episode into a dazzling (and sometimes daft) Wagnerian spectacle. He fuses music, pulsating color and high drama into something that is occasionally nonsensical and frequently sublime. ‘Miami Vice’ is an action picture for people who dig experimental art films, and vice versa.”

I agree with Mr. Scott’s review. This film works because of its rhythmic components, music, constant action, and special explosion effects. You will enjoy it.

HS: “I found the movie difficult to understand. It began sans any title in a Latino nightclub scene which I thought would never end. The speed boats were great and the scenery beautiful. As to the plot, you don’t see movies like this for the plot.”

13 Tzameti (+)
My eyes did not leave the screen from the opening scene to the end of this film. “13 Tzameti” is a superb movie experience.

The story is a mystery from the very beginning. Sebastien (Georges Babluani), is hired to repair the roof of a house in the small French town where he lives. Questions immediately arise. Who is the owner of the house? (Jean-Francois, played by Philippe Passon.) Why did he collapse on the beach outside his home? What is the significance of the letter that he receives and Sebastien steals? As a result of the instructions in that letter, Sebastien begins a journey not knowing that he is headed toward a bizarre moment which will threaten his life. Will he or won’t he escape? And so it goes, exciting until the very last frame.

Watching this fascinating movie, I immediately thought of “Eyes Wide Shut,” directed by Stanley Kubrick. That grandiose production, which sought to create the same sense of cultism and death, cost a fortune to produce and failed miserably in achieving its goal. “13 Tzameti” reaches its goal and does it on a shoestring. Why? Because of the genius of its director, Gela Babluani, a Georgian filmmaker who used his talented brother, Georges, in the lead part. Ethnic families are generally very close and Georges fortunately had the needed acting ability to carry the role. The movie is playing at the Film Forum. (In French, with English subtitles.)

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