Volume 77, Number 21 | October 24 - 30, 2007
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

“We Own the Night” (+)
I have a small part in this film, playing myself as mayor. So here I am evaluating a movie in which I have an interest — not a financial one since I was paid scale, but a cultural one. I hope everyone will see this picture, which is good but not great, and that it will be an enormous success.

The story concerns a New York City family affiliated with the NYPD. The father, Burt (Robert Duvall), is a deputy police chief reporting directly to the police commissioner. One of his sons, Joseph (Mark Wahlberg), is a police captain, and the other, Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix), runs a gambling operation and reports to a member of the Russian mafia. He ultimately ends up as an undercover on the force.   

Amada (Eva Mendes), Bobby’s Latin girlfriend, carries herself like and reminded me of Jenny from the Block, a.k.a. J.Lo. Their intimate scenes are hot and involve more lust than love. Vadim (Alex Veadov) is a Russian in charge of carrying out contracts to injure and mostly kill people. His actions are reminiscent of the Russian mobsters in “Eastern Promises,” although the latter movie is more graphic and better scripted. 

The acting of the principals is excellent. (I would be interested in your evaluation of my performance.) In his New York Times review, A.O. Scott wrote that the film has a “digitally enhanced cameo appearance by former Mayor Ed Koch.” I was in three scenes with lines in one of them. I don’t know what he means by enhanced. Is he suggesting Botox or additional hair? What you see is the real me. Should I demand a retraction, an error correction or just forget about it? The story is adequate and will hold your interest, but it contains no real surprises which prevents it from being a blockbuster. “We Own the Night” is worth seeing, but it is also one of those non-memorable films that most movies tend to be.

“Lust, Caution” (+)
This movie is interesting in that it covers a period of the Japanese occupation of China and, in particular, the City of Shanghai in the early 1940s. 

One of the lead characters is Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei). A flashback shows her as a young Hong Kong college student. She joins a Chinese student cell organized to kill the Chinese collaborator, Mr. Yee (Tony Leung), who ran a Gestapo-like network intended to protect the Japanese occupiers. She reminded me of Mata Hari, the famous German spy during World War I. 

Mr. Yee moves to Shanghai before the cell can assassinate him. The cell follows him and several years later they are able to implement their assassination plot aided by Wong who is to seduce and ensnare him. The sex scenes demonstrate the many positions of the Kama Sutra with full frontal female nudity. Kuang Yu Min (Wang Leehom) is part of the assassination cell and knows to what lengths Wong is prepared to go sexually to carry out the plot. The performances of all three actors are excellent. 

Seeing Shanghai as it was and watching a Japanese newsreel reporting the victories of the ongoing war against the western colonial powers and the United States adds to the film’s uniqueness. The movie is based on a short story by Eileen Chang. The director is Ang Lee who directed the award-winning movie, “Brokeback Mountain,” also based on a short story. Because “Lust, Caution” moves so slowly, it is occasionally tedious, but its interesting subject matter makes it worth seeing. (In Mandarin, with English subtitles).

“Naked Boys Singing” (+)
When I left the theater after seeing the show, a couple in line asked what I thought of it. I replied that it is very good and similar to a college musical. 

Ten young men sing and dance displaying, as they say in the United Kingdom, the full monty. After recovering from the initial shock of seeing the naked men, I believe audiences will quickly forget the nudity, as I did, and be caught up in the show, which reminded me a lot of “Chorus Line.” In addition to full cast numbers, each of the performers sing individual songs which tell the stories of their lives. None of the songs contain lewd lyrics. The cast, which is totally new, contains no superstars. Each performer sings and dances equally well. 

The movie is not intended to be a romp in the hay. It is more Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney only Judy isn’t present.

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