Volume 78 - Number 48 / May 6 - 12 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“Il Divo” (+) 
This engrossing docudrama concerns the Italian politician Giulio Andreotti.  Christian Democratic Party member Andreotti (Toni Servillo) began his political career in 1972 and continued to 1992 when he led his last government.  He was elected Prime Minister of Italy on seven different occasions. During his political career , he also served as the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Interior.  One of Andreotti’s nicknames was Il Divo.

The movie opens with a spree of killings — which we learn took place over a 20-year period.  The film depicts how Andreotti eliminated his enemies both within and outside the Party.  At the end of his career, he was brought to trial for conspiring with the Mafia and also charged with several murders.  At the time of his trial, the number one Mafia boss, Toto Riina, had also been placed on trial.

Aldo Moro, an adversary of Andreotti for leadership in the Christian Democratic Party, was also a two-time Prime Minister of Italy.  Moro was killed in 1978 by the Red Brigades, a terrorist organization.  Andreotti was blamed for Moro’s death because he refused to negotiate with the Red Brigades for Moro’s ransom and release.  When I was mayor, I was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to join an American entourage, led by his mother Lillian Carter, to attend Moro’s funeral.

American audiences will occasionally find the film a bit boring, simply because we are not familiar with many of the personalities involved in the political scheming.  The movie is definitely worth seeing, however, because of its subject matter and particularly because of Toni Servillo’s spectacular performance.  Adding to the interest of the film is the background music, which consists of composers ranging from Vivaldi to Sibelius.  (In Italian, with English subtitles).

“Tyson” (+)
Frankly, I debated with myself whether a plus or minus rating was warranted. Any movie that I see is seen through two prisms — mine and what I perceive to be the public’s. By that I mean, that I ask myself, do I like the movie — and if I do not like it, am I being ridiculous and unreasonably out of step?

I think fighting is not a sport and should be outlawed. The public does not. I don’t go to fights, but the public does.

“Tyson” has a large number of Mike Tyson’s bouts in the ring that are surely of interest to the public. Any documentary with comparable rounds involving Muhammad Ali would get me to the theater because I want to hear the wit and wisdom of that cheekiest of all fighters.

Mike Tyson is an oaf. Almost nothing he said in the movie really interested me. He was trying to convince the audience that he had insights concerning his behavior that should interest the audience. In fact, that happened only twice; once when he vented his prison behavior aloud and threatened one ring opponent with rape. The other moment was his apparent last fight — when on losing, he said he hadn’t really had the heart to fight that fight even before he stepped into the ring. Those two moments of reflection (one the witless oaf and the other the wistful thoughtful heretofore lumpen mensch speaking insightfully of himself) made him a complete human being interesting to behold and hear. Regrettably, there wasn’t enough of both.

However, what there was with the actual scenes of battling may be enough for most of the audience.

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