Volume 80, Number 11 | August 12 - 18, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Koch on Film
BY Ed Koch
“Middle Men” (+)
I saw “Boogie Nights” starring Mark Wahlberg and it is, without a doubt, a soft-porn picture. “Middle Men” — which talks a lot but discloses very little — does not qualify as soft porn.
The first half-hour includes a lot of confusing flashbacks. The picture moves very slowly, but stay with it, because it gets much better. Not only is the story line interesting — concerning the use of credit cards to watch porn on television — but the cast of characters and the actors playing them are terrific.
The lead character is Jack (Luke Wilson) — who reminded me of George Clooney in his straightforward, likeable acting style. Jack, who is married to Diana (Jacinda Barrett), thinks of himself as a businessman rather than a porn producer, since he only facilitates the transaction between producer and consumer.
Two dope-crazed guys, Wayne (Giovanni Ribisi) and Buck (Gabriel Macht) — who originally show pictures of naked women on TV — need a businessman to make the operation marketable.
The tour de force performance is given by James Caan, who plays the role of Jerry (a sleazy lawyer). Almost as good is Rade Sherbedgia, who portrays Nikita (a Russian mobster). There isn’t one bad actor in the movie. The dispute between the Russian goons and Jack’s strong-arm posse of African-Americans is wonderful to watch.
The film, which I saw at the AMC Loews Kips Bay Theater (at 570 Second Ave.), is funny, occasionally poignant and, after the slow beginning, always interesting. Knowing in advance of that it is not a soft-porn film but rather a humorous and entertaining one, you won’t be disappointed.
Henry Stern said: “The minor characters were zanier than the hero — who starts out clean but becomes an adulterer and an accessory to murder before reforming after a near-death incident. The movie features Russian mobsters and numerous semi-clad female singers and dancers. James Caan is particularly good. The movie is a mini-history of porn on the Internet, without the porn. It is worth seeing, particularly if the theatre is air conditioned.”
Rated R. 1 hour, 51 minutes. Now playing at, among other places, Regal Union Square Stadium 14 (850 Broadway). For screening times, call 800)-326-3264 x628.