Koch On Film


By Ed Koch

The Libertine (-)

This film is outrageously bad. During the English Restoration period, Charles II (John Malkovich) sits on the throne from which his father was removed and executed. His friend, the Earl of Rochester (Johnny Depp), is considered the equal of Shakespeare in intellect and language. The Earl’s lifestyle is to bed every woman and perhaps every man. An intimation is made of a sexual relationship with the King and an unfulfilled one with his mother. The Earl pays the price physically with a case of syphilis that exhibits itself on his face, particularly his nose.

Rochester has two major lovers — his wife Elizabeth Malet (Rosamund Pike) and his mistress, actress Elizabeth Barry (Samantha Morton) — who fulfill his near hourly need for sexual activity. He writes a play for the King at the latter’s request which is filled with scenes involving nearly naked chorus girls carrying and using objects of pleasure across the stage. The intent, particularly with the use of coarse language, is to put down the audience. A dog belonging to the King takes a dump on the royal carpet conveying, I believe, his intuitive contempt of the revelries taking place.

When we discussed the film after the performance, A.T. said, “Yes, it was vile, but Johnny Depp’s performance was brilliant.” “No,” I said, “by playing this role, he was showing his contempt for all of us.”

Instead of seeing this movie, go out for an ice cream sundae. You’ll derive far more pleasure and won’t feel the need to take a shower.

Find Me Guilty (+)

The movie purports to be based on the 1987 trial involving the New Jersey Lucchese Mafia gang. A case was brought against 20 or so alleged mobsters under the RICO statute, which relies on the concept of conspiracy. If the prosecutors can prove that one member of a conspiracy group committed a criminal act — generally involving the sale of drugs, loan sharking, gambling, murder, prostitution, etc. — they can hold every member of the conspiracy responsible for the criminal act.

Judge Finestein (Ron Silver) presides over the case in an elegant and fair manner, and prosecutor Sean Kierney (Linus Roache) is made to look bad by his comments. The alleged head of the mob group is Nick Calabrese (Alex Rocco), and Tony Compagna (Raul Esparza) is the major prosecution witness. (Before the trial, Tony sought to kill Jackie.) All the mobsters have lawyers representing them, including the head layer portrayed by Peter Dinklage, but Jackie chooses to defend himself. His cross examination of Tony causes laughter in the courtroom, and he impresses the jury with his sense of humor. On a number of occasions the script, which is very similar to a Soprano television script, invokes sympathy for the mobsters.

It is alleged in the disclaimer that while much of the testimony comes from the actual court transcript of the case, other scenes that take place both inside and out of the courtroom are fiction. To divulge more of what takes place would ruin the surprises of which there are many and the laugh lines of which there are even more. Vin Diesel is a fine actor and dominates every scene he is in. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie while assuming that aside from the actual outcome of the trial, it is more fiction than fact. It is worth your time for the pure enjoyment it will provide.