Koch on film

B“Guys and Balls” (-)

All new gay movies will be measured against the strength and sensitivity of “Brokeback Mountain.” “Guys and Balls,” intended as a comedy or perhaps even a farce, is so over the top in attempting broad comedy that it defeats its purpose, and its slapstick qualities drag it way down.

Ecki (Maximilian Bruckner), lives with his parents and is an assistant to his father (Dietmar Bar) a baker. He is also his soccer team’s goalie and a closet homosexual. In a moment of exuberance after being lauded by his teammates as the hero of a game, he kisses a fellow player. The kiss, clearly sexual, is witnessed by his mates who then brutally deride him.

In response, Ecki challenges his teammates to a match against a team made up of gays. He goes to the town where his sister lives searching for possible players, and from that point on the script descends into buffoonery. Its defenders will call it a lampoon, but in my judgment, it does not reach that higher level. I won’t tell you who wins the game, but there are no surprises about his team made up of bikers and other stereotypes. (In German, with English subtitles.)

Giuliani Time (+)

This is a much better film than Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.” There is no question in my mind that the film was intended to be anti-Giuliani, yet at a private showing, the director, Kevin Keating, told me that was not his intention. However, it is not venomous and I believe in some parts of this country, showing the film and the ill will of many of those who hated Giuliani when he was mayor would actually pick up some votes for him.

I am in the film, and if I do say so myself, my comments are pretty interesting. I describe Giuliani as either in the image of Pinochet of Chile or Caligula of Rome. He probably has the traits of both.

Giuliani surely believed he was saving New York City from itself, and for him, that would mean from the excesses of being a far too liberal society, thus my reference to Pinochet. He also ultimately bought his own act of absolute power with an attitude of, I can do no wrong, thus the Caligula reference.

Giuliani, like all of us in public life in particular, is a mixed bag. He was a good mayor, but not such a good person. He seemed to enjoy disrespecting people. Many in the minority community thought he was racist. I would often come to his defense and tell them, “He’s not a racist, he’s nasty to everybody.”

I wrote a book about Giuliani — a compilation of my columns — entitled, “Giuliani, Nasty Man.” Nevertheless, I voted for him twice, in 1993 and 1997, because I thought he was better than his opponents. In the ’93 election, he was opposed by David Dinkins, whose administration was scarred as a result of the pogrom which took place in Crown Heights in August of 1991, when the police waited three days before taking control and protecting the Lubavitch community from black rioters bent on assaulting them, and I couldn’t vote for Ruth Messinger in 1997 because of my perception of and opposition to her radical left philosophy.

9/11 changed the view of many of those who had disliked Giuliani before the catastrophe. He set the standard for civic leaders, inspiring and protecting their communities. His supporters believe he had an epiphany on that day, coming close to death and that his character has undergone a major change. I believe only saints undergo permanent character changes as the result of epiphanies. Giuliani is no saint. Character is fate. To support my beliefs, I point to Giuliani’s demand of the two mayoral candidates, Fernando Ferrer and Mark Green, that if elected, they postpone taking office and give Giuliani an additional three months to be mayor. Inexplicitly, Green said he would, Ferrer, to his credit, said no.

Wayne Barrett is the film’s narrator. He was the reporter who uncovered the fact that Giuliani’s father was a low-level organized crime figure. Strangely, that never surfaced in the Senate confirmation hearings that Giuliani was subject to when he was rising in the Department of Justice and become the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District.

The documentary is well worth your seeing, particularly if you live in this town. For out-of-towners, it will be interesting as they consider his candidacy for president in 2008.