Koch on film


By Ed Koch

The Good Shepherd (+)

In this terrific spy film about the birth of the Central Intelligence Agency, Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) has worked for the agency since its inception. Robert De Niro, who directed the film, portrays Bill Sullivan, the founding director of the agency. (The actual founder was “Wild Bill” Donovan. None of the characters’ names in the film are real.) Damon and De Niro beautifully portray their characters. Philip Allen (William Hurt) is the director of the C.I.A. at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Arch Cummings (Billy Crudup) resembles a British MI6 agent based on the spy Kim Philby who in real life took refuge in the Soviet Union. Another significant role is that of Thomas Wilson (Timothy Hutton), the son of Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) and Margaret Russell (Angelina Jolie). Russian spies are everywhere, including the head of the agency with the code name of Ulysses (Oleg Stefan). 

The relationships between all the parties are slowly and superbly developed. A few torture scenes occur involving the C.I.A.’s attempt to determine the identity of a suspected double agent. Some who have seen the movie complained of its length, which runs for two hours, 37 minutes, but I was mesmerized and it could have continued for another half-hour without a complaint from me. 

“Dreamgirls” (+)

This film is packed with talent and entertainment. The performances of the major characters are first rate and the vocal renditions add to the magic of the movie. 

The principals are Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, Danny Glover and Keith Robinson. Hudson, who was a contestant on “American Idol,” has a phenomenal voice and is an excellent actor. A star is born.

The plot involves the career development of three Detroit singers in the 1960s known as the Dreamettes: Deena (Beyonce Knowles), Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) and Effie (Jennifer Hudson). Managed by Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) they began as back-up singers to James Early (Eddie Murphy). The surreal scenes in which everyone sang their lines reminded me of the “Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” “Dreamgirls” occasionally had the feel of a soap opera and contains some buffoonery involving Eddie Murphy, but I didn’t care and neither did the audience. The romances, breaking up of the group and their comeback add up to one triumphant movie. When it ended, the audience clapped for an extended period of time as though we had seen a terrific Broadway show.

I saw the film with my nephew, his wife and their three children, the youngest celebrating her sixth birthday. Everyone loved it. The children’s parents decided in advance that it was okay for them to see it, and I think they were right. The one drug scene was muted and there are no over-the-top, intimate scenes. You will enjoy it.