Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (+)

This is an extraordinary movie with many levels of interest. Every moment is filled with energy and mystery. The range of action includes torture, rape, pedophilia, incest, sadism, love, hate and the beautiful outdoor scenery of rural Sweden.

There are two principal players — Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a reporter we meet when he learns that a court has found him guilty of criminal libel of a corporate leader of industry. He is to go to jail for six months. In the few months before the sentence is to be served, Mikael is hired by a member of a billion dollar family of Swedes that includes three elderly Nazi brothers and one very decent avuncular brother Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube). The latter is interested in finding out what happened to his niece, who disappeared years ago in an unsolved mystery.

The other principal is Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who is introduced early on as a superb computer hacker hired to keep tabs on Mikael. She is unique in appearance and actions and we know little of her background, except there is a threat made by her handler to whom she goes for money (if she does not do what he wants, he will see that she is returned to the “institution”). His tastes are sexually sadistic.

The two characters are ultimately united in a kind of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” routine. Remember Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? The latter’ s exploits pale in comparison with these two. There are lots of surprises that take place, none of which can be discussed, so as not to ruin the surprise. Suffice it to say that this is a unusual movie and well worth seeing.

Unrated. 2 hours, 32 minutes. Now playing at, among other places, Landmark Sunshine Cinema (143 E. Houston St.). For information, call 212-330-8182 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com.

“Green Zone” (-)

This is a polemic involving the CIA (the good guys) and the White House (the bad guys) — who in this movie script got us into the Iraq war by fabricating the intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).        

After the war in Iraq in 1993 was initially won, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is sent to Iraq to search for WMDs.  Every site he and his team examine comes up empty, and Miller soon concludes that there are no such weapons, and the intelligence is faulty.        

On the scene is a Wall Street Journal reporter, Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan), who wrote story after story before the war reporting on the existence of such weapons.  She tells Miller that her information came from Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) — an intelligence officer on the White House staff.  Poundstone is in Baghdad as is CIA representative Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), who is constantly frustrated by Poundstone’s actions.      

Many in the audience will undoubtedly enjoy the ridiculing of the White House and the smearing of President George W. Bush — who is shown several times on television news broadcasts.

At the beginning of the film an Iraqi civilian, Freddy (Khalid Abdalla), approaches Miller and tells him where the highest-ranking Iraqi military person, General Al Rawi (Igal Naor), is hiding.  That particular scene is totally unbelievable.  There are other scenes that made no sense, primarily because we are not told who particular military personnel are and whether they might be hired mercenaries swooping in on helicopters.  It occurred to me that some could have been the civilians hired for guard duty by the State Department who were later exposed in real life as out of control.  Some actually disgraced themselves by killing innocent Iraqi civilians and were ultimately fired.  Some were tried in a federal court and exonerated.       

I don’t like polemics; not even those supporting my position.  This film does not support my position.  I believe we were right to enter Iraq based on the information provided by the CIA which we later learned was wildly incorrect.  I also believe that George Tenet should have been fired for incompetence and his comment regarding the existence of WMDs in Iraq:  “Don’t worry, it’s a slam-dunk.”  He should not have been allowed to retire.  He should have been fired and not presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service by President George W. Bush.      

The tension in the film is provided by the excellent soundtrack, several car chase scenes, helicopters flying overhead, and technology allowing the U.S. military to follow Iraqi insurgents running away during the night hours when their safe house had been uncovered.  But with all of that, the movie contains far too little in terms of a coherent, believable plot.

Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes. Rated R. Now screening at, among other places, Regal Union Square Stadium 14 (850 Broadway). For showtimes, call (800) 326-3264 x628.