Koch on Film


By Ed Koch

“The Center of the World – New York” (+)

This final chapter of the story of New York, three hours long, was shown at a private screening this past weekend sponsored by the New York Historical Society and shown in the auditorium of the Museum of Natural History, and shown again to the public on September 8 on PBS Channel 13. It is a masterpiece and the best of the many documentaries that Ric Burns has produced. He and his brother, Ken, have collaborated and jointly directed and produced “The Civil War:” Each has, on his own or with others, done documentaries. Ric’s documentary films include: “Ansel Adams,” “Coney Island;” and “The Donner Party.” This, in my judgment, is his finest to date. That accolade applies to the entire l7-hour series on New York’s history and to Chapter 8, the concluding film.

The Chapter covers the conception, life and death of the World Trade Towers ending with 9/11. The last two persons to be interviewed in the film are Mario Cuomo and me. I recount the story of the death of a young woman from Wisconsin whose father told me of her death on 9/11 in one of the Towers. On the first anniversary of 9/11, commemorated by New York City, the deceased’s father and I were to read, with others, the names of the 2,792 who died. About half have been identified through their remains and DNA testing. The others are still unaccounted for, except we know they were in the Towers when they were destroyed by the largest act of terror ever committed in the U.S. The film will undoubtedly be shown many times. Be sure to see it.

“The Other Side of the Bed” (-)

Silly and juvenile.

The author of the screenplay, David Serrano, tried to do what Dennis Potter did in “Pennies from Heaven” and “The Singing Detective.” Potter was a genius and through song and dance introduced, in a whole new way, the unconscious and surreal into his plots. Regrettably, in this film the introduction of song and dance is an intrusion rather than an enhancement of the plot.

The plot has elements of drama, farce and comedy. Three couples are involved: two of them dominate the script and the third couple are a diversion. Paula (Natalia Verbeke) and Pedro (Guillermo Toledo) are lovers living together and are friends of another couple Sonia (Paz Vega) and Javier (Ernesto Alterio) who are also living together. Paula tells Pedro she loves someone else. He doesn’t know who it is, but, we the audience, know it is his good friend, Javier. Pedro hires a private detective to capture the infidelity on video.

I love foreign films, but not this one. This Spanish flick has adequate subtitles but the film itself is inadequate. The title has nothing to do with the action, so far as I could tell.

– Ed Koch