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Average Rating: 3.8/5

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Former Mayor Ed Koch is the quintessential New Yorker. Still ferocious, charismatic, and hilariously blunt, the now 87-year-old Koch ruled New York from 1978 to 1989-a down-and-dirty decade of grit, graffiti, near-bankruptcy and rampant crime. First-time filmmaker (and former Wall Street Journal reporter) Neil Barsky has crafted an intimate and revealing portrait of this intensely private man, his legacy as a political titan, and the town he helped transform. The tumult of his three terms included a fiercely competitive 1977 election; an infamous 1980 transit strike; the burgeoning AIDS epidemic; landmark housing renewal initiatives; and an irreparable municipal corruption scandal. Through candid interviews and rare archival footage, Koch thrillingly chronicles the personal and political toll of running the world's most wondrous city in a time of upheaval and reinvention. (c) Zeitgeist Films

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Critic Reviews for Koch

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (17)

Audience Reviews for Koch


"Koch" is an informative documentary about Edward I. Koch(1924-2013), the mayor of New York City from 1977 to 1989. He started by saving the city from bankruptcy while starting a troublesome trend of making the city more welcome to tourists and suburbanites than its own people. Throughout, his outsized personality proved perfect for the city's tabloids, as his politics became more conservative than those when he was a congressman representing just Greenwich Village.(By contrast, Kirsten Gillibrand's politics are much more liberal now that she is representing New York State as a Senator.) But his working both ends against the middle would eventually politically doom him.(If you want to see what New York City looked like in 1989, watch "Do the Right Thing.) The biggest failure of his time in office was not doing enough during the AIDS crisis, with the Gay Men's Health Crisis picking up the slack in handling services that the city should have provided. As far as Koch's sexuality(or lack of) goes, I agree in an absolute sense of privacy but since Koch was publicly and proudly Jewish, shouldn't his sexuality be on the same level? Overall, "Koch" does a good job of chronicling his life and times, with many then current conversations with the man himself, as the Queensboro Bridge is renamed in his honor. At the same time, the filmmakers could have cast a wider net in interview subjects, not just talking to his allies. For example, it would have helped if they at least also talked to Jimmy Breslin and Al Sharpton. And I know it's just a curious footnote, but I would also have liked to have seen more on his acting appearances that went beyond his hosting Saturday Night Live.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Barsky may have been a little too nice to Ed Koch with this film, but I appreciate the desire to openly examine his administration in all of it's little and big contradictions.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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