Near the beginning of this documentary, a colleague of former New York mayor Ed Koch describes him as being "haunted and damned by one hell of a personality." You'd never guess that from the remainder of the movie, which makes him seem like a walking "I-heart-NY" shirt. Koch, who died last month at age 88, gave director Neil Barsky almost unlimited access to him in 2010 and '11 and mounts a whiny charm offensive that effectively crowds out any serious understanding of his political legacy. Barsky manages to touch on the major controversies—Koch's closing of Sydenham Hospital in Harlem, his shrugging off of the AIDS epidemic, his inaction as racial tensions in the city escalated—but, as usual, an emphasis on Koch the character obscures his administration. When, late in the movie, someone cites Koch's forward-thinking policy on housing as his most important accomplishment, the news seems to come from out of nowhere.
Director: Neil Barsky
Producer: Jenny Carchman and Lindsey Megrue