Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Jan 30, 2013
    91
    Neil Barsky's Koch doesn't try to do anything radical as a piece of filmmaking, but Barsky - a former newspaper reporter - covers Koch's story magnificently as a journalist.
  2. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jan 31, 2013
    88
    Koch ends with the former mayor showing off a typically flamboyant gesture that embodies his contradictions - choosing to be buried in a Christian cemetery in his beloved Manhattan, complete with an already erected tombstone proclaiming his Jewish identity.
  3. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Feb 6, 2013
    83
    As a politico, Ed Koch loved power a little too much. But as a leader, he was a storybook embodiment of New York's contradictions, which is why his chapters in the city's saga loom so large.
  4. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Feb 28, 2013
    80
    Barsky does a good job of taking all the complexity of such a major personality and the times in which he flourished and boiling it down to the essentials.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Feb 28, 2013
    80
    Koch the film makes the point without belaboring it — a mayor and a metropolis linked by tumultuous events in the worst and best of times.
  6. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Apr 11, 2013
    75
    The documentary nicely mixes vintage news footage and photographs, talking-head interviews with journalists and Koch associates, and lots (and lots) of Koch.
  7. 75
    The film reminds us that as amusing as he could be, he wasn’t the dazzling wit history packaged him as. “Relevant” is how he wanted to be remembered. And before he died, he got a filmmaker to remind us of exactly that.
  8. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jan 31, 2013
    75
    Neil Barsky's documentary Koch captures the essence of this very big personality - though if the film were even two minutes longer, it might constitute Koch overload. Luckily, Barsky knows when enough is enough, even if his subject doesn't.
  9. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Mar 1, 2013
    70
    Barsky’s film is light on biographical detail before Koch’s first term began, in 1978. That’s probably fitting. Koch obviously lived for the job.
  10. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Jan 29, 2013
    70
    It's an effective primer on a voluble and charismatic mayor who embodied the spirit of the city he loved.
  11. 70
    The film is a canny balancing act, making Koch's arrogance so plain that you quickly move past it and concede that he accomplished remarkable things for a city that was broke and in chaos and with much of its housing stock in ruins.
  12. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Feb 27, 2013
    67
    The former mayor is an alert onscreen presence, but the film surrounding him is not always so lively.
  13. Jan 30, 2013
    63
    Neil Barsky is aware of how a great and terribly troubling person can reside in the same body, but his occasional eagerness to appoint himself as his subject's latest press agent is dubious.
  14. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    Feb 3, 2013
    60
    Barsky wisely includes just enough dissenting voices and admissions of grievous error by Koch himself to prevent the picture from seeming like a 100% feel-good puff piece.
  15. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jan 31, 2013
    60
    Like Walt Whitman, another hard-to-classify embodiment of the spirit of New York, he is contradictory and multitudinous. The hour and a half Mr. Barsky provides might be enough time for a lesser figure. Mr. Koch...needs more.
  16. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jan 31, 2013
    60
    The politician who almost pathologically asked the question "How'm I doin'?" clearly never needed a view outside his own. Which is as New York as it gets.
  17. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Jan 29, 2013
    60
    The result is neither blind idolatry nor a definitive portrait; just a major missed opportunity content to loiter in the middle of the road.
User Score
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No user score yet- Awaiting 3 more ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Mar 17, 2013
    6
    This is a doc about Ed Koch, a strong-willed, outspoken mayor of New York City. In addition to excerpts from interviews with him and his contemporaries, there's lots of historical footage (most of which is in distractingly bad blown-up video). The film seems to spend more time on his major controversies than on his accomplishments and there's nothing inventive about the way it's presented. Just a straightforward doc. Full Review »